Story of an act to demonetize silver


House of Representatives
Saturday, February 25, 1871.
Mr. Kelley reported back, with an amendment in the nature of a substitute to Senate bill 859.

Sec. 14. And be it further enacted, That of the gold coins, the weight of the double-eagle, or twenty-dollar piece, shall be five hundred and sixteen grains;  of the eagle, or ten-dollar piece, two hundred and fifty-eight grains;  of the half-eagle, or five-dollar piece, one hundred and twenty-nine grains;  of the quarter-eagle, or piece of two and one-half dollars, sixty-four and one-half grains;  of the three-dollar piece, seventy-seven and four-tenths grains;  of the one-dollar piece, or unit of value, twenty-five and eight-tenths grains;  which coins shall be a legal tender in all payments at their denominational value.

Sec. 15. And be it further enacted, That of the silver coins, the weight of the half-dollar, or piece of fifty cents, shall be one hundred and ninety-two grains;  and the quarter-dollar and dime, shall be, respectively, one-half and one-fifth of the weight of said half-dollar;  which coins shall be a legal tender, at their denominational value, for any amount not exceeding fiver dollars in any one payment.

Sec. 18. And be it further enacted, That no coins, either of gold, silver, or minor coinage, shall hereafter be issued from the mint other than those of the denominations, standards, and weights herein set forth.

Sec. 72. And be it further enacted, That this act shall be known as the "coinage act, eighteen hundred and seventy-one;"  and all other acts and parts of acts pertaining to the mints, assay offices, and coinage of the United States, inconsistent with the provisions of this act, are hereby repealed





House of Representatives
Wednesday, January 10, 1872.

Mints, Assay Offices, Coinage.

The Speaker.  The morning hour commences at fifteen minutes past twelve o'clock, and the House resumes the consideration of the bill (H.R. No. 5) revising the laws relative to the mints, assay offices, and coinage of the United States.

Mr. Kelley.  Before proceeding to the discussion of the bill.  I ask unanimous consent to say a few words in the way of personal explanation touching the bill.  Yesterday, in answer to the categorical questions of the gentleman from New York, [Mr. Potter,] I replied that there was no increase of salary provided for in this bill.  I was here without my annotated copy of the bill, or my notes and papers, which I had taken to my room for study during the vacation.  I should have answered that question otherwise, yet essentially in the same manner;  that is to say, that this bill provides a change of salaries, an increase in some instances, but not an increase or the general expenditure in the Mint service --rather a reduction, absolute or hoped for.

Thus, the bill creates one new office, one of the most responsible offices under the Government, in connection with the currency and finances of the country;  an office not requiring merely clerical fitness, but great scientific and mechanical experience and attainments;  an office which in England is regarded as one of the first and most important under the Government.  The Secretary of the Treasury, in recommending this bill, had recommended an increase of $1,500 a year to the operative officers, who are also required to be men of science and mechanical skill, such as the melter and refiner, and the assayer, and some increase to the engraver, so that the Government engraver might be paid as he could be in the private shops of the country, for wages for that sort of labor have materially advanced.  The committee had not concurred in the recommendation of the Secretary of the Treasury as to $1,500, but had reduced it to $500.  I remembered the reduction, and thought it brought it down to the actual present salary.  So, too, with reference to the superintendents of the Mint.  Their functions are changed.  I ask the chairman of the Committee on Appropriations [Mr. Garfield] to please notice this fact.  I am speaking of the proposed salaries of the superintendents of the Mint.  Their functions are materially changed.  They are hereafter to perform the duties hitherto performed by the treasurers of the Mint.  They now become bonded officers, and this bill requires of them a bond in the sum, I think, of $500,000.  And it was supposed that for their increased duties, and especially for their increased responsibilities, an additional sum of $500 would not be too much in a bill, the general drift of which is to reduce the expense of the coinage and Mint system of the country.

Mr. Garfield, of Ohio.  Will the gentleman allow me a question ?

Mr. Kelley.  Certainly.

Mr. Garfield, of Ohio.  Do I understand the gentleman to say that the office of Superintendent of the Mint now includes in it the duties of treasurer of the Mint ?

Mr. Kelley.  It will, should this bill become a law.

Mr. Garfield, of Ohio.  Let me ask the I gentleman this further question.  I see that the treasurer of the Mint at Philadelphia, who I understand the gentleman to say is now a bonded officer, gets a salary of $3,500 a year.  If this bill shall pass the Superintendent of the Mint at Philadelphia, who will perform the same duties the treasurer now performs, will have $5,000 a year;  that is an increase of $1,500 a year for substantially the same duties.

Mr. Kelley.  If the gentleman will make himself familiar with the facts, he will discover that in each of three cities, to wit, New York, Philadelphia, and New Orleans, there is one officer holding two offices and receiving two salaries;  the same individual is Assistant Treasurer of the United States and treasurer of the Mint;  and in the double capacity he receives a salary higher than we propose to be given to the Superintendent of the Mint, who is hereafter to perform the functions and duties of the treasurer of the Mint as they now exist.

Mr. Garfield, of Ohio.  Is there any provision of law allowing those officers to draw two salaries ?

Mr. Kelley.  Yes, sir;  and the gentleman will find near the close of this bill --for I want nothing but that every member shall understand it-- a provision that the salaries now paid to the treasurers of the Mint shall hereafter be paid to the Assistant Treasurers at New York, Philadelphia, and New Orleans, and be charged, as they properly are chargeable, to the expenses of the Treasury, and not to the Mint of the United States.  If no provision be made for the salaries of the Assistant Treasurers, no man will fill the office at any one of those three places, for it will leave those officers with all the responsibilities of the Assistant Treasurership, with a salary, at New York, for instance, of, I think, two thousand or two thousand five hundred dollars a year.

As I have said, in response to the gentleman from Ohio, [Mr. Garfield,] I have nothing to conceal and nothing to urge about this bill.  It is a public bill, coming to Congress from one of the Departments, (the Treasury,) and going to the Committee on Coinage, Weights, and Measures, through that transmission of the bill to the House.

Mr. Wood.  At the close of the session on yesterday, the gentleman from Massachusetts, [Mr. Dawes,] addressing the House, expressed the wish that we should take this opportunity to discuss and determine the question of the salaries of Government officials.  He appeared to think that to raise the salaries as proposed by this section of the bill would require an increase of salaries throughout the various Departments of the Government.  Now, I think that in cases of this kind, where very grave responsibilities rest upon officials, the question of compensation is not of so much importance as the question of integrity and of capacity.  I do not believe that the people of this country complain very much of the salaries paid to their officials.

But I do believe that the public mind of the country is at this time very much agitated as to the personal fitness and qualifications of official incumbents, and the integrity with which their duties are discharged.  I think it one of the most encouraging signs of the times that public attention is now so decidedly called to the manner in which officials of every grade and character, from the highest in the Government down to the most humble local magistrate, discharge their duties.

We have, sir, in the report submitted to this House by the President from the commissioners appointed by him to revise the civil service system of the country, this most astounding declaration:

"It is calculated by those who have made a careful study of all the facts, that one fourth of the revenues of the United States are annually lost in the collection."

We have collected for the last few years at least $400,000,000 of revenue annually;  and we are told by the official representatives of the Administration that one fourth of this sum has been stolen by the officials appointed to collect it.  This is the condition of affairs in this country;  and while I do not believe that official integrity or official dishonesty is confined to either political party, or that either party has a monopoly of honesty or dishonesty, yet I do think it an auspicious circumstance that at last the people of this country evince a determination to hold the officers of the Government to a strict accountability as to the discharge of their official duties;  and if the honorable gentleman from Massachusetts, [Mr. Dawes] instead of bringing up a discussion as to the regulation of official salaries, shall direct his ability and influence in this House toward effecting a substantial reform in the civil service of the country, he will accomplish good for which the people of the country will thank him, and no part of the people more than those embraced in the Democratic party.  We desire reform.  We commenced reform in our own case in the great city of New York.  The Democracy there effected a reform by weeding out boldly all the corrupt elements of its own party gathered there in official life;  and we call upon the Republican party to commence a similar work with the Administration here, which, by the statement of its own officials, is even more corrupt than that which we have exposed and denounced and uprooted in New York.  I hope, therefore, that the gentleman from Massachusetts, who occupies a very responsible position here, to whom we all listen with so much pleasure, and whom we are all so ready to follow when he is willing to act as leader, will devote the power of his voice and influence to effecting not only in the legislative department of the Government, but also in the executive department, a reform such as we have effected in the city of New York.

Mr. Dawes.  The gentleman from New York [Mr. Wood] must excuse me if I do not turn aside from the purposes of this bill at this moment to follow his suggestions, which I take very kindly, assuring him that I will endeavor to do what I can in that line, if I can have his valuable assistance.  He alludes to what has been done by his party in the city of New York.  I inquire of him whether it is not the fact that, while we send our thieves to the penitentiary they send theirs to the Legislature ? [Laughter.]  I rose, however, to offer an amendment.

Mr. Wood.  If the gentleman would send all his political friends who are thieves to the State prison, there are not State prisons enough in the country to hold one hundredth part of them. [Laughter]

Mr. Dawes.  I desire to offer an amendment to the twelfth section.

The Speaker.  As soon as the pending amendment is disposed of, the Chair will recognize the gentleman.  Debate is exhausted on the pending amendment, which will be read.

The Clerk read as follows:

In line twelve of section twelve, strike out "$5,500," and insert in lieu thereof "$4,500."

The amendment was agreed to;  there being, on a division, ayes seventy-nine, noes not counted.

Mr. Dawes.  I move to amend by striking out in the third line of section twelve, after the word "expenses," the words "in visiting different mints and assay offices," and inserting in lieu thereof "actually incurred in visiting different mints and assay offices, to be paid only on vouchers verified on oath."

Mr. Kelley.  I accept the amendment.

Mr. Dawes.  If the House accepts it, then I will not trouble it with any remarks.

The amendment was agreed to.

Mr. Garfield, of Ohio.  I desire to offer an amendment.  I move to strike out "$5,000," in lines five and six, and insert "$3,500;"  so it will read, "to the superintendents of mints at Philadelphia and San Francisco, each $3,500."

The Speaker.  There is a series of amendments pending offered by the gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Burchard] yesterday.

Mr. Garfield, of Ohio.  I understand that the gentleman from Illinois offers them one by one.

Mr. Burchard.  I presented them all together.

The Speaker.  The Clerk will then report the first amendment offered by the gentleman from Illinois.

The Clerk read as follows:

Strike out "$3,500," and insert "$4,500;"  so it will read, "to the superintendents of the mints at Philadelphia and San Francisco, each $4,500."

Mr. Burchard.  That, I understand, has been substantially voted on.

The Speaker.  It has been disposed of by the amendment of the gentleman from Massachusetts, and the Clerk will read the next amendment.

The Clerk read as follows:

Strike out "$3,500," in line seven, so it will read, "to the assayers, melters and refiners, and coiners of those mints, each $3,000."

Mr. Burchard.  The amendment in line five has not been voted on, as I understand.

Mr. Kelley.  It has been agreed to, and the salary of the chief Director has been fixed at $4,500.

Mr. Garfield, of Ohio.  But it has not been voted on in line six.

The Speaker.  The amendment will be again read.

The Clerk read as follows:

In lines five and six strike out "$4,000," and insert "$4,500;"  so it will read, "to the superintendents of the mints at Philadelphia and San Francisco, each $4,500."

The Speaker.  The Chair understands that the gentleman from Illinois moves to strike out "$5,000" and insert "$4,500," and the gentleman from Ohio moves to make it "$3,500."

Mr. Garfield, of Ohio.  Certainly.

Mr. Kelley.  I desire to be heard on that.  I wish to call the attention of the House to the fact that while they are largely increasing the responsibilities of these offices of superintendents of the mints at Philadelphia and San Francisco, they propose to largely reduce their pay.  Those officers are now receiving $4,500.  This bill transfers to them the duty of treasurer, for which a large salary has been paid.  It puts on them the responsibilities of that office, and requires them to give a heavy bond, for all of which it is proposed to reduce their salaries $1,000 per annum.  Now, I am as anxious for economy as the gentleman from Illinois, [Mr. Burchard,] or the gentleman from Ohio, [Mr. Garfield.]  I am perfectly willing to see these salaries remain at the figure at which they now stand, but it should be borne in mind that there are no more responsible financial officers in the country, none requiring a higher order of integrity, none whose blunders or whose crimes would be more difficult of detection.  They are to have charge not only of your bullion and of your coin, but of your standard of weight and fineness, and of the coin selected for testing annually by a commission the fidelity with which the standard weight and fineness of our coin are maintained;  and in this day of high prices you will not be able to command the services of men to whom such duties should properly be confided, for the sum proposed by the gentleman's amendment to the amendment.  Make the salaries of those officers each $3,500 per annum, and I apprehend no gentleman fitted to properly discharge the duties of those offices will enter into bonds of a quarter or half a million dollars, and assume the extraordinary duties devolved on them, with a salary diminished so largely.  I think it is an effort at economy as unwise as ever was made, and in its results, instead of being economy, it may be to debase the coinage, or lead to the loss of large sums of money to the Government.  I hope, therefore, that the amendment will not prevail.

Mr. Garfield, of Ohio.  We have already cut off $1,000.

Mr. Kelley.  From the existing office ?

Mr. Garfield, of Ohio.  From the chief officer now provided for in this twelfth section.

Mr. Kelley.  That is from the proposed salary.

Mr. Garfield, of Ohio.  We have reduced the salary of the chief officer from $5,500 a year to $4,500, and as the bill now stands it proposes that the subordinates under the chief shall have the same salary as the chief.  The gentleman from Pennsylvania has told you of the duties of these officers.  I say to the gentleman, that the treasurer of the Mint at Philadelphia, the officer he refers to as one whose duties are to be swallowed up by those of the officer now under consideration, has at present $3,500.  It is true that the treasurer of the mint at San Francisco gets $4,500.  I see no reason why there should be such disparity between the two, and I do not think it will be wrong to put the amount at $4,000.  But to put the salaries of these officers at the same rate as that of their chief, who has control of all the business, is manifestly wrong.  I modify my amendment so as to make the amount $4,000, which will make the scale $4,500 for the highest officer, $4,000 for the second grade, and $3,500 for the grade still lower, striking an average between the present salary of the treasurer at Philadelphia and the higher salary of the treasurer at San Francisco.

Mr. Kelley.  If I may be permitted, I desire to say that I am not contemplating symmetry in offices.  I am contemplating such payment for such duty as will probably secure integrity and capacity, and I do not think $4,500 is inadequate pay for an office the duties of which we are nearly doubling, the responsibilities of which we are increasing ten thousand fold, and which has been hitherto regarded as deserving of $4,500.  The officer at San Francisco now receives $4,500, $3,000 as Assistant Treasurer of the United States, and $1,500 as treasurer of the Mint.  It is, as I said before, increasing the duty, adding enormous responsibilities, and at the same time reducing the pay upon the simple plea that the scale of salaries will be made more symmetrical.

Mr. Townsend, of New York.  Mr. Speaker, with great reluctance I intrude myself at this moment on the attention of the House;  but it seems to me that this legislation, or this discussion of matters of legislation, occupying the House out of all reasonable proportion to its interest, is something which the country will reject.  This Congress has been in existence for nearly a year, and during that whole time there has been scarcely one act of legislation which has had a tendency to protect or in the slightest degree to advance the great commercial interests of this country, upon which all our prosperity depends.  And here we are discussing a question of salary to the officers of a mint, when, if things go on as they are at present, we will soon have no money to pay officers.

To-day the rate of interest in England is two and a half per cent. per annum, while in the city of New York it has lately been as high as three hundred per cent. per annum.  Our great commercial interests are suffering, and looking to this body for protection, and I believe, I say it boldly, that if a vote were taken to-day the country would direct that the members of this body return to their avocations in other pursuits.  I therefore move to strike out the enacting clause in this bill, so that we may proceed to something of which the country is more in need at this time than the discussion of mints and coinage.

Mr. McCormick, of Missouri.  Is the motion of the gentleman from New York [Mr. Townsend] subject to amendment ?

The Speaker.  It is not debatable.

Mr. McCormick, of Missouri.  I desire to know if it be subject to amendment ?

The Speaker.  It is not subject to amendment, nor is it debatable.  The question is on the motion of the gentleman from New York [Mr. Townsend] to strike out the enacting clause of the bill.

Mr. Cox.  I desire to make a parliamentary inquiry.  I would like the Chair to state to the House the effect of that motion.

The Speaker.  The Chair would state that it is a process of decapitation. [Laughter.]

The question being put, the House divided;  and there were--- ayes 59, noes 48;  no quorum voting.

The Speaker, under the rule, ordered tellers;  and Mr. Kelley, and Mr. Townsend of New York were appointed.

The House again divided;  and the tellers reported--- ayes 80, noes 61.

Mr. Dickey demanded the yeas and nays.  The yeas and nays were ordered.  The question was taken;  and it was decided in the negative--- yeas 77, nays 100, not voting 61;  as follows:

Yeas--- Messrs. Adams, Arthur, Beck, Bell, Biggs, Bird, James G. Blair, Braxton, Bright, Caldwell, Carroll, Conner, Cox, Crebs, Critcher, Crossland, Davis, Dox, DuBose, Duke, Dunnell, Edwards, Eldridge, Ely, Farnsworth, Garrett, Hale, Hambleton, Hancock, Handley, Hanks, Harper, John Harris, Hay, Hereford, Herndon, Hibbard, Holman, Kerr, King, Lamison, Leach, Lewis, Manson, Marshall, McCormick, McHenry, McIntyre, McKinney, Merrick, Morgan, Niblack, Hosea Parker, Eli Perry, Peters, Read, Edward Rice, John Rice, William Roberts, Roosevelt, Slater, Slocum, Sloss, Stevens, Swann, Torry, Dwight Townsend, Tuthill, Van Trump, Vaughan, Waddell, Warren, Wells, Whitthorne, Williams of New York, Winchester, and Wood --77

Nays--- Messrs. Acker, Ambler, Averill, Barber, Barry, Beatty, Beveridge, Bingham, Austin Blair, George Brooks, Buffinton, Burchard, Burdett, Roderick Butler, Clarke, Coburn, Coghlan, Conger, Cotton, Dawes, Dickey, Donnan, Duell, Eames, Finkelnburg, Charles Foster, Wilder Foster, Frye, Garfield, Goodrich, Halsey, Harmer, George Harris, Havens, Gerry Hazleton, John Hazleton, Hill, Hoar Hooper, Houghton, Kelley, Kellogg, Ketcham, Killinger, Lamport, Lansing, Lowe, Lynch, Maynard, McClelland, McCrary, McJunkin, Merriam, Benjamin Meyers, Monroe, Moore, Leonard Myers, Orr, Packard, Palmer, Isaac Parker, Peck, Pendleton, Pores, Platt, Poland, Randall, Ellis Roberts, Rusk, Scofield, Seeley, Sessions, Shanks, Sheldon, Shellabarger, Sherwood, Boardman Smith, John Smith, Snapp, Snyder, Sprague, Starkweather, Stoughton, Strong, Taffe, Thomas, Washington Townsend, Turner, Twichell, Tyner, Upson, Wakeman, Walden, Waldron, Wallace, Walls, Wheeler, Willard, Williams of Indiana, and Jeremiah Wilson --100.

Not Voting--- Messrs. Ames, Archer, Banks, Barnum, Bigby, James Brooks, Buckley, Benjamin Butler, Campbell, Cobb, Comingo, Creely, Darrall, DeLarge, Elliott, Farewell, Forker, Henry Foster, Getz, Golladay, Griffith, Haldeman, Hawley, Hays, Kendall, Kinsella, McGrew, McKee, McNeely, Mercur, Mitchell, Morey, Morphis, Negley, Packer, Aaron Perry, Porter, Potter, Price, Prindle, Rainey, Ritchie, Robinson, Rogers, Sawyer, Shober, Shoemaker, Worthington Smith, Milton Speer, Thomas Speer, Stevenson, Storm, Stowell, St John, Sutherland, Sypher, Voorhees, Whiteley, John Wilson, and Young -61.

So the motion to strike out the enacting clause of the bill was disagreed to.

The question recurred upon the amendment offered by Mr. Garfield, of Ohio.

Mr. Garfield, of Ohio.  I ask the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. Kelley] to consent to have this bill recommitted.  I have a motion pending, to strike out the whole of this twelfth section, which I did not wish to press, and yet on further examination I am satisfied that the bill involves a very considerable increase in salaries generally.  I have before me the mint laws as they have been compiled up to 1867, and all the changes up to this time, and I find that the superintendents of the branch mints have $2,000 a year, and the other officers' salaries at a lower grade.

Mr. Kelley.  What branch mint ?

Mr. Garfield, of Ohio.  At the branch mint at New Orleans the superintendent had $2,500, and the treasurer $2,000.

Mr. Kelley.  Twenty-five hundred dollars for the superintendent and $2,000 for the treasurer, the offices being held by the same person, which made $4,500.

Mr. Garfield, of Ohio.  The law does not say so.  The law says nothing about one person holding the two offices.  I find that the superintendent of the mint at Dahlonega has but $2,000 a year.

Mr. Kelley.  That office has been abolished.

Mr. Garfield, of Ohio.  I know that;  but I am speaking of what was the order under this law.  The assayer and the coiner at Dahlonega had each $1,500 a year.  I find that on the Pacific coast, at the mint of San Francisco, of which the gentleman speaks, higher salaries were paid, but we know that generally on the Pacific coast we have had to have higher salaries on account of the peculiar situation of that people;  but the occasion for that has nearly passed now, and there is no such necessity for larger salaries there than elsewhere.  Now, for one, I do not propose to take the high figures paid at San Francisco as a gauge of salary for all the officers of mints, as this bill now seems to do.

It seems to me, with all due respect to the committee, that they have not well considered this section, and I hope the gentleman will consent that the bill shall be recommitted, and that this section relating to salaries shall be thoroughly gone over.  I do not wish to slash into the bill and mutilate it, as it should be harmonious in all its parts, but I do not believe that it can be perfected here in open House by amending one salary and then another, and then another, according to the caprice of the House, without full knowledge.  If, however, we are going on with the discussion of the bill, I shall of course insist on my amendment cutting down the salary now under debate.

Mr. Kelley.  I shall not object ultimately to the recommitment of this bill.  I shall endeavor, however, to persuade gentlemen in the interim to examine the bill and look into the facts of the case.  The gentleman from Ohio has illustrated how little the most industrious and capable members of the House understand about the facts in question.  He tells you that he makes allowance for the expenses in San Francisco.  The Assistant Treasurer at San Francisco receives $6,000, $4,500 of which he receives as treasurer of the mint;  and yet when it is proposed to add all his duties to those of the superintendent of the mint the gentleman from Ohio says the salary for both offices should be less by $1,000 than has been paid for the one.  In Philadelphia your Assistant Treasurer receives as treasurer of the Mint $3,500, and you propose to add his duties to those of the Superintendent of the Mint, and make that officer give a heavy bond, and then to reduce his salary $1,000, because he shall perform duties that have heretofore cost you $3,500.

The gentleman refers to Dahlonega.  Will he tell me when there was either coinage or assay at Dahlonega ?  It was an office without duties, maintained until the breaking out of the war by southern supremacy in the House.  He refers to the mint at Charlotte, where the total amount assayed and coined during the last year was $14,500.  This bill proposes to abolish that establishment, and throw into adequate salaries for responsible officers the money that has been wasted by maintaining these sinecures.  I am informed by the Treasury Department that the utmost increase of expenses that this bill can involve is $3,700 per annum, while it adds an office to which it is proposed to give a salary of $5,500.  Reducing that salary to $3,500, the Treasury estimate is, that while you have made your mint secure, while you will have given a responsibility to those to whom your coinage is confided, while you will have enabled your Secretary of the Treasury to ascertain the condition of your mints and your coinage, you will have added to the possible expenditure the enormous sum of $1,700, with large prospective reductions by means of the systematic working of the mints.

This is the true state of the case, and I hope that gentlemen who have the estimates before them, and also the recommendations of the Secretary of the Treasury, will make themselves familiar with the real facts of the case, and not come in here and endeavor to thwart a bill like this upon erroneous statements of facts.  Here is the recommendation of the Secretary of the Treasury, sending in to us the recommendation of the superintendent of the assay office at New York, Mr. Acton, embodied in the volume of estimates:

I earnestly recommend the additional salary submitted for the assayer, and melter and refiner.  Their duties are onerous and responsible, and their present compensation wholly inadequate, in view of the cost of living in New York.  I would also call attention to the appropriation for the current year of but $3,000 for the salary of deputy treasurer, which was fixed by the Secretary of the Treasury, November 6, 1869, at $4,500.
Thomas C. Acton, Superintendent.

I now move that this bill be recommitted to the Committee of Coinage, Weights, and Measures.

Mr. McCormick, of Missouri.  Is that motion amendable ?

The Speaker.  It is by way of adding instructions to the motion to recommit.

Mr. McCormick, of Missouri.  That is what I wish.  I move to amend the motion to recommit by adding instructions to the committee to report a bill which shall create no new bureau, new office, or increase of salary of any officer now in existence, and which shall provide that in the purchase of nickel and copper for the use of the Mint proposals for bids shall be submitted, and the lowest and best bidder or bidders shall be contracted with for the same;  and that all nickel and copper coin redeemed by the Mint shall be recoined, so far as the same can be used for such purpose.  That amendment is about all the argument I desire to submit.  I think it is clearly the sense of this House and of the country that officers of the Government shall not have their salaries increased;  neither shall there be any increase of officers in this or any other Department.  For that reason I hope the House will adopt my amendment.

Mr. Kelley.  The gentleman from Missouri, [Mr. McCormick,] in order to affect the mode of purchasing a single metal, proposes some very curious instructions to the committee, which ought to contain the words "nor in any other way alter existing law."  The amendment would then be more intelligible.  Officers are not to be changed, salaries are not to be changed, nothing is to be changed except the mode of buying nickel.  I apprehend the regulations which this House and the Senate will adopt for the procuring of gold and silver and other metals will be quite sufficient to secure something like integrity in the purchase of nickel.

Mr. McCormick, of Missouri.  My impression is that the primary object of this bill is to affect the manner in which nickel shall be purchased, and it is for that very reason that I have moved these instructions.  There are in the United States more places producing nickel than the State of Pennsylvania;  and I think that all the nickel-producing portions of our country should be permitted to go into the market and have an opportunity to supply the Mint.

Mr. Kelley.  I wish to say, in reply to the gentleman from Missouri, [Mr. McCormick,] that I cannot believe the Secretary of the Treasury deemed it necessary to organize a commission to revise the Mint laws for the simple purpose of enabling somebody to have a "job" in buying nickel.  This bill has no personal origin.  The Secretary of the Treasury found the whole Mint system in disorder and without responsibility.  He appointed three gentlemen of high character, and large experience in such matters, to revise the Mint laws.  I, as the organ of the Committee on Coinage, Weights, and Measures, have submitted to the House the report substantially of that commission.  I do not believe that the Secretary of the Treasury and the three eminent gentlemen who constituted that commission were in a conspiracy to create a "job" about the purchase of nickel for the United States Mint.

Mr. McCormick, of Missouri.  I should like to ask the gentleman one question.  What objection has he to the Mint of the United States inviting proposals for the supply of nickel ?

Mr. Kelley.  I have not the slightest objection;  but I do not see why such a provision should be embodied in instructions to be coupled with the recommitment of this bill.  I am not to be drawn into a discussion of that kind;  but I do feel it my duty to vindicate the Secretary of the Treasury and the commission that framed this bill against the intimation that they are in a conspiracy to cheat somebody in the purchase of nickel for our subsidiary coinage.

The Speaker.  Debate is exhausted upon the pending motion.

Mr. Potter.  In order to say a word upon this subject, I move to amend by striking out the last clause of the proposed instructions.  I think that this subject is one deserving of all the attention which the gentleman from Missouri [Mr. McCormick] would invite to it.  At the first session of the Forty-First Congress the gentleman from Pennsylvania, [Mr. Kelley,] who now has charge of this bill, reported a bill in regard to nickel coinage, which left it discretionary with the chief officer referred to in that bill to make purchases of nickel needed for coinage.  The gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. Butler] then moved that the bill be amended by the insertion of a proviso that "the materials purchased under this act shall be by public advertisement for contracts at the price offered by the lowest bidder therefor."  That amendment was resisted by the gentleman from Pennsylvania.  The House recommitted the bill;  and when it was returned from the committee the gentleman from Pennsylvania had adopted the amendment of the gentleman from Massachusetts.  I read from the remarks of the gentleman from Pennsylvania on the 30th of March, 1869:

"In section two we have struck out lines five, six, seven, eight, and nine, together with the words 'material for' in the fourth line, substituting therefor the proposition of the gentleman from Massachusetts, [Mr. Butler] providing for the purchase of material by public advertisement."

And the House passed the bill in that shape.  When the gentlemen said yesterday that I objected to the bill when it first came before the House he was right, and when he said that I subsequently became a co-laborer with him in support of the bill he was also right.  But he omitted to state that this particular amendment and other important amendments were made between the time when I resisted the bill and the time when I supported it.

Mr. Kelley.  I beg leave to say that the gentleman refers to another bill than that to which I alluded, which was for the redemption of small coin.

Mr. Potter.  And that is the only bill which had a clause on that subject.

Mr. Kelley.  No, sir.

Mr. Potter.  The Globe, which I hold in my hand, shows that I am correct.

Mr. Kelley.  The bill to which the gentleman objected contained no provision for the creation of any coin.  It was a bill providing simply for making the subsidiary coinage redeemable.

Mr. Potter.  The gentleman is utterly mistaken.  I read from the Globe:

"Mr. Kelley.  I ask unanimous consent to report back from the Committee on Coinage, Weights, and Measures House bill No. 2 for the coinage of nickel-copper pieces of five cents and under.

"Mr. Potter.  I object."

That is the only bill introduced by the gentleman from Pennsylvania to which I objected.  It was recommitted, and the amendment proposed by the gentleman from Massachusetts, [Mr. Butler,] to which I have referred, was inserted.

The bill now before us proposes to create a new officer to be called "Director of the Mint," who is to be put in office for five years, and is to be endowed with discretionary power to say where the Superintendent of the Mint shall purchase nickel.  And having got his discretionary power, perhaps he will use it to purchase from this mine in Pennsylvania which has been spoken of on terms not for the interest of the Government.  He is there for five pears.  He is not yet appointed.  Nobody knows who he will be, nor what relations or arrangements he may have with the people who own this nickel mine.  But however the fact may be in that regard, no one should be trusted with any such power, and I suggest that the Committee on Coinage, Weights, and Measures ought not to report a bill giving him any such discretion.

Mr. Kelley.  The bill to which the gentleman objected, and by objection to which he temporarily defeated it, was a bill merely providing for the redemption of a subsidiary coin.  He may have objected to another one, but I have no recollection of it.

Mr. Potter.  No.

Mr. Kelley.  But that is apart from this discussion.  I wish to say if the bill had progressed, and if the gentleman had offered a proper amendment --proper in its form and expression, providing that bids should be required for all metals for all subsidiary coinage-- I should not have objected to it, but should have voted for it.  But while I would do that in the discussion of the bill, I was not authorized, as chairman of the Committee on Coinage, Weights, and Measures, to accept such an amendment, nor do I think it fitting or dignified that such instruction should be given, and therefore I oppose it.  I do not oppose the principle of the thing, but as I have said, I am ready to sustain it whether it comes up in a bill reported or as an amendment to a bill reported, but I oppose, as I have already said, any such instructions to any committee of this House.

Mr. Potter.  One word further.  The gentleman is mistaken.  I hold the Globe in my hand;  I know what I am talking about.  The bill to which I refer was a bill which he reported on the 15th of March, but which was recommitted to the committee, and which was reported back to the House on the 30th of March amended as I have indicated.

Mr. Kelley.  It was a bill passed on the eve of the close of the session.  The bill to which the gentleman refers was a bill for the coining of one, three, and five cent pieces.

Mr. Potter.  And for their redemption ?

Mr. Kelley.  Yes, sir.  The other one contained the section which provided for their redemption, and when I passed from this side of the House to that, and explained the bill to the gentleman, he said that he had made a mistake, being in favor of it and in hearty sympathy with me.

Mr. Potter.  That is, so far as the redemption was concerned.

Mr. Kelley.  And when it came up again he gave it his support.

Mr. Potter.  The gentleman is mistaken in thinking that it was not the bill for the coining of nickel coin in which the provision for redemption was contained to which I first objected and then, after amendment, supported.

Mr. Kelley.  It was not in March, but in the warm weather during the last days of the session.

Mr. Potter.  It was in the short spring session of 1869;  and I read from the Globe my own remarks on the 30th of March, 1869, on that very bill No. 2, providing for the coinage of nickel coin and for its redemption, made when the bill had come back to the House after being recommitted to the Committee on Coinage, Weights, and Measures:

"Mr. Potter.  Mr. Speaker, when this bill was before the House as first reported by the committee, I saw in it, as I thought, grave grounds of objection;  but since it has been recommitted the objections which I had to it have been obviated."

That is, by the incorporation of the amendment to which I have referred and otherwise.  I now further read from the Globe report, that it may be seen how entirely correct I had been in my statement as to that bill:

"As the bill is now reported it appears to me a wise and provident measure of legislation.  It provides, in the first place, for the redemption of the debased coinage which has been issued since the war.  It provides, in the next place, for a substituted coinage, to take the place of the present debased coinage, which, although still more debased in intrinsic value, is nevertheless to be redeemed at par from time to time in Treasury notes."

From this it will be seen that I am not mistaken.  When the bill was recommitted to the committee it came back with a limitation inserted such as has been suggested by the gentleman from Missouri, (Mr. McCormick.]  It ought to go into this bill, and if it be not introduced into the bill at this time I will ask to put it in when we come to section thirty, when it will be germane.

Mr. Garfield, of Ohio.  I desire to amend the instructions of the committee by inserting "that no increase of salary shall be provided for in this bill," and I desire to say a word on that amendment;  that is, that there shall be no increase of salaries of existing officers.

Mr. Kelley.  I have no objection.

The Speaker.  The Clerk will again read the amendment of the gentleman from Missouri.

The amendment was read.

---[
I move to amend the motion to recommit by adding instructions to the committee to report a bill which shall create no new bureau, new office, or increase of salary of any officer now in existence, and which shall provide that in the purchase of nickel and copper for the use of the Mint proposals for bids shall be submitted, and the lowest and best bidder or bidders shall be contracted with for the same; and that all nickel and copper coin redeemed by the Mint shall be recoined, so far as the same can be used for such purpose.
]

Mr. Garfield, of Ohio.  I desire to say a word or two in reply to the gentleman from Pennsylvania, with reference to a remark made by him yesterday and to-day in regard to increase of salaries in this bill.

I would entirely omit reference to the rather unkind remark as to misrepresentation.  I wish to call the attention of the gentleman to one point which I think his remarks entirely omit, I will not say cover up;  namely, that this bill disconnects the Mint entirely from the Assistant Treasuries of the United States at the places where there are mints.  For instance, in the city of Philadelphia, the treasurer of the Mint, as such, is Assistant Treasurer of the United States.  He gets as treasurer of the Mint $3,500, and in addition to that he gets $1,500 for his duties as Assistant Treasurer of the United States.  At San Francisco the treasurer of the mint gets $4,500, and $1,500 for his services to the United States as Assistant Treasurer.  Now the gentleman proposes to give him the large sum produced by adding these two amounts, and at the same time to relieve him altogether of his duties as Assistant Treasurer of the United States, making him wholly an officer of the Mint, while, as a matter of course, we will have to provide for the Assistant Treasurer of the United States.

Mr. Kelley.  The gentleman is mistaken, as I will show if he will allow me to make a statement.

Mr. Garfield, of Ohio.  I will yield to the gentleman in one moment.  I have only further to say that all the other officers who cannot receive two salaries have their salaries actually increased, while as regards those who receive two salaries we put both in this bill.  I now yield to the gentleman from Pennsylvania.

Mr. Kelley.  I desire to explain to the gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Garfield] that instead of discontinuing the office of treasurer of the Mint this bill provides for the absorption of that office into the functions of the Superintendent of the Mint.

Mr. Garfield, of Ohio.  I understand that;  but what about the Assistant Treasurers of the United States ?

Mr. Kelley.  I explained that.  Instead of not stating the point, or covering it up, to use the language of the gentleman from Ohio, I yesterday, as will be seen by the Globe, stated to the House, and to the gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. Dawes] specially, while addressing the House, that in a subsequent section of this bill --the thirty-third, I think it is-- the officer whose salary has hitherto been paid from the Treasury of the United States, by virtue of his connection with the Mint, was transferred to the Treasury Department, and that his pay proper was left to him;  that the Mint was now charged with paying the Assistant Treasurers in those three cities, but that this bill proposes to leave the Treasurer to pay the salaries of his assistants, and to pay the Superintendent of the Mint a slight increase for assuming the duties and responsibilities of treasurer of that institution.

Mr. Garfield, of Ohio.  That is precisely what I say.  The bill dislocates, perhaps quite properly, these two offices, but as a matter of course it leaves the Assistant Treasurers of the United States with a little fragment of a salary, and we will have at once to raise their salaries to a proper level.  In other words, we will have to give them full salaries.

Mr. Kelley.  I called attention to that yesterday.

Mr. Garfield, of Ohio.  And this bill therefore compels us to reconstruct and raise the salaries of the several officers not provided for in the bill, besides the salaries provided in the bill itself;  so that there is more raising of salaries consequent on the passing of the bill than appears directly in the bill itself.  That is the point to which I have desired to call attention.

Mr. Potter.  I withdraw my amendment.

Mr. Randall.  I wish to hear the motion which is now pending.

The Speaker.  The Clerk will again read the instructions moved by the gentleman from Missouri, [Mr. McCormick.]

The motion was again read.

---[
I move to amend the motion to recommit by adding instructions to the committee to report a bill which shall create no new bureau, new office, or increase of salary of any officer now in existence, and which shall provide that in the purchase of nickel and copper for the use of the Mint proposals for bids shall be submitted, and the lowest and best bidder or bidders shall be contracted with for the same; and that all nickel and copper coin redeemed by the Mint shall be recoined, so far as the same can be used for such purpose.
]

Mr. Randall.  I desire to ask the gentleman from Missouri whether he will allow me to move an amendment there to provide for free coinage ?

Mr. McCormick, of Missouri.  I would prefer not.

Mr. Maynard.  I move to amend by striking out the word "copper."  I do so for the reason suggested by my friend from Missouri, [Mr. McCormick]  His propositions, in the main, and perhaps all of them, receive my support.  But yet it appears to me that in their present form they cannot be intelligently and properly considered.  We cannot say that any officer is entitled to have his salary increased.  At least I cannot say so from any information I may have on this wide subject.  I think, therefore, that the instructions which the gentleman proposes had better not go in the form of instructions.  Let them rather go in the form of a reference with the bill, and let them be considered by the committee in connection with the bill, because if they go as instructions they then will become swaddling-clothes, inflexibly binding the committee, and leaving it no discretion.  It will have nothing to do except to frame the bill in accordance with the provisions of these instructions, and I am sure some of us at least have not sufficient acquaintance with the general subject, which is a very wide one, to pass intelligently upon it at this time.  I hope, therefore, the recommittal will not be accompanied by these instructions, but that the bill will be recommitted, and the instructions, in the form of a resolution, will be referred to the committee with the bill.

Mr. McCormick, of Missouri.  The Mint of the United States, up to the present time, has been carried on with the existing salaries for at least ten years.  Money was of much less value then than it is at this time, and yet these salaries are now to be raised.  I have made this motion because I believe that it is the sense of the American people, and that it is the sense of the majority of this House, that the salaries of officers of the United States Government should not be increased.  I believe, furthermore, that it is the sense of the country, and the sense of this House, that additional offices should not be created in the Mint, that a new bureau should not be created, involving the appointment necessarily of a number of new offices.

Mr. Dawes.  Will the gentleman allow me to call the previous question, so that we may have a vote ?

Mr. McCormick, of Missouri.  I have no objection to that.

Mr. Kelley.  I have no objection to the previous question being now called.

Mr. McCormick, of Missouri.  Before that is done, however, I will change the phraseology of my instructions so as to say the aggregate amount of salaries shall not be increased.

Mr. Maynard.  I withdraw my amendment.

Mr. Dawes.  I now call the previous question.

The previous question was seconded and the main question ordered;  the question being first on the instructions offered by Mr. McCormick, of Missouri.

The question was put;  and there were--- ayes 63, noes 53.

Mr. Eldridge called for the yeas and nays.  The yeas and nays were ordered.

The question was taken;  and it was decided in the negative--- yeas 80, nays 94, not voting 63; as follows:

Yeas--- Messrs. Acker, Adams, Arthur, Beatty, Bell, Biggs, Bird, James Blair, Braxton, Bright, Caldwell, Carroll, Conner, Cox, Crebs, Critcher, Crossland, Davis, Dox, DuBose, Duke, Eldridge, Ely, Garrett, Getz, Goodrich, Hancock, Handley, Hanks, Harper, John Harris, Havens, Hay, Hereford, Herndon, Holman, Kerr, King, Lamison, Leach, Lewis, Manson, Marshall, McClelland, McCormick, McHenry, McKinney, Merrick, Benjamin Meyers, Morgan, Niblack, Hosea Parker, Eli Perry, Potter, Randall, Read, Edward Rice, John Rice, William Roberts, Roosevelt, Sherwood, Slater, Slocum, Sloss, Stevens, Stevenson, Storm, Swann, Terry, Dwight Townsend, Tuthill, Van Trump, Vaughan, Waddell, Warren, Wells, Whitthorne, Williams of New York, Winchester, and Wood --80.

Nays--- Messrs. Ambler, Averill, Barber, Barry, Beveridge, Bingham, George Brooks, Buffinton, Burchard, Burdett, Benjamin Butler, Coburn, Conger, Cotton, Dawes, Donnan, Duell, Dunnell, Eames Finkelnburg, Charles Foster, Wilder Foster, Frye, Garfield, Hale, Harmer, George Harris, Hawley, Gerry Hazleton, John Hazleton, Hill, Hoar, Hooper, Kelley, Kellogg, Ketcham, Killinger, Lamport, Lansing, Lowe, Maynard, McJunkin, Mercur, Merriam, Moore, Leonard Myers, Negley, Orr, Packard, Packer, Palmer, Isaac Parker, Peck, Pendleton, Perce, Peters, Platt, Porter, Prindle, Ellis Roberts, Rusk, Scofield, Seeley, Sessions, Shanks, Sheldon, Shellabarger, Boardman Smith, John Smith, Snapp, Snyder, Thomas Speer, Sprague, Starkweather, Stoughton, Strong, Taffe, Thomas, Washington Townsend, Turner, Twichell, Tyner, Upson, Wakeman, Walden, Waldron, Wallace, Walls, Wheeler, Whiteley, Willard, Williams of Indiana, Jeremiah Wilson, and John Wilson --94.

Not Voting--- Messrs. Ames, Archer, Banks, Barnum, Beck, Bigby, Austin Blair, James Brooks, Buckley, Roderick Butler, Campbell, Clarke, Cobb, Coghlan, Comingo, Creely, Darrall, De Large, Dickey, Edwards, Elliott, Farnsworth, Farwell, Forker, Henry Foster, Golladay, Griffith, Haldeman, Halsey, Hambleton, Hays, Hibbard, Houghton, Kendall, Kinsella, Lynch, McCrary, McGrew, McIntyre, McKee, McNeely, Mitchell, Monroe, Morey, Morphis, Aaron Perry, Poland, Price, Rainey, Ritchie, Robinson, Rogers, Sawyer, Shober, Shoemaker, Worthington Smith, Milton Speer, Stowell, St. John, Sutherland, Sypher, Voorhees, and Young --63.

So the instructions were disagreed to.

The question recurred upon the motion to recommit the bill to the Committee on Coinage, Weights, and Measures;  and being put, it was agreed to.

Mr. Kelley moved to reconsider the vote by which the bill was recommitted to the committee;  and also moved that the motion to reconsider be laid on the table.

The latter motion was agreed to.





on Tuesday, February 13, 1872, Sam Hooper reported H.R. 1427 to the House.