Page images
PDF
EPUB

revulsion in public sentiment shall shut up this dumping-hole, what then would be the market price of silver in the face of a phenomenally large production? No law can be passed which could not be repealed, and therefore the question for those engaged in the silver industry appears to be this: Would the profit of an advance in the price of silver for a short time cover the later loss of a heavy decline to last a very long time? What would be the market price of silver if, to get back to the gold basis, the United States Treasury, instead of buying 4,500,000 ounces of silver per month, should become a seller of silver? The quantity of silver which could be supplied to the Treasury by the world, assisted by the world's mines, at $1.29 per ounce, is unlimited; not so the amount which the world could be induced to take back at $1, or even 75 cents per ounce,

if I
may

be allowed to guess at a figure.

Whoever has been interested in trying to corner a commodity, or has read of such attempts, like that, for instance, of the Société des Metaux, in its trying to control the price of copper, must know that even the Treasury of the United States is not sufficiently powerful to hold up the price of silver. The visible supply is said to be a small amount, but the visible supply is nothing compared to the invisible supply, and if the United States should adopt free coinage or unlimited purchase, this question would inevitably present itself: Which can hold out the longer, the United States Treasury in receiving silver, or the bowels of the earth in delivering silver ?

NOTE—The term free coinage is used in this volume in the American popular sense, indicating coining freely or to an unlimited extent. Seigniorage (minting charge) is not con

sidered.

CHAPTER X.

THE DISCUSSION CONCLUDED.

I GLADLY apologize to Senator Stewart for seriously offending him (indicated in a newspaper letter by the Senator), and, in order to be sure of suiting the gentleman, I will now, so far as possible, use his own language. If he be involved in errors and inconsistencies he may charge the trouble to his being on the wrong side of the question. He need not consider the affair wholly personal. In this chapter quotation marks will be used only to designate the words of the distinguished Senator, extracts being made from the Evening Telegram of July 30, August 5, and August 18, 1891.

He claims to have “proved that the people of the United States could not be injured by free coinage," and alludes to“ the impossibility of a flood of silver.” The basis for this may be his statement as follows:

158

“ The supply of gold and silver from the mines was more nearly equal at the time, and since silver was demonetized, than at any other period of which the record has been preserved. There was, in 1873, a little more gold produced in the world than silver. There has been since that time a little more silver produced than gold. But during the twenty-three years from 1850 to 1873 there was about three times as much gold produced as silver.”

Here we have on Mr. Stewart's own authority proof of the naturalness of the decline in the value of silver, as distinct from the “demonetization" charge, which he is so fond of making. Up to 1873, on a very large production of gold and a very small production of silver, the ratio of 151 to 1 was easily maintained ; that is to say, on this parity of value, the production of each metal corresponded somewhat closely to the demand for each, the production of gold being “three times” as great as the production of silver.

But the production of silver has far ex. ceeded the demand for it, and therefore the price has necessarily fallen. Note how the ratio of the world's production of the two metals has changed, as shown in the following table taken from the Engineering and Mining Journal of July 25, 1891, the fig. ures being the United States coining value:1

[blocks in formation]

1855.. 1860.... 1865.. 1870... 1875.. 1880.

1881... 1882...

132,000,000
127,000,000
126,000,000
123,000,000
111,000,000
108,000,000
104,000,000
100,000,000

97,000,000
100,000,000
106,000,000
106,000,000
106,000,000
110,000,000
120,000,000

40,000,000 40,000,000 52,000,000 64,000,000 82,000,000 101,000,000 106,000,000 I11,000,000 115,000,000 120,000,000 125,000,000 130,000,000 136,000,000 146,000,000 159,000,000

1883 1884. 1885.

1886...

1887. 1888. 1889.

If the annual production of silver were now equal only to one third the production of gold, or, say, perhaps, not over half as great as the production of gold, pos

1 1896. The coinage values of the annual production of the two metals are now about equal-close to $200,000.000. The market value of the silver annually produced is about $100,000,000.

« PreviousContinue »