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Some of our opponents attribute the fall in the value of silver, when measured by gold, to the fact that during the last quarter of a century the world's supply of silver has increased more rapidly than the world's supply of gold. This argunent is entirely answered by the fact that, during the last five years, the annual production of gold has increased more rapidly than the anjual production of silver. Since the gold price of silver has fallen more during these five years than it ever fell in any previous five years in the history of the world, it is evident that the fall is not due to increased production. Prices can be lowered as effectually by decreasing the demand for an artiele as by increasing the supply of it, and it seems certain that the fall in the gold price of silver is due to hostile legislation and not to natural laws. In other words, when gold leaves the country those who formerly owned it will be benefited. There is no process by which we can be compelled to part with our gold against our will, nor is there any process by which silver can be forced upon us without our consent. Exchanges are matters of agreement, and if silver comes to this country under free coinage it will be at the invitation of some one in this country who will give something in exchange for it.
In answer to the charge that gold will go abroad under free coinage, it must be remembered that no gold can leave this country until the owner of the gold receives something in return for it which he would rather have.
Our opponents can not ignore the fact that gold is now going abroad in spite of all legislation intended to prevent it, and no silver is being coined to take its place. Not only is gold going abroad now, but it must continue to go abroad as long as the present financial policy is adhered to, unless we continue to borrow from across the ocean, and even then we simply postpone the evil, because the amount borrowed, together with the interest upon it, must be repaid in appreciating dollars. The American people now owe a large suin to Europeau creditors, and falling prices bave left a larger and larger margin between our net national income and our annual interest charge. There is only one way to stop the increasing flow of gold from our shores, and that is to stop falling prices. The restoration of bimetallism will not only stop falling prices, but will—to some extent-restore prices by reducing the world's demand for gold. If it is argued that a rise in prices lessens the value of the dollars which we pay to our creditors; I reply that, in balancing the equities the American people have as much right to favor a financial system which will maintain or restore prices as foreign creditors have to insist upon a financial system that will reduce prices. But the interests of society are far superior to the interests of either debtors or creditors, and the interests of society demand a financial system which will add to the volume of the standard money of the world, and thus restore stability to prices.
Perhaps the most persistent misrepresentation that we have to meet is the charge that we are advocating the payment of debts in fifty-cent dollars. At the present time and under present laws a silver dollar, when melted, loses nearly half its value, but that will not be true when we again establish & mint price for silver and leave no surplus silver upon the market to drag down the price of bullion. Under bimetallism silver bullion will be worth as much as silver coin, just as gold bullion is now worth as much as gold coin, and we believe that a silver dollar will be worth as much as a gold dollar.
The charge of repudiation comes with poor graee from those who are seeking to add to the weight of existing debts by legislation which makes
money dearer, and who conceal their desigus against the general welfare under the euphonious pretence that they are upholding public credit and na. tional honor.
Those who deny the ability of the United States to maintain the parity between gold and silver at the present legal ratio without foreign aid point to Mexico and assert that the opening of our wints will reduce us to a silver basis and raise gold to a premium. It is- no retection upon our sister Republic to remind our people that the United States is uiuch greater thau Jlexico in area, in population and in commercial strength. It is absurd to assert that the United States is not able to do anything which Mexico has failed to accomplish. The one thing necessary in order to maintain the parity is to furnish a demand great enough to utilize all the silver which will come to our mints. That Mexico has failed to do this is not proof that the United States would also fail.
It is also argued that, since a number of the nations have demonetized silver, nothing can be done until all of those nations restore bimetallisu. This is also illogical. It is immaterial how many or how few nations have open nints, provided there are sufficient open wints to furnish a monetary demand for all the gold and silver available for coinage.
In reply to the argument that improved machinery has lessened the cost or producing silver, it is sutficient to say that the same is true of the production of gold, and yet, notwithstanding that, gold has risen in value. As a matter of fact, the cost of production does not determine the value of the precious metals, except as it may attect the supply. If, for insiance, the cost of producin: gold should be reduced 90 per cent. without any increase in the output, the purchasing power of an ounce of gold would not fall. So long as there is a monetary demand sutficient to take at a fixed mint price all of the gold and silver produced, the cost of production need not be considered.
It is often objected that the prices of gold and silver can not be fixed in l'elation to each other, because of the variation in the relative production or the metals. This argument also overlooks the fact that, if the demiud for both metals at a fixed price is greater than the supply of both, relative production becomes immaterial. Tu the early part of the present century the annual production of silver was worth, at the coinage ratio, about three times as much as the annual production of gold; whereas soon after 1849, the anual production of gold became worth about three times as much, at the coinage ratio, as the annual production of silver; and yet, owing to the maintenance of the bimetallic standard, these enormous changes in relative proilection had but a slight effect upon the relative values of the metais.
If it is asserted by our opponents that the free coinage of silver is inteuded only r the benefit of the mine owners, it must be remeubere:) that free coinage can not restore to the mine owners any more than demonetization took a way; and it must also be remembered that the loss which the demonetizatiou of silver has brought to the mine owners is iusizuilicant cumulared to the loss which tbis policy has brought to the rest of the people. The restoration of silver will bring to the people generally many times as niuch advantage as the mine ownrs can obtain from it. While it is not the purpose of free coinage to specially aid any particular class, yet those who believe that the restoration of silver is needed by the whole people should not be deterred because an incidental benefit will come to the mine owners. The erection of forts, the deepening of harbors, the improvements of rivers, the erection of public buildings-all these confer incidental benefits upon individuals and communities, and yet these incidental benefits do not deter us from making appropriations for these purposes whenever such appropriations are necessary for the public good.
The argument that a silver dollar is heavier than a gold dollar, and that, therefore, silver is less convenient to carry in large quantities, is completely answered by the silver certificate, which is as easily carried as the gold certificate or any other kind of paper money.
There are some who, while admitting the benefits of bimetallism, object to coinage at the present ratio. If any are deceived by this objection, they ought to remember that there are no bimetallists who are earnestly endeavoring to secure it at any other ratio than 16 to 1. We are opposed to any change in the ratio for two reasons-first, because a change would produce great injustice, and, second, because a change in the ratio is not necessary. A change would produce injustice because, if effected in the manner usually suggested, it would result in an enormous contraction in the volume of standard money.
If, for instance, it was decided by international agreement to raise the ratio throughout the world to 32 to 1, the change might be effected in any one of three ways:
The silver dollar could be doubled in size, so that the new silver dollar would weigh thirty-two times as much as the present gold dollar; or the present gold dollar could be reduced one-half in weight, so that the present silver dollar would weigh thirty-two times as much as the new gold dollar; or the change could be made by increasing the size of the silver dollar and decreas. ing the size of the gold dollar until the new silver dollar would weigh thirtytwo times as much as the new gold dollar. Those who have advised a change in the ratio have usually suggested that the silver dollar be doubled. If this change were made it would necessitate the recoinage of four billions of silver into two billions of dollars. There would be an immediate loss of two billions of dollars either to individuals or to the Government, but this would be the least of the injury. A shrinkage of one-half in the silver money of the world would mean a shrinkage of one-fourth in the total volume of metallic money. This contraction, by increasing the value of the dollar, would virtually increase the debts of the world billions of dollars, and decrease still more the value of the property of the world as measured by dollars. Besides this immediate result, such a change in the ratio would permanently decrease the annual addition to the world's supply of money, because the annual silver product, when coined into dollars twice as large, would make only half as many dollars.
The people of the United States would be injured by a change in the ratio, not because they produce silver, but because they own property and owe debts, and they can not afford to thus decrease the value of their property or increase the burden of their debts.
In 1878 Mr. Carlisle said: “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." I repeat this assertion. All of the gold and
silver annually available for coinage, when converted into coin at the present ratio, will not, in my judgment, more than supply our monetary needs.
In supporting the act of 1890, known as the Sherman act, Senator Sherman, on June 5 of that year, said:
"Under the law of February, 1878, the purchase of $2,000,000 worth of silver bullion a month has by coinage produced annually an average of nearly $3,000,000 per month for a period of twelve years, but this amount, in view of the retirement of the bank notes, will not increase our currency in proportion to our increasing population. If our present currency is estimated at $1,400,000,000, and our population is increasing at the ratio of 3 per cent per annum, it would require $42,000,000 increased circulation each year to keep pace with the increase of population; but, as the increase of population is accompanied by a still greater ratio of increase of wealth and business, it was thought that an immediate increase of circulation might be obtained by larger purchases of silver bullion to an amount sufficient to make good the retirement of bank notes and keep pace witb the growth of population. Assuming that $54,000,000 a year of auditional currency v needed upon this basis, that amount is provided for in this bill by the issue of Treasury notes in exchange for bullion at the market price."
If the United States then needed more than forty-two millions annually to keep pace with population and business, it now, with a larger population, Deeds a still greater annual addition; and the United States is only one nation among many. Our opponents make no adequate provision for the increasing monetary needs of the world.
In the second place, a change in the ratio is not necessary. Hostile legislation has decreased the demand for silver and lowered its price when measured by gold, while this same hostile legislation, by increasing the demand for gold, has raised the value of gold when measured by other forms of property.
We are told that the restoration of bimetallism would be a hardship upon those who have entered into contracts payable in gold coin, but this is a mistake. It will be easier to obtain the gold with which to meet a gold contract, when most of the people can use silver, than it is now, when every one is trying to secure gold.
The Chicago platform expressly declares in favor of such legislation as may be necessary to prevent, for the future, the demonetization of any kind of legal-tender money by private contract. Such contracts are objected to on the ground that they are against public policy. No one questions the right of legislatures to fix the rate of interest which can be collected by law; there is far more reason for preventing private individuals from setting aside legal-tender law. The money which is by law made a legal tender, must, in the course of ordinary business, be accepted by ninety-nine out of every one hundred persons. Why should the one-hundredth man be permitted to exempt himself from the general rule? Special contracts have a tendency to increase the demand for a particular kind of money, and thus force it to a premium. Have not the people a right to say that a comparatively few individuals shall not be permitted to derange the financial system of the pation in order to collect a premium in case they succeed in forcing one kind of money to a premium?
There is another argument to which I ask your attention. Some of the wore zealous opponents of free coinage point to the fact that thirteen months must elapse between the election and the first regular session of the next Congress, and assert that during that time, in case people declare themselves in favor of free coinage, all loans will be withdrawn and all mortgages fort closed. If these are merely prophecies indulged in by those who have forgotten the provisions of the Constitution, it will be sufficient to remind theni that the President is empowered to convene Congress in extraordinary session whenever the public good requires such action. If, in November, the people by their ballots declare themselves in favor of the immediate restoration of bimetallism, the system can be inaugurated within a few months.
If, however, the assertion that loans will be withdrawn and mortgages foreclosed is made to prevent such political action as the people may believe to be necessary for the preservation of their rights, then 'a new and vital issue is raised. Whenever it is necessary for the people as a whole to obtain colisent from the owners of money and the changers of money before they car legislate upon financial questions, we shall have passed from a democracy to a plutocracy. But that time has not yet arrived. Threats and intimidations will be of no avail. The people who, in 1776; rejected the doctrine that kings rule by right divine, will not, in this generation, subscribe to doctrine that money is omnipotent.
In conclusion, permit me to say a word in regard to international bimetallism. We are not opposed to an international agreement looking to the restoration of bimetallism throughout the world. The advocates of free coinage have on all occasions shown their willingness to Co-operate with other nations in the reinstatement of silver, but they are not willing to await the pleasure of other governments when immediate relief is needed by the people of the United States, and they further believe that independent action offers better assurance of international bimetallism than servile dependence upon foreign aid. For more than twenty years we have invited the assistance of European nations, but all progress in the direction of international bimetallison has been blocked by the opposition of those who derive a pecuniary benefit from the appreciation of gold. How long must we wait for bimetallism to be brought to us by those who profit by mono. metallism? If the double standard will bring benefits to our people, who will deny them the right to enjoy those benefits? If our opponents would admit the right, the ability and the duty of our people to act for them. selves on all public questions without the assistance and regardless of the wishes of other nations, and then propose the remedial legislation which they consider sufficient, we could meet them in the field of honorable debate; but, when they assert that this nation is helpless to protect the rights of its own citizens, we challenge them to submit the issue to a people whose patriotism has never been appealed to in vain.
We shall not offend other nations when we declare the right of the American people to govern themselves, and, without let or hindrance from without, decide upon every question presented for their consideration. In taking this positon, we simply maintain the dignity of seventy million citizens who are second to none in their capacity for self-government.
The gold standard has compelled the American people to pay an ever