An Inflation Party.Call for a Greenback Meeting at Toledo on February 22.
Toledo, Ohio, January 9. A call has been issued for a National Convention of the National party, to be held in this city on the 22d of February next. It reads as follows:
The undersigned, believing the present financial policy of those in control of the Federal Government is destructive of the best interests of the people, and that, if continued, it will bring general ruin and unprecedented suffering upon the industrial classes; and also believing that through organization and unity of action may induce those in power to take such steps as will avert such calamitous results, call upon those, regardless of past political affiliation, who will unite for independent action, to elect one delegate in each Congressional District, and afterward by proper authority two delegates for each State at large, to meet in National Convention in the city of Toledo on the 22d day of February, 1878, they to take such action as wisdom may dictate.
More than 100 names are appended to the call, among them being those of Wendell Phillips, of Massachusetts; Peter Cooper, of New-York; Thomas D. Hoxey, of New-Jersey; Alexander Campbell, of Illinois; Blanton Duncan, of Kentucky; and Moses W. Field, of Michigan.---[The same Tribune in 1862, on the eve of the legal-tender act]
United Against Silver.
The Banks Joining Hands for Defence.
A meeting representing the leading financial institutions of New-York and other cities
urging that business be put on a gold basis
report of the committee appointed on Saturday
the defeat of resumption and general financial confusion predicted should the Bland Bill become a law
Congress to be memorialized
appointment of a committee
addresses by John Cummings, Franklin Haven, Abiel Low, John Townsend, John Stewart, and others.
The banks of New-York and Boston were fully represented at the meeting in this city, yesterday, to take action on the silver question, and Philadelphia also sent representatives. Leading trust and insurance companies, and the mercantile classes, took part through prominent citizens. The report of the committee appointed on Saturday predicted that the Bland bill, if passed, would defeat resumption in 1879, destroy the value of Government bonds abroad, and produce general financial confusion.
The committee recommended coöperation with the Treasury in preparing for resumption, and that a protest should be made against legislation which would disturb confidence and unsettle values. Putting business on a gold basis was urged, and it was suggested that, as the conversion of assets into gold would cost, at most, the premium paid, the public might fairly ask the banks to sacrifice this premium. A committee was appointed to memorialize Congress against the passage of the Silver Bill, and to secure the coöperation of the other banks and financial institutions. Several addresses were made in approval of the report and resolutions.
Organization and Attendance.
The adjourned meeting of the representatives of the financial institutions to take action on the silver question was held yesterday at the Clearing House at 1 p.m., and lasted over an hour. It was largely attended, the following well-known bankers of this and other cities being present:
Charles M. Fry, president of the Bank of New-York;
William L. Jenkins, president of the Bank of America;
Jacob D. Vermilye, president of the Merchants National Bank;
Peter M. Bryson, president of the Phenix National Bank;
Benjamin B. Sherman, president of the Mechanics' National Bank;
George S. Coe, president of the American Exchange National Bank;
Frederick D. Tappen, president of the Gallatin National Bank.
James M. Morrison, Manhattan;
William A. Thomson, Merchants' Exchange;
Denton Pearsall, Butchers' and Drovers';
George Montague, Seventh Ward;
William Dowd, Bank of North America;
Charles F. Hunter, Peoples;
James T. Woodward, Hanover;
John L. Jewett, Irving;
S.R. Comstock, Citizens';
Francis M. Harris, Nassau;
Robert Bayles, Market;
Andrew V. Stout, National Shoe and Leather;
Joseph Pool, Manufacturers' and Mechanics';
George F. Baker, First National;
H.H. Nazro, Ninth National;
Henry Rocholl, German-American;
Nicholas F. Palmer, Leather Manufacturers' National Bank;
Richard Perry, Tradesmens;
Isaac Odell, Mercantile;
Robert Buck, Pacific;
Robert H. Lowry, National Bank of the Republic;
George M. Hard, Chatham;
George T. Seney, Metropolitan;
A.D. Randolph, Continental;
Washington A. Hall, Oriental;
Sidney Green, Marine;
J.L. Worth, Park;
F. Chandler, Mechanics' Banking Association;
S.B. White, Grocers';
Charles Jenkins, East River;
H. DeGraaf, Bowery National;
F. LeLand, New-York County;
Augustine Smith, Nassau;
George M. Groves, Bank of the Metropolis;
John P. Townsend, Bowery Savings;
William H. Macy, Seamens Savings;
Henry L. Hoguet, Emigrant Industrial Savings;
Philip Bessinger, German Savings;
John P. Wallace, South Brooklyn Savings;
John A. Stewart, United States Trust Company;
H.F. Spaulding, Central Trust Company;
F.S. Winston, Mutual Life Insurance Company;
H. Wesendonck, Germania Life Insurance Company;
F.O. French, Provident Life Assurance Society;
Franklin Haven, Merchants' National Bank of Boston;
John Cummings, Shawmut National Bank of Boston;
Asa P. Potter, Maverick National Bank of Boston;
W.H. Rhawn, Bank of the Republic of Philadelphia;
ex-Secretary of the Treasury Hugh McCulloch, Abiel A. Low, and William C. Langley [Chamber of Commerce].
The meeting was organized by the selection of William Dowd as chairman. Mr. Dowd said:
It gives me great satisfaction to see so many representatives of the other financial institutions here to-day, feeling that a protest should be made on their part against imposing upon the financial and other industries of the country this attenuated and ghostly shape called a dollar. I do not believe that this thing, if properly handled, can be put upon the country, for certainly you, gentlemen, who represent savings banks and trust and insurance companies, will be opposed to a reduction of your assets to the extent of 10 per cent by violent legislation. It is of quite as much importance for the laboring man not to have the purchase-price of a days labor reduced 8 or 10 per cent, as that purchase-price will be reduced if this bill is passed. I know no butcher or baker who will sell a dollars worth of meat or bread for 92 cents. I do not make a speech; rather, that I should adhere to my province of presiding over your proceedings.
The Committees Report.
The following report was presented to the committee in the form of two very practical questions, viz.:
First What effect the substitution of silver dollars of 412½ grains, for the present gold dollars, as a legal measure of value, would have upon the conduct of general business, and upon the institutions under our charge; and,
Second What measures can be recommended to save our capitals from the loss which it is believed would result from such a change.
In respect to the first question, your committee would remark that silver bullion sufficient to make a dollar of 412½ grains can to-day be had for a fraction less than 90 cents in gold, so that the dollars which the proposed law would create, would at once reduce the standard one-tenth, and strike that amount from the value of all outstanding debts and commercial obligations. The moral evil of such capricious and arbitrary legislation, and its baneful effect in shaking public confidence in the stability of law, in lessening the rewards of industry, in impairing the obligations of contracts and loosening the ties that bind men together in civil life, are most obvious; but those considerations are beyond the strict line of inquiry. Since the termination of the war the currency of the country has gradually recovered from its great decline, and with its advance the debts of the people to each other have kept pace, by continual change. The progress toward restoration has been recognized as one of the equitable conditions of trade, and the losses attending the transition state have been incurred and distributed by natural means. Capital in every form has made its necessary sacrifices and contributions.
The necessity of economy which has been forced upon the people, has been widely accepted, and has produced its beneficent, practical results in diminished imports from other countries, while increased industry and skill have supplied means to turn the balance of trade for several successive years largely in our favor. Added to all this, and as if to command the high endeavor, Providence has blessed the country throughout its wide extent with most bounteous harvests, while its credit abroad has also received corresponding favor. The bonds of no other nation in the world have approached in value so near to its own, as have ours, in the English market. The public debt is being rapidly reduced, both in principal and in the rate of interest, the legal-tender currency has receded to $350,000,000 in amount, and has risen to within less than 3 per cent of par value. Prices of commodities have approximated, and in many instances have touched the gold basis, and the means and forces at command of the Secretary of the Treasury are abundant without further legislation, and are proving their efficiency by funds rapidly accumulating in advance, to insure the resumption of payments in gold coin on January 1, 1879, for which the Nation has solemnly pledged itself to its creditors throughout the world. With further accumulations of gold in banks and Treasury, and by their coöperation, and with foreign exchange in our favor, it is reasonable to expect, both to resume and to maintain specie payments upon the basis of the most advanced commercial nations.
True Meaning of the Bland Bill.
All favoring influences concentrate upon this happy country to encourage the reviving enterprise of its people, and to aid in restoring a sound financial condition as it existed before the war. Under such circumstances, it is proposed to supplant the gold dollar, the measure of value established by commercial usage, and recognized and demanded in all the negotiations of the Government and in all the business of the people, for nearly half a century, as the legal standard of the Nation, and to establish a new one, which, although having a traditional and nominal place among the original and legal coins, has had almost no existence in fact, as practical money in trade. Among the forty millions of our living people, and among former generations, but few, very few, have ever seen a silver dollar of the United States of 412½ grains. This ancient coin, having now only a value in relation to the national dollar, known as such before the war and since, of about 90 to 100, it is proposed to revive from the dead past, and to erect as the standard measure for debts, incurred in the United States, as well before as after it becomes enthroned. Its dominion, it is proposed, to extend alike over past as well as over present and future transactions, and over both public and private obligations. At a time when the double standard nations have closed their mints to silver by reasons of its extraordinary fall, it is proposed that the United States shall coin silver as money and not regulate the value thereof by the price of silver as bullion.
A financial revolution so important and far-reaching, and so untimely, has at length startled the Nation. But the magnitude of the change is such that comparatively few persons can yet be made to believe that such a measure is or can be seriously entertained by Congress. This new dollar is an after-thought. It cannot be substituted for the gold one promised on January 1, 1879, because it was never expected or provided; and the Director of the Mint has informed the Government that the utmost power at his command can only coin some forty or fifty millions of them in a single year, a sum quite inadequate for resumption, and less than the gold now held in reserve for that purpose under existing law. It would be neither practical nor just to resume coin payments with dollars, some worth 90 cents and some worth 100 cents, because the desire of the people to secure the higher prizes would at once exhaust the whole supply, and vacate the Treasury.
What would Follow the Bills Success.
Resumption on January 1, 1879, would, therefore, be totally defeated. The passage of an act proposing to pay out dollars of lower value, which do not exist and which cannot in time be made, would most effectually repeal the Resumption Law, and indefinitely prolong suspension. The promised day once passed, and the National default once incurred, the question of resumption of any kind would, after such legislation, easily lapse into general indifference.
The fact that our customs revenue has been paid in gold since the present public debt began, has not only imparted confidence at home and abroad, but has also given the chief support to the legal-tender currency by the prospect of resumption, which a good credit constantly encouraged. Remove this guarantee, and the market value of the bonds will not only be destroyed, and the means for any form of payment be thereby lost, but the paper currency will also sink to an indefinite degree of deterioration.
Can any man believe that such legislation, which must of necessity produce financial confusion and discord, would give confidence to enterprise, or awaken industry and trade ? The effect and the cause are totally at variance, and time must widen the breach. It would only result in protracting indefinitely the period before confidence of the people in the Government and in the stability of society which are the indispensable conditions of prosperous business could possibly return. Any one who expects to be benefited by an advance in property or by securing relief from debt through a lower medium of payment, would find it harder to obtain the cheaper dollar than the dearer one, because of the general prostration of business that must ensue from the change.
Some fifty millions of gold now in the Treasury, provided for resumption on the 1st of January next, were obtained last year by the sale of bonds at a lower rate of interest than ever before since the formation of the Government. Can it be proposed to exchange this sum for silver bullion, from which to make cheaper dollars, to be paid the holders of these very bonds for the interest due them ? And shall the purchasers of the last ten millions be required to pay in gold, with the prospect of receiving deteriorated silver coins in return ?
Practical Questions to be Considered.
These are practical questions which creditors abroad, and savings banks and trust companies at home, in view of threatened legislation, now seriously ask, and upon the answer that Government gives them depends the stability of the institutions which hold in custody the accumulated reserves of the people of every class and condition in life, and which they have invested in bonds of the nation at a large premium in gold coin, relying upon the honor of Government to account to them in money of the same value. A default in such promises by such authority to such creditors, will be a blow struck at the very vitals of society, most perilous to its existence. It will reach every member whether high or low, far or near by a benumbing influence; and inflict a wound upon the country, material and moral, from which recovery at best will be slow and painful. And this gratuitous and needless infliction is now proposed, without provocation and without necessity, just as the nation is recovering from the agonies of war, and when the preservation of public credit is of the greatest importance. It is not surprising that the people are yet, everywhere, incredulous respecting the serious intention of gentlemen who make this proposition.
Even if silver resumption were possible, 412½ grains of that metal cannot be a standard, which has fluctuated during January and July, in a single year, from 95 to 79.3/8 cents. from such indifference to property right, would logically follow, as some of its advocates have urged, issues of irredeemable paper, and worse evils are in their train.
Whatever temporary advantages may be secured by thus tampering with the commercial standard would soon be lost. Silver would resume its true value as bullion in exchange, but all our foreign trade would be subjected to perpetual annoyances by the unnecessary charges incurred by the fluctuating medium employed.
The Duty of the Hour.
A reply to the second question: "What practical measures can be recommended in view of such a change ?" is more difficult. After the invitation extended to clearing houses in other cities, and to other institutions here, to unite with us in counsel upon this great subject, your committee consider it only respectful to them to withhold definite recommendations until the views of our respective bodies shall have been interchanged.
It is our duty, as men holding responsible trusts, and who know how social order is joined to fixed rights of property, first to remonstrate against legislation, which must unsettle values, disturb confidence, retard restoration and impair the National credit, and indeed against an enactment changing the metallic standard of nearly half a century, without regarding the experience of older nations. To the wisdom of Congress, and to the firmness of the President, these great interests are confided.
It is our duty also, as we did in former important exigencies, to coöperate with the Treasury in preparing for resumption, by adjusting all business as fast as practicable to a gold standard. This is not the work of banks alone, but of the whole business community, merchants, manufacturers and all financial bodies. As custodians for their own funds, the banks have their duty in common with other capital; but as depositories of the people, they must follow the directions of their constituents.
As a practical measure, the conversion of assets into gold cost, at most, the premium paid. Who can count the cost of retaining them in paper ? The sacrifice of the premium, if it be a sacrifice, the public may fairly ask the banks to make, each one according to his capital; and if their dealers will sustain them by adjusting their transactions to gold value, the change may readily be secured. The question is most opportunely presented, when we know, that within the next sixty days, nearly fifty millions gold will come upon this market by payments from the Treasury, independent of any foreign supplies, giving an abundant stock. This fund the country must use or lose. Unemployed here as money, it will go abroad. To retain it, we must give an equivalent. With this addition, our gold reserve will be adequate for a large business upon the gold basis. For the retention and use, the purchasers could well afford to sink the small premium for the stability secured.
While the discussion continues in Congress upon the Silver Bill, there can certainly be no return of capital to industrial pursuits or productive industries no revival of confidence, and no prosperity except as it is based upon gold values.
Your committee, therefore, recommend the following resolutions:
Resolved, That a committee be appointed, to consist of five bank officers from New-York, three each from Boston, Baltimore and Philadelphia, together with three merchants, and representatives from the trust and insurance companies, and with such others as from time to time may be then added, the duty of which committee shall be
First To memorialize Congress against the passage of the pending silver bill, and to petition that any enactment authorizing the coinage of silver as money except for change, shall regulate the value thereof by its bullion contents.
Second To communicate with the several banks and other institutions here represented, and through the several Clearing House Associations of the country to their respective members, inviting and requesting all financial institutions to join in such memorial and petition: and further, to urge upon them, and through them upon the merchants, traders and manufacturers, as speedily as may be, and to advise from time to time the progress attained, together with such further suggestions for individual action as experience may dictate.
Resolved, That it shall be the duty of this committee to meet as soon as may seem to it convenient, and to prepare measures which shall be submitted to the financial institutions of the several cities represented.
Resolved, That the committee is requested, whenever it has matter to submit to the constituent bodies for action, to invite simultaneous meetings in the different cities of all the institutions represented.
All with a view of attaining resumption as early as events shall prove to be practicable.
John Cummins, of Boston.
The first gentleman who addressed the meeting was Mr. Cummings, of the Shamut Bank, of Boston, who said:
When the summons came to the Boston Clearing House to send delegates to this convention to-day, it was most heartily and willingly responded to, and the resolutions (a copy of which we have) that were passed the other day were considered and unanimously approved by the Clearing House of Boston. In the discussion of what is to be done, and how it can be done; to prevent the passage of the Silver Bill, I feel entirely inadequate to advise. In Boston, while we are said to be the Hub, not of the universe, but of this country, we move slowly, but I believe it was the conviction most fully there that it could not be that a bill would be passed remonetizing silver. We do feel sure that no Government stamp or any other stamp no legislation can abolish the difference between gold and silver. Individually, I concur fully in the views expressed by your committee, as read by Mr. Coe, and in the pre-amble and resolutions recommended by that committee. I can only say that I feel certain the Boston banks and those connected with them will do all they can to prevent the passage of that bill, and I know that many not connected with the banks the merchants, for instance, of Boston are as earnest in their opposition to the bill as any, and will be fully prepared to unite with the banks in doing what they can to prevent its passage.
Franklin Haven, of Boston.
Franklin Haven, president of the Merchants' Bank of Boston, was called upon for his views, and responded as follows:
I did not come here prepared to make any comments on this great matter. I think that the report sets forth as ably as any report could the great objections to the passage of the proposed Silver bill, and I cannot believe that Congress will pass the Bland bill. I agree with every word which has been uttered and every view presented in that report. I believe that the passage of such a bill would be of incalculable injury to the country. I feel that there can be no substitution of a dishonest dollar for an honest one, and if we are compelled to have both gold and silver dollars, I am sure we must have some provision whereby the silver dollar shall be made the equivalent of the gold in value. That is my own sentiment. I heartily approve of the report.
Abiel A. Low, of New-York.
The next speaker was A.A. Low, of this city, whose remarks were as follows:
Mr. President: I am with you this afternoon through the courtesy and by the invitation of the Chairman of your Committee, Mr. Coe, and have listened with great interest to the report that he has made. After the statement of the wrong that would be inflicted upon every interest in the country, and the wrong that would be inflicted upon the honor of the country by the passage of such a bill as that which is now pending in the United States Senate, it would seem to me impossible that Senators and Representatives could reconcile it with the oath they have taken to defend the Constitution of the country, to vote for such a bill. It has seemed to me that the provisions of the Constitution conferring powers upon Congress, indicate most clearly what is the duty of Members of Congress at such a juncture as this. Such duty is very clearly defined in very few words: "To coin money and regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coins, and fix the standard of weights and measures."
Now, how can it be possible for a member of Congress, in the exercise of the power referred to the regulation of the value of money in the words of Senator Bayard, "to falsify the value instead of regulating it?" How it can be, I cannot understand, but in view of the fact that such a bill has passed the House and is now pending in the Senate, it is clearly a duty devolving upon every American citizen, who is jealous of the honor of his country and interested in its welfare, to do what he can to ward off the threatened dishonor to prevent its becoming a realized fact. That duty is well referred to in the report received to-day the duty of remonstrating against such an outrage. It seems to me that the first duty of the representatives of every institution of the class represented here, and the first duty of every American citizen who has the honor of his country at heart is to remonstrate against the great wrong that is threatened: for there can be no two opinions in the minds of intelligent men as to the nature and meaning of the bill that is now pending in Congress. It is proposed, deliberately and designedly, to do a great wrong to every important financial interest in the country. When some of the gentlemen present were in Washington, a few weeks ago, they were told by the author of this bill that we had better accept it, or the men in the West would send to Washington representatives who would wipe out "as with a sponge" the whole national debt. When such declarations are made before the Finance Committee of one of the great legislative bodies of the United State, it is time for every good citizen to come to the front and not to sit quietly and see such laws enacted without uttering a word of protest.
John P. Townsends Views.
The views of John P. Townsend, of the Bowery Savings Bank, were expressed in these words:
The savings banks of this vicinity, holding, as they do, a large amount of Government bonds, have a deep interest in securing the defeat of the Bland Silver Bill, now before Congress. The bank with which I have been long connected holds $15,000,000 of these bonds, and the passage of this bill would seriously affect the interests of the people whom we represent the 64,000 people who have accounts with us as depositors of small amounts. Speaking for myself, I am heartily in favor of the pre-amble and resolutions that have been read. The passage of this bill would not only be prejudicial to the interests of savings banks, but to the interests of all others who are Government creditors. If it be proper to suggest, and if I might be allowed to do so, in reference to a large subsidiary currency, it might be recommended to Congress that silver be a legal-tender, say for $10, after resumption, as it is well known that National banks are prohibited from issuing notes below $5 after resumption. If it could be made $10, a large subsidiary currency might be issued, and as much as $150,000,000 of silver be floated in the country for small change and for retail purposes. A small percentage of the resources of the banks might be kept in this silver. It would seem that such a compromise might be proposed. Such acceptance of silver would make only a slight increase over what it is at present. A large amount of silver might be used in this manner.
John A. Stewarts Opinion.
John A. Stewart, president of the United States Trust Company, said:
I concur in the opinion contained in the report presented by Mr. Coe and in the views expressed by the gentlemen who have spoken. I take it, sir, that there is entire unanimity of feeling here in regard to this bill. It seems to me that the question before us now is what we shall do in view of the contemplated action of Congress, and that all that we can at present do is simply to memorialize against the passage of a bill which is fraught with such dire calamity to every interest in the country. What may be our action, should so unfortunate result happen as the passage of that bill, it will be time enough for us then to consider and determine when that event shall have happened. At present the thing for us to do is to agree upon a memorial which will be acceptable to the financial interests of New-York and the other great cities of the country. That, it seems to me, is the action for us to take at present.
Adoption of the Report.
Henry L. Hoguet, of the Emigrant Industrial Savings Bank, said that silver should not be admitted as a legal tender in any amount. That, he thought, should be left to the free will of the people and the institutions dealing in money.
Remarks were also made by Frederick S. Winston, of the Mutual Life Insurance Company, and William H. Rhawn, of the Bank of the Republic, of Philadelphia.
Letters from the Clearing Houses of Baltimore and Philadelphia were read, expressing sympathy with and approval of the proceedings of the bankers of New-York in their efforts to resist the passage of the Silver Bill, and promising their coöperation.
Report of Mr. Coes committee was unanimously adopted. It was ordered that the report be printed and that copies be sent to all the clearing houses and prominent financial institutions of the country. The committee of New-York bankers provided for in the resolutions accompanying the report was constituted as follows: George S. Coe, Charles M. Fry, William L. Jenkins, Jacob D. Vermilye, and Frederick D. Tappen. The members of the committee from Boston, Baltimore and Philadelphia, and from the merchants and trust and insurance companies, will be appointed hereafter.
The Sham Dollar at Harrisburg.
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, January 9. The following was offered in the Senate this morning, by a member of that body, and referred to the Committee on Federal Relations:
Resolved, That our Senators in Congress be instructed and our Members be requested, to use their power and influence to secure the passage of a bill to re-monetize silver.
Resolved, That our Senators be instructed, and our Members requested, to take such action as will tend to result in the earliest possible constitutional liquidation of the Government bonds on which the National Banks are predicated, by the substitution or payment thereof in legal-tender notes usually denominated "greenbacks."
Resolved, That our Senators and Members be instructed and requested to use their best efforts to make the entire issue and circulation of so-called greenbacks a legal tender for all debts, dues and demands, except in such cases as the original contract may provide otherwise.
The Subject up in Providence.
Providence, Rhode Island, January 9. The Providence Board of Trade elected Nelson W. Aldrich President, to-day, and referred resolutions on the silver question to a special committee.
A Gold Resolution at Boston.
Boston, January 9. In the Senate this after-noon resolutions were introduced favoring gold as a standard of currency, and strongly condemning the Bland Silver Bill.
The Silver Question
letter from Thurlow Weed [a whig scum through his life].
the circumstances under which silver was demonetized
foreign bondholders duty of capitalists and law-makers
Sir: I did not err in a former letter in saying that the public feeling on the silver question would intensify. The hope expressed in that letter, that the discussion of the question would lead to a better understanding of it has not, so far as the gold advocates are concerned, been realized. That class, Shylock-like, stand with their bonds in one hand and a knife in the other, demanding their "pound of flesh." But they will learn here, what their predecessors were taught in Venice, that in taking their "pound of flesh," no drop of blood must be shed. The moral taught by Shakespeare may be usefully studied by capitalists who, purchasing their bonds at a large discount, cling to a policy which has given them handsome premiums on their investment.
Since my brief letter withdrawing the harsh terms in which I denounced the parties responsible for the demonetization of silver, I have endeavored by an examination of the report of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Congressional debates to obtain exact information as to the manner of its "taking off." Its object must be judged by its effects. The scheme of demonetization, as I learn from the report of Mr. Knox, Comptroller of the Currency, originated with that Department. The bill transmitted to Congress in 1870 from the Currency Department proposed to discontinue the issue of the dollar-piece. This proposition was one among many for the "better regulation of the Government mints." Circulars were sent to officers of the mint and to others familiar with the subject, asking opinions upon the various provisions of the bill referred to. These circulars brought some thirty responses, from which a bill was drawn containing many sections, one of which "discontinues the coinage of the silver dollar."
The Comptroller of the Currency gives the following reasons for discontinuing the coinage of the dollar-piece: "The coinage of the silver dollar-piece, the history of which is here given, is discontinued in the proposed bill. It is by law the dollar unit, and, assuming the value of gold to be fifteen and one-half times that of silver, being about the mean ratio for the past six years, is worth in gold a premium of about 3 per cent (its value being $1 03.12), and intrinsically more than 7 per cent premium in our other silver coin, its value thus being $1 07.42." The "dollar of our fathers," as will be seen, was demonetized, not that it was worth eight cents less, but three cents more than the gold dollar ! This, be it remembered, is an admission of an officer of the Government with whom the demonetization scheme originated. The silver dollar, as a unit of value, was discarded because it was intrinsically worth more than the gold dollar. This, however, is not the whole truth. While the premium on gold was to be maintained by discarding silver as a standard, our commercial interests demanded attention. Instead of the silver dollar as a unit of value, the Comptroller of Currency says: "If, however, such a coin is authorized, it should be issued only as a commercial dollar, not as a standard unit of account, and of the exact value of the Mexican dollar, which is the favorite for circulation in China, Japan, and other Oriental countries."
Here the cat is indiscreetly let out of the bag. To protect the bondholders in the enjoyment of their gold premiums the silver dollar as a unit of value was abolished; while the coinage of a commercial dollar, inferior in value, for use with the "Heathen Chinese" and other Orientals, was recommended ! And now, after silver lost its money character and was depreciated in value by Acts of Congress, we are denounced as "Inflationists," "Repudiators" and "Swindlers," for asking the present Congress to right the wrong done by its predecessors.
Mr. Snowden, a former Director of the Philadelphia Mint, in reply to the Comptrollers circular said:
I see that it is proposed to demonetize the silver dollar. This I think unadvisable. Silver coins below the dollar are now not money in a proper sense, but only tokens. I do not like the idea of reducing the silver dollar to that level. It is quite true that the silver dollar, being more valuable than two half-dollars or four quarter-dollars, will not be used as a circulating medium, but only for cabinets and perhaps to supply some occasional or local demand; yet I think there is no necessity for so considerable a piece as the dollar to be struck from metal which is only worth ninety-four cents. When we speak of dollars let it be known that we speak of dollars not demonetized and reduced below their intrinsic value, and thus avoid the introduction of contradictory and loose ideas of the standard of value.
The pretence that the "dollar of our fathers" was demonetized because it was not equal in value with the gold dollar, is repelled by the explicit language of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the ex-Director of the Philadelphia Mint. Nor was demonetization occasioned by the action of other Governments. We made haste to deprive ourselves of an element essential to the wealth of our country and prosperity of our people. It was a clear case of voluntary financial homicide. And yet, after a series of manipulations, each contemplating the demonetizing of silver, that object was finally accomplished in 1874.
Congress in an Act providing for the resumption of specie payments, passed January 11, 1875, authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to pay the public creditor in coin. Gold is not mentioned in the Resumption Act. To make this point clear I quote from that Act:
"And on and after the first day of January anno Domini eighteen hundred and seventy-nine, the Secretary of the Treasury shall redeem, in coin, the United States legal-tender notes then outstanding on their presentation for redemption, at the office of the Assistant-Treasurer of the United States in the City of New York."
Again I quote from the same section of the Resumption Law:
"And to enable the Secretary of the Treasury to prepare and provide for the redemption in this Act authorized or required, he is authorized to use any surplus revenues from time to time in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, and to issue, sell and dispose of, at not less than par, in coin either of the descriptions of bonds of the United States described in the Act of Congress approved July 14, 1870."
On and after January, 1879, the Resumption Act provides for the payment of the public creditor not in gold, but in coin. By a legal construction of the Act providing for the resumption of specie payments, the Secretary of the Treasury is authorized after the first day of January, 1879, to pay interest to the public creditor in silver or gold. If this was not the intention of the Resumption Act, why was the word "coin" substituted for "gold"? In the debate of 1873 upon the bill for the better regulation of the mint, etc., etc., while the clause discontinuing the coinage of the silver dollar was being considered the Hon. Mr. Potter, of Westchester, said:
"But why should we legislate on this now when we are not using either of these metals as a circulating medium ? The bill provides also for a change in respect of the weight and value of the silver dollar, which I think is a subject, when we come to require legislation about it at all, which will demand at our hands very serious consideration, and which, as we are not using such coins for circulation now, seems at this time to be an unnecessary subject about which to legislate."
That was a most sensible view of the question. Had it been left, as Mr. Potter suggested, until it came to be practical, Congress could have acted intelligently. Were we now called upon to adopt a single monetary standard, that standard, in view of all the conditions and circumstances surrounding it, should be silver. Had either of the Latin Governments been as rich in silver as we are, when deciding upon a single standard that Government would have decided the question in favor of silver. Had England or Germany been in possession of our silver mines would those Governments, or either of them, voluntarily deprive themselves of an inexhaustible source of National wealth and prosperity ? Had the legislation of 1873 and 1874 left us in a financial condition to meet this question upon independent grounds, it might and would have been discussed and settled advantageously. It might be so discussed and settled now, if the gold men would consent or if the Administration would take control of it, for as I said in a previous letter, there is a broad, clear, open, silver avenue through which the Government can lead the country and the people to resumption and prosperity.
The sensibility manifested by our journals for the foreign bondholders calls forth congenial responses from their London correspondents. The World of Tuesday publishes a letter from its correspondent, giving us the alarming intelligence that, upon the receipt of news indicating the possible passage of the Bland Bill over the Presidents veto, "American securities fell off one-half of 1 per cent." After indulging in familiar epithets against those who advocate the remonetization of silver, The Worlds correspondent says:
"They paid gold for their bonds. Of that there is no doubt; for the Government at Washington and the brokers here would not sell them for anything else. They say, why should we be paid in silver ? Because it is a depreciated medium, and we should be done out of 10 per cent of our money."
If this were all true there would be justice and reason in their claim. But it is exactly the reverse of truth. They did not pay gold for their bonds. They were slow to take them at any price. I speak understandingly, for I was in London when some English capitalists purchased Confederate in preference to Union bonds, and when American bankers hesitated about recommending Union bonds to their customers. English and German capitalists waited until the war tide began to turn in our favor, and then, with gold at a premium of from 150 to 200 per cent, purchased our bonds at a discount of from 10 to 15 per cent. Instead, therefore, of "paying gold for their bonds," the English and German capitalists remitted their gold to New-York, where it was converted by their agents into currency, with which their bonds were purchased. The average cost of several hundred millions of 6 per cent bonds purchased on foreign account did not exceed 50 per cent in gold. Upon those bonds the holders have for twelve years been receiving interest in gold, with the further advantage of exemption from taxes.
Of all this however, I do not complain. Capitalists wait and watch for their opportunity: our disastrous civil war afforded the opportunity, and they availed themselves of it. What I do object to is that an English letter-writer seeks to mislead and exasperate by asserting that our English creditors paid a thousand dollars in gold for a thousand-dollar 6 per cent bond, while the exact truth is that he got his thousand-dollar bond for less than 50 per cent in gold.
So far the panic making efforts of bankers, the bondholders, the press, and the pulpit, have been but indifferently rewarded. The passage of the Bland Bill, it was said, would immediately and disastrously affect American credit at home and abroad. Our bonds would be rushed across the Atlantic in such quantities as would greatly diminish the value of those held at home. These fulminations, though loud and reiterated, have done no harm. No bonds have been wafted homeward, and those held here are not diminished in value. Gold-shrieking does not yet pay. It will be the fault of the bondholders themselves if harm comes to them or to others. Let the Bland Bill properly amended, become a law, and the interest of all classes will be protected and promoted.
To avoid misapprehension, it may be proper to repeat what I have said in a former letter, that when we have recovered the advantages thrown away by the demonetization of silver, if it should by any public consideration, be deemed expedient to pay the foreign bondholder in gold, that concession can and should be made.
The clergy avail themselves very properly of thanksgiving occasions to speak of such public events as are transpiring. They dwell eloquently and gratefully upon the goodness of Providence in providing for our welfare and happiness. They render thanks for bountiful harvests and for other manifestations of Divine favor. On the day recently set apart for general thanksgiving at least two eminent divines failed to discern Gods wisdom and goodness to us as people in opening up for our benefit, just when our necessities required such relief, an abundance of the precious metal which has served the world as money ever since a standard and medium was needed to regulate the value and facilitate the exchange of commodities. One would have supposed that the Rev. Messrs. Beecher and Taylor, in their close and constant study of the Scriptures, would have found in the teachings of the Old and New Testaments, enough to have made them tolerant, at least of silver as money. They must have discovered, in addition to the historical fact that silver was always money, even a higher value was imparted to it by the references and illustrations of Divine writers. The Psalmist, for example, in the sixty-sixth chapter, tenth verse, says:
"For Thou, O God, hast proved us:
Thou has tried us as silver is tried."
Mr. Beecher, in his Thanksgiving sermon, said:
"Tampering with a standard is a bad thing. If all standards were liable to be tampered with, what would become of us ?"
This is precisely our case. It is exactly our strong ground of objection. In the legislation of 1873 and 1874 a "standard" was "tampered" with. It is that "bad thing" we complain of: for when Congress, by such tampering, depreciated the silver dollar from 3 percent above to 3 percent below the gold par the wrong from which we are suffering was perpetrated. What we now ask for, and what we shall persist in asking for, is that Congress shall "tamper" back again that silver shall be remonetized.
For two or three days the press was jubilant over the discovery of letters from Jefferson and Madison directing the mints to discontinue the coinage of the silver dollar. I have not seen these letters and do not know what reasons were given, but I will hazard a conjecture. Our silver resources had not then been developed. The coinage of the silver dollar, for which bullion had to be purchased, involved an expense that was avoided by the use of Spanish and Mexican silver dollars, which then, much more than gold, constituted the specie basis for our paper currency. For more than seventy years, while the silver dollars of Spain and Mexico were standards of value, they were neither ridiculed nor stigmatized by bankers or journalists, as is now the fashion. On the contrary, by their general acceptance and free use, our fathers (or our "daddies," as it is now phrased) made diligent haste to crown lengthened years of enterprise and industry with abounding prosperity and substantial wealth. Neither Jefferson, Madison or any of the enlightened statesmen or journalists of the earlier, brighter and better days of the Republic, were heard denouncing those who paid their debts in silver as swindlers.
Duty of Capitalists and Law-Makers.
My purpose and hope in what I have written on this subject has been to induce capitalists to act wisely, for it is with this class that the difficulty exists, and no other class is so deeply concerned in its adjustment. Could capitalists discern their true interests they would lose no time in restoring the relations which existed between silver and gold before the suspension of specie payments. They have the power to make the Bland Bill just what it ought to be. Gold and silver are equally valueless as money without the "superscription" of the Government. With that "superscription" the gold and silver dollars can be made equal in value. And with the double standard as a basis, resumption can not only be accomplished in 1879, but rendered beneficent and enduring. But if capitalists and influential journals persist in a course which prevents the utilization of silver, and consequently aggravates the business paralysis from which we have already suffered too long, they will provoke and precipitate evils which I am laboring to avert. The Bland Bill is susceptible of amendments which would, first, essentially aid resumption, and then, by putting the various industries of the country into active operation, perpetuate its advantages.
If Senators form Middle and Eastern States fail so to interpret their duty, the last chance for doing good and averting evil rests with the President. It is in his power to return the Silver Bill with a message that would compose and adjust all reasonable differences and difficulties. It is no surprise that the first day of our Legislative session brought the financial question to the surface in both of its branches. In the Senate an anti-Resumption Bill and in the Assembly an anti-Silver resolution were introduced.
These movements are alike, and equally ill-omened. I can think of nothing worse in effect, if not in its purpose, than the ill-timed introduction of a bill to repeal our State Resumption Law; second only in folly or mischief was a resolution responsive in language and spirit to the tirades of New-York and Albany journals against silver. I cherish the hope that there is good sense enough in our Legislature to prevent the passage of the Senate bill and to resist the adoption of the joint resolution. But if in the coming "irrepressible conflict" between capital and labor a majority of the members of the Legislature should array themselves in favor of a policy which deprives us of money that rewarded the industry of our fathers with wealth and happiness, the Legislative seats which know them now will knew them no more forever.
I will not permit myself to believe that New-York bankers, even under the stimulus of the New-York press, are so infatuated as to carry their threats concerning Western loans into effect. We have been compelled for a long time to pay for silks, champagne, cigars, etc., in gold. This is bad enough, but the grinding process had better stop here. There are causes enough already at work to deprive New-York of the business of the West, without a combination of bankers, egged on by the press, to refuse Western loans unless payment in gold is "nominated in the bond." New-Orleans, Charleston, Baltimore and Philadelphia, with the laws of climate and distance in their favor, are actively competing for the business so long monopolized by New-York. And to-day The Tribune announces the establishment of a line of steamers between Portland and Glasgow, connecting with the Canadian Grand Trunk Railway. Confronted with such eventualities is this a time to threaten the West with exactions which may disrupt our business relations with those to whom we must look, and upon whom we must rely for our future growth and prosperity ? If our capital is refused, the Western business from New-York, where and how shall we indemnify ourselves for alienating a region broader in extent, more rapid in growth, and richer in resources, than any other portion of our continent ?
Bond-Holders vs. Laborers.
While objecting to a double standard which makes gold and silver of equal value, the gold men offer a compromise which makes gold the standard for capital and silver a standard for labor. In other words, while demanding a gold standard for the payments of the bondholders, they offer to make silver a legal-tender for the payment of all debts under $20. The value of this concession can only be estimated in remembering that by the demonetization of silver it has fallen 8 per cent below par. In practice, therefore, we have two standards, one above and the other below par. The rich man, who "toils not," receives and enjoys his interest in gold, while the laborer is paid in currency, 8 per cent less in value than that which the capitalist receives. There are privileged classes in other countries and under other forms of government. It has been our boast heretofore that no such distinction exists among us that the high and the low, the rich and the poor, were recognized and protected under and by our constitution and laws. Is it believed that a law of Congress which provides a high standard of value for the rich and a lower one for the poor will be endured ? If such a belief exists, it is a delusion which will soon be dispelled. Hundreds of thousands of laborers while suffering from what were supposed to be unavoidable causes, have endured all with commendable forbearance. But patience and submission can be over-tasked. Laborers will fail to see either justice or equity in laws which depreciate the silver in which they are paid and appreciate the gold in which the bond-holders are paid. The middling and laboring classes will demand that silver, instead of being made a legal-tender for $5 or even $20, shall be recognized and declared a full and equal standard, and, fortunately for themselves, they have the power to enforce their demand. Silver has been "money current with the merchants" ever since men have had dealings with each other. Silver was coined in England and sent over to the American Colonies, where it became and remained a legal-tender until the adoption of our Constitution, by which gold and silver were made legal-tenders. Silver maintained its standard value until 1874, when it was wrongfully demonetized. This wrong must now be righted. The effort to repress enterprise and oppress industry by attempting to resume specie payments upon a narrow basis, will prove utterly abortive. Resumption can only be maintained by the remonetization of silver. Any attempt to strike a start or obliterate a stripe from the flag of the Union would be indignantly resented by the American people. All schemes and laws having for their object the repudiation of silver money will encounter a resistance equally indignant and inflexible. In view of the circumstance that those who ask for the remonetization of silver are reviled as men wanting to pay their honest debts in dishonest money, I may be pardoned for saying that my interest and associations, pecuniary and personal, are identical with those who maintain the other side of the question. I differ with them only in the means best calculated, in my judgment, not only to protect their interest, but to promote the general welfare. In a small way I am a bond-holder. It is quite convenient, after receiving from General Hillhouse, the Sub-Treasurer, interest in gold, to cross Wall-st, and receive from Colgate & Co. the premium in greenbacks. But I never pocket these premiums without remembering that my gain is anothers loss. The reflection that gold premiums are "squeezed drop by drop from the sweat of labor" is anything but pleasant. The sooner, therefore, we get back to a financial condition which affords general relief the better it will be for all concerned.
Among other objections to silver as a standard, its fluctuation in value is urged. This objection might be urged with equal force against gold, the value of which has fluctuated equally with silver throughout the money markets of the world. At the Gold Exchange in this city during the last sixteen years gold has risen from par to 250 and then receded to within 3 per cent above par. Can any such record of silver fluctuations be fund ? In the progress of early civilization, when trade, manufacture and commerce were in their infancy, and standards of value as mediums of exchange were needed, two metals suited to the occasion were found hidden in the earth, reserved, doubtless, until the time arrived when they could be utilized. These precious metals (for they were immediately recognized as precious) have been revealed throughout the world in discriminating proportions and in quantities corresponding with the increasing population, the developing resources and the business requirements of the universe. Silver and gold therefore, seem to have been among the bounties provided for the human race by a Ruler the wisdom and beneficence of Whose enactments should not be lightly questioned. Nor until very recently has that "Higher Law," to which we owe rich discoveries of silver, been impugned.
New-York, January 4, 1878.
The News this Morning
Yesterdays meeting of the bankers of this and other cities in opposition to the Bland bill was a large and representative gathering, it may safely be said that every great financial institution of this city was represented, and many others in Boston and Philadelphia were present by their friends if not by their officers. The report of the committee, of which Mr. George S. Coe was chairman, was a moderate and straightforward statement of the reasons why the Bland bill should not pass, except over the vote of every honest man in Congress, and must strike even the average silver lunatic as being as little like Shylock as possible. No man of good intelligence and honest intentions ought to be able to conclude its perusal, and still be an advocate of a dollar worth less than 90 cents. Under the report of the committee a resolution was adopted which provides for an efficient organization of the banks and insurance and trust companies, whereby a committee representing the great financial corporations of all the large cities will be able to call upon them at any time for such action as may be deemed advisable. First, however, there is to be a united protest to Congress against the passage of the Bland bill; after that, such measures as may be necessary, especially with view of attaining resumption as early as events shall prove to be practicable. The capital of the country is organized at last, and we shall see whether Congress will dare to fly in its face.
The Banks on the Crisis.
The bankers and businessmen of New York have taken an important step, and are sustained therein by bankers of Boston, Philadelphia and New-Orleans. Much that they might have done at once has been postponed, and perhaps wisely, if it was not possible to secure at this time the desired assurance of accord from bankers of this city and other cities. The time is near when they will feel themselves compelled to act strongly. Meanwhile, a very good thing has been done. The organization of a committee, representing the banks, saving banks, trust and life insurance companies, and the merchants of the different cities, with provision that the matters recommended for action by this committee shall be considered at simultaneous meetings in the different cities represented, is a great improvement. The machinery is now furnished by which in any emergency the financial corporations of the East can act together at a single days notice, and with such power that no act of Congress can overcome or resist their decision.
The Eastern cities are expected to concur heartily. Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore sent delegates and expressed full approval of the plan proposed. But there is good reason to believe that other cities, not Eastern, will be found ready to act with New-York in behalf of sound finance. The strong resolution of the New-Orleans Chamber of Commerce, the expression of already received from the commercial bodies of other cities, show that there is substantial unanimity of opinion among financial institutions. In truth, sound finance knows no section. It is the same, and demands the same, at the West or South as at the East. A Western community cannot afford, better that an Eastern, to repudiate an honest debt; commercial honesty means the same thing everywhere; and the exchanges which make modern commerce possible are necessarily conducted upon a medium a common understanding in all parts of the country as to the basis of values.
The fault we find with the action of the New-York bankers is that they did not at once take steps to fix a common basis of values in commercial transactions. But they reason, with some force, that a certain understanding and preparation by the financial institutions of the different cities are necessary before such an arrangement can be made effective. They say and the suggestion has weight "Let there be first the necessary understanding and organization for common defence; afterwards, the measures needful can be adopted and put into operation at a days notice." It is also true that the effectiveness of measures contemplated will be largely dependent upon the unanimity of action by the banks, and their action is likely to be much more hearty and united after some consideration that it could be now.
Taxing United States Bonds.
The Government owes a debt of Twenty-five Hundred Millions of Dollars. Most of this Debt was very rapidly contracted, in the midst of a perilous Civil War of doubtful result, whereby the National energies were taxed to the utmost. The rate of interest payable thereon averages nearly six per cent., which (now that we have peace and Union) is very high. We ought to be able greatly and rapidly to reduce it; and we have the clews in our hands. Our Debt is mainly funded in "Five-Twenties" that is, six per cent. bonds which we are at liberty to redeem after they have run five years, but not obliged to redeem till they shall have run twenty years. As we began to borrow largely in 1862-3, the option on some has matured; so that, if we were ready to call them in, we have a right to do so. And we ought now to be able to borrow, at 5 per cent. on short (say ten-year) bonds, at 4½ on longer (say 40 years,) and at 4 on long (say 100 years). The great capitals of Europe are full of money seeking safe investments; so is this City. Short loans are made here daily at 3, 3½ and 4 per cent.
Why are we not calling in our Five-Twenties that have already been five years running, and replacing them by bonds at lower rates ?---[You are bold-faced lying, 1,400 million of these bonds were sold after the war war over !!!]
We answer, Because of well-grounded apprehension of National rascality. The recommendations of Pendleton, Stevens, Butler, and others, that we pay off the Five-Twenties in Greenbacks, and the clamor raised in several States for taxing the Debt, in express defiance of its stipulations, is costing us thousands per day already, and will ultimately cost us millions on millions. All knavery is foolish and costly; but an embarrassed debtor who undertakes to be knavish without declaring himself absolutely bankrupt, is a supereminent fool.
The late Republican National Convention at Chicago, in enunciating the principles which form the platform whereon Grant and Colfax are to be supported and elected, evinced scarcely less than inspired wisdom in proclaiming that
"V. The National Debt, contracted, as it has been, for the preservation of the Union for all time to come, should be extended over a fair period for redemption; and it is the duty of Congress to reduce the rate of interest thereon, whenever it can be honestly done.
"VI. That the best policy to diminish our burden of debt is to so improve our credit that capitalists will seek to loan us money at lower rates of interest than we now pay, and must continue to pay so long as repudiation, partial or total, open or covert, is threatened or suspected."
In defiance of this wise and righteous proposition, the House on Monday, by the vote of a minority of the Republicans and all but one of the Copperheads, on motion of Mr. Cobb of Illinois,
Resolved, That the Committee of Ways and Means be and hereby instructed to report without unnecessary delay a bill levying a tax of at least ten per centum on the interest of the bonds of the United States, to be assessed and collected annually by the Secretary of the Treasury and such of his subordinates as may be charged with the duty of paying interest on the bonded indebtedness of the United States.
By its terms, this proposition contemplates taxation of the bonds held by foreigners as well as those belonging to our own people. It used to be an American principle that taxation and representation go together. Yet here are people who never saw this country taxed several millions per annum by the Congress of the United States.
If we can tax our creditors, including foreigners, ten per cent., why not twenty, forty, sixty ? Does Mr. Cobb doubt that others will be found to improve on his beginning ?
It is very doubtful that this proposition can be driven through the Senate, so as to give it practical operation. There is no doubt whatever that it will render the conversion of our Five-Twenties into new bonds bearing a lower rate of interest very difficult if not absolutely impossible. The loss is instant, certain, palpable; the gain prospective, remote, contingent. We need to borrow at low rates to replace our six per cents.; so we advertise the financial world that our promise to pay so much per annum is a delusion that we claim the right to abstract from the stipulated sum at our own mere will.
When the French Government by a decree reduced by one-half the value of shares in Law's Mississippi scheme, it supposed that they would decline further; but capitalists said, "If the Government can take one-half to-day, it may take the other half to-morrow," and refused to touch them at any price. What was meant for reduction proved utter ruin.
It is urged that other Governments have dealt thus with their creditors. So they have. Villainy is not now patentable it is a very old discovery. But has any Government ever levied ten per cent. arbitrarily on its debt, and on that alone ? We reckon not.
We entreat Congress to pause and consider. There is a right and a wrong way to secure a reduction of the interest on our National Debt. The right way was traced out with a finger of light by the late Republican National Convention. The wrong way is that pioneered by Mr. Cobb.
Shall the Democratic Platform be Honest or a Cheat ?
The prime question of the hour far transcending that which concerns the choice of a candidate to be beaten by General Grant is that which we have asked above. The man is to be put forth as the exponent of Democratic principles but what are they ? How do they bear upon what all see and feel to be the issues of our great civil convulsion ? In other words Is the enfranchisement of the Southern Blacks to be openly treated as a nullity, to be brushed aside by violence whenever the Sham Democracy shall have regained the control of the Federal Government ? or is it to be more insidiously resisted till it can be subverted ?
General Francis P. Blair, jr., is one of the nineteen aspirants for the Presidential nomination, and, being a renegade Republican, has naturally more honesty and less trickery than a dyed-in-the-wool Tammany Democrat. General Blair's friends apparently with his approval have put forth a manifesto embodying his views on the live questions of the day which reads as follows:
"Blair, now as always, scouts the idea of giving the ballot to the negro. Negro Suffrage he regards as a cardinal issue of the canvass, and his inflexible opposition to the Radical doctrine of Negro Suffrage is the chief issue on which the Conservatives must triumph. He holds the Reconstruction acts establishing military despotism in the South to be unconstitutional, null, and void, and that the National Convention should so declare them; that the Reconstruction acts are mere usurpations, sustained only bu lawless violence and the force of arms; that the Government must withdraw this coercion, correct its wrong, and leave to the White population to regulate the question of Suffrage; that the bastard and spurious governments set up at the South will fall as soon as the military is withdrawn.
"Furthermore, he asserts that it is the duty of the coming President to see that justice is done by restoring the governments which are created and properly constituted of the White population to those to whom they belong.
"General Blair says that the laws of Congress disfranchising persons who were embraced in the amnesty proclamations and special pardons, are illegal, arbitrary, and void, as are also the test-oaths for voters.
"General Blair is unwilling to accept or acquiesce in anything done by the Radical Congress on the subject of Reconstruction. He is for confining the government of the country exclusively to the White man, and is confident of an overwhelming defeat of Radicalism."
This, you see, is revolution, plain and simple an appeal from the decision of the ballot-box to force and violence. There is not one syllable in the Federal Constitution that in any manner countenances the naked assumption that Whites have any rights under our Government which do not pertain to others on the contrary, Blacks, if free, have always been accounted and regarded as, equally with Whites, a basis of political power. "Free persons" and "all other persons" are the only class distinctions known to the Constitution; and the assumption that Whites, merely because they are Whites, can rightfully deprive Blacks of the Elective Franchise, is more preposterous than any of the bases of the late Rebellion. General Blair's platform is one of undisguised Revolution it contemplates the inauguration of bloody strife by Rebels to reclutch the privileges which they are lawfully adjudged to have forfeited by treason and to disfranchise those whose loyalty has been rewarded with enfranchisement.
Now see how The World begs the Old Boy to hide his cloven foot for the present and try to pass himself off for a City Missionary or Sunday School superintendent:
"It is expedient to pitch our demands in so low a key as to give Republicans an excuse for deserting their party: A party in power can safely do many things which a party out of power cannot attempt without ruin. * * * * We fear that many Democrats underrate the moral effect of a Democratic triumph. They make the mistake of supposing that nothing will be gained beyond what is bargained for in the platform. * * * * * Some of our zealous but uncalculating Democratic friends seem to think that the train ought to start at a speed of 50 miles an hour, when there is barely power enough in the engine to set it slowly in motion. The same expenditure of steam which scarcely suffices to move it at first will give it as high-speed when it is well under way. Or, to speak without a figure, a reactionary as well as a revolutionary movement gains strength in its progress. People will easily assent to things in its later stages against which they would have recoiled in the beginning. Those politicians can have given but a superficial attention either to the history or the philosophy of great political changes, who think that all should be demanded at the outset which it may be thought desirable to obtain in the end. If Milo of Crotona had begun by attempting to carry the bull, he never would have become so famous; but by beginning with the calf he succeeded.
"The great duty laid upon the Democratic party is to start a change of policy by carrying this Presidential election. In order to do it, we must induce some citizens to vote with us who have formerly acted with the Republican party. There is not the slightest danger that any portion of the Democratic party will fail to sustain the action of the Convention. Our success depends upon our ability to win over a few votes from the other side in five or six States; unless we can accomplish this, last year's election returns show that we shall be defeated. 'There's nothing succeeds like success.' If we can but carry this election, we shall thereafter have swarms of proselytes, and shall experience no difficulty in establishing any reasonable policy. Even the republican party will look at public questions through very different eyes after a great Democratic victory. It behooves us to have 'gumption' enough to take hold of things by the right end."
All this is very plain to those who know how to read. "Keep dark till we have wonthen we will do what, if foreshadowed now, would drive off so many that we could not win at all." This is exactly what The World means not to have undone, but keep unknown.
We care not whether the open Rebels or the shuffling tricksters shall prevail in the framing of the new Democratic platform about to be promulgated from Tammany Hall the upshot is the same, and the People shall know it. They mean to carry the Election, or claim to have carried it, somehow, and thereupon inaugurate a revolutionary movement to suppress the new State Governments of the South and replace them by creatures of violence and usurpation, based upon the Rebel axiom that "This is a White Man's Government," wherein Blacks have no rights but those of cattle. We dare them to say what they mean !