History and Science of Money
Hon. J. Dewitt Warner, Edward Atkinson, and the whole host of promoters and hired advocates of the gold standard declare that, gauged by wages, gold has not appreciated. In these assertions they are always careful to conceal the fact that labor unions have been for a long time engaged in a life-and-death struggle to maintain the wages of skilled labor in a constantly narrowing circle of successful resistance. One after another of their citadels has had to capitulate to the inevitable conquest of the gold standard. They are careful to conceal the fact that when one is now employed at full time at former wages, from four to ten others are but partially employed or not employed at all. They must be sadly lacking in intelligence if they fail to understand that with the gold standard permanently established the death-knell of labor unions will be sounded. With three or four men looking for every one job, and the ability of employers to secure labor from great distances or European countries, every labor union in the land must speedily succumb to the inevitable. Strikes will be of no avail, for the soldiery will be increased to shoot down those who will dare to forcibly resist.
"But," says the Hon. J. Dewitt Warner, "what if does appreciate ? Have we any right to prevent it ? Have we any more right to prevent it than to vent the appreciation of wheat or anything else ?" If sincere in these declarations, then the Hon. J. Dewitt Warner has no more knowledge of the money question than a wooden image. The veriest tyro in monetary science should understand that the function of money is to measure values, and that the very highest function of Government is to give the people an honest measure of values. If it fails to do so in the slightest degree, it disgracefully fails in its duty to the people. The merest tyro should understand that the thirty to forty thousand millions of public and private indebtedness of the American people all calls for payment in terms of dollars, and that on every appreciation of but ten per cent in the value of the dollars, it means a looting of labor a clean transfer from those who produce to those who absorb, of from three to four thousand millions of dollars. How vastly superior are the methods of the modern Captains of Industry the modern Captain Kidds over the ancient and risky method of absorbing wealth by means of the bludgeon and battle-axe !
Mr. Warner says: "The Government has no right to stop the appreciation of the dollar." He might with equal propriety say that the Government has no right to protect the humble toilers of the land against the cupidity of its wealthier citizens, and that for the toilers to resist spoliation is repudiation and national dishonor.
This money question is indeed a question of morals but the good morals are not all where the goldites would like the people to believe, on the side of the wolf, neither is all the bad with the lamb.
Simple obedience to three of the great commandments would sweep away every vestige of contention over the money question: "Thou shalt not steal." "Thou shalt not bear false witness." "Thou shalt not covet." Obedience to these commandments would leave no intelligent advocates of a gold standard, and there would be no charges of repudiation and dishonesty against those who protest against the gold standard spoliation.
Of the many strange and surprising incidents in this campaign of wonderful and strange surprises, none seems so remarkable to all advocates of a truly honest monetary system as the position taken by many ministers of the Gospel upon the momentous question now before the people. To them it is natural to expect the clergy to make a calm and careful scientific investigation of the money question in all of its phases, an investigation that will disclose to them with unerring accuracy the exact truth of the whole matter, and, with the discovery of that truth, to stand up in their pulpits and hurl the same thunders of righteous indignation against a monetary system that would enslave the nation, as they did against the system of human slavery that made bond-slaves of four millions of its black citizens. With sorrow and amazement they have seen a number (alas, that there should be one!) of eminent clergymen (who very apparently have made no investigation of the fundamental principles which govern the value of money), publicly declare that the advocates of free coinage are repudiators and unsafe citizens, and that a gold standard must be sustained; and asserting that the free coinage of silver would have a disastrous effect in the missionary fields by greatly reducing the value of their missionary funds. It is plainly evident that these ministers have made no serious study of the question, and that they are the deluded victims of the same artful tricksters who profess such great solicitude for savings-bank and other depositors, and holders of insurance policies. I affirm without fear of successful contradiction that such ministers have made no serious investigation in the science of money, for if they would investigate until they received as much correct knowledge figuratively speaking as the mole receives of sunlight, they would readily discover that so long as an ample missionary fund depended upon the general prosperity of the people, just so long the deadly gold standard will prove to be that missionary fund's deadliest foe.
Sad and strange are the mutations that time brings upon us, but saddest and strangest of all is the mutation in which the humble toilers, whom our Lord so dearly loved, need to say of their ministers: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
A recent article from the pen of Edward Atkinson clears up, in a great measure, that gentleman's true position in the field of science. In former articles he tried to demonstrate that the bankers' panic of 1893 was entirely caused by the silver advocates, in the face of overwhelming evidence that it was wholly a bankers' conspiracy, in conjunction with government officials; and in other articles he attempted to demonstrate that the laboring men are the creditor class, and that "sound" money means high wages and low prices, and "unsound" money means low wages and high prices.
Curiosity was aroused in many as to the queer phrenological make-up of a man in whom the bump of conscientiousness seemed to be entirely absorbed by the bump of constructiveness; but his latest production dispels the mystery. In advising the abolition of legal tender and a return to barbarism, and sweeping away such progress as the world has been enabled to make for the last twenty-six hundred years, Atkinson establishes his claim as a great humorist. It is evident that he aspires to be the Artemus Ward or Mark Twain of political economy.
It is so amazing as to be almost incredible of belief that a man of Dr. Parkhurst's supposed intelligence and Christian spirit should be guilty of charging William Jennings Bryan of trying to array the masses against the classes, because of his heroic effort to awaken the American people to a full perception of the awful results sure to arise if they permit the plutocrats and monopolists through the powerful aid of a mighty newspaper press to rivet the chains of financial slavery upon the nation. Can the reverend doctor point to one sentence or one word in any of the hundreds of speeches already delivered by Mr. Bryan that can even by distortion be made to appear as arraying the masses against the classes ?
Since when has it come to pass that a calm and dignified exposure of a financial system which has enabled a gang of leeches, and vampires of Europe and America to suck the life-blood of industry can be, by any kind of distortion, called an arraying of the masses against the classes ? Can a firm and manly protest against the employers of labor, insisting that their employees shall deliver up to them their right of suffrage and their manhood be called an arraying of the masses against the classes ? If it can, then is Mr. Bryan guilty; but if it cannot, then is Dr. Parkhurst guilty not only of an infamous libel against a fellow-man but guilty of a betrayal of his fellow men and the holy cause of truth, that he has so solemnly vowed to defend.
Dr. Parkhurst owes it not only to himself, but to common decency, to explain who the classes are that Mr. Bryan is trying to array the masses against. His assertion of the moral turpitude involved in being for free silver, and lack of comprehension as to how any one with a suggestion of conscience can entertain the idea that a 53-cent dollar can be made worth 100 cents, is conclusive evidence that he knows just about as much of monetary science as an owl knows of astronomy.
Assuming, as we must, that Dr. Parkhurst was sincere in those assertions, it is absolutely safe to say that he cannot explain the fundamental principles which govern the value of money; for if he could, then he would know that the same law which reduced the bullion value in a silver dollar from over 100 to 53 cents can restore it. He would also know that, under free coinage, the silver in a silver dollar would be worth the gold in a gold dollar, and that the silver dollar would stand the fire test the same as the gold dollar. He would know that these facts have been invariably and absolutely established by all and by abundant historical experience.
If he possessed but half the knowledge of monetary science that one should have who attempts to criticise, he would know the imperative necessity of a volume of money that would maintain the equilibrium of price, the equity of contracts a volume of money that would protect mankind against legalized robbery. He would also know the impossibility of having such a monetary system based upon gold alone as money of final redemption. He would also know that both gold and silver have been money from the earliest dawn of history, and that mankind has never had too much money of either or of both metals, while great destitution has frequently prevailed because of a scarcity. If he had that half-knowledge he would have less to say about the man who buys at eight ounces and loans at sixteen, and more to say about the man who loans at sixteen ounces, and by acts less honorable than burglary compels payment at thirty-two ounces.
Dr. Parkhurst charges Mr. Bryan with irreverence in quoting Scripture. Can he point out a quotation by Mr. Bryan that expresses a fraction of the blasphemy charged to the Rev. Parkhurst in these words: "Make fifty-three cents worth one dollar ? Why I say it reverently God Almighty couldn't do that." Does the Rev. Parkhurst suppose he can hide his blasphemy even from man by an assertion of reverence ? Why, the ostrich is possessed of more wit than that. With what sort of mental strabismus must this man be afflicted, who can see no wrong in the act which, like an assassin in the night, struck down one-half of the nation's money for the sole benefit of those who can control the other half, and can see nothing but moral turpitude in the conduct of those who heroically labor to restore that money ?
It is passing strange that a professed follower of Him who was without fault can see no moral turpitude in furthering the interests of all the monopolies and trusts and combines in the land, in furthering to the extent of his ability all the sordid interests that hope by undue legislation to obtain unfair advantage of their fellow-men monopolies and combines that have selected as their standard-bearer for the Vice Presidential office a ringleader in the infamous coal combine, which, without a shadow of justice, has within the last few months turned the screws upon the price of coal so that it can wring an extra $40,000,000 out of the people. Upon their banners they have inscribed, "For the protection of American homes." Can not even a man who is struck with moral blindness plainly see that this is "putting on the livery of heaven to serve the devil in"?
Dr. Talmage's "campaign liar" is indeed abroad once more in the land and flourishing like a green baytree. In the person of Chauncey Depew we find a conspicuous example. In his speech at Brooklyn, September 25th, he made many statements, the veracity of which were all about on the same plane. Space will permit an examination of only one, but that one a fair average. He said:
" We had $18.50 of currency for each man, woman, and child in the United States in 1873 when silver was demonetized, and now when Bryan is howling that that act deprived the people of money with which to do business, we have $34.48 for each man, woman, and child in the United States, or nearly twice as much. It is not more currency this country wants it has an abundance, but it is confidence."
Now, what is the actual amount of money in circulation ? According to the last report of the Secretary of the Treasury the currency volume was as follows:
Gold coin .... $456,128,483or a trifle over $21 per capita.
Silver dollars .... 52,175,998
Small silver .... 59,999,805
Gold certificates ..... 42,320,759
Silver certificates .... 331,259,509
Treasury notes of 1890 .... 95,217,361
United States notes .... 225,451,358
Currency certificates .... 31,894,000
National bank-notes .... 215,331,927
Total .......... $1,509,725,200
From these figures must be deducted bank reserves, say $500,000,000, though considerably under actual amount, and loss on fractional coins, $7,000,000. The lowest estimate by competent authorities for loss by fire, water, and other ways to the paper currency amounts to one-half of one per cent per annum. Loss upon but $500,000,000 of paper currency for thirty-four years at one-half of one per cent amounts to $85,000,000. Now, according to the mint report of 1888 it was conceded that $275,000,000 of the gold coin could not be accounted, for the method of estimating the amount of gold in the country by the Treasury Department being wholly unreliable the method adopted being merely taking the coinage reports and adding and deducting recorded imports and exports, less an allowance of three and one-half millions for use in the industrial arts.
But putting the shrinkage at only $200,000,000, this gives us a total of $792,000,000 as the very lowest possible figure that must be deducted from the above $1,509,725,200, leaving an actual money circulation of less than $10 per capita, instead of the $34.48 claimed by Dr. Depew.
No man in the United States knows better than Chauncey Depew that the bank reserves cannot be counted as circulating medium. No man knows better than he that the coin in the Treasury, and the circulating notes which represent that coin, cannot both be counted as circulating medium, any more than one can count one side of a dollar piece, and then turn it over and count the other side; and yet with brazen face and conscience dead, he stands before a gathering of his fellow-men, and with studied words and eloquent tongue sought to deceive them as to the most important facts that can concern their temporal welfare. No man knows better than he that there is much less than one-third of the money in actual circulation that he so boldly claims there is a boldness born of knowledge that a venal press will take pains to shield rather than to expose him in his brazen falsehoods. Thanks be to God, there is yet sufficient intelligence among the people to see and judge for themselves as to the truth of the matter, the official facts being as yet possible to obtain.
In the Rev. Thomas Dixon, Jr., who has been hurling anathemas from his pulpit at free silver, we find one of those partially educated fools who by chance and the mistakes of their fellow-men obtain prominent position. That he is entirely honest and sincere in his denunciations he has furnished us with positive evidence, in his attempt to argue the question by asserting that previous to the demonetization act of 1873 this country had coined only 8,000,000 dollars of silver.
The verdancy of that assertion would be a certificate of honesty from the lips of a pickpocket. He proves by that assertion that he is perfectly innocent of monetary science and knowledge of correct monetary facts. He plainly shows that he has swallowed the bait, hook, and line set out for gudgeons by the New York World, Herald, and other leading gold-press newspapers. It also proves that Tommy should not have left school and his mother's apron-strings until he knew the difference between 8,000,000 dollars of silver and 8,000,000 silver dollars for if he had learned the difference, he would now know that previous to the demonetization act this country had coined over 143,000,000 dollars of silver, of which only about 8,000,000 were coined into dollar pieces for good and sufficient reasons, and all of which were full legal tender up to 1853. He would also know that previous to demonetization and previous to the war the people had some three hundred and fifty millions of American gold and silver in circulation, with an addition of one hundred and fifty to two hundred millions of foreign gold and silver which also was full legal tender up to 1857. These facts he of course could not learn from the fountain whence he drew his facts and his inspiration. The business of the gold press is to suppress the truth, not reveal it. Had he looked in the proper place for information, he would also have discovered that with the State bank issues (which fluctuated greatly in amount) we usually had about twenty dollars per capita of actual circulation previous to the war, about twice the amount of actual circulation that we now have.
So long as the enemies of free coinage consent to argue the question the silver men have no fear of the result. The dangerous ones are those who cunningly confine themselves to ridicule and slander editors of the gold press like the editor of the New York Sun, who on the morning after Bryan's nomination declared that this campaign must be a campaign of education from that time until the 3d of November, and then proceeded to reel off a few choice specimens after his most exalted style such as:
"Speech first tried upon a Dog."
"William Juvenile Bryan, Boy Candidate on a Short-Dollar Platform"
"Bryan more dangerous as a Political Leader than Most."
"New Faith of Fiatism, Repudiation, and Anarchy."
"Convention Hall, Chicago, the Hippodrome and Circus of Populism and Anarchy."
"Anarchists and Hayseed Farmers."
"Anarchy, Revolution, and Ruin."
"Confiscation, Lunacy, and Chaos."
"Mixture of Violence and Mad-Dog Politics."
"Billy the Kid."
"Bryan the Jacobin."
"Long-haired Populists and Anarchists."
"Premium on Dishonesty."
"Black Flag of Piracy."
"party of Bandits."
How should any one fail to be convinced by arguments so fairly reeking with logic ?
And these are a fair sample of the arguments used in this campaign by the gold press in their so-called Campaign of Education ever since Mr. Bryan paralyzed them with his unanswerable address on the memorable 12th of August.
Bryan's Madison Square Garden Address
[August 12, 1896]
I shall, at a future day and in a formal letter, accept the nomination which is now tendered by the Notification Committee, and I shall at that time touch upon the issues presented by the platform. It is fitting, however, that at this time, in the presence of those here assembled, I speak at some length in regard to the campaign upon which we are now entering. We do not underestimate the forces arrayed against us, nor are we unmindful of the importance of the struggle in which we are engaged; but, relying for success upon the righteousness of our cause, we shall defend with all possible vigor the positions taken by our party. We are not surprised that some of our opponents, in the absence of better argument, resort to abusive epithets, but they may rest assured that no language, however violent, no invectives, however vehement, will lead us to depart a single hair's breadth from the course marked out by the National Convention. The citizen, either public or private, who assails the character and questions the patriotism of the delegates assembled in the Chicago convention, assails the character and questions the patriotism of the millions who have arrayed themselves under the banner there raised.
It has been charged by men standing high in business and political circles that our platform is a menace to private security and public safety; and it has been asserted that those whom I have the honor, for the time being, to represent not only meditate an attack upon the rights of property, but are the foes both of social order and national honor.
Those who stand upon the Chicago platform are prepared to make known and to defend every motive which influences them, every purpose which animates them, and every hope which inspires them. They understand the genius of our institutions, they are staunch supporters of the form of government under which we live, and they build their faith upon foundations laid by the fathers. Andrew Jackson has stated, with admirable clearness and with an emphasis which cannot be surpassed, both the duty and the sphere of government. He said:
'Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government. Equality of talents, of education or of wealth, cannot be produced by human institutions. In the full enjoyment of the gifts of Heaven and the fruits of superior industry, economy and virtue, every man is equally entitled to protection by law.'
We yield to none in our devotion to the doctrine just enunciated. Our campaign has not for its object the reconstruction of society. We cannot insure to the vicious the fruits of a virtuous life; we would not invade the home of the provident in order to supply the wants of the spendthrift; we do not propose to transfer the rewards of industry to the lap of indolence. Property is and will remain the stimulus to endeavor and the compensation for toil. We believe, as asserted in the Declaration of Independence, that all men are created equal; but that does not mean that all men are or can be equal in possessions, in ability or in merit; it simply means that all shall stand equal before the law, and that government officials shall not, in making, construing or enforcing the law, discriminate between citizens.
I assert that property rights, as well as the rights of persons, are safe in the hands of the common people. Abraham Lincoln, in his message sent to Congress in December, 1861, said:
'No men living are more worthy to be trusted than those who toil up from poverty; none less inclined to take or touch aught which they have not honestly earned. I repeat his language with unqualified approval, and join with him in the warning which he added, namely: Let them beware of surrendering a political power which they already possess, and which power, if surrendered, will surely be used to close the doors of advancement against such as they, and to fix new disabilities and burdens upon them, till all of liberty shall be lost.'
Those who daily follow the injunction, 'In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread,' are now, as they ever have been, the bulwark of law and order the source of our nation's greatness in time of peace, and its surest defenders in time of war.
But I have only read a part of Jackson's utterance let me give you his conclusion:
'But when the laws undertake to add to those natural and just advantages artificial distinction to grant titles, gratuities and exclusive privileges to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful the humble members of society the farmers, mechanics and the laborers who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors for themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their government.'
Those who support the Chicago platform endorse all of the quotation from Jackson the latter part as well as the former part.
We are not surprised to find arrayed against us those who are the beneficiaries of government favoritism they have read our platform. Nor are we surprised to learn that we must in this campaign face the hostility of those who find a pecuniary advantage in advocating the doctrine of non-interference when great aggregations of wealth are trespassing upon the rights of individuals. We welcome such opposition it is the highest endorsement which could be bestowed upon us. We are content to have the co-operation of those who desire to have the government administered without fear or favor. It is not the wish of the general public that trusts should spring into existence and override the weaker members of society; it is not the wish of the general public that these trusts should destroy competition and then collect such tax as they will from those who are at their mercy; nor is it the fault of the general public that the instrumentalities of government have been so often prostituted to purposes of private gain. Those who stand upon the Chicago platform believe that the government should not only avoid wrongdoing, but that it should also prevent wrongdoing; and they believe that the law should be enforced alike against all enemies of the public weal. They do not excuse petit larceny, but they declare that grand larceny is equally a crime; they do not defend the occupation of the highwayman who robs the unsuspecting traveler, but they include among the transgressors those who, through the more polite and less hazardous means of legislation, appropriate to their own use the proceeds of the toil of others. The commandment, "Thou shalt not steal," thundered from Sinai and reiterated in the legislation of all nations, is no respecter of persons. It must be applied to the great as well as to the small; to the strong as well as to the weak; to the corporate person created by law as well as to the person of flesh and blood created by the Almighty. No government is worthy of the name which is not able to protect from every arm uplifted for his injury the humblest citizen who lives beneath the flag. It follows as a necessary conclusion that vicious legislation must be remedied by the people who suffer from the effects of such legislation, and not by those who enjoy its benefits.
The Chicago platform has been condemned by some because it dissents from an opinion rendered by the Supreme Court declaring the income tax law unconstitutional. Our critics even go so far as to apply the name anarchist to those who stand upon that plank of the platform. It must be remembered that we expressly recognize the binding force of that decision so long as it stands as a part of the law of the land. There is in the platform no suggestion of an attempt to dispute the authority of the Supreme Court. The party is simply pledged to use 'all the constitutional power which remains after that decision, or which may come from its reversal by the Court as it may hereafter be constituted.' Is there any disloyalty in that pledge? For a hundred years the Supreme Court of the United States has sustained the principle which underlies the income tax. Some twenty years ago this same Court sustained, without a dissenting voice, an income tax law almost identical with the one recently overthrown. Has not a future court as much right to return to the judicial precedents of a century as the present Court had to depart from them? When courts allow rehearings they admit that error is possible; the late decision against the income tax was rendered by a majority of one after a rehearing.
While the money question overshadows all other questions in importance, I desire it distinctly understood that I shall offer no apology for the income tax plank of the Chicago platform. The last income tax law sought to apportion the burdens of government more equitably among those who enjoy the protection of the Government. At present the expenses of the Federal Government, collected through internal revenue taxes and import duties, are especially burdensome upon the poorer classes of society. A law which collects from some citizens more than their share of the taxes and collects from other citizens less than their share is simply an indirect means of transferring one man's property to another man's pocket, and, while the process may be quite satisfactory to the men who escape just taxation, it can never be satisfactory to those who are overburdened. The last income tax law, with its exemption provisions, when considered in connection with other methods of taxation in force, was not unjust to the possessors of large incomes, because they were not compelled to pay a total Federal tax greater than their share. The income tax is not new, nor is it based upon hostility to the rich. The system is employed in several of the most important nations of Europe, and every income tax law now upon the statute books in any land, so far as I have been able to ascertain, contains an exemption clause. While the collection of an income tax in other countries does not make it necessary for this Nation to adopt the system, yet it ought to moderate the language of those who denounce the income tax as an assault upon the well-to-do.
Not only shall I refuse to apologize for the advocacy of an income tax law by the National Convention, but I shall also refuse to apologize for the exercise by it of the right to dissent from a decision of the Supreme Court. In a government like ours every public official is a public servant, whether he holds office by election or by appointment, whether he serves for a term of years or during good behavior, and the people have a right to criticise his official acts. 'Confidence is everywhere the parent of despotism; free government exists in jealousy and not in confidence' these are the words of Thomas Jefferson, and I submit that they present a truer conception of popular government than that entertained by those who would prohibit an unfavorable comment upon a court decision. Truth will vindicate itself; only error fears speech. No public official who conscientiously discharges his duty as he sees it will desire to deny to those whom he serves the right to discuss his official conduct.
Now let me ask you to consider the paramount question of this campaign the money question. It is scarcely necessary to defend the principle of bimetallism. No national party during the entire history of the United States has ever declared against it, and no party in this campaign has had the temerity to oppose it. Three parties the Democratic, Populist, and Silver parties have not only declared for bimetallism, but have outlined the specific legislation necessary to restore silver to its ancient position by the side of gold. The Republican platform expressly declares that bimetallism is desirable when it pledges the Republican party to aid in securing it as soon as the assistance of certain foreign nations can be obtained. Those who represented the minority sentiment in the Chicago Convention opposed the free coinage of silver by the United States by independent action, on the ground that, in their judgment, it 'would retard or entirely prevent the establishment of international bimetallism, to which the efforts of the Government should be steadily directed.' When they asserted that the efforts of the Government should be steadily directed toward the establishment of international bimetallism, they condemned mono-metallism. The gold standard has been weighed in the balance and found wanting. Take from it the powerful support of the money-owning and the money-changing classes and it cannot stand for one day in any nation in the world. It was fastened upon the United States without discussion before the people, and its friends have never yet been willing to risk a verdict before the voters upon that issue.
There can be no sympathy or co-operation between the advocates of a universal gold standard and the advocates of bimetallism. Between bimetallism whether independent or international and the gold standard there is an impassable gulf. Is this quadrennial agitation in favor of international bimetallism conducted in good faith, or do our opponents really desire to maintain the gold standard permanently? Are they willing to confess the superiority of a double standard when joined in by the leading nations of the world, or do they still insist that gold is the only metal suitable for standard money among civilized nations? If they are in fact desirous of securing bimetallism, we may expect them to point out the evils of a gold standard and defend bimetallism as a system. If, on the other hand, they are bending their energies toward the permanent establishment of a gold standard under cover of a declaration in favor of international bimetallism, I am justified in suggesting that honest money cannot be expected at the hands of those who deal dishonestly with the American people.
What is the test of honesty in money? It must certainly be found in the purchasing power of the dollar. An absolutely honest dollar would not vary in its general purchasing power; it would be absolutely stable when measured by average prices. A dollar which increases in purchasing power is just as dishonest as a dollar which decreases in purchasing power. Prof. Laughlin, now of the University of Chicago, and one of the highest gold-standard authorities, in his work on bimetallism not only admits that gold does not remain absolutely stable in value, but expressly asserts 'that there is no such thing as a standard of value for future payments, either in gold or silver, which remains absolutely invariable.' He even suggests that a multiple standard, wherein the unit is 'based upon the selling prices of a number of articles of general consumption,' would be a more just standard than either gold or silver, or both, because 'a long time contract would thereby be paid at its maturity by the same purchasing power as was given in the beginning.'
It cannot be successfully claimed that monometallism or bimetallism, or any other system, gives an absolutely just standard of value. Under both monometallism and bimetallism the Government fixes the weight and fineness of the dollar, invests it with legal tender qualities, and then opens the mints to its unrestricted coinage, leaving the purchasing power of the dollar to be determined by the number of dollars. Bimetallism is better than monometallism, not because it gives us a perfect dollar that is, a dollar absolutely unvarying in its general purchasing power but because it makes a nearer approach to stability, to honesty, to justice, than a gold standard possibly can. Prior to 1873, when there were enough open mints to permit all the gold and silver available for coinage to find entrance into the world's volume of standard money, the United States might have maintained a gold standard with less injury to the people of this country; but now, when each step toward a universal gold standard enhances the purchasing power of gold, depresses prices, and transfers to the pockets of the creditor class an unearned increment, the influence of this great nation must not be thrown upon the side of gold unless we are prepared to accept the natural and legitimate consequences of such an act. Any legislation which lessens the world's stock of standard money increases the exchangeable value of the dollar; therefore, the crusade against silver must inevitably raise the purchasing power of money and lower the money value of all other forms of property.
Our opponents sometimes admit that it was a mistake to demonetize silver, but insist that we should submit to present conditions rather than return to the bimetallic system. They err in supposing that we have reached the end of the evil results of a gold standard; we have not reached the end. The injury is a continuing one, and no person can say how long the world is to suffer from the attempt to make gold the only standard money. The same influences which are now operating to destroy silver in the United States will, if successful here, be turned against other silver-using countries, and each new convert to the gold standard will add to the general distress. So long as the scramble for gold continues, prices must fall, and a general fall in prices is but another definition of hard times.
Our opponents, while claiming entire disinterestedness for themselves, have appealed to the selfishness of nearly every class of society. Recognizing the disposition of the individual voter to consider the effect of any proposed legislation upon himself, we present to the American people the financial policy outlined in the Chicago platform, believing that it will result in the greatest good to the greatest number.
The farmers are opposed to the gold standard because they have felt its effects. Since they sell at wholesale and buy at retail they have lost more than they have gained by falling prices, and, besides this, they have found that certain fixed charges have not fallen at all. Taxes have not been perceptibly decreased, although it requires more of farm products now than formerly to secure the money with which to pay taxes. Debts have not fallen. The farmer who owed $1,000 is still compelled to pay $1,000, although it may be twice as difficult as formerly to obtain the dollars with which to pay the debt. Railroad rates have not been reduced to keep pace with falling prices, and besides these items there are many more. The farmer has thus found it more and more difficult to live. Has he not a just complaint against the gold standard?
The wage earners have been injured by a gold standard, and have expressed themselves upon the subject with great emphasis. In February, 1895, a petition asking for the immediate restoration of the free and unlimited coinage of gold and silver at 16 to 1 was signed by the representatives of all, or nearly all, the leading labor organizations and presented to Congress. Wage-earners know that while a gold standard raises the purchasing power of the dollar, it also makes it more difficult to obtain possession of the dollar; they know that employment is less permanent, loss of work more probable, and re-employment less certain. A gold standard encourages the hoarding of money, because money is rising; it also discourages enterprise and paralyzes industry. On the other hand, the restoration of bimetallism will discourage hoarding, because, when prices are steady or rising, money cannot afford to lie idle in the bank vaults. The farmers and wage-earners together constitute a considerable majority of the people of the country. Why should their interests be ignored in considering financial legislation? A monetary system which is pecuniarily advantageous to a few syndicates has far less to commend it than a system which would give hope and encouragement to those who create the nation's wealth.
Our opponents have made a special appeal to those who hold fire and life insurance policies, but these policy holders know that, since the total premiums received exceed the total losses paid, a rising standard must be of more benefit to the companies than to the policy holders. Much solicitude has been expressed by our opponents for the depositors in savings banks. They constantly parade before these depositors the advantages of a gold standard, but these appeals will be in vain, because savings bank depositors know that under a gold standard there is increasing danger that they will lose their deposits because of the inability of the banks to collect their assets; and they still further know that, if the gold standard is to continue indefinitely, they may be compelled to withdraw their deposits in order to pay living expenses.
It is only necessary to note the increasing number of failures in order to know that a gold standard is ruinous to merchants and manufacturers. These business men do not make their profits from the people from whom they borrow money, but from the people to whom they sell their goods. If the people cannot buy, retailers cannot sell, and, if retailers cannot sell, wholesale merchants and manufacturers must go into bankruptcy.
Those who hold, as a permanent investment, the stock of railroads and of other enterprises I do not include those who speculate in stocks or use stock holdings as a means of obtaining an inside advantage in construction contracts are injured by a gold standard. The rising dollar destroys the earning power of these enterprises without reducing their liabilities, and, as dividends cannot be paid until salaries and fixed charges have been satisfied, the stockholders must bear the burden of hard times.
Salaries in business occupations depend upon business conditions, and the gold standard both lessens the amount and threatens the permanency of such salaries.
Official salaries, except the salaries of those who hold office for life, must, in the long run, be adjusted to the conditions of those who pay the taxes, and if the present financial policy continues, we must expect the contest between the taxpayer and the taxeater to increase in bitterness.
The professional classes in the main derive their support from the producing classes, and can only enjoy prosperity when there is prosperity among those who create wealth.
I have not attempted to describe the effect of the gold standard upon all classes in fact, I have only had time to mention a few but each person will be able to apply the principles stated to his own occupation.
It must also be remembered that it is the desire of people generally to convert their earnings into real or personal property. This being true, in considering any temporary advantage which may come from a system under which the dollar rises in its purchasing power, it must not be forgotten that the dollar cannot buy more than formerly unless property sells for less than formerly. Hence, it will be seen that a large portion of those who may find some pecuniary advantage in a gold standard will discover that their losses exceed their gains.
It is sometimes asserted by our opponents that a bank belongs to the debtor class, but this is not true of any solvent bank. Every statement published by a solvent bank shows that the assets exceed the liabilities. That is to say, while the bank owes a large amount of money to its depositors, it not only has enough on hand in money and notes to pay its depositors, but, in addition thereto, has enough to cover its capital and surplus. When the dollar is rising in value slowly, a bank may, by making short-time loans and taking good security, avoid loss; but when prices are falling rapidly, the bank is apt to lose more because of bad debts than it can gain by the increase in the purchasing power of its capital and surplus.
It must be admitted, however, that some bankers combine the business of a bond broker with the ordinary banking business, and these may make enough in the negotiation of loans to offset the losses arising in legitimate banking business. As long as human nature remains as it is, there will always be danger that, unless restrained by public opinion or legal enactment, those who see a pecuniary profit for themselves in a certain condition may yield to the temptation to bring about that condition. Jefferson has stated that one of the main duties of government is to prevent men from injuring one another, and never was that duty more important than it is today. It is not strange that those who have made a profit by furnishing gold to the Government in the hour of its extremity favor a financial policy which will keep the Government dependent upon them. I believe, however, that I speak the sentiment of the vast majority of the people of the United States when I say that a wise financial policy administered in behalf of all the people would make our Government independent of any combination of financiers, foreign or domestic.
Let me say a word, now, in regard to certain persons who are pecuniarily benefited by a gold standard, and who favor it, not from a desire to trespass upon the rights of others, but because the circumstances which surround them blind them to the effect of the gold standard upon others. I shall ask you to consider the language of two gentlemen whose long public service and high standing in the party to which they belong will protect them from adverse criticism by our opponents. In 1869 Senator Sherman said:
'The contraction of the currency is a far more distressing operation than Senators suppose. Our own and other nations have gone through that operation before. It is not possible to take that voyage without the sorest distress. To every person, except a capitalist out of debt, or a salaried officer, or annuitant, it is a period of loss, danger, lassitude of trade, fall of wages, suspension of enterprise, bankruptcy and disaster. It means ruin to all dealers whose debts are twice their business capital, though one-third less than their actual property. It means the fall of all agricultural production without any great reduction of taxes. What prudent man would dare to build a house, a railroad, a factory, or a barn with this certain fact before him ?'
As I have said before, the salaried officer referred to must be the man whose salary is fixed for life, and not the man whose salary depends upon business conditions. When Mr. Sherman describes contraction of the currency as disastrous to all the people except the capitalist out of debt and those who stand in a position similar to his, he is stating a truth which must be apparent to every person who will give the matter careful consideration. Mr. Sherman was at that time speaking of the contraction of the volume of paper currency, but the principle which he set forth applies, if there is a contraction of the volume of the standard money of the world.
Mr. Blaine discussed the same principle in connection with the demonetization of silver. Speaking in the House of Representatives on the 7th of February, 1878, he said:
'I believe the struggle now going on in this country and other countries for a single gold standard would, if successful, produce widespread disaster in and throughout the commercial world. The destruction of silver as money, and the establishing of gold as the sole unit of value must have a ruinous effect on all forms of property, except those investments which yield a fixed return in money. These would be enormously enhanced in value, and would gain a disproportionate and unfair advantage over every other species of property.'
Is it strange that the 'holders of investments which yield a fixed return in money' can regard the destruction of silver with complacency. May we not expect the holders of other forms of property to protest against giving to money a 'disproportionate and unfair advantage over every other species of property'? If the relatively few whose wealth consists largely in fixed investments have a right to use the ballot to enhance the value of their investments, have not the rest of the people the right to use the ballot to protect themselves from the disastrous consequences of a rising standard?
The people who must purchase money with the products of toil stand in a position entirely different from the position of those who own money or receive a fixed income. The well-being of the nation aye, of civilization itself depends upon the prosperity of the masses. What shall it profit us to have a dollar which grows more valuable every day if such a dollar lowers the standard of civilization and brings distress to the people? What shall it profit us if, in trying to raise our credit by increasing the purchasing power of our dollar, we destroy our ability to pay the debts already contracted by lowering the purchasing power of the products with which those debts must be paid? If it is asserted, as it constantly is asserted, that the gold standard will enable us to borrow more money from abroad, I reply that the restoration of bimetallism will restore the parity between money and property, and thus permit an era of prosperity which will enable the American people to become loaners of money instead of perpetual borrowers. Even if we desire to borrow, how long can we continue borrowing under a system which, by lowering the value of property, weakens the foundation upon which credit rests?
Even the holders of fixed investments, though they gain an advantage from the appreciation of the dollar, certainly see the injustice of the legislation which gives them this advantage over those whose incomes depend upon the value of property and products. If the holders of fixed investments will not listen to arguments based upon justice and equity, I appeal to them to consider the interests of posterity. We do not live for ourselves alone; our labor, our self-denial, and our anxious care all these are for those who are to come after us as much as for ourselves, but we cannot protect our children beyond the period of our lives. Let those who are now reaping advantage from a vicious financial system remember that, in the years to come, their own children and their children's children may, through the operation of this same system, be made to pay tribute to the descendants of those who are wronged today.
As against the maintenance of a gold standard, either permanently or until other nations can be united for its overthrow, the Chicago platform presents a clear and emphatic demand for the immediate restoration of the free and unlimited coinage of silver and gold at the present legal ratio of 16 to 1, without waiting for the aid or consent of any other nation. We are not asking that a new experiment be tried; we are insisting upon a return to a financial policy approved by the experience of history and supported by all the prominent statesmen of our nation from the days of the first president down to 1873. When we ask that our mints be opened to the free and unlimited coinage of silver into full legal tender money, we are simply asking that the same mint privileges be accorded to silver that are now accorded to gold. When we ask that this coinage be at the ratio of 16 to 1, we simply ask that our gold coins and the standard silver dollar which, be it remembered, contains the same amount of pure silver as the first silver dollar coined at our mints retain their present weight and fineness.
The theoretical advantage of the bimetallic system is best stated by a European writer on political economy, who suggests the following illustration: A river fed from two sources is more uniform in volume than a river fed from one source the reason being that when one of the feeders is swollen the other may be low; whereas, a river which has but one feeder must rise or fall with that feeder. So in the case of bimetallism; the volume of metallic money receives contributions from both the gold mines and the silver mines, and therefore varies less, and the dollar resting upon two metals is less changeable in its purchasing power than the dollar which rests upon one metal only.
If there are two kinds of money, the option must rest either with the debtor or with the creditor. Assuming that their rights are equal, we must look at the interest of society in general in order to determine to which side the option should be given. Under the bimetallic system, gold and silver are linked together by law at a fixed ratio, and any person or persons owning any quantity of either metal can have the same converted into full legal-tender money. If the creditor has the right to choose the metal in which payment shall be made, it is reasonable to suppose that he will require the debtor to pay in the dearer metal if there is any perceptible difference between the bullion values of the metals. This new demand created for the dearer metal will make that metal dearer still, while the decreased demand for the cheaper metal will make that metal cheaper still. If, on the other hand, the debtor exercises the option, it is reasonable to suppose that he will pay in the cheaper metal if one metal is perceptibly cheaper than the other; but the demand thus created for the cheaper metal will raise its price, while the lessened demand for the dearer metal will lower its price. In other words, when the creditor has the option, the metals are drawn apart; whereas, when the debtor has the option, the metals are held together approximately at the ratio fixed by law, provided the demand created is sufficient to absorb all of both metals presented at the mint. Society is, therefore, interested in hating the option exercised by the debtor. Indeed, there can be no such thing as real bimetallism unless the option is exercised by the debtor. The exercise of the option by the debtor compels the creditor classes, whether domestic or foreign, to exert themselves to maintain the parity between gold and silver at the legal ratio, whereas they might find a profit in driving one of the metals to a premium if they could then demand the dearer metal. The right of the debtor to choose the coin in which payment shall be made extends to obligations due from the government as well as to contracts between individuals. A government obligation is simply a debt due from all the people to one of the people, and it is impossible to justify a policy which makes the interests of the one person who holds the obligation superior to the rights of the many who must be taxed to pay it. When, prior to 1873, silver was at a premium, it was never contended that national honor required the payment of government obligations in silver, and the Matthews resolution, adopted by Congress in 1878, expressly asserted the right of the United States to redeem coin obligations in standard silver dollars as well as in gold coin.
Upon this subject the Chicago platform reads:
'We are opposed to the policy and practice of surrendering to the holders of the obligations of the United States the option reserved by law to the Government of redeeming such obligations in either silver coin or gold coin.'
It is constantly assumed by some that the United States notes, commonly called greenbacks, and the treasury notes issued under the act of 1890, are responsible for the recent drain upon the gold reserve, but this assumption is entirely without foundation. Secretary Carlisle appeared before the House Committee on Appropriations on January 21, 1895, and I quote from the printed report of his testimony before the committee:
'Mr. Sibley: I would like to ask you (perhaps not entirely connected with the matter under discussion) what objection there could be to having the option of redeeming either In silver or gold lie with the Treasury instead of the note holder?
Secretary Carlisle: If that policy had been adopted at the beginning of resumption and I am not saying this for the purpose of criticising the action of any of my predecessors, or anybody else but if the policy of reserving to the Government, at the beginning of resumption, the option of redeeming in gold or silver all its paper presented, I believe it would have worked beneficially, and there would have been no trouble growing out of it, but the Secretaries of the Treasury from the beginning of resumption have pursued a policy of redeeming in gold or silver, at the option of the holder of the paper, and if any Secretary had afterward attempted to change that policy and force silver upon a man who wanted gold, or gold upon a man who wanted silver, and especially if he had made that attempt at such a critical period as we have had in the last two years, my judgment is it would have been very disastrous.'
I do not agree with the Secretary that it was wise to follow a bad precedent, but from his answer it will be seen that the fault does not lie with the greenbacks and treasury notes, but rather with the executive officers who have seen fit to surrender a right which should have been exercised for the protection of the interests of the people. This executive action has already been made the excuse for the issue of more than $250,000,000 in bonds, and it is impossible to estimate the amount of bonds which may hereafter be issued if this policy is continued. We are told that any attempt upon the part of the Government at this time to redeem its obligations in silver would put a premium upon gold, but why should it? The Bank of France exercises the right to redeem all bank paper in either gold or silver, and yet France maintains the parity between gold and silver at the ratio of 15 1/2 to 1, and retains in circulation more silver per capita than we do in the United States.
It may be further answered that our opponents have suggested no feasible plan for avoiding the dangers which they fear. The retirement of the greenbacks and treasury notes would not protect the Treasury, because the same policy which now leads the Secretary of the Treasury to redeem all government paper in gold, when gold is demanded, will require the redemption of all silver dollars and silver certificates in gold, if the greenbacks and treasury notes are withdrawn from circulation. More than this, if the Government should retire its paper and throw upon the banks the necessity of furnishing coin redemption, the banks would exercise the right to furnish either gold or silver. In other words, they would exercise the option, just as the Government ought to exercise it now. The Government must either exercise the right to redeem its obligations in silver when silver is more convenient, or it must retire all the silver and silver certificates from circulation and leave nothing but gold as legal tender money. Are our opponents willing to outline a financial system which will carry out their policy to its legitimate conclusion, or will they continue to cloak their designs in ambiguous phrases?
There is an actual necessity for bimetallism as well as a theoretical defense of it. During the last twenty-three years legislation has been creating an additional demand for gold, and this law-created demand has resulted in increasing the purchasing power of each ounce of gold. The restoration of bimetallism in the United States will take away from gold just so much of its purchasing power as was added to it by the demonetization of silver by the United States. The silver dollar is now held up to the gold dollar by legal-tender laws and not by redemption in gold, because the standard silver dollars are not now redeemable in gold either in law or by administrative policy.
We contend that free and unlimited coinage by the United States alone will raise the bullion value of silver to its coinage value, and thus make silver bullion worth $1.29 per ounce in gold throughout the world. This proposition is in keeping with natural laws, not in defiance of them. The best-known law of commerce [i]s the law of supply and demand. We recognize this law and build our argument upon it. We apply this law to money when we say that a reduction in the volume of money will raise the purchasing power of the dollar; we also apply the law of supply and demand to silver when we say that a new demand for silver created by law will raise the price of silver bullion. Gold and silver are different from other commodities, in that they are limited in quantity. Corn, wheat, manufactured products, etc., can be produced almost without limit, provided they can be sold at a price sufficient to stimulate production, but gold and silver are called precious metals because they are found, not produced. These metals have been the objects of anxious search as far back as history runs, yet, according to Mr. Harvey's calculation, all the gold coin of the world can be melted into a 22-foot cube and all the silver coin in the world into a 66-foot cube. Because gold and silver are limited, both in the quantity now in hand and in annual production, it follows that legislation can fix the ratio between them. Any purchaser who stands ready to take the entire supply of any given article at a certain price can prevent that article from falling below that price. So the Government can fix a price for gold and silver by creating a demand greater than the supply. International bimetallists believe that several nations, by entering into an agreement to coin at a fixed ratio all the gold and silver presented, can maintain the bullion value of the metals at the mint ratio. When a mint price is thus established, it regulates the bullion price, because any person desiring coin may have the bullion converted into coin at that price, and any person desiring bullion can secure it by melting the coin. The only question upon which international bimetallists and independent bimetallists differ is: Can the United States, by the free and unlimited coinage of silver at the present legal ratio, create a demand for silver which, taken in connection with the demand already in existence, will be sufficient to utilize all the silver that will be presented at the mints? They agree in their defense of the bimetallic principle, and they agree in unalterable opposition to the gold standard. International bimetallists cannot complain that free coinage gives a benefit to the mine owner, because international bimetallism gives to the owner of silver all the advantages offered by independent bimetallism at the same ratio. International bimetallists cannot accuse the advocates of free silver of being 'bullion owners who desire to raise the value of their bullion;' or 'debtors who desire to pay their debts in cheap dollars;' or 'demagogues who desire to curry favor with the people.' They must rest their opposition upon one ground only, namely: that the supply of silver available for coinage is too large to be utilized by the United States.
In discussing this question we must consider the capacity of our people to use silver, and the quantity of silver which can come to our mints. It must be remembered that we live in a country only partially developed, and that our people far surpass any equal number of people in the world in their power to consume and produce. Our extensive railroad development and enormous internal commerce must also be taken into consideration. Now, how much silver can come here? Not the coined silver of the world, because almost all of it is more valuable at this time in other lands than it will be at our mints under free coinage. If our mints are opened to free and unlimited coinage at the present ratio, merchandise silver cannot come here, because the labor applied to it has made it worth more in the form of merchandise than it will be worth at our mints. We cannot even expect all of the annual product of silver, because India, China, Japan, Mexico, and all the other silver-using countries must satisfy their annual needs from the annual product; the arts will require a large amount, and the gold standard countries will need a considerable quantity for subsidiary coinage. We will be required to coin only that which is not needed elsewhere; but, if we stand ready to take and utilize all of it, other nations will be compelled to buy at the price which we fix. Many fear that the opening of our mints will be followed by an enormous increase in the annual production of silver. This is conjecture. Silver has been used as money for thousands of years, and during all of that time the world has never suffered from an overproduction. If, for any reason, the supply of gold or silver in the future ever exceeds the requirements of the arts and the needs of commerce, we confidently hope that the intelligence of the people will be sufficient to devise and enact any legislation necessary for the protection of the public. It is folly to refuse to the people the money which they now need for fear they may hereafter have more than they need. I am firmly convinced that by opening our mints to the free and unlimited coinage at the present ratio we can create a demand for silver which will keep the price of silver bullion at $1.29 per ounce, measured by gold.
Some of our opponents attribute the fall in the value of silver, when measured by gold, to the fact that during the last quarter of a century the world's supply of silver has increased more rapidly than the world's supply of gold. This argument is entirely answered by the fact that, during the last five years, the annual production of gold has increased more rapidly than the annual production of silver. Since the gold price of silver has fallen more during these five years than it ever fell in any previous five years in the history of the world, it is evident that the fall is not due to increased production. Prices can be lowered as effectually by decreasing the demand for an article as by increasing the supply of it, and it seems certain that the fall in the gold price of silver is due to hostile legislation and not to natural laws.
In answer to the charge that gold will go abroad under free coinage, it must be remembered that no gold can leave this country until the owner of the gold receives something in return for it which he would rather have. In other words, when gold leaves the country those who formerly owned it will be benefited. There is no process by which we can be compelled to part with our gold against our will, nor is there any process by which silver can be forced upon us without our consent. Exchanges are matters of agreement, and if silver comes to this country under free coinage it will be at the invitation of some one in this country who will give something in exchange for it.
Our opponents cannot ignore the fact that gold is now going abroad in spite of all legislation intended to prevent it, and no silver is being coined to take its place. Not only is gold going abroad now, but it must continue to go abroad as long as the present financial policy is adhered to, unless we continue to borrow from across the ocean, and even then we simply postpone the evil, because the amount borrowed, together with interest upon it, must be repaid in appreciating dollars. The American people now owe a large sum to European creditors, and falling prices have left a larger and larger margin between our net national income and our annual interest charge. There is only one way to stop the increasing flow of gold from our shores, and that is to stop falling prices. The restoration of bimetallism will not only stop falling prices, but will to some extent restore prices by reducing the world's demand for gold. If it is argued that a rise in prices lessens the value of the dollars which we pay to our creditors, I reply that, in the balancing of equities, the American people have as much right to favor a financial system which will maintain or restore prices as foreign creditors have to insist upon a financial system that will reduce prices. But the interests of society are far superior to the interests of either debtors or creditors, and the interests of society demand a financial system which will add to the volume of the standard money of the world, and thus restore stability to prices.
Perhaps the most persistent misrepresentation that we have to meet is the charge that we are advocating the payment of debts in fifty-cent dollars. At the present time and under present laws a silver dollar, when melted, loses nearly half its value, but that will not be true when we again establish a mint price for silver and leave no surplus silver upon the market to drag down the price of bullion. Under bimetallism silver bullion will be worth as much as silver coin, just as gold bullion it now worth as much as gold coin, and we believe that a silver dollar will be worth as much as a gold dollar.
The charge of repudiation comes with poor grace from those who are seeking to add to the weight of existing debts by legislation which makes money dearer, and who conceal their designs against the general welfare under the euphonious pretense that they are, upholding public credit and national honor.
Those who deny the ability of the United States to maintain the parity between gold and silver at the present legal ratio without foreign aid point to Mexico and assert that the opening of our mints will reduce us to a silver basis and raise gold to a premium. It is no reflection upon our sister republic to remind our people that the United States is much greater than Mexico in area, in population, and in commercial strength. It is absurd to assert that the United States is not able to do anything which Mexico has failed to accomplish. The one thing necessary in order to maintain the parity is to furnish a demand great enough to utilize all the silver which will come to the mints. That Mexico has failed to do this is not proof that the United States would also fail.
It is also argued that, since a number of the nations have demonetized silver, nothing can be done until all of those nations restore bimetallism. This is also illogical. It is immaterial how many or how few nations have opened mints, provided there are sufficient open mints to furnish a monetary demand for all the gold and silver available for coinage.
In reply to the argument that improved machinery has lessened the cost of producing silver, it is sufficient to say that the same is true of the production of gold, and yet, notwithstanding that, gold has risen in value. As a matter of fact, the cost of production does not determine the value of the precious metals, except as it may affect the supply. If, for instance, the cost of producing gold should be reduced ninety per cent without any increase in the output, the purchasing power of an ounce of gold would not fall. So long as there is a monetary demand sufficient to take at a fixed mint price all the gold and silver produced, the cost of production need not be considered.
It is often objected that the prices of gold and silver cannot be fixed in relation to each other, because of the variation in the relative production of the metals. This argument also overlooks the fact that, if the demand for both metals at a fixed price is greater than the supply of both, relative production becomes immaterial. In the early part of the present century the annual production of silver was worth, at the coinage ratio, about three times as much as the annual production of gold; whereas, soon after 1849, the annual production of gold became worth about three times as much, at the coinage ratio, as the annual production of silver; and yet, owing to the maintenance of the bimetallic standard, these enormous changes in relative production had but a slight effect upon the relative values of the metals.
If it is asserted by our opponents that the free coinage of silver is intended only for the benefit of the mine owners, it must be remembered that free coinage cannot restore to the mine owners any more than demonetization took away; and it must also be remembered that the loss which the demonetization of silver has brought to the mine owners is insignificant compared to the loss which this policy has brought to the rest of the people. The restoration of silver will bring to the people generally many times as much advantage as the mine owners can obtain from it. While it is not the purpose of free coinage to specially aid any particular class, yet those who believe that the restoration of silver is needed by the whole people should not be deterred because an incidental benefit will come to the mine owner. The erection of forts, the deepening of harbors, the improvement of rivers, the erection of public buildings all these confer incidental benefits upon individuals and communities, and yet these incidental benefits do not deter us from making appropriations for these purposes whenever such appropriations are necessary for the public good.
The argument that a silver dollar is heavier than a gold dollar, and that, therefore, silver is less convenient to carry in large quantities, is completely answered by the silver certificate, which is as easily carried as the gold certificate or any other kind of paper money.
There are some who, while admitting the benefits of bimetallism, object to coinage at the present ratio. If any are deceived by this objection they ought to remember that there are no bimetallists who are earnestly endeavoring to secure it at any other ratio than 16 to 1. We are opposed to any change in the ratio for two reasons: first, because a change would produce great injustice; and, second, because a change in the ratio is not necessary. A change would produce injustice because, if effected in the manner usually suggested, it would result in an enormous contraction in the volume of standard money.
If, for instance, it was decided by international agreement to raise the ratios throughout the world to 32 to 1, the change might be effected in any one of three ways: the silver dollar could be double in size, so that the new silver dollar would weigh thirty-two times as much as the present gold dollar; or the present gold dollar could be reduced one-half in weight, so that the present silver dollar would weigh thirty-two times as much as the new gold dollar; or the change could be made by increasing the size of the silver dollar and decreasing the size of the gold dollar until the new silver dollar would weigh thirty-two times as much as the new gold dollar. Those who have advised a change in the ratio have usually suggested that the silver dollar be doubled. If this change were made it would necessitate the recoinage of four billions of silver into two billions of dollars. There would be an immediate loss of two billions of dollars either to individuals or to the Government, but this would be the least of the injury. A shrinkage of one-half in the silver money of the world would mean a shrinkage of one-fourth in the total volume of metallic money. This contraction, by increasing the value of the dollar, would virtually increase the debts of the world billions of dollars, and decrease still more the value of the property of the world as measured by dollars. Besides this immediate result, such a change in the ratio would permanently decrease the annual addition to the world's supply of money, because the annual silver product, when coined into dollars twice as large, would make only half as many dollars.
The people of the United States would be injured by a change in the ratio, not because they produce silver, but because they own property and owe debts, and they cannot afford to thus decrease the value of their property or increase the burden of their debts.
In 1878 Mr. Carlisle said:
'Mankind will be fortunate indeed If the annual production of gold and silver coin shall keep pace with the annual increase of population and industry.'
I repeat this assertion. All of the gold and silver annually available for coinage, when converted into coin at the present ratio, will not, in my judgment, more than supply our monetary needs.
In supporting the act of 1890, known as the Sherman act, Senator Sherman, on June 5 of that year, said:
"Under the law of February, 1878, the purchase of $2,000,000 worth of silver bullion a month has by coinage produced annually an average of nearly $3,000,000 per month for a period of twelve years, but this amount, in view of the retirement of the bank notes, will not increase our currency in proportion to our increasing population. If our present currency is estimated at $1,400,000,000, and our population is increasing at the ratio of 3 per cent, per annum, it would require $42,000,000 increased circulation each year to keep pace with the increase of population; but, as the increase of population is accompanied by a still greater ratio of increase of wealth and business, it was thought that an immediate increase of circulation might be obtained by larger purchases of silver bullion to an amount sufficient to make good the retirement of bank notes and keep pace with the growth of population. Assuming that $54,000,000 a year of additional currency is needed upon this basis, that amount is provided for in this bill by the issue of Treasury notes in exchange for bullion at the market price."
If the United States then needed more than forty-two millions annually to keep pace with population and business, it now, with a larger population, needs a still greater annual addition; and the United States is only one nation among many. Our opponents make no adequate provision for the increasing monetary needs of the world.
In the second place, a change in the ratio is not necessary. Hostile legislation has decreased the demand for silver and lowered its price when measured by gold, while this same hostile legislation, by increasing the demand for gold, has raised the value of gold when measured by other forms of property.
We are told that the restoration of bimetallism would be a hardship upon those who have entered into contracts payable in gold coin, but this is a mistake. It will be easier to obtain the gold with which to meet a gold contract, when most of the people can use silver, than it is now when everyone is trying to secure gold.
The Chicago platform expressly declares in favor of such legislation as may be necessary to prevent, for the future, the demonetization of any kind of legal-tender money by private contract. Such contracts are objected to on the ground that they are against public policy. No one questions the right of legislatures to fix the rate of interest which can be collected by law; there is far more reason for preventing private individuals from setting aside legal-tender law. The money which is by law made a legal tender, must, in the course of ordinary business, be accepted by ninety-nine out of every hundred persons. Why should the one-hundredth man be permitted to exempt himself from the general rule? Special contracts have a tendency to increase the demand for a particular kind of money, and thus force it to a premium. Have not the people a right to say that a comparatively few individuals shall not be permitted to derange the financial system of the nation in order to collect a premium in case they succeed in forcing one kind of money to a premium?
There is another argument to which I ask your attention. Some of the more zealous opponents of free coinage point to the fact that thirteen months must elapse between the election and the first regular session of the next Congress, and assert that during that time, in case people declare themselves in favor of free coinage, all loan will be withdrawn and all mortgages foreclosed. If these are merely prophecies indulged in by those who have forgotten the provision of the Constitution, it will be sufficient to remind them that the President is empowered to convene Congress in extraordinary session whenever the public good requires such action. If, in November, the people by their ballots declare themselves in favor of the immediate restoration of bimetallism, the system can be inaugurated within a few months.
If, however, the assertion that loans will be withdrawn and mortgages foreclosed is made to prevent such political action as the people may believe to be necessary for the preservation of their rights, then a new and vital issue is raised. Whenever it is necessary for the people as a whole to obtain consent from the owners of money and the changers of money before they can legislate upon financial questions, we shall have passed from a democracy to a plutocracy. But that time has not yet arrived. Threats and intimidation will be of no avail. The people who, in 1776, rejected the doctrine that kings rule by right divine, will not, in this generation, subscribe to the doctrine that money is omnipotent.
In conclusion, permit me to say a word in regard to international bimetallism. We are not opposed to an international agreement looking to the restoration of bimetallism throughout the world. The advocates of free coinage have on all occasions shown their willingness to co-operate with other nations in the reinstatement of silver, but they are not willing to await the pleasure of other governments when immediate relief is needed by the people of the United States, and they further believe that independent action offers better assurance of international bimetallism than servile dependence upon foreign aid. For more than twenty years we have invited the assistance of European nations, but all progress in the direction of international bimetallism has been blocked by the opposition of those who derive a pecuniary benefit from the appreciation of gold. How long must we wait for bimetallism to be brought to us by those who profit by monometallism? If the double standard will bring benefits to our people, who will deny them the right to enjoy those benefits? If our opponents would admit the right, the ability and the duty of our people to act for themselves on all public questions without the assistance and regardless of the wishes of other nations, and then propose the remedial legislation which they consider sufficient, we could meet them in the field of honorable debate; but, when they assert that this nation is helpless to protect the rights of its own citizens, we challenge them to submit the issue to a people whose patriotism has never been appealed to in vain.
We shall not offend other nations when we declare the right of the American people to govern themselves, and, without let or hindrance from without, decide upon every question presented for their consideration. In taking this position, we simply maintain the dignity of seventy million citizens who are second to none in their capacity for self-government.
The gold standard has compelled the American people to pay an ever-increasing tribute to the creditor nations of the world a tribute which no one dares to defend. I assert that national honor requires the United States to secure justice for all its citizens as well as do justice to all its creditors. For a people like ours, blest with natural resources of surpassing richness, to proclaim themselves impotent to frame a financial system suited to their own needs is humiliating beyond the power of language to describe. We cannot enforce respect for our foreign policy so long as we confess ourselves unable to frame our own financial policy.
Honest differences of opinion have always existed, and ever will exist, as to the legislation best calculated to promote the public weal; but when it is seriously asserted that this nation must bow to the dictation of other nations and accept the policies which they insist upon, the right of self-government is assailed, and until that question is settled all other questions are insignificant.
Citizens of New York, I have traveled from the center of the continent to the seaboard that I might, in the very beginning of the campaign, bring you greeting from the people of the West and South and assure you that their desire is not to destroy but to build up. They invite you to accept the principles of a living faith rather than listen to those who preach the gospel of despair and advise endurance of the ills you have. The advocates of free coinage believe that, in striving to secure the immediate restoration of bimetallism, they are laboring in your behalf as well as in their own behalf. A few of your people may prosper under present conditions, but the permanent welfare of New York rests upon the producers of wealth. This great city is built upon the commerce of the nation and must suffer if that commerce is impaired. You cannot sell unless the people have money with which to buy, and they cannot obtain the money with which to buy unless they are able to sell their products at remunerative prices. Production of wealth goes before the exchange of wealth; those who create must secure a profit before they have anything to share with others. You cannot afford to join the money changers in supporting a financial policy which, by destroying the purchasing power of the products of toil, must in the end discourage the creation of wealth.
I ask, I expect, your co-operation. It is true that a few of your financiers would fashion a new figure a figure representing Columbia, her hands bound fast with fetters of gold and her face turned toward the East, appealing for assistance to those who live beyond the sea but this figure can never express your idea of this nation. You will rather turn for inspiration to the heroic statue which guards the entrance to your city a statue as patriotic in conception as it is colossal in proportions. It was the gracious gift of a sister republic and stands upon a pedestal which was built by the American people. That figure Liberty enlightening the world is emblematic of the mission of our nation among the nations of the earth. With a government which derives its powers from the consent of the governed, secures to all the people freedom of conscience, freedom of thought and freedom of speech, guarantees equal rights to all, and promises special privileges to none, the United States should be an example in all that is good, and the leading spirit in every movement which has for its object the uplifting of the human race.
Speech at Wilmington, Del., September 21st.
I WANT to talk to you awhile to-night about the financial policy of the Government. I have an old-fashioned idea that the people have a right to select their public servants, and that those public servants should conduct the Government as the people want that Government conducted. If you want to employ a man to do a certain kind of work, you want to know that the man is able to do the work that you want done; and that he is willing to do the work you want done, and then you employ him. And so it is with a public officer. You want to find out, first, what you want done, and then you want to find out who is the best person to do that work in a manner in which you want it done. [Cries of "Bryan! Bryan!" and great applause.] I want to tell you how we believe the work ought to be done, and then you can decide whether our way is your way.
The Treasury Department is an important part of our Government. It has to do with our financial system, and I ask your attention to two features of the financial question. First, what use shall we make of the silver dollars already in existence; second, shall we have any more silver dollars put into existence ? In the first place, our silver dollar is not redeemable in gold by law. Our silver dollar is a legal tender for all debts, public and private, unless a contract expressly excludes the silver dollar. Our Government has a right to pay every coin obligation in either gold or silver whichever the Government desires.
Furthermore, this Government has no gold obligations except gold notes, and for every note there is a gold dollar in the Treasury ready to pay it. This Government has no gold bonds. This Government has no paper outstanding, excepting the gold notes upon which gold can be legally demanded. What use shall we make of the silver dollar ? The Chicago platform declares that the silver dollar shall be used just as the gold dollar is used, and that the Government shall not discriminate in favor of or against the other. The treatment shall be equal.
I speak of this because all the conditions of which we complain are brought about by the failure of the Government to exercise its right to redeem its coin obligations in either gold or silver. If you will turn to the language of John Sherman in 1878, when he was Secretary of the Treasury, you will find that he admits that the greenbacks are legally redeemable in silver. If you will turn to the Matthews resolution, passed through both houses in 1878, you will find that that resolution expressly declares that the United States has the right to pay all coin obligations in either gold or silver. If you will turn to Mr. Carlisle's testimony before the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives, in 1895, you will find that Mr. Carlisle admitted that by law the Government could redeem greenbacks and Treasury notes in silver, but Mr. Carlisle said in his judgment it would be unsafe for the Government to exercise that right because other secretaries of the Treasury had established a precedent, and that precedent was that the note-holders should be permitted to designate the kind of payment instead of the Government.
I lay this down as a groundwork, because, friends, the issue of $262,000,000 of bonds was unnecessary. Those bonds were issued because the Secretary refused, to exercise the rights given by law and preferred to saddle a bonded debt upon the country instead of departing from custom, [Great applause.] More than that, my friends, not only has the Secretary of the Treasury issued bonds to the extent of $262,000,000 to buy gold when the necessity for buying gold could have been avoided by the use of silver not only have those bonds been issued, but there is no end to the issues of bonds if this financial system continues, and the Republican party proposes to continue the same financial system that has cursed this country for the last twenty-three years. [Great applause.]
Let me show you what is possible under this system, because I have so much confidence in the ability and patriotism of the people that I believe a clear understanding of the manipulation of the Treasury for private gain by the great syndicate formed for the purpose would open the eyes of the people and arouse a unanimous protest against it. The first S50,000,000 of bonds were advertised for, and the advertisement stated that only gold would be received for the bonds. Suppose a man had gone to the Secretary of the Treasury with $1,000,000 in greenbacks and Treasury notes and said to the Secretary: "I want to buy $1,000,000 of bonds." The Secretary would have said: "We can't sell you these bonds for greenbacks and Treasury notes. These bonds are issued to get gold and, therefore, we can only sell them for gold." This man would say: "Well, if you won't sell them for greenbacks and Treasury notes, I will just deposit the greenbacks and Treasury notes and have you redeem them in gold." The Secretary would have said: "Well, that's what we are here for," and he would have given him the $1,000,000 in gold. Then the man would say: "Do I understand that you have some bonds for sale ?" "Yes." "Well, here is your $1,000,000 in gold; give me the bonds."
Don't you think that can be done ? It can be done, Do you think it would be done ? It has been done. When they used the first $50,000,000 of bonds they drew out $18,000,000 in gold to pay for those bonds, and to the extent of $18,000,000 the Government had no more than it had when it commenced, although it had agreed to pay interest on $18,000,000 of bonds.
If there is any man who can't understand the absurdity of that proposition, I ask him to ask his wife about it, because there is not a wife that cannot tell you that it was an idiotic transaction. [Applause.] Then they issued $50,000,000 more and drew out a larger percentage of the gold than the first time. Then they made the Rothschild contract. There was a contract by which this Government sold to a private syndicate bonds at 104½ which were at that time worth 119 in the market. There is not a private citizen who would ever do that thing but his relatives would have a guardian appointed to take care of his property. [Laughter and applause.] Men can do as public officers that which they would not do if they were handling their own money and attending to their own business.
We were told when we sold bonds at home we had to furnish the gold to buy the bonds with. So they tried to buy the gold abroad and they would not have to furnish the gold with which they were buying. It made a little larger circle. It took a little longer to get around. The one provision in that contract which struck me as an exceedingly sagacious one was the one providing that this gold should be paid in instalments, extending over some months. The beauty of that was that the gold could not be gotten out until it got in, and the longer it took getting in the longer it took to get out. [Applause.] They sold bonds and sent them across the ocean, and before six months were up the same bonds that went across the ocean at 104½ came back to this country and took gold away from this country at the rate of 120.
That is financiering. [Laughter and applause.] That is wisdom in financial circles. [Laughter.] And if there is any one here that does not see that it is wise, do not say so, because they will say you are an ignoramus down in Wall Street. [Applause.] That contract contained a stipulation by which the Rothschild and Morgan syndicate agreed for a certain length of time to do their best to protect the Treasury of the United States. I think that the worst clause in the contract. It was the worst clause because it recognized in the contract that the services of those men were worth buying and paying a large price for. It was a recognition that but for the purchase the services could not have been rendered. They hired two men to back the Treasury. If this Government is going to admit that it depends for its financial existence upon the banking firms, one, foreign and one domestic, then it puts itself where those people can charge this Government whatever they please. I am not much of a financier, but my idea is that instead of hiring of those men to let us alone, we ought to try them as they do any other men who conspire against the Government, and punish them for conspiring against the country.
Yet they issued $100,000,000 more. It was suggested that they were going to be issued at private sale, and J. Pierpont Morgan, who had been in the bond deal, where they made such a profit on the bonds that he refused to tell about when brought before a committee of investigation, after stating that he did it largely because of his interest in the country, refused to tell how profitable it was to be interested in the country just at that time. [Laughter.] J. Pierpont organized another syndicate, and it was advertised that he was going to submit a bid for various parties at about 105, and then a circumstance arose which made it necessary for the President to advertise for public bids. Did the Morgan syndicate put in a public bid for the same amount it would have at private sale ? No, that syndicate waited until just before the time to open the bids, and then their bid was put in more than $5,000,000 above the bid that they expected to have put in if they had secured the bonds at private sale.
Now, that is business sagacity. Of course, no financier would condemn a man who tried to get the bonds at 105 and then had to bid 110 and a fraction and got them. If that is business sagacity, then I believe it is the business of this Government to protect the people against such sagacious financiering instead of turning the finances over to them. [Applause.]
You may call it patriotism on their part if you will, but I want that kind of a patriot to serve some other country and not mine. [Applause.] If some petty individual who did not have a high financial standing were to try to beat the Government out of $100 they would put him in the penitentiary and make an example out of him. But if a man tries to beat the Government out of $5,000,000 he becomes a patriot, and deserves to be the chief guest where Treasury officials are banqueted. I do not believe the man who manages the financing should be the bosom friend of the conspirators who never lose an opportunity to bleed the people. [Applause.]
I do not say this to secure the support of the Morgan syndicate. [Laughter.] I know when I say that I put myself in the ranks of the Anarchists. [Laughter.] Who is an Anarchist, according to the syndicate idea ? The man who believes in the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equally and stand alike before the law. [Applause.] Who is the patriot and statesman, according to J. Pierpont Morgan ? He who believes the masses were made with backs to bear the burdens and the few were made to ride upon the backs of those who toil. [Applause.]
The people of this country desire a government which is no respecter of persons, but will deal as heavily with the great transgressor as with the petty criminal, and which will not confer special favors upon a few people who control legislation for private gain. [Applause.]
If you believe this Government in that way you have a right to your thoughts at the polls, but if you believe it is safer to leave the destinies of this country to the syndicates and corporations, American and European, then you have an opportunity to so decide this fall. I know there are many people who have not given up hope that the people are able to govern themselves without the aid of these barnacles that have fastened themselves upon the Government. [Applause.] I believe a new leaf must be turned over. I believe the time has come when the Secretary of the Treasury, instead of being invited before the magnates of Wall Street and told what he must do, ought to invite the magnates of Wall Street before him and tell them what they must do and make them do it. [Applause.]
You say it cannot be done. Then our Government is a failure. You say we are not able to manage these trusts ? Yes, we are. A trust cannot live unless it is connived at by the lawmakers or those who enforce the law. You have had something to do with the coal trust, and your coal costs you about a dollar more this year than last. It means that trusts can go to every fireside and exact an unjust tribute before the man, who sits by the fireside can be warm.
They, told us if we would repeal the Sherman law we would have better times. Have we had them ? No. The farmer has seen no better times. They are trying to array the laboring class against the farmer. The laborer has no better friend than the farmer. In all his struggles against capital the farmer is his friend. And if hard times continue the farmer can stand it longer than the laboring man. He can raise food to eat, while hard times to the laboring man and loss of employment mean that he shall become a tramp. [Applause.]
I have been called an Anarchist because I have opposed the trusts and syndicates which would manage this country. I am glad to have the opposition of these men. I am glad that if I am elected there is not a trust or syndicate that can come to me and say, "We put you there, now pay us back." [Tremendous applause.]
Speech at Worcester, Mass., September 25th.
I will try to make myself heard if you will assist me by keeping quiet. We are in the midst of a campaign in which great feeling has been excited. It is not strange that deep feeling has been manifested on both sides of the money question. Much depends upon the result of this campaign. If the gold standard is a good thing then those of us who believe in bimetallism are terribly wrong. If, on the other hand, bimetallism is good, then the preservation of the gold standard is a crime against the American people. [Applause.]
I come to present one side of the question very briefly, because I have not time for any elaborate argument. Some tell us that the money question is a deep one. There is no question which concerns the welfare of our people which is so complicated that the people themselves are notable to understand it. There is no question, however high or broad or deep, that must be submitted to a few people to settle for the rest of the people. The money question can be understood, and is being understood. Every day finds more advocates for bimetallism than the day before. Every day brings new recruits to those who believe in the restoration of the money of the Constitution.
This is because of the inherent power of truth to propagate itself. Truth appeals to the minds of those who think. In order to understand the question you must commence at the bottom instead of with the details.
I was out in Arizona and New Mexico, and saw them irrigating on a large scale. I found great canals, able to water thousands and tens of thousands of acres of land. This thought came to me: What principle underlies irrigation ? It is that water runs down bill. When you find that out you can irrigate land. Until you find that out all your labor will be in vain.
There are principles underlying the money question which are just as fundamental as that which underlies irrigation. What is the principle that underlies the whole discussion of money ? The principle I desire you first to have fixed in your minds is that the value of the dollar depends upon the number of dollars. If the quantity of money is not an important thing to be considered, then all financial history has been written in vain. If the volume of money is material, then legislation, which controls the volume of money must be of the first importance among all public questions. If the value of dollars depends on the number of dollars, then to make dollars scarce is to make them dear. When dollars become dear property becomes cheap, and when property is falling in price we have hard times.
If you want hard times, make your money scarcer all the time. Now, who wants hard times ? Do you say that nobody is benefited by hard times ? I ask you to think for one moment of those who own money and nothing else. When money, rises their wealth increases, and unless they are very different from other people. they will be glad to see their property rise in value. Who else profits by hard times ? The syndicates that control the money and dole it out to those who must have it. The greater the necessity created, "the greater the opportunity of the man who holds the only thing which will relieve necessity.
Increase the hunger and you raise the value of food, provided the people who are hungry have anything to buy food with. Increase the demand for money and you raise the price of money, if people have anything to buy money with. If you have a mortgage on your property and must raise the money to pay that mortgage, you must sacrifice your property at any price in order to get the money. But the man who owns the money finds hard times the opportunity because a little money will go further then. Then the same amount of money will buy more. When you understand this, you will understand why some people will be so calm and complacent and pleasant, while others are sad and suffering.
We propose the restoration of bimetallism. We propose to add to gold all the silver which can be turned into money, so that we will have both gold and silver as a standard money, because when you have two kinds of metal to draw from, then it is harder to corner the supply of money than it is when you have but one kind of metal to draw from.
I read a poem written by a coal-miner in Pennsylvania. That poem contained more political economy than any advocate of the gold standard has ever put into a single speech in his whole campaign. In a single verse the man draws an illustration from his own business. He says: "What miner would work in a mine with but a single shaft ?" Those who have worked in mines know how important it is to have two shafts, so that if anything happen to one there will be another escape. The advocates of the gold standard are trying to make us work in a mine with but a single shaft, and they hold control of that one shaft. [Applause.]
If the people of this city depended for their water-supply upon a single spring, and that spring were owned and controlled by one corporation or person what would be the result ? No matter how hard times were, there would be one person or one corporation, the owner of that spring, who would not know what hard times were. Others might suffer, but he would be free from suffering. Why ? Because he owns a thing which people must have, and when their necessity drives them to him he takes advantage of that necessity and skims off all the cream on the milk. [Applause.]
If you are studying this question and desire to have some side light thrown upon the subject, let me suggest something which you may consider. A cause, like a man, is known by the company it keeps. If you are in any doubt as to which side justice is on in this great fight, you can get some information from the fact that we have arrayed against us in this campaign every trust, every combination, every syndicate that preys upon the public, and it is a certificate that our cause is just. [Applause.]
Speech at Manchester, N.H., September 26th.
My friends, you have submitted for your consideration two financial systems. One system we have now. The Republican party is in favor of continuing this system. If it is good it ought to be continued; if it is bad it ought to be abandoned, and you are the ones to decide whether it is good or bad. I believe that it is bad. I believe that its influence is injurious. I believe that under the gold-standard system our condition will become worse instead of better.
My friends, even in the use of the silver already coined, our financial system does not take care of the interests of the people. If our Administration would recognize silver even as it is by law, we would be relieved of great disadvantages. But instead of recognizing silver as a standard money, equal with gold in the payment of all debts, public and private, our Administration has issued bonds to the amount of $260,000,000 in order to buy gold to furnish those who make a profit by raiding the Treasury, and they buy the bonds which the Treasury issues to replenish itself.
At this, point Rockwell Clough asked: "Is this a Republican administration ?"
No, sir, but the Republican administration will continue the same thing, and every prominent Republican indorses that system. John Sherman says that Grover Cleveland's financial policy is all right, and John Sherman runs the Republican party.
Thomas S. Reed voted for the approval of the Rothschild contract when he was in Congress. I am not surprised that Republicans do not like to bear the odium of the present financial policy, but they had a chance to repudiate it at St. Louis. Instead of doing it they declared it must be continued forever unless foreign nations helped us out.
If the Republican leaders don't like the present financial policy, why doesn't one of them criticise it on the stump ? Now, my friends, it is a plain business proposition. The Administration gold bonds, which are worth 119, were then worth 104½.
Why didn't the Republican party denounce that as wrong in its convention ? Our convention did. We were willing to array ourselves against our own President, and the Republicans were not willing to declare against an opposition President. They tell us that if we use silver as a standard money for the payments of all the debts of the Government that gold will go to a premium. In France France they have more silver per capita than we have in the United States, and yet the French Government does not allow itself to be bulldozed and intimidated by the few financiers. [Applause.]
Mr. Clough interrupted Mr. Bryan with the following question: "If you want the people to have silver, why don't you give it to them at the market value ?"
I am glad to have questions asked. When a man is defending the truth no question can embarrass him. The gentleman asks why we don't want silver coined at the market ratio. I will answer it first this way: That the man who objects to free coinage at 16 to 1 and talks about another ratio, is not honest, because he would not have free coinage at any ratio. There is not a prominent man in the United States who is advocating free silver by this country alone at any ratio but 16 to 1. When a man finds fault with 16 to 1 he is putting up a sham bulwark, and when you knock that down he gets behind another one, because, my friends, these men are not in earnest. [Applause.]
Let me answer in another way. We are opposed to changing the ratio, because you have driven down the value of silver bullion by one bad law, and we are not in favor of holding it down by another bad law. The silver bullion in a dollar was worth three cents more than a dollar while our mints were opened. You discriminated against silver at the mint. Silver fell after demonetization. If the mints were to put both metals on an equality, as they were from the foundation of the Government down to 1873, then you couldn't talk to us about changing the ratio. [Applause.]
My friends, let me give you another reason for not changing the ratio. If the ratio were changed by international agreement to 32 to 1 instead of 16 to 1, what would be the result ? You would have to recoin four billion dollars of silver into dollars twice as large, which would be two billion dollars, and that would mean a decrease of one-fourth of the metallic money of the world, and would raise the value of a dollar, and those who own dollars would profit by it, and everybody who owed a debt would be plundered by it. That is why the advocates of the 32 ratio are found among the money-owning and the money-changing classes. [Applause.].
My friends, we are in favor of 16 to 1 not because we produce silver, but because we own property and owe debts and don't want to make debts heavier by reducing the value of our property by legal enactment and a change in the ratio means double the size of the dollar and lessens the number of dollars and raises the value of every dollar that is made.
Now let me show you another thing. It may not be palatable to those who are trying to stand on the Republican platform, and you are entitled to know it. The Republican party proposes to transfer legislative power from Washington to London, and any Republican who stands on that platform must defend the proposition. What does the Republican platform say ? Does it say that the gold standard is a good thing ? Not a bit of it. The Republican platform pledges the Republicans to get rid of the gold standard and substitute the double standard. What does that mean ? It means that the Republican platform declares bimetallism to be better than a gold standard. It means that the Republican party declares that it would rather have bimetallism for the people than the gold standard.
The platform means that the people are tired of the gold standard and want to get rid of it. And what do they say ? "We can't do it until foreign nations join us." Who determines what foreign nations shall do ? They themselves. Therefore, if we must maintain the gold standard until foreign nations act in favor of bimetallism, it means that while we desire bimetallism we cannot have it until foreign nations use their influence for bimetallism and thus permit us to do so.
Every man who stands on the Republican platform, if he is willing to avow his ambition, if he is willing to declare publicly what that platform means, ought to print upon a card these words:
"I am an American citizen; I prefer bimetallism to the gold standard, and I am in favor of having it whenever foreign nations are willing to let us have it, because I do not think my nation is big enough to attend to its business."
Now, my friends, men have a right to their opinion; they have a right to stand by their opinion; but, I say, when you get a platform which surrenders the right of self-government you ought to either stand out and say that you are proud of it, or get off it and come into some party where they don't try to surrender self-government. [Great applause.]
Our opponents are so afraid of a 50-cent dollar, so much afraid of it, that some of the employers of labor are afraid that they are going to pay their laborers with a cheap dollar. I am not sure but what my friend is one of them, but whenever a dollar gets cheap he can pay them twice as many dollars, if he loves them as well after election as he does now. [Applause.]
If a dollar is only worth 50 cents it is because prices of commodities are twice as high, and if the manufacturer can get twice as many silver dollars for his goods as he does for a gold dollar now, why can he not pay his employees twice as much, so he wont lose a cent ? [Applause.]
Mr. Clough "But he wont do it."
Mr. Bryan Then stop telling your employees you are interested in them just before election. [Great applause.]
Mr. Clough "I am merely stating the facts."
The employer never pays any more than he has to pay. It is only before campaigns that he poses as a philanthropist, and that is to make his employees vote his way. Of course, he isn't going to do that unless he has to. But, my friends, when you open the mints and stop the falling prices, and encourage industry, and furnish work for idle hands to do, the demand for labor will compel him to raise his wages to suit the changed condition. [Applause.] Don't think, my friends, that we are going to trust you to the tender mercies of those men who never bled for you except when they want to vote your vote in order to benefit themselves. Our system will create a demand for labor, and that demand for labor will force them to do what the gentleman says they wouldn't do of their own accord.
Now, my time is up, I want you to study the money question. If you find that the free coinage of silver is going to hurt you, why, then you can be opposed to it. But if you find that men with large incomes are opposed to the Chicago platform because it wants them to support their Government by taxes on their income, do not let them plead some of these excuses. [Applause.]
Speech in Tammany Hall, New York, September 29th.
Before addressing myself to the paramount issue of this campaign, I desire to refer to the argument used here in this city by an ex-President of the United States, Hon. Benjamin Harrison. [Hisses and groans.] My friends, please refrain from expressing your ill feelings; I quote his words because words coming from so high a Republican source are to be considered, even if you cannot agree with them.
Let me read what he said: "In my opinion, there is no issue presented by the Chicago convention more important and vital than the question they have raised of protecting the power and duty of the National Congress and the National Executive. The defence of the Constitution and of the Executive and of the Supreme Court of the United States, and of the President's power and duty to enforce all the laws of the United States without awaiting the call or consent of the governor or any State, is an important and leading issue in this campaign. Tariff and coinage will be of no moment if our constitutional Government is overthrown."
My friends, I call your attention to the fact that ex-President Harrison asserts that our platform raises a question on that subject Government is in danger. If that were true, we might well turn from the discussion of any other question to consider wherein it menaces the continuation of constitutional government, and there is nothing in the Chicago platform that menaces constitutional government. There is nothing in the Chicago platform that would make the Executive of the United States feeble in enforcing all the laws of the nation or feeble in defending the Constitution of the nation; and there is nothing in that platform that assails the integrity or questions the honesty of the Supreme Court of the United States or of any one State. [Applause.]
I challenge you to read that platform and find in that platform a single sentence that justifies the language used by the ex-President.
Our criticism of the Supreme Court is not as severe as the criticism and the platform upon which Abraham Lincoln was elected in 1860. The language that I have used in regard to the Supreme Court has not been as severe as the language used by Abraham Lincoln, both before his election and after his election to the Presidency. [Applause.] There is nothing in our platform concerning the invasion of the State by Federal troops; that appears in force and is emphasized in the platform of 1860, upon which Mr. Lincoln was elected. There is nothing that has been said in the platform or by its candidates that justifies the charge that the Democratic party is assailing constitutional government or interfering with the preservation of law and order. [Applause.]
I shall go further than that. If Mr. Harrison wants to raise the question of the survival of our Government, I am willing to meet him on that proposition. [Applause.]
My friends, in so far as Republicans and former Democrats [hisses] have criticised my election as a menace to law and order, I want to say to you that their fear is not that as an executive I will be lax in the enforcement of law; their fear is that as an executive I will not respect persons. [Applause.]
Who is it that is so afraid that law will not be enforced ? [Cries of "Hanna!" " Hanna!" and applause.] Those who are most fearful that there will be a lax enforcement of the law are the very persons who would suffer most if the laws were enforced. [Applause.]
Those persons who are afraid that law will be violated with impunity are the ones who have violated law with impunity.
If Mr. Harrison wants to raise the question of the survival of our institutions, I will tell him that the great trusts of this country that are supporting the Republican ticket are the greatest menace to our Government.
The coal trust sends its representative to sit by every fireside, and exacts tribute from those who need warmth. The trust sends its representative to collect a tribute from those who use light.
The trusts of this country, with their representatives, are collecting tribute from the people, and when we protest against it, they call us disturbers of the peace and Anarchists. [Applause.]
I am opposed to trusts. [Applause.] As an executive I shall use what power I have to drive every trust out of existence. [Tremendous applause.]
If present laws are not sufficient to meet this evil, I, if elected, will recommend such laws as will. [Applause.] If the Constitution of the United States is so construed as to prevent any interference with the operations of the trust, I shall recommend such amendment to the Constitution as will permit punishment of these men. [Applause.]
My friends, there is a great contest in this country, which must be settled, and that is whether a few men, banded together, are more powerful than all the people.
And while I do not want to array class against class, I am willing to array all the people who suffer from the operations of these trusts against the few people who operate the trusts. [Applause.]
If our opponents are not afraid to discuss the money question and rest a verdict on that alone, we are willing to meet them, and let the public decide whether those who are discrediting the free coinage of silver, or those who are standing upon the Chicago platform can better be trusted with government. Shall syndicates, the stock exchanges, the money grabbers, and the trust representatives who have banded together run this country for four years more ? [Applause.] I understand that a distinguished citizen of this State, Hon. Chauncey Depew [hisses] I understand that he also thinks that my election would be dangerous to the country. [Laughter.] My friends, there is one advantage in having Mr. Depew against me, and that is, that if I am elected he will not come down to Washington and tell me that as he helped to elect me he wants me to get off that plank that declares in favor of the arbitration of differences between railroads and their employees.
There is another advantage which I shall derive from his opposition. If I am elected he will not come down to Washington and, on the ground that he has elected me, ask me to use executive influence against that bill that passed the Senate which attempted to protect people from government by injunction. [Applause]
My friends, there is one great consolation that I find in the opponents that have arrayed themselves against me, and that is that by not having their aid in the campaign I won't have their domination after that campaign is over. [Applause.]
But, my friends, our platform has declared that the paramount issue of this campaign is the money question, and I believe it is true, because on the result of this election will turn, for the time being at least, the financial policy of this country. The Republican party in convention assembled has declared that this nation must retain its present financial policy until foreign nations shall join with us in abandoning it. The Democratic platform declares in favor of an American financial policy for the American people. [Applause.]
And when I defend an independent financial policy I am not appealing to any prejudice which any citizen of the United States may have against any foreign nation. I am simply doing in this nation what every Englishman does in England, what every German does in Germany, what every Frenchman does in France. I am asserting, and I shall defend, the rights of these people to attend to their own people. [Applause.]
If the gold standard is a good thing, then we ought to keep it, whether other nations want us to keep it or not; if it is a bad thing, we ought to get rid of it, no matter how much other nations may want us to keep it. The Republican party does not say that the gold standard is a good thing. The Republican party expressly declares that bimetallism is better than a gold standard, because when a Republican platform pledges the Republican party to substitute the double standard for the gold standard, it is a positive and emphatic declaration that the double standard is desirable in preference to the single gold standard. That is the platform, and when, after declaring bimetallism desirable, it asserts that we must delay its advantages until those advantages are brought to us by other nations, to propose to surrender the rights of legislation over this subject and transfer a legislative power from Washington to the sod of one or more foreign nations. [Cries of "Never ! Never !"]
My friends, no foreign nation has ever adopted such a policy as the Republican party asks us to adopt. No foreign party has ever gone before the country with such a proposition as the Republican party now presents. So far as I know, no statesman in a foreign land has ever advocated a policy that would make the people of his nation dependent upon the decision of the people of some other nation. It has been left to free America to set the example of a national party proposing to surrender the right of self-government and bind its people to the law of foreign powers. [Applause.]