Ideas for a Science of Good Government

by Hon. Peter Cooper, LL.D.


(New York Herald, January 28, 1882.)

“ Whenever a financial measure is proposed in Congress, ostensibly, perhaps really, for the public good, but by which the national banks may possibly benefit, a very howl is raised over the country, crying out that nothing should be done, which will add to their already great strength and vast influence.  The various bills before Congress on matters, connected with the public funds, are closely watched for hidden evidences of national bank jobbery, and the passing of necessary measures is often delayed by the close inspection of these financial detectives.  Congressman Tillman, it would seem, has, however, quite evaded the close scrutiny of a little bill, now before the House, to authorize national banks to make loans upon mortgage of real estate.  On its face it is a harmless affair ;  but it is really a most dangerous bill, which should be carefully inquired into and combated by believers in a safe and conservative system of banking.  It relieves the banks of the restriction, now imposed on the investment of their funds, enables them to enter the real estate market as speculators, allows them to invest in mortgages of any and all kinds, does not bar directors from loaning the funds of the bank to a member of the direction, and, in fact, permits them to do what they will without let or hindrance in negotiating loans on good, bad or indifferent real estate security.  It opens the door to worthless investments and to financial knavery of various kinds, and threatens to inaugurate a new business for national banks, for which they were not organized, which is beyond the limits of their legitimate functions, and which can only breed distrust in their ultimate soundness, and will eventually create serious trouble in the business community.”

“ Dr. Newman preached to a large congregation, in his church on Madison Avenue, on abuses of partisan rule in New York, and the moral responsibility of our citizens.  His text was Exodus, xviii., 21—”  ‘ Thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness, and place over them to be rulers.’

The great need of the hour, he said, is a political conscience, which will respond to every voice of duty and of justice.  Each man should have a conception of his cleat political duties, a realization of his individual responsibility in the issues of an election, a manifest interest in the moral character of officials, not unlike that, which he feels in the character of the minister of his church, the teacher of his children and the agent of his business.

Two objections are offered in apology for the non-performance of our sacred politico-religious duty—the uncongeniality of politics and the lack of time to attend thereto.  A man might as well plead the unpleasantness to pay his debts, to keep his bridal vows, to obey his God.  A man, who boasts I never vote might better boast I never pray, for prayers and votes are always the same before the bar of God.  Do you plead, that the professed politician is so degraded, the caucus so low and the Convention so corrupt ?  Plead the same objections against business associations.  A politician is a saint to some business men.  Clean out the politician and improve the Convention.  If Christ came into this world of sin to save it, the saint should go to the caucus to redeem it.  Not a few plead business cares, but intense selfishness is the root of evil.  Such men forget, that were it not for organized society they would neither have wealth nor pleasure.



MR. SPEAKER :  I propose the following amendment :

“ That all the interest-bearing indebtedness of the United States now due or optional with the Government, and all other interest-bearing indebtedness as it shall hereafter become due, shall be paid in lawful money of the United States.

“ SEC. 2.  That all money now in the Treasury, and all revenues of the United States Government not otherwise appropriated, shall be applied in payment of the interest-bearing debt.

“ SEC. 3.  That the Secretary of the Treasury be, and he is hereby authorized and required to issue non-interest-bearing Treasury notes of the United States of the denominations of one, two, five, ten, twenty, fifty, and one hundred dollars, which shall be made lawful money and a legal tender at its face value for all taxes, revenues, and debts, public and private, within the United States, which may be necessary in addition to the aforesaid money and revenues to pay the said interest-bearing debt now due, and also the interest-bearing debt now optional with the Government, and all other interest-bearing debts as they shall respectively become due.

“ That the Secretary of the Treasury is hereby authorized and required to issue Treasury notes made a full legal tender and lawful money in denominations convenient for currency, and in quantity equal to any contraction which may be caused by the withdrawal of national-bank notes.

“ SEC. 4.  That all acts and parts of acts in conflict herewith be, and the same are hereby, repealed.”

Mr. Speaker, this amendment provides for paying into the circulation all money and revenues not otherwise appropriated, and issuing legal-tender currency to take the place of interest-bearing bonds now due, or optional with the Government, and also to take the place of national-bank currency.  It provides against any contraction by the withdrawal of bank paper and saves to the people from $12,000,000 to $15,000,000 per annum.  The adoption of this amendment would provide for the payment of the interest-bearing debt and supply the people with money which is preferred to gold.

Mr. Speaker, Hon. Peter Cooper, the great American philanthropist and political economist, who in moral and patriotic grandeur is second to no man of his time, in his late petition to Congress protests against the passage of the bill under consideration as reported by the committee, and presents the argument for a just and enlightened policy so clearly and forcibly that I deem it due to the cause and in the interest of good government and humanity to give his petition entire, etc.  (See “ Congressional Record.”)

“ Letter to the New York Independent by the Rev. Thomas K. Beecher, of Elmira, in reply to an extract, previously published in that journal :”

‘ If these Greenbackers had as much sense as persistency we should think very well of them.’—Independent, July 7, 1882.

“ Mr. Editor and readers of the Independent, have you ever read for yourselves the authoritative deliverance of this ‘ National ’ party ?  Not less than thirty times, during the last two years, acquaintances of mine have asked me, How can you, with your intelligence, allow yourself to be called a Greenbacker ?  To which question I make answer as above :  ‘ Have you read our platforms ? ’  I find invariably, that they have not, and when I name over one by one our cardinal doctrines, I have to find a man, who does not agree with us.

No one can yet foresee which one of our half dozen doctrines, is first to arrest the public ear and hold it long enough to get an answer.  But, mark my words :  They will force themselves in some order upon general attention more and more, because each and every one handles a vital question.

Earnest men, disgusted with the mean and mercenary phase of ‘ politics,’ when once they come into a convention or council of Greenbackers, are refreshed to find themselves in company with intelligent and unambitious men of principle ;  men, who modestly illustrate that, which Goldwin Smith prayed for :  ‘ Heaven preserve England and make her public men think what will become of themselves at the next election.’

“ Mr. Editor, we have ‘ persistence,’ because we have ‘ sense.’  At a time, when the venerable statesmen of the United States Senate concentrate their sublime powers of debate upon the little Penn Yan post-office, and after listening to ‘ masterly orations,’ vote upon the question, whether Lapham or Miller shall name the postmaster, it would seem as if it were time for somebody, somewhere, to call attention to questions of scope and dignity.

Already the organized Anti-Monopoly League in this and other States, has borrowed one of the principal demands of the Nationals and made it a rally.  All right.

Already every business man in the land prefers a greenback Treasury note to any other form of paper or metal money.  And we Greenbackers say :  All right, we say so, too.

Who of all the readers of the Independent for a moment doubts, that the multiplication and encouragement of small freehold farms and homes is a good policy for any State ?  Who that has read or thought fails to perceive, that vast plantations, estates, ranches, grain or stock farms, held by one patron or capitalist landlord, have been and are ruinous to Rome, Ireland, France, and even to New York ?  Ought not limitation laws to find some place on our statute books ?

Ought not a corporation, that has received land grants as compensation for work to be done, to either do the work or else quit selling off the lands and pocketing the proceeds ?

If the control of the Mississippi, as a free water-way for commerce, was of such importance, as to justify the Louisiana purchase and furnish our strongest argument against secession and a split Union, is not the control of transcontinental railways of far greater importance—channels that they are of a far greater commerce and travel ?

If we noisily protest, that foreigners must not control the Isthmus canals, how can it be safe to allow Gould and Vanderbilt to control transcontinental railways ?

If, for purposes of revenue, our Government inspects whiskey and certifies the proof—so much spirit and so much water—why not inspect stocks and forbid dividends on waterings, and call into the Treasury the earnings, now absorbed by barefaced frauds ?

Questions like these interest us Greenbackers far more, than the faction fights, that absorb the attention of the two great parties.  As a Christian pastor and teacher, I invite young citizens to discuss these questions, for they yield an education every way.

But as between the two old parties I am not able to discern any difference of doctrine or policy ;  nor do I find, that party leaders set any great value upon public discussion, or controlling votes or carrying elections.

Hubbell is assessing the Republican officeholders.  Conventions inquire chiefly for candidates with a barrel, which they are ready to tap with a big auger.  Votes are bought by the hundreds in this little city of Elmira, under disguise as thin as a bride’s veil.  The appropriation bills in Congress are of interest chiefly, as furnishing the corruption fund of political war.  Goodness, openness and honesty are sneered at as Sunday School politics.  I know no difference between Republican and Democrat, except that one is in and fat, the other out and hungry.

And when the tidings came over the land of a new National party, with principles inscribed on its banners, one would think, that good citizens, overweary with watching for a chance to be active in public affairs, without being compromised by the company of liars, conspirators and thieves, would at least run and read the inscription.

The only fault I find with my Greenback friends is, that they put too many good things in their platforms.  Too much sense, O Independent! not too little.  They talk about too many things.

If counsel might avail in these unsatisfactory days, I would advise every patriot to forsake the two old parties and join the prohibition army, or the Anti-Monopoly League, or the Greenback party.  Join anything, anywhere, that entertains and proclaims principles, of which you can make yourself an enthusiastic advocate, year after year, no matter how the election goes, nor which Senator controls the Penn Yan post-office.

There is a pure and bright political enthusiasm which, next after the inspirations of home and the hope of heaven, is the noblest stir possible to man.  I know Greenbackers not a few, who have felt this quickening.  Many such were at Albany at their recent Convention.  With them or with their like it is an honor and a refreshment to be associated.


Elmira, N.Y.


“ October 21, 1882.


“ SIR :  If we are true in our desire to overthrow monopolies and the tyranny of wealth, which are the greatest dangers our Republican institutions have to fear, I cannot see how we can avoid voting against the candidates (however excellent in personal character), who have been nominated by these evil powers.  I am a Republican, and have always voted the Republican ticket ;  because I believed the Republican party represented political wisdom and virtue, as against demagogism and anarchy.  But, if the helm of the Republican party is to be seized by a selfish class interest, its wisdom and virtue are gone.  The only way for true Republicans to bring back the party to its purity, is to vote down the nominees of the conspirators.  But this (say some) will give the State to the Democrats.  Very well !  Let the Democrats have control.  I’ll trust an honest Democratic party rather, than a dishonest Republican party.  We know what the Democratic party is, and will be on our guard ;  but a Republican party, that professes a high morality, while promoting rascality, will only deceive.

The election of the present Republican State ticket would be the endorsement of bribery, fraud and the tyranny of the money power.  No consideration whatever can justify this.  Fortunately the Democratic party have given us candidates of the very highest character, whom we all can respect and support without any qualms.  By their election, not the Republican party, but the miserable, dirty wire-pullers, will be defeated, and a blow will be given to Monopoly, Greed, Trickery & Co., under which they will stagger to their holes.

The whole question, which the voters at the coming election have to meet, may be narrowed down to this, Shall we have money-lords to rule us ? or specifically, Shall we condemn Governor Cornell for vetoing the Elevated Railroad Tax Bill ?  The aye to the latter means aye to the former.

I make no apology for meddling with politics.  I am an American, a citizen and native of New York.  I never sold my birthright.  When great moral crises arise, I wilt not hesitate to speak as loudly as I can for the truth.  With mere local and personal politics I have nothing to do.  I add these last words for the benefit of those, who suppose clergymen are either women or children.

Yours very truly,             

“ The Rev. Elbert S. Porter, D.D., who has long been known as a Stalwart Republican, discussed the political situation last Sunday night, in the Bedford Avenue Reform Church, Brooklyn, E.D., of which he is pastor.  Dr. Porter prophesied the early dissolution of both the political parties, as the old questions were no longer live issues, and nothing but the spoils kept either party together.  A new party, formed by the best men of both parties, would come into the control of the Government and its platform would be civil service reform and Anti-monopoly.  It would be a good thing, he continued, for the Republican party to be defeated this year in New York, as it doubtless would be defeated.  The Republican party never stood so high as it did now, when its members were unwilling to submit to machine dictation and preferred defeat rather, than victory by fraud :  I have voted the Republican ticket since 1860, he continued, on State and national issues, but the party is so corrupt now and is so eager to clutch at money, that it is best to defeat it.”

“ The Rev. D.M. Hodge, pastor of the Harlem Universalist Church, preached in the evening on Politics, taking his text from Deuteronomy xvi., 18, 19, 20—‘ Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates, which the Lord thy God giveth thee throughout thy tribes, and thou shalt judge the people with just judgment.’  This, he said, is the political council of the Mosaic law.  It urges the duty of the people to make their own judges and officers.  I have not any very high opinion of what are commonly known as political sermons.  I should not know how to preach one.  But the subject of politics itself is one, which commands a great deal of the thought and time of the people.

The present condition of political affairs is notoriously corrupt.  From secret conclaves and nominating conventions comes up a stench of evil, offensive in the nostrils of honest men, so that men say :  ‘ The whole business of politics is so corrupt and disreputable, its methods are so full of intrigue and dishonesty, that it seems most consistent with the dignity of the Christian pulpit and of high-minded men to let politics severely alone, to ignore the subject altogether.’  But it is this kind of dignity, that is killing us.  It suits the politicians too well.  All that a low, mean, lying, forging, intriguing demagogue wants is to be let alone.

The greatest danger, that threatens our institutions grows out of the apathy of our best and most intelligent citizens.  Upon every citizen rest the duties, the obligations of citizenship.  He has no right to neglect them, or put them aside and to leave honest and disinterested men anxious for good Government in an impotent minority.

You are a citizen of the United States of America, of the planet Earth, and the best thing you can possibly do, is to roll up the sleeves of your dignity, vote and work against the demagogues, and so help to improve the sanitary condition of American politics.  If you don’t do this with all your intelligence and integrity you don’t count.  Be independent !  If both parties, or both sets of candidates, are objectionable, be your own party, till you find somebody of your own way of thinking ;  nominate your men and vote for them.”


“ Let me state the issues separately.  They are as follows First—What shall be the permanent system of finance in the nation, which, when adopted, shall exist as long as the Republic shall last ?  Shall it be a system, where the power to issue the money and control its volume shall be delegated to an irresponsible banking monopoly, or shall it be a system, where the people govern themselves upon finance, as they do in war, peace and the domestic relations ?  This is a very great question, because the finances of a country relate to the moral and physical welfare of every soul, that lives under the flag, and every hour that they live.  It takes hold, not only of the physical condition of man, but also upon the spiritual and intellectual conditions, etc.

This question of finance takes hold of the trinity in man.  The Saviour understood that very well, when He fed His hungry disciples before He preached to them.  The second great question is cognate to the first :  Shall the railroad corporations be brought into subjugation to law and be compelled to work in harmony with labor, or shall they become our modern barons, lords and masters ?  Third, Shall the public debt remain ? that cancer upon the body politic, which, when it only amounted to about $16,000,000 in the days of Jefferson, so troubled him, that he wrote concerning it :  ‘ When I think of the public debt, I cannot sleep upon my pillow, so certain am I, that, if allowed to remain ;  it will undermine the liberties of the American people.’  Now, here is a trinity of great questions, and out of the trinity grow a group of other questions, such as the land question, and various other questions, that to-day agitate the heart and the brain of the American people.  These are the great issues.  Why do you require a new party to settle them ?  Give me your close attention upon this point.  Prominent National Bankers are Republicans.  Prominent National Bankers are Democrats.  Prominent railroad kings are Republicans.  Prominent railroad kings are Democrats.  Prominent Democrats own large interests in Government bonds, and when they meet in their national conventions, they simply train both the old organizations in the interest of those monopolies, etc.  Hence the monopolists come into the old parties and do their work, throw their influence and great wealth upon the side of the monopoly factions, and the result is, they control your conventions and control your nominations, etc.

The monopolies are all confederated together.  They fight under one flag, they are all in sympathy with each other, and the great mother monopoly of them all is the national banking monopoly.

I wish to illustrate briefly the bank monopoly by a couple of bills, which I hold in my hand.  This one dollar bill is a greenback, and this one a national bank bill.  Now, these two bills represent the second edition of William H. Seward’s ‘ Irrepressible conflict,’ that is still going on in this country ;  the irrepressible conflict between the people and the people’s money on the one side, and corporations and corporation money on the other.

I say the conflict is irrepressible, for one or the other must go.

The decree has gone forth on the one hand, that the greenbacks shall go, and we declare, that the national banks shall go.  The Republican party has declared war against the greenback, and we respond, ‘ Lay on, Macduff,’—and you know the balance of the quotation.  Now, this greenback bill is the money of the Constitution.  I say that, because the Supreme Court of the United States has decided, that a greenback is constitutional money ;  not because issued in the time of war, but they have decided it to be constitutional, upon the broad pedestal of the Constitution itself.  It is, then, the money of the Constitution.  It is the money of the Constitution in a far dearer sense than that, because we know it saved the Constitution, when the storm and tempest were howling about her.  Things don’t happen in this world as often as you may think they do.  There is ‘ A divinity which shapes our ends,’ and consequently it is very appropriate, that you should have the picture on this constitutional money, that I find here the picture of the Father of his Country, who presided over the Constitutional Convention.  Very appropriate, that this picture should be upon that bill.  Now there is a picture upon this national bank bill, that is also appropriate.  Two women, bareheaded and bare-footed, in a wheat-field, shooking wheat, emblematic of the poverty, engendered by this system of finance.

Now, when the Government of the United States issued that greenback dollar and paid it out, it got value received for it.  That was right, was it not ?  The Government ought not to give away its money.  I have no reference to pensions ;  that is not a gift.  Nor have I any reference to proper charities, the Government sometimes has to indulge in ;  but, as a rule, the Government ought not to give its money away.  So, when the Government issued, that dollar, it got value received.  We have $346,000,000 of greenback money in circulation.  When the Government paid it out, it paid $346,000,000 of debt.  That was right, etc. . . . But when the Government paid out this national bank bill to the First National Bank of the City of New York, how much did it get ?  They did not get a cent.  It was a clear donation.  The Government does get one per cent. per annum tax ;  that is all.  But it did not get it in advance.  When the Government issued that bill it was a clear donation to the Bank.  Now, we have $357,000,000 of that kind of money in circulation, and when the Government issued it, it was a gift of $357,000,000 ;  and to what class of men ?  Rich or poor ?  Rich men, who already had their money invested in Government bonds, and were shirking every burden, that you people have to bear.  Tell me why the Government of the United States should do that thing ?  If I have a $100,000 bond, or if the bank, which issued that bill had a $100,000 bond deposited as security for their circulation, they continue, and are, to-day, drawing interest on every farthing of that bond, and the Government, in addition to that, gave them back $90,000 in national bank currency.  You give the national banker $90,000 simply, because he is the fortunate owner of a $100,000 bond, that draws a high rate of interest and pays no taxes.

O, that some spirit, some influence maybe breathed upon the people, that shall arouse them to a sense of their real situation !  At the end of the first century of our national life, through cruel class legislation, every avenue and agent of commercial life and activity have been wrenched from the people, and turned over to corporate control and greed.  We, to-day, practically have but one railroad, one banking organization, one telegraph company, and one express company.  Now we declare to you, that these things must not be so.  We are building a new structure, a new party ;  what shall be its chief corner stone ?  Early in the year 1860, Abraham Lincoln made a speech in this hall.  Let his voice be heard again here to-night.  President Lincoln, in his first annual message, December 3, 1861, declared as follows :  ‘ There is one point, to which I desire to call attention ;  it is the attempt to place capital on an equal footing with, if not above, labor, in the structure of Government.  Labor is prior to capital.  Capital is the fruit of labor, and could not exist, if labor had not first existed.  Labor, therefore, deserves much the higher consideration.’  This is the chief corner-stone of the new political party.  But how hollow and meaningless is Mr. Lincoln’s declaration, when read in the light of the class legislation of the past fifteen years !  Capital has not only been placed upon ‘ an equal footing with labor,’ but by law it has been made the master and oppressor of labor.  It is the mission of the National party to destroy this abnormal condition of things and to restore labor to its rightful supremacy.  Not that we would bring on a conflict between capital and labor, but that we would prevent it.  Labor and capital were joined together by our all-wise Creator.  Let no man put them asunder.  Their relations must be most intimate, friendly and tender.  But this is not the case at present.  A man owning a $50,000, 4½ per cent.  Government bond can now, under the law, without doing a day’s work, convert his fifty thousand investment into an investment of more than one hundred thousand.  He can deposit his $50,000, 4½ per cent., and draw ninety per cent. of the market value of his bond in national bank currency, while his neighbor with $50,000 invested in productive industry, of course, can do no such thing, but must labor and lose, and in addition bear an undue share of the burdens of the State.  How long, I ask, will this condition of things be allowed to exist ?  Labor is compelled to borrow from those, who do not work, and whose wealth is given to them by statutory enactment.  The laborer makes his money by hard knocks, and the bondholder his by ‘ Be it enacted,’ etc. . . .

Why, my fellow-citizens, between the teachings of modern Republicanism and the doctrine of Abraham Lincoln, concerning the rights of labor, there is a gulf as wide as that between the rich man and Lazarus, after the latter had reached heaven and the former had been cast down to hell.

It was the maxim of our Fathers, that industry, economy and wise investment of surplus earnings in productive pursuits constituted the only legitimate road to affluence.  But it is not so to-day.  Industry toils as a slave to corporate greed, etc. . . . Confederated monopolies hold the issues of life and death in their hands.  They dictate to the producer what he shall have for his toil, and to the consumer what he shall pay for the bread of life.  The most dazzling, and heretofore unheard-of fortunes, are being piled up by means of this extortion.  And in turn this wrongful accumulation of wealth is being openly used to subsidize the press, employ the best trained talent of the country, and to corrupt public officials, Legislatures, Congress, and judicial tribunals.  Who is able to deny these things ?  Why, if you wish to get a glimpse of the influence of corporations over your Government, contemplate for a moment the awful fact, that the Government, in utter violation of its trust, has given away to railroad corporations over 250,000,000 acres of the public domain, that was intended by a kind Providence as homes for our children.  An area nine times larger than the great State of Ohio !  Just think of that for a moment, and your hearts will grow sick within you, etc. . . .

Now, whence must our help come in this extremity ?  I answer, from the people and through the instrumentality of a new party.  Forgetting ourselves we must continue to go forth, every one of us, as evangels of truth, educating and arousing the latent energies and hearts of the people.  The remedy must come through the ballot box, and it must come in harmony with the business safety of the community.  We seek no violent or doubtful methods, but only to usher in purer methods and the rightful reign of the people over their own affairs.

We shall not be disappointed, for our party is strictly national in all of its aims and aspirations.  Sectional animosities are wholly unknown within our party, and the South will gladly strike hand with us to usher in the new civilization.

Fortunately for that section of our Union, she is free, comparatively, from bank monopoly and other corporate power.  She has now the opportunity, rarely offered to any people, to become the leader in an emancipation, that will endear her forever to mankind.  She will not be slow to see the great opportunity.  Her statesmen, less sordid than many in other localities, are awake to the situation.  We hail her people as co-laborers in the greatest reform movement ever inaugurated since the dawn of human history.  Political animosities perish and are forgotten in the presence of our National, our most fraternal organization.  Let us take courage from the recent large gains at the West, and go forward.  We stand at the ushering in of a new era.  Old things, old parties, shall pass away, and lo, all things shall become new ! ”


“ Those patriotic institutions, which gentlemen are so anxious to invest with the absolute control of your currency—the life-blood of your business and prosperity—were perfectly willing to overturn your admirable monetary system, disorder your industries, and throw multitudes of men out of employment to defeat an ordinary and proper act of legislation, affecting them about one per cent on their bonds, when you were furnishing them $343,000,000 of paper at your expense, with Government indorsement at one per cent. per annum.

These banks are making a steady and persistent war on your greenback money, silver certificates and the silver dollar, and are already supported by high officers of the Government.  Does any gentlemen on this floor doubt that, if the system is permanently established by the passage of this bill which, at no remote day, at the demand of these banks, your greenback money and silver certificates will be retired and national bank notes substituted in their place ?  Their system is well defined and simple gold coin the only standard of value, and no taxation by the Government, even the one per cent. they pay you for their circulation to be removed.  The Comptroller of the Currency, the representative of the system, in his last report, page 52, says :—

‘ The Comptroller again respectfully repeats his recommendation for the repeal of the law, imposing a tax upon bank capital, deposits and the two per cent. stamp upon bank checks.’

And on page 58 of the report urges, that Congress shall limit the States in taxing the shares of stock, and yet during the last year there was paid out of your Treasury at the expense of the Comptroller’s Office alone for the benefit of the banks $,214,118.50.

Have great capital interests been so mindful of the welfare of the people, that you can safely trust your currency to their keeping ?  If so, when has it been displayed ?  I remember very well, when a distinguished capitalist of Massachusetts rose on this floor to ask for the passage of the bill to reorganize the Mint (an event so often mentioned here).  I remember very well the incident, the questions and the answers, that accompanied the passage of that innocently-titled bill through the House, which struck from your coinage the silver dollar, and did it, too, on the very eve of the period, when the coinage of the silver dollar was to be vital to the public welfare.

I would rather indulge the belief, that the distinguished gentleman was not fully conscious of the measure under his control, and of which I believe he was not the author ;  but I am confident, that no man can carefully consider the events of that period and the men, who were then at this Capitol, and recall events transpiring in Europe, and the state of our public debt, and the fact, that the debts of the nations then exceeded in volume any example in history, without being impressed with the belief, that that measure was not a mere incident of ordinary legislation, but a part of a conspiracy of great capitalists against the labor of mankind.

Our silver certificate is not a new idea.  I think I have read, that the Dutch suggested the idea.  The frugal burgomasters of Amsterdam perceived the convenience of paper money a long time ago and organized a bank.  The only law of that bank was that, when a paper dollar was issued, a silver dollar should be put in the vaults to pay it, when it came back.

I have entire faith in this system of silver certificates, and believe they will play an important and most valuable part in your currency system.  But the audacious and persistent war made upon the legal tender notes, the silver dollar, and the silver certificate by the great bankers ought to inform our people, that in the early future there will be no divided control of your currency.  The Government will issue all forms of currency for the common benefit of the people, or the national banks will issue it all on the credit and at the expense of the Government for the benefit of the banks.

There is no country, where corporations exercise as tremendous a power as in our own.  It is true, that incorporated companies exist in Great Britain, and to a limited extent in the nations of continental Europe.  There are ninety banks in France, with thirty-seven millions of people ;  but in all those nations corporations are hedged in and restricted by wholesome laws, and are made subordinate to the public good, except where they have been organized for the express purpose of giving strength to monarchical power, and then they have been made subordinate to Government, even if organized to oppress the people,” etc. . . .


“ We have now a varied currency in this country, which passes at the same valuation, as fixed by the Government, though its so-called intrinsic value is unlike in every case.  To please those, who fix the gold dollar as the proper basis, we will place that first, and give the value in gold of each of the other dollars, which, can buy just as much labor, food, or anything else as the gold dollar purchases :

The gold dollars, . . . . . . . .100 cents.
The Trade silver, 420 gr. . . . . .99½
The Daddy dollar, 412½ gr. . . 97 7/8
The Mexican, 417½ gr. . . . . . .99
Two half-dollars, 371¼ gr. . . . 88 1/8
20 nickels, 5c. . . . . . . . . . . . . .17½
33 1/3 nickels, 3c. . . . . . . . .16¾
The Greenback. . . . . . . . . . . .0

It will be observed, here are eight distinct kinds of money, which circulate indiscriminately in our country, and the least valuable, intrinsically, as compared with gold, buys just as much as any of the others.  We want no better argument, than the table above to explode all the fallacies of the bullionists.  It is the stamp of the Government, that makes money.  Without it nothing is money.”


“ Men call the Greenback movement a delusion and fanaticism.  What is fanaticism ?  It is enthusiasm blinding judgment.  It is prejudice—obstinately clinging to theories in spite of facts, which disprove them.  Let us ask, then, who to-day are the fanatics, judging by this rule.  Look at facts, the world over.  Whenever, during the last century, either of our great nations has seen its existence threatened by civil war, or foreign assault, instantly that nation has run to the shelter of paper currency, and generally been thus enabled to survive the storm.  This is a fact, not a dream.  Does this prove, that paper currency is necessarily ruin and shipwreck ?  Does it not rather look as if a paper currency had some quality in it, that called forth to the last dollar the resources of the people, and so stimulated their energies, that they could avail themselves of all their possible and hidden power ?

When a man strips to fight for his life, he puts himself in the condition and posture to do his best.  When a nation girds herself for a last desperate struggle for existence, what, does history tell us she has uniformly done ?  History tells us, that a nation in such extremity has uniformly thrown off, every incumbrance, stopped every drain upon her resources, stimulated every possible power of production, economized all her means, and guarded herself, as carefully as possible, from all foreign interference with her business prosperity.  How has she secured and effected all this ?  History answers, ‘ By resorting to a paper currency.’

There need be no fear of communism.  Capital and labor have no dividing line here.  Like the colors on a dove’s neck, they join and unite everywhere.  We have mingled freely with workingmen, and never yet met one, who did not believe and proclaim, that the interests of capital and labor were one.”


“ No new party ever made such rapid strides as the National Greenback Labor Party, and no issues were ever presented, that so vitally affected the dearest interests of every laborer and producer.

Of its final triumph and success there is no doubt.  Knowing this, many ambitious aspirants, for position and recognition, will attempt to force their virtues and claims upon the party, and if they cannot succeed with the majority, they will attempt to divide and disrupt our organization, with a hope of forcing a recognition by using and controling a minority.

Spurn all such disorganizing demagogues, and stand shoulder to shoulder with the main army for certain and early victory.  Give no countenance to disorganizing egotists and place-hunters ;  but let the people and the position seek out the most worthy to bear our standards.”

I append the following quotation from a “ History of Finance in England,” by S.A. Goddard, Birmingham, to show, that our only hope of security from the desolating blight of periodical panics must be found in a non-exportable paper currency.

These facts are so identical in their general character with the facts in this country, that it can be easily seen they must spring from the same causes and from a similar system of finance.

Hence they bear directly upon the questions now under discussion, and for this purpose seem to me very instructive and convincing.

Mr. Goddard introduces his pamphlet thus :

“ The writer, having seen and felt the disastrous effects of five great panics in England and their accompanying panics in America, which upon each recurrence have put a stop to trade, ruined clients and broken up arrangements and connections, formed after long, diligent and expensive exertion, is desirous of impressing on those, who have not studied the subject, that similar panics will certainly occur periodically, so long as the present monetary system is continued.

If, in pursuing this search, it be found, that a similar depression of business to that now experienced, and to which these inquiries relate, has been witnessed periodically for a series of years, presenting on each return precisely the same characteristics ;  and if, during the whole of these years, it be found, that a system has prevailed, upon which the business transactions, thus depressed, have been based, and that no other system, condition or circumstance, having any material general bearing on these transactions, has existed, or been in force throughout the same period, then it is fair to conclude, that to this system may the depression be attributed, and that a repetition of these periods of depression is to be averted only through a reformation of the system.

The Bank of England and Provincial Bank Notes constituted the money of the country for a period of twenty-six years, performing all the necessary functions of money, effecting the exchanges of property, enabling capital to employ labor, to feed the hungry and clothe the naked ;  and also enabling the Government—whether for good or evil need not enter into this consideration—to carry on a great war, and bring it to a triumphant conclusion.  These notes, at no time a legal tender, passed current, and were taken in payment upon all occasions ;  a fact highly creditable to the good feeling and patriotism of the people.

When the war terminated, the bank commenced preparations for a return to specie payments, occasioning a general stringency in the money, market, causing a fall of prices, injury to credit, and the prostration of trade.  The return of peace, which should have gladdened all hearts, bringing with it prosperity and happiness, brought sadness and sorrow to thousands.  Vast numbers of persons were thrown out of employment ;  the laboring classes became tumultuous, and the Government, during a time of profound peace, achieved by the patriotism and valor of these same classes, suspended the Habeas Corpus Act, in order to drown their cries and stifle their complaints.

Lord Liverpool told the agriculturists, who memorialized him on the subject of their difficulties, that ‘ overproduction was the cause of the low prices of agricultural produce,’ and this at a time, when the Government was encouraging emigration, because there were too many mouths to feed ;  and he told the manufacturers of Manchester and Birmingham, who waited upon him with respect to their distresses, that they ‘ made too many goods ;’  ‘ they had overstocked the markets of the world.’  The consumption of cotton at the time being about one-eighth of what it now is, and the make of iron and of Birmingham goods being not far from the same proportion.

Government, however, became alarmed ;  and extended the time for returning to specie payments to the year 1819, which caused a revival of confidence, indicating, as it was supposed to do, the intention of the Government to pursue a lenient policy in regard to the bank ;  consequently new life was given to the people, but only for a time, for the bank, in preparing for resumption in 1819, soon obliterated all signs of amendment, and the depression continued.

In this dilemma it called upon the Government for relief, and the call was too significant to be disregarded.  Lord Castlereagh brought into Parliament five money bills in one night, one of them permitting the circulation of one-pound notes ten years longer, viz., from 1823 to 1833, and all of them designed to increase money facilities, passing them through as rapidly as the forms of Parliament would permit.

The effect of these measures was great and immediate.  Confidence revived, labor everywhere found full employment, and ere long there was not a cottage in the land where the benign influence of an increased medium of exchange between labor and capital was not felt.”

Looking back to past years and learning from experience the cause of the present depression in business, must be plain to any observant mind.  It is primarily the damage to confidence in men and things, and to decreased ability to purchase on the part of dealers and consumers, occasioned by the panic, caused by a monetary system, still in full action, that deceives and cheats the community ;  lifting it up at one time to dash it down at another, as has been already stated ;  bribing the people to enter into business and to undertake hazardous enterprises, and after alluring them on, removing the prop, which should sustain them, and leaving them to their fate.


FROM 1862 TO 1879.

1.  In 1861 a great civil war broke out in the country, involving the integrity of the Union.

2.  In 1862 began the Legal Tender Act, which was framed to supply the means, men and money to sustain the Government.

A loan of two hundred millions was effected with the State banks ;  but when they found, that their notes were to be deposited in the “Sub-Treasury,” and not left with the banks, subject to check, and that they might be called to redeem their notes in coin, they threw up most of the loan, and offered their irredeemable notes to the Government, as money.  (See Spaulding’s “History of the Legal Tender Money.”)

3.  Secretary Chase preferred “ the credit of the Government, cut up into small pieces, and circulated as money.”

4.  Then began the Legal Tender Acts, which put into the circulation, in the course of eight years, about $2,800,000,000 in different forms of legal tenders, of which $430,000,000, was in the form of greenbacks.  Every one of these Acts was accompanied with a Funding Section, which provided for the withdrawal of the legal tenders from circulation, and the funding of them into “long bonds,” mostly six per cent. interest, payable in coin, and in five or in forty years at the option of the Government.  (See Spaulding.)

5.  These Legal Tenders passed into the circulation, as money, and in the course of ten years—from 1862 to 1873—were gradually absorbed in the “long bonds ;”—withdrawn from the circulation, because the capitalists preferred the credit of the Government, thus extended to them at six per cent. in coin, to any private investment of their money in the labor and enterprise of the country at large.

This was largely due to foreign capitalists, who were eager to invest their surplus capital in the Government, at a gold valuation of the legal tender, which had then sunk to forty and fifty cents on the dollar in gold—and still, further, were payable in “store orderson foreign goods.

6.  The capitalists overdid the “ absorbing process,” having reduced the legal tenders to a legal currency of about $350,000,000 and brought on the “ panic of 1873.”

7.  Meanwhile, by the Bank Acts of 1863-64, the national banks laid their plans of turning the bonds into bank currency without surrendering the bonds.  The Government made the bank circulation as good as greenbacks, and redeemable in greenbacks.

8.  But the greenbacks must be brought under the domination of gold—not merely to an equal value, and made convertible into gold over the business counter, but redeemable by the full stress of the law.  The whole responsibility of redeeming both the national bank currency and the greenbacks, is thus thrown on the Government, which can do this in no other way, if the notes are not convertible in an open market, than by issuing more coin bonds.

9.  In pursuance of this policy of the gold capitalists, the Government was induced to pass the “Act to strengthen the Public Credit ” (with the European capitalists) in 1870, making the whole public debt payable in coin ;  then, soon after, surreptitiously demonetizing silver, by stopping the coining of the silver dollar, and thus making gold the sole legal tender for the paper.  But this monstrous legislation was repealed, when the object became too apparent.

10.  Finally, the Act of 1875 made it compulsory on the Treasury of the United States to resume specie payments on January 1, 1879.  This was the culmination of the gold and coin domination.