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organizations; but have you drawn a cor. rect picture of the prosperity of Virginia City and Gold Hill, or is it merely an “ assumed fact that the present condition is favorable to the wage-worker”? Can wage-workers there obtain such a quantity of the necessaries of life “ with one day's wages,” or can they not? Can a miner save“$94” in a month, or is this “utterly fallacious”? Or will Mr. Bartine and his friends produce a new picture of real prosperity, according to their own ideas; not a picture of what is commonly known as prosperity—say, high wages, low cost of living, and all that—but something unique and suitable to the silver question ?
Corroborative of Mr. Bartine's ideas, when he was writing about the miners, is the following portion of an editorial in the Engineering and Mining Journal of October 10, 1891:
“From all indications the production of silver in this country will be considerably greater this year than in 1890. Never before has there been so much activity in all the silver-mining camps of the West as at present, and this is beginning to show in the greater output of ore. The leadsmelters of Denver and Pueblo are pressed to the limit of their capacity to reduce the ore of this class which is offered, and there has even been some talk of the erection of new works at the latter place. The production of lead ore has not, apparently, increased, but the smelters are running their furnaces on low lead charges, and are thus handling the greater volume of dry
“The general prosperity in the silver. mining industry throughout the West is particularly noticeable, in view of the general business depression which has made itself felt throughout the past year in almost all branches of industry in the East."
It appears from this that the mining industry was in so good
good a position that the panic of 1890 had little or no effect upon it. That panic affected many other industries, but it is too early yet to tell whether the injury has been wholly overcome by the great crops of 1891. I do not know, however, that among the injured industries there has been any important reduction in the average rate of
wages, or that there has been anywhere an important increase in the number of unemployed workmen. The silver-mining industry is in an exceptionally good position, but if industries generally had been suffering from “seventeen or eighteen years” of depression, as “silverites” charge, then these industries would have had no strength left to withstand the panic of 1890, our daily papers would have been filled with accounts of wholesale reductions in
wages, and wholesale discharges of workmen, and accounts of numerous failures everywhere. From whatever cause, or in spite of any cause, the industries of this country are certainly in a fairly sound condition. The decline in prices is the only evidence that we have had “seventeen or eighteen years” of depression, but the decline has been caused by natural industrial development, and the decline in prices has been accompanied by an enormous increase in consumption, an increase impossible whenever there is real depression. During
of so-called depression the wage. earner generally has been well employed, as proved by his ability to purchase and consume, and to-day he appears to be best employed in what should be our most depressed industry, the silver industry itself.
1896. The general depression of 1893 and later years was severely felt in the silver mining industry. . Of course that industry was unfavorably affected, Nov., 1893, by the stopping of silver purchasing on the part of the United States, and by the stopping of silver coinage by the mints of India, June, 1893.
Note To Fifth EDITION. –The panic of 1893, and the trade depression following it, are treated in the concluding chapter. It snow claimed that the success of the free-coinage party at the polls, in 1896, would cause prices to advance at once; but as such success would cause financial disturbance and industrial depression, and therefore would take away from many workmen their opportunities to earn money, it seems clear that the first result of success must be a decline in both prices and wages. The prospect of actual freecoinage would put a premium on gold, and there would soon be a corresponding difference between gold prices and silver or legal tender prices, similar to the difference between gold prices and paper prices from 1862 to 1879; but whether legal.tender prices, on the average, would reach a higher level than the present level, say within a year or so after the election, is problematical. The actual passage of a free-coinage law would be doubtful, or at least far off, and the gold premium would fluctuate, as the chances seemed good or bad. The unquestionable effect of the success of the Silver Party at the polls is a reduction in the average rate of wages incident to industrial depression.
PRICES, WAGES, AND LABOR-SAVING
KEEPING our attention upon the silver industry a moment longer, let us see how it is that the price of silver could have gone down without the decline's putting down the wages of silver miners. Mr. William H. Beck, a gentleman connected with the mining interests of Montana, testified before the committee as follows:
“In my observation in the far West, I see causes there that I think are tending very much to depreciate the value of silver. When I went to Montana, in 1886, it cost us to transport our ores from Dillon to Omaha $24 per ton. That transportation now costs $10 a ton. It cost us then to treat the ores $17 a ton. Now it costs $8 and $10. Mining powder cost us 50 and 60 cents a pound. We can buy it now for