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is otherwise more likely to become intensified than diminished from year to year, is to restore silver to its former position as a legal standard of value.
The argument of this book is to the effect that the Double Standard is not only required for the general welfare of the country, but that it also represents the cause of justice and of honour.
The leaders of the Bimetallic League have clouded the question when considered purely on its merits, as a matter of honour and intrinsic justice, by advocating the restoration of silver to the Standard only on condition of this being effected by joint action under international treaty with other nations. They agree that unjust and injurious effects have resulted from the closing of the mint against silver, and cannot be corrected or prevented from increasing in their intensity except by the restoration of silver to its former position in the currency. I contend that if the Double Standard is a better standard than the Gold Standard, and if injustice is being done by the maintenance of the latter, the interests and the honour of the country combine to make it our duty to take the practical lead for the restoration of silver with the same freedom with which we took the lead in the closing of the mints of the world against it. This book shows the practicability of such action, and how any incidental losses to individuals which may be caused by the proposed action of the mint could be provided for better than under international agreementS.
The position taken by the leaders of the Bimetallic League—if they who for twenty years have been calling for International Congresses to tell them what to do can properly be called leaders—is that, though the Double Standard is a better standard than the Gold Standard, we must not make use of it unless other nations will pledge themselves to join in using that good thing, and also they argue that great injustice has been done, is now being done, and will continue to be done in this country by the maintenance of the Gold Standard ; but notwithstanding this, they insist that nothing must be done by us to remedy such injustice in this country unless other nations agree to remedy similar injustice, which we tell them is being perpetrated in their domains. A man anxious to get at the kernel of a walnut which he holds in one hand with proper nut-crackers in the other hand, which he will not use because by some abstruse arguments he has convinced himself that a Nasmyth hammer is requisite for the purpose, pictures the official attitude of the Bimetallic League, whose timidity has made mountains of molehills and frightened Lombard Street into a defence of the Gold Standard by magnifying the difficulties of returning to the standard under which this country became the leader of the world in finance and commerce.
I stood at one time alone as an advocate of the practical course of action suggested in this book, but an echo has just resounded from six million voices in the Western States of America across the Atlantic and
startled monometallists into an outburst of invective against Mr. Bryan, who has become the leader of the silver party in the United States.
Their strictures on Mr. Bryan apply with equal force to the present leader of the House of Commons, to the present Prime Minister in France, to half the members of the Royal Commission on Gold and Silver, and to many other leading men in this and foreign countries. Benjamin Disraeli, in his ever memorable speech in Glasgow in November 1873, spoke words of warning regarding the attempts being made to change the standard of value ; and Prince Bismarck has recently expressed regret for the part his Government took in bringing about the change commenced in Germany in 1871, and has expressed approval of the course of action adopted in the United States by the party of which Mr. Bryan has become the leader.
The manner in which Mr. Bryan is accused by leading monometallic journals and speakers of wanting to pay gold debts in silver and all current dollar debts in ‘fifty cent dollars' does not appear explicable, except by supposing the monometallic party to be for the moment dazed by the sudden rising of the first wave of the flood in the Far West, which has fallen, for a moment, only to rise again, wave after wave with increasing force, until the injustice caused by the Gold Standard has been corrected.
Mr. Bryan, in his first Chicago speech, expressly declares that his party have no intention of affecting
those contracts which, according to the present laws, are made payable in gold.?? And in his carefully prepared New York speech he says: "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 half its value, but that will not be true when we again establish a 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 restoration of bimetallism in the United States will take away from gold just as much of its purchasing power as was added to it by the demonetisation of silver in the United States.' 2
It is not for Mr. Bryan to frame clauses to meet circumstances which he asserts will never arise. Reasonable clauses, framed by those who think they may become of importance, will not be opposed by those whose chief object is to stop the continuous appreciation of the standard of value.
· W. J. Bryan's Speech in Full: the Full Text of the Speech of the • Boy Orator' of Nebraska, made in the Chicago Convention in response to Senator Hill's Attack on the Platform, p. 4. Fry Brothers, 59 Broad Quay, Bristol.
2 • The Full Text of Mr. Bryan's Great Speech,' New York Journal, August 13, 1896.
I have throughout this work contended that the English mint could without international treaties restore silver to its former price of about 60d per ounce, but have not discussed the power of either the United States or the French mint, by the sole action of either one, to restore and permanently re-establish the former gold value of silver. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that Mr. Bryan is mistaken in his estimate of the influence of the United States mint, and that under his proposed action gold would go to a premium in the United States. There certainly is sufficient intelligence among United States legislators to frame a clause to enable the holder of any current obligation equitably entitled to the premium to claim and collect it. It is true that Mr. Bryan has suggested that in case of gold going to a premium contrary to his expectations, the weight of the gold dollar could then be reduced to bring it to the value of the silver dollar; but that need not prevent or affect equitable adjustments as regards current contracts. Such a reduction of the weight of the gold coins I long ago suggested might become the only practicable course for countries holding, like France and the United States, large amounts of what, whilst the mints are closed against silver, must continue to be overvalued silver coins, to take in order to get clear of that abnormal condition. They have their currency in a state which cannot reasonably be allowed to continue, but the complication can be corrected without perpetrating injustice on current contracts.