Reports of Committees.
Mr. Sherman. I am directed by the Committee on Finance, to whom was referred the bill (H.R. No. 2934) revising and amending the laws relative to the mints and assay offices and coinage of the United States, to report it back with two or three amendments. This bill has in substance passed both Houses, except that the Senate bill enlarged and increased the salaries of officers of the Mint. It was passed by the Senate at the last session of the last Congress, went to the House, and now, somewhat modified, has passed the House at this Congress, so that the bill has practically passed both Houses of Congress.
The Senate Committee on Finance propose the modification of only a single section; but as this is not the same Congress that passed the bill in the Senate, I suppose it will have to go through the form of a full reading, unless the Senate are willing to take it on the statement of the committee, the Senate having already debated it at length and passed it. It would have to be read in full unless the Senate by unanimous consent allow it to pass without a formal reading.---[first you said two or three amendments; now you say only one amendment. why not come out and say out-loud which section of the bill is desired by the Committee to be modified ? could it be that you knew full well that if you told the Senate that you changed the bill so as to eliminate the $1 silver coin, the Senators would have had no choice but to scorn you and kill the bill right there ?]
The Vice President [Schuyler Colfax]. The Senator from Ohio reports back a House bill in regard to the government of mints and assay offices, and regulating coinage, with an amendment as an additional section, and asks for its present consideration.---[how do you know what this amendment is ? the bill has not been read to the Senate. but if you do know, why not say it ?
Mr. Sherman. No; I will not ask for its present consideration, because I suppose any Senator would have the right to require that the bill be read at length.---[are you saying that you are doing what you can to avoid the reading/hearing of the bill ?]
Mr. Edmunds. Let it be printed.
Mr. Sherman. It has been printed, and it is scarcely necessary to reprint it, because there is but one section that is proposed to be amended.
The Vice President. The Senator from Ohio states that the Committee on Finance adopt the House print with the exception of one section.
Mr. Edmunds. The rules require that all reports shall be printed. Of course, I do not want to incur additional expense, but we ought to have printed the change made by the committee, so that we can see that.
Mr. Sherman. I simply make this statement to show that this is a House bill, and is a bill that substantially passed the Senate at one time.
The Vice President. Unless the printing of the bill is desired by some Senator, the amendments of the committee only will be ordered to be printed.
Mr. Cole. As the bill is not to be considered this morning, I think it had better be printed in full, with the amendments of the committee.
The Vice President. The bill will be printed with the amendments.
Mr. Sherman, from the Committee on Finance, reported a bill (S. No. 1312) authorizing deputy collectors and other officers of the customs to act as disbursing agents in certain cases; which was read, and passed to the second reading.
Mr. Sherman. I am also directed by the same committee to report further amendments to the bill (H.R. No. 2934) revising and amending the laws relative to the mints, assay offices, and coinage of the United States, and I move that the original bill be reprinted with the amendments.
The motion was agreed to.
Mr. Sherman. I move that the Senate now proceed to the consideration of the Mint bill, as it is commonly called, revising and amending the laws relative to the mints and assay offices and coinage of the United States. I do not think it will take more than the time consumed in the reading of it.
The motion was agreed to; and the Senate, as in Committee of the Whole, proceeded to consider the bill (H.R. No. 2934) revising and amending the laws relative to the mints and assay offices and coinage of the United States.
The Secretary proceeded to read the bill, but before concluding,
The Vice President. The Secretary will suspend the reading. The morning hour has expired, and the Calendar is before the Senate under the Anthony rule; but the Senator from Indiana has given notice of his desire to speak to-day upon a resolution offered by him in regard to the election of President and Vice President.
Mr. Sherman. I desire to give notice that after the Senator from Indiana shall have concluded his remarks I shall ask the Senate to dispose of this Mint bill. I think it will only take the time required in reading it.
The Presiding Officer. The Calendar, under the Anthony rule, is now in order.
Mr. Sherman. I rise for the purpose of moving that the Senate proceed to the consideration of the Mint bill. I will state that this bill will not probably consume any more time than the time consumed in reading it. It passed the Senate two years ago after full debate. It was taken up again in the House during the present Congress, and passed there. It is a matter of vital interest to the Government, and I am informed by officers of the Government it is important it should pass promptly. The amendments reported by the Committee on Finance present the points of difference between the two Houses, and they can go to a committee of conference without having a controversy here in the Senate about them.
Mr. Anthony. I hope the Calendar will be laid aside informally, not postponed.
Mr. Sherman. Let it be passed over informally until we finish the reading of the Mint bill and dispose of it. The reading is about half through, I am informed by the Secretary.---[wasn't you, and everyone else, there and heard how far the reading progressed ?]
Mr. Cragin. I shall not oppose this motion, but I wish to give notice that as soon as the Mint bill is disposed of that I shall move to call up the bill (H.R. No. 3010) for the construction of six steam vessels of war, and for other purposes, which was reported from the Committee on Naval Affairs. I hope that bill will be left as the unfinished business this evening.
The Presiding Officer ---[Justin Morrill of tariff and land grant fame; voted against greenbacks, against national currency banks, for reduction of currency; much in favour of Sherman's ideas, two years ago voted against the bill when Sherman's proposed coinage charge was eliminated]. The Chair is informed that it is proposed that the Calendar be informally passed over.
Mr. Sherman. I am perfectly willing that that should be done.
The Presiding Officer. That will be regarded as the sense of the Senate if there is no objection, and the bill referred to by the Senator from Ohio is now before the Senate.
The Senate, as in Committee of the Whole, resumed the consideration of the bill (H.R. No. 2934) revising and amending the laws relative to the mints, assay offices, and coinage of the United States.
The Chief Clerk resumed and concluded the reading of the bill.
The Presiding Officer. The Committee on Finance report the bill, with amendments, which will now be read.---[which means that the amendment that removed the $1 silver coin from coinage should have been read, out-loud; and action from the Senate requested]
Mr. Sherman. I send to the clerk some amendments of a formal character from the Committee on Finance, adopted since the amendments first reported were printed. I will ask that they be acted upon with the others in their order.
The first amendment of the Committee on Finance was on page 4, section five, line three, after the word "coins," to insert "or sample of bullion;" so that the clause will read:
That the assayer shall assay all metals and bullion, whenever such assays are required in the operations of the Mint; he shall also make assays of coins or samples of bullion whenever required by the Superintendent.
The amendment was agreed to.
The next amendment was on page 5, section eight, line two, to strike out the word "wording," before the word "dies," and insert the word "working."
The amendment was agreed to.
The next amendment was on page 6, section nine, line one, before the word "office," at the end of the line, to insert the word "assay."
The amendment was agreed to.
The next amendment was on page 9, section fourteen, to strike out the following words:
And any gold coin of the United States, if reduced in weight by abrasion not more than one half of one per cent. on the double eagle and eagle, and one per cent. on the other coins, below the standard weight prescribed by law, shall be received at their nominal value by the United States Treasury and its offices, under such regulations as the Secretary of the Treasury may prescribe for the protection of the Government against fraudulent abrasion or other practices; and any gold coins in the Treasury of the United States reduced in weight below this limit of abrasion shall be recoined.---[section 14 made the 25-grain gold coin the unit of measure; replacing $1 silver coin which had been the unit of measure since the formation of the federal government; the law of 1792, still in force, provided for the coinage of "dollars or units, each to be of the value of a Spanish milled dollar, as the same is now current, and to contain three hundred and seventy-one and four sixteenths grains of pure, or four hundred and sixteen grains of standard silver" which law was modified by the act of January 18, 1837, to 412½ grains in the $1 silver coin; and at this time should have been adjusted, again, to 384 grains;
Mr. Cole. I hope that amendment will not be agreed to. I think it is a very wise provision in the bill as it came from the House, and it ought to be allowed to remain. It merely provides that coins, when a little abraded by natural use and wear, shall be received at the Treasury of the United States, and the concluding portion of the clause proposed to be stricken out provides:
And any gold coins in the Treasury of the United States reduced in weight below this limit of abrasion shall be recoined.
It is certainly the duty of the Government to provide the coins of the country and at its own expense, and this section seems to be well guarded. The language is:
Under such regulations as the Secretary of the Treasury may prescribe for the protection of the Government against fraudulent abrasion or other practices.
It strikes me that this clause ought not to be stricken out. I remember at the last session of Congress we passed a law which contemplated the restoration of these coins. I will read it. It was passed at the earnest application of the Secretary of the Treasury, and I believe at the unanimous suggestion of the Committee on Finance of this body it was incorporated in an appropriation bill. It is as follows:
"For loss and expenses involved in the recoinage of gold coins in the Treasury which are below standard weight, under such regulations as the Secretary of the Treasury may Prescribe, $150,000."
The Government makes provision for the restoration of the coins when they have been reduced by natural wear, and I should think that this part of the section ought to be left in the bill. I see no reason why it should be stricken out.
Mr. Sherman. I can only say I have here a number of documents, not only from the Director of the Mint in Philadelphia, but from Professor Barnard and the Comptroller of the Currency, calling our attention to this very important feature of the bill, and the Committee on Finance, after a patient examination of the whole matter, decided that it was clearly inexpedient and wrong to put in this provision for the recoinage of all the present gold coins of the United States.
It is true, as the Senator says, we have provided for recoining the coin in the Treasury of the United States; but we go no further than that. No nation in the world has gone further than that. I do not wish to delay the Senate by reading these documents, but I suggest to the Senator whether he had not better let this proposition go to a committee of conference rather than undertake to discuss it here, because if we are compelled to discuss it here I shall be obliged to have these letters read, which entirely convinced the Committee on Finance that the United States dare not assume the loss of abrasion beyond the legal standard.
There is a legal standard within which the United States make the coin good, but when coin depreciates below the standard of abrasion, then neither the United States nor any other nation in the world undertakes to make the coins good except for their intrinsic value. The ways in which these coins might be abraded by fraud were shown to us, and it would be utterly impossible for any regulation of the Secretary to prevent great loss to the Government if we attempt to maintain these coins when they fall below the limit of abrasion and redeem them at the nominal instead of the real value. It is a delicate question, and it will only be necessary to read these papers in order to convince the Senator himself that it would not be wise for the United States to undertake to do what the House proposes.
Mr. Cole. I should like it better if the chairman of the Committee on Finance would give us some reasons why this amendment should be made. This clause protects the Government fully. The degree of abrasion is prescribed in this clause not to exceed one half of one per cent. on double eagles and eagles, and not to exceed one per cent. upon coins of lesser denomination. If it would involve the Government in some expense to restore these coins after they had been received in the ordinary business of the country, received at the custom-houses and in the Treasury, it is very proper that the Government should bear that expense. And let me again remind the Senator that we have entered upon that business, and at the last session made an appropriation of $150,000 to do this very thing.
Mr. Sherman. That was for the coin belonging to the United States.
Mr. Cole. Exactly. This clause provides that when the coin reaches the Treasury it may be so treated, and that this coin shall be received by the United States at the Treasury and other offices.
Mr. Casserly. I had risen to ask a question of the Senator from Ohio [Mr. Sherman] which my colleague has anticipated. Authority is valuable only in proportion to the reason which goes with it. The names mentioned are of course names of authority in coinage and minting. But when it is said that we ought to strike out a provision such as that which we are now considering because men of authority say it would be dangerous to enact it; we ought to know what reason they have for so saying.
In the first place, everybody knows that it is almost a mechanical impossibility to manufacture a coin that is exactly of the standard. The coin will be a little above or below the standard in weight, but generally it is below it. So that when you fix the limit of the abrasion as here at one half of one per cent. on the double eagle and eagle, and one per cent. on the other coins, you make your limit exceedingly narrow. In addition to that, the Secretary of the Treasury is authorized to make such rules as he sees fit for the protection of the Government against fraud. Now, what danger can there be to the Treasury of the United States under such a provision ? Why should any respectable Government consent to permit its gold coins to remain in circulation after they have suffered by abrasion so as to fall much below the legal standard ? The loss by abrasion has to fail somewhere in the end, and it certainly ought to fall upon the whole people rather than upon the innocent holder who has taken the coin of the Government at its face, on the faith of the Government, without being aware of the reduction from its standard value.
I insist that it is the duty of the Government to make its coins of the standard value in the first place, and in the next place to keep them up to the standard value. The citizen is obliged by law to receive them for their full standard value, and as the loss must fall somewhere, it ought to fall on the Government, and not upon the citizen. It is hard enough that the innocent holder of a coin which has been fraudulently abraded, or reduced as by what they call "sweating," or any other fraudulent process, must lose by the fraud to which he was no party. It is ever so much worse when you make him bear the loss of the natural and inevitable wear of the metal. Every such loss should be the loss of the Government, for it is the duty of the Government to keep its coin at the standard value at its own expense.
I do not understand the last two lines of this amendment as the Senator from Ohio understands them. If I understand them aright, he would not press his objection so strongly as he does. The language is:
And any gold coins in the Treasury of the United States reduced in weight below this limit of abrasion shall be recoined.
Mr. Sherman. The reason that those words are proposed to be stricken out is that the coins in the Treasury have already been provided for. The law now provides for recoining abraded coin in the Treasury of the United States. There is no necessity, therefore, for putting it in here again. Indeed, when this clause was inserted in the House the law providing for that recoinage had not been passed. It was passed in an appropriation bill on my own motion, I think, at the last session of Congress. The Mint was authorized to recoin the abraded coins in the Treasury of the United States, some of which were taken at their reduced value.
Mr. Casserly. Of course, if the Senator says the clause is unnecessary because it is the law now, there is nothing more to be said.
Mr. Sherman. The Senator's colleague referred to the law a moment ago.
Mr. Casserly. I am content to take what the Senator from Ohio says on that point. But that only corroborates what I say, that the Government recognizes it as its duty to restore its coins to the standard value after they have fallen below a certain limit of abrasion. Now, all that is asked is that before they fall below the limit of abrasion and while passing current in the business transactions of the country, they shall be received at their denominational value by the United States Treasury, under such regulations as the Secretary of the Treasury may prescribe. I fully recognize what the Senator from Ohio says, that the whole subject of specie coinage is one of great intricacy, so that what appears a very small matter in itself may have very wide spread consequences. But this provision now under consideration is so plain, so reasonable, and so perfectly guarded that I had very strong hopes the Senator from Ohio would consent to allow it to remain.
Mr. Sherman. I think after a full explanation of this matter the Senators from California themselves would vote for this proposition. I do not desire to take up time, but will say a few words in explanation of the amendment proposed by the committee striking out this clause.
All nations retain the nominal value of abraded coin to a certain standard, but when it falls below that, the loss falls on the individual who holds it. That has been the custom of all countries. The coin that is held by the Treasury of the United States is received at its nominal value if it is within the limits of abrasion fixed by the law, but if it falls below the limits the loss falls on the holder of the coin, and much of that which is now being recoined in the United States was taken at the abraded value, that is, reduced value. It was not taken at the full nominal value, but at the reduced value. Consequently, when we issue it again, we issue it in the form of coin up to the standard. Therefore, the question as to whether we shall recoin our own coin and the question whether we shall recoin the coin in the hands of citizens are very different things. Upon this identical point I will read a letter of Comptroller Knox. I may say that this clause was put in in the House, I believe, without the consent of the committee, and upon some motion made in the House; at least I am so informed, although I have not looked at the Globe to ascertain the fact. Mr. Knox writes this to the committee:
"I inclose herewith copy of a portion of a letter recently received from him, (Professor Barnard,) in which you will be interested. I desire to call your especial attention to his criticisms upon sections fourteen and fifteen in reference to abrasion. So far as I can learn, no nation in the world has laws which offer inducements to wrong-doers to lighten the coins which are in circulation. If I had charge of the bill now before the Senate I should certainly much prefer its defeat to its passage, unless section fourteen from line twenty, and section fifteen, could be stricken from the bill."
That is what he says. Then I have here the letter of Professor Barnard, which is very interesting. I will read a paragraph from it:
"Section fourteen of the bill provides that any gold coin, if reduced in weight not more than one half of one per cent. on the double eagle and eagle, and one per cent. on the other coins, below the standard weight and limit of tolerance, shall be received at their denominational value by the United States Treasury and its offices, under such regulations, &c. This one half of one per cent., with the tolerance, makes on the double eagle about six tenths of one per cent.; that is to say, twelve cents on every such double eagle, and on the eagle seven tenths of one per cent., or seven cents on every such eagle. This is an enormous sacrifice for the Government to propose to make, and one which will insure the return to the Treasury of a vast number of gold coins much reduced in weight by means which cannot be proved to be fraudulent. A coin, or a lot of coins, which has been to some extent reduced by honest abrasion will be a Godsend to a rogue, for this may be still 'sweated' down to the limit named in this section, without sensibly altering its appearance. Coins may moreover be abraded by rubbing them with rouge powder or with prepared chalk, by hand or by mechanical means, so as seriously to reduce them without leaving any traces of violence. I am at a loss to know on what grounds the proposition is defended to receive 'at their nominal value' at all coins depreciated by abrasion below the limits of legal tolerance.
"It is true that this section authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to 'prescribe regulations' under which such coins shall be received. If this authority extends so far as to permit him to refuse to receive them at all 'at their denominational value,' it may prove a safeguard; otherwise the provision seems to me extremely dangerous."
Here is another and a later letter from Professor Barnard to the Comptroller of the Currency under date of December 24:
"My Dear Sir: Dr. Torrey has just told me a very important fact. There is a manufactory of watch cases in Brooklyn. The workmen put the last polish on the cases with fine paper and rouge powder. Some time since the proprietor applied at the assay office for advice as to some method of burning these papers so as to prevent gold from being carried away mechanically in the smoke. He said their loss from this cause was serious, but that in spite of this they recovered $5,000 worth of gold from these papers per annum.
"The establishment is a large one it is true; but, on the other hand, the workmen do not work with the design to polish off as much gold as they conveniently can, but just as little as the object in view will allow.
I mention this to show you how easy it would be for a designing man to live off the coin of the country, setting up with a capital of a few thousand dollar. It is needless to say that the coins so abased could not be detectable by their brightness, for nothing is easier than to tarnish them."
Within a certain degree, one thousandth per cent., a small degree, the Government maintains the coins at their nominal value even if abraded, but when they are abraded below that, the loss falls on the holder, and every man who receives a coin must look to it that it has not been abraded beyond the legal amount. If it is so abraded, he can refuse to take it, or if he takes it at all, he should take it for what it is intrinsically worth. The recoinage of the gold coin now in circulation, although not very large, would amount to one or two million dollars. As a matter of course, as soon as our attention was called to this fact we struck out this clause. I do not wish to go any further into the details of the matter. I think the action of the Committee on Finance was clearly right, and it would be very wrong indeed to undertake in this ambiguous way to make good all the coin now outstanding.
Mr. Casserly. I do not wish to be tenacious about this matter, still less pertinacious. I am very glad that the Senator from Ohio has read the letters on which he relies. I think they speak for themselves. The burden of them is that gold coin may be abraded or reduced fraudulently with such skill as to make it almost impossible of detection at the Treasury. The last letter from Professor Barnard conjures up a phantom to terrify Senators withal. It is that if this provision should become a law a man might, with a capital of a few thousand dollars, by fraudulent abrasion, make a good living out of the Treasury. I ask the Senator from Ohio, what does such an argument amount to ? If a man can make a good living out of the Treasury by fraudulent abrasion of the coin, so skillfully made as to defy the detection of the officers, how is it to be with the community ?
Mr. Sherman. I will say to my friend from California that any citizen can at any time test it by weight.
Mr. Casserly. I was just coming to that. The Senator says any one can weigh each piece as he takes it. Just imagine a merchant in large business in the city of San Francisco going about with a pair of scales in his pocket to weigh gold coin hourly as he receives it ! The Senator surely is not serious when he says so. We are legislating for the American people, a rapid if not a fast people in their enterprises; a people whose energies are impatient of pause, still less of delay. To suppose that such a people are to go about with scales at their button-holes to weigh coins is to suppose something which, wishing well to the Senator, I hope he may live long enough to see.
Mr. President, we cannot carry on a great Government like this without running some risk. I am sure that nobody ought to put the whole risk of coinage upon the citizens. As I said, the citizen has no choice. He must take the lawful money of the country in the course of his lawful transactions, and at its denominational value. If there must be loss even by fraud, I am not sure that it ought not to be borne by the Government in the case of an innocent holder, but I do not wish to raise that question now.
The portion of the clause proposed to be stricken out for which I am contending is that which provides for the natural and lawful abrasion of the coins. I am surprised that these learned and scientific men make such objections as those which the Senator has read, although I think they pretty much answer themselves.
Before I take my seat I wish to observe to the Senator from Ohio that this appears to be a bill for the codification of all the laws on this subject. Consequently, the fact that there is another statute which covers the ground covered by lines twenty-eight, twenty-nine, and thirty of this clause would not be a good reason for striking them out. They should therefore be retained.
Mr. Sherman. I will say to the Senator from California that the amount heretofore appropriated will probably be sufficient to have that recoinage done before this bill will take effect; at all events there will be no trouble about that, and I do not care whether the clause is retained or stricken out. The thing is provided for already by an appropriation as a distinct matter.
Mr. Casserly. This is a codified law, and repeals all other laws.
Mr. Sherman. If the Senator is willing to compromise on that, I am perfectly willing to allow those lines to remain in the bill.
Mr. Casserly. I shall vote to retain the whole clause; but I shall not debate it any further.
Mr. Sherman. I have no objection at all to the gold coin in the Treasury, that which has fallen below the standard, being recoined; but that will be done under the present law, under an appropriation which I moved myself.
Mr. Casserly. To save any question about that, probably the Senator will consent to let those words remain.
Mr. Sherman. I have no objection to that.
Mr. Cole. I shall not detain the Senate from a vote on this question more than a minute or two. By the Constitution of the United States it is the duty of the Government to furnish the circulating medium, the material which is the price of values in business transactions, the currency of the country. That they assume to do in one form or another. Gold is a legal tender for all debts, and it is presumed when the gold is presented with the stamp of the United States upon it, so indorsed by the Government of the United States, that it is of a certain value and weight. Now, what are the facts so far as the Pacific coast is concerned ? There is a quantity of coin there that has been in circulation for more than a score of years, and of course it has become more or less abraded by natural wear. It has become so in its use in business, and the dates upon these coins will show that they have been in use a long time.
I hear it said about me, sotto voce, that we ought on that coast to have paper money, and in that way avoid this difficulty of having coins which are worn used in business transactions. What are the facts so far as that is concerned ? Why, sir, in the first place, in California there never was any bank of issue, there never was a dollar of paper money issued by any bank in that State; but before the late rebellion gold and silver were the circulating mediums exclusively. When the nation adopted as a legal tender the United States notes, it was, as it will be well remembered, a long time before they were made to replace the bank notes that were in circulation throughout the various States. It occurred by slow degrees, and by the time you were ready to dispense with the State banking institutions the legal tenders had fallen in value below the value of gold. They were worth perhaps but ninety, or eighty, or seventy cents on the dollar, and before they had decreased in value there was no supply possible to be obtained in the community which I have the honor in part to represent. There was no possibility before that time to receive enough there to supply as circulating medium the place that was filled by gold and silver. California never resisted the acceptance of paper money, but from the force of circumstances it could not be adopted there.
In the States on the Atlantic side, the United States notes very naturally came into use as money. They took the place of the bank notes at first circulated with them and at the same value, and from one description of paper money they very naturally fell into the use of another. Those circumstances never existed on the Pacific coast, and we never have had any banks of issue or paper money there. The United States notes or greenbacks never were furnished in sufficient numbers or quantity to supply the wants of the country, and they never could circulate as the money of the country. It is owing to these facts, and not to any unfriendly disposition on the part of the State of California or her people, that the United States notes have never come into general use there. It is owing to the fact that gold and silver were all the currency there before the issuance of United States notes. It is a great misfortune to us, and we realize it, that we have not the use of United States notes there the same as here. That fact is realized by our business community very generally. But we have never seen the time when we could use them or adopt them in place of gold and silver as the measure of value for the reasons I have mentioned. And now, since there is in use there this abraded coin, it is very proper that it should be received when not much abraded, when not abraded below the amount specified in this bill by the United States for the various uses for which they accept that sort of currency, and I think this bill ought not to be amended as proposed by the Finance Committee of this body.
Mr. Frelinghuysen. I understand that the law has been for a course of years that the Government would always receive at the nominal value coin that was not abraded more than one half of one per cent. So I do not see the hardship which the Senator from California complains of. The people of that State and of that community that use coin could under that law at any time have had the abraded coin redeemed.
Mr. Cole. Let me correct the Senator. I do not understand, at all events, that the coin is receivable now when abraded, as specified in this section, to the amount of one half of one percent upon eagles and double eagles, and one per cent. upon coins of lesser denomination. I do not understand that that is the case.
Mr. Frelinghuysen. I understand that the law has been for a course of years that if the coin was not abraded more than the rate fixed by the law, such a law as existed, the Government received it at its nominal and not at its actual value. Therefore I do not see the difficulty.
Mr. Sherman. I will read the Senator a paragraph on that subject in this very bill. These coins are receivable now. The language is:
Which coins shall be a legal tender in all payments at their nominal value when not below the standard weight and limit of tolerance.
Mr. Cole. What is that ?
Mr. Sherman. It is one thousandth per cent. And another section provides that when they do fall below the limit of tolerance, they shall be received at their actual value.
Mr. Frelinghuysen. And that is only a reënactment of a preëxisting statute.
Mr. Sherman. Certainly; it is the law now.
Mr. Frelinghuysen. Therefore I do not see that there is any hardship on the community that the Senator represents, inasmuch as they have had the right at any time to have that coin received at its nominal value within the limit fixed by the existing law, and it is absolutely necessary that the Government should have such a law. If this Government is to receive at its nominal value coin that has been reduced, abraded, it is a premium on fraud at once. Men will go to work with the process of sweating, and make money by it, and come and get the nominal value for the coin. This provision seems to me to be a very essential feature in our laws. The Government will of course receive the coin at its actual value; but if we should now pass a law that the Government would receive at its nominal value abraded coin, this coin that is in circulation in California, for instance---
Mr. Cole. How much abraded ?
Mr. Frelinghuysen. I do not remember the limit.
Mr. Cole. One tenth of one per cent.
Mr. Frelinghuysen. The rate now is one half of one percent.
Mr. Cole. No, sir, one tenth of one per cent.
Mr. Frelinghuysen. Very well. It is altogether immaterial what the rate is. The point of difference is that which is insisted on as covering the coin in California and that which is provided by this bill, and that is the point to which I am directing my remarks. They could have gone and had that coin made anew, but they did not do so. Now they want the rate increased, so as to cover the abrasion which has taken place there, and that very provision any person who was disposed to commit a fraud upon the Treasury could avail himself of.
The Presiding Officer. The question is on the amendment proposed by the Committee on Finance, striking out the words which have been read.
The question being put, it was declared that the ayes appeared to have it.
Mr. Casserly. I should like to have a decision on that.
Mr. Sherman. We have not got a quorum.
The Presiding Officer. Does the Senator call for a division ?
Mr. Casserly. Yes, sir, or the yeas and nays in order that we may have the sense of the Senate on the question. By the sound the noes had it, I think.
Mr. Sherman. I think no one voted but the Senators from California. I suppose if the question is put again and Senators respond "ay" or "no," there will be no difficulty in deciding it.
The Presiding Officer. The Chair will put the question again on striking out the words which have been read.
The amendment was agreed to.
Mr. Casserly. I understood the Senator from Ohio was willing to permit the last two lines to remain.
Mr. Sherman. I have no objection to that clause, because it is in according with existing law:
And any gold coins in the Treasury of the United States reduced in weight below this limit of abrasion shall be recoined.
That is the law now, and I have no objection to retaining those words if it is desired.
Mr. Casserly. That means, abraded below this limit of one half of one per cent.
Mr. Sherman. Oh, no; we struck out all about that.
Mr. Casserly. The meaning of the language is to be taken according to the place in which it is put.
Mr. Sherman. It is fixed above. If we strike out all between lines nineteen and twenty-seven, then this clause will relate to the language before line nineteen, which reads:
which coins shall be a legal tender in all payments at their nominal value when not below the standard weight and limit of tolerance provided in this act for the single piece; and, when reduced in weight below said standard and tolerance, shall be a legal tender at valuation in proportion to their actual weight
Mr. Casserly. I understood the Senator to be willing to keep those words in the last clause of the section just in the meaning the had in that place; but of course if he has a different view of it I shall not contest it with him, because it is evident very few Senators are paying attention to this subject.
The Presiding Officer [Justin Morrill]. The next amendment will be read.
The next amendment was to strike out the fifteenth section of the bill in the following words:
Sec. 15. That any gold coin now in circulation the weight of which is below the limit of abrasion prescribed in this act may be received at the mints in Philadelphia and San Francisco at par in exchange for silver coins: Provided, That the circulation of such gold coin, as shown by the date of coinage, has been sufficient to produce such loss by natural abrasion; and the coins so received shall be recoined; but no gold coins which appear to have been artificially reduced shall come within the provisions of this section.
Mr. Casserly. It seems to me that section is one which should be retained not only for the general reasons applicable to the other section which I stated, but for the further reason that there is a protection provided by the express language of this section which it seems to me is absolutely sufficient. The language is:
That any gold coin now in circulation the weight of which is below the limit of abrasion prescribed in this act may be received at the mints in Philadelphia and San Francisco at par in exchange for silver coins: Provided, That the circulation of such gold coin, as shown by the date of coinage, has been sufficient to produce such loss by natural abrasion; and the coins so received shall be recoined; but no gold coins which appear to have been artificially reduced shall come within the provisions of this section.---[why silver coin for used gold coin ? especially if we discontinue the $1 silver coin ?]
Of course that section, if it is to remain in the sense in which I desire it to remain, should be modified so as to refer to the limit of abrasion just stricken out, that is, not more than one half of one per cent. on the double eagle and eagle, and one per cent. on other coins. I presumed, after the amendment the Senate has just adopted, the Senator from Ohio would be willing to retain the fifteenth section.
Mr. Sherman. No; the fifteenth section is the one I have been debating all the time.
Mr. Casserly. Then I must have the wrong bill before me.
Mr. Sherman. It is the same bill that the Senator has before him; but the two amendments go together. If one falls the other falls. Is it right, is it just that the people of the United States should maintain the gold in circulation in California against the abrasion of honest people as well as the abrasion of rogues, when it refuses to maintain its own paper currency against the abrasion of accident ? When our paper currency is reduced in value by being mutilated to the amount of one sixteenth, the holder of the bill loses to the extent of that mutilation, and the Treasury redeems the paper at so much less, in proportion to the loss of the bill. A mutilated bill presented to the Treasury is not redeemed at its nominal value. It is reduced in proportion to the amount presented. In order to avoid fraud, it is indispensably necessary to have such a provision. Indeed the Senators from California and their constituents are much more interested in the passage of this bill than the people of Ohio; and I hope, therefore, if they want the sense of the Senate on this question they will take it by yeas and nays, and let us go on with the bill. I believe this is the only controverted point in the bill. I think the people of the Pacific coast who persist in circulating gold coin rather than paper money should not seek to get the people of the United States at large to make good their abraded coin, not only against honest abrasion, but against dishonest abrasion; and, as Professor Barnard has told us, it is utterly impossible to distinguish between honest and dishonest abrasion.
Mr. Cole. Before the Senator takes his seat I should like to ask him who pays for printing the United States notes ? Do not the people of the United States at large pay for it, the people of California as well as the people everywhere else ? And as to this other point about the notes being torn, what we are providing for is equivalent to furnishing notes that have been effaced without being torn. It is provided here that if the coin is not abraded beyond a certain extent it shall be recoined at the expense of the United States. That is the effect of the proposition, but if it is reduced beyond that, as if a bill were torn one sixteenth or one fourth, then there shall be no relief for the party holding it.
The Presiding Officer. The question is on striking out, the fifteenth section.
Mr. Casserly. I do not propose to debate this bill at any length; but it is quite impossible for me to do my duty, as I understand it, to the people of California, or indeed of the United States who use gold coin, without suggesting the objections to it that occur to me. I understand the natural desire of the Senator from Ohio to get the bill passed with expedition. At the same time, each one of us here has to do his duty according to his lights.
I see no kind of analogy in the comparison which the Senator makes between gold coin that is abraded and a legal-tender note which is reduced in size to the extent of one sixteenth. In the case of the note the reduction is visible, it is easily ascertained. In the case of the coin, it not only is not easily ascertainable, but the whole argument of the Senator is it is so difficult to be ascertained as to make it dangerous to receive them at the Treasury.
The Senator aims to make some point in what he says of the people of California, namely, that they insisted on retaining a specie currency. Why, Mr. President, the people there had no choice about it. There never was a period of time between the going out of gold coin in the country at large and the coming in of paper as the sole currency when we could have made any such change in California. Our whole system of values was based upon gold coin. We could not have changed it if we had tried without such a disturbance as would have been a calamity to the State, from which, perhaps, she would not have recovered for years. We never have discredited the paper of the country. On the contrary, we have always given from three-fourths of one per cent. to one and a half per cent. more for it than was paid for it in the State of the Senator from Ohio. The greenbacks of the Government, in reference to which so much is thrown out here against California, are now and always have been in better credit to-day in the city of San Francisco than in any city this side of the Rocky mountains. You can get fewer of them for the same amount in gold in San Francisco than you can in Philadelphia, New York, Cincinnati, or Chicago. Yet we are constantly met when we seek to do anything to relieve the people of California in reference to the condition of the coinage there by the reproach that we insisted on keeping in California the gold coin of the country. Why, Mr. President, was it wrong for a State when we had the right to choose between two kinds of lawful money to choose that kind which formed her currency, and more than that, which formed her entire standard and basis of value ?
Our situation in California in regard to our gold currency is one of very considerable difficulty, and may become one of danger at any time. By the practice of the Federal officers there, all the new coin is systematically sent out of the country and the old coin is retained. The miner who takes his bullion to the mint in San Francisco to have it coined is, in nine cases out of ten, paid for it in the old coin of the country, abraded and reduced in value as it is. The result is that the old worn coin, instead of being taken up by the officers of the Government, as in the custom-house, and sent on here to the Treasury, is returned into the circulation of the State, to be more and more abraded and reduced, and the new twenty-dollar coins are sent forward to the Treasury at this side. It is not hard to see what must one day be the result of this state of things.
It seems to me, sir, that when we provide as we do in this section for the redemption of gold coins when the abrasion is no more than might honestly have taken place in the time during which, as the figure, on their face show, they must have been in circulation, and when the section is further guarded for the protection of the Government against any sort of fraudulent or wrongful abrasion, there ought to be no unwillingness to retain the section as it came from the House.
I have proceeded all through upon the theory that these fraudulent abrasions were very difficult of detection, because that is the argument of the Senator from Ohio. My recollection of a number of criminal cases in England on the subject of sweating coin and similar offenses in the nature of fraudulent abrasions is that the crime is not so very difficult of detection, and that the condition of the coin will exhibit it to any person who inspects it closely.
The Presiding Officer. The question is on the amendment striking out the fifteenth section.
The amendment was agreed to.
And here is the crime of '73: section 16 of HR 2934, as it arrived from the House and as it was printed on May 29, 1872, was this:
And be it further enacted, That the silver coins of the United States shall be a dollar, half-dollar or fifty-cent piece, a quarter-dollar or twenty five cent piece, and a dime or ten-cent piece: and the weight of the dollar shall be 384 grains; the half-dollar, quarter-dollar and the dime shall be, respectively, one-half, one-quarter, and one-tenth of the weight of said dollar; which coin shall be a legal tender, at their denominational value, for any amount not exceeding $5 in any one payment.But the bill that was read some minutes ago, modified this section to this:
That the silver coins of the United States shall be a trade-dollar, a half-dollar or fifty-cent piece, a quarter-dollar or twenty-five cent piece; and the weight of the trade-dollar shall be 420 grains troy; the weight of the half-dollar shall be 12½ grains; the quarter-dollar and the dime shall be, respectively, one-half and one-fifth of the weight of said half-dollar; and said coins shall be a legal tender at their nominal value for any amount not exceeding $5 in anyone payment.
This was the amendment that eliminated the $1 silver coin. As every other amendments, this amendment, too, should have been read out-loud, then voted on by the Senators. The Record shows none of it. By the striking out the entire section 15 of HR 2934 (dealing with coin abrasion), section 16 became section 15. The Record shows that following the vote on the amendment relative to section 15 of HR 2934, John Sherman proceeded to section 17 of the House bill which was now section 16, dealing with minor coins.Years later Sherman claimed that the clerk (who recorded the change in section numbers) failed to record the reading of the amendment and the presiding officer's calling for action on the amendment; and Sherman expects us to believe that not one of the Senators spoke up and objected to the elimination of the $1 silver coin.
The next amendment was to strike out section [seventeen] sixteen, in the following words:
Sec.  16. That the minor coins of the United States shall be a five-cent piece, a three-cent piece, and a one-cent piece; and the alloy for minor coinage shall be of copper and nickel, to be composed of three fourths copper and one fourth nickel; the weight of the piece of five cents shall be five grams, or seventy-seven and sixteen hundredths grains troy; of the three-cent piece, three grams, or forty-six and thirty hundredths grains; and of the one-cent piece, one and one half grams, or twenty-three and fifteen hundredths grains; which coins shall be legal tender, at their nominal value, for any amount not exceeding twenty-five cents in any one payment.
And to insert in lieu thereof the following:
That the minor coins of the United States shall be a five-cent piece, a three-cent piece, and a one-cent piece; and the alloy for the five and three-cent pieces shall be of copper and nickel, to be composed of three fourths copper and one fourth nickel; and the alloy of the one-cent piece shall be ninety-five per cent. of copper and five per cent. of tin and zinc, in such proportions as shall be determined by the Director of the Mint. The weight of the piece of five cents shall be seventy-seven and sixteen hundredths grains troy; of the three-cent piece, thirty grains; and of the one-cent piece, forty-eight grains; which coins shall be a legal tender, at their nominal value, for any amount not exceeding twenty-five cents in any one payment.
Mr. Sherman. There is an omission in the matter proposed to be inserted by the committee. I move to insert in line eleven, after the words "twenty-five cent piece," the words "and a dime or ten-cent piece."
The amendment to the amendment was agreed to.
The amendment as amended was adopted.
The next amendment was in section [eighteen] nineteen, line nine, to insert after the words "three-dollar piece" the words "the silver dollar, half dollar, quarter dollar," and also to insert in line eleven, after the word "omitted," the words "and on the reverse of the silver dollar, half dollar, quarter dollar, and the dime respectively, there shall be inscribed the weight and the fineness of the coin;" so that the section will read:
Sec.  18. That upon the coins of the United States there shall be the following devices and legends: upon one side there shall be an impression emblematic of liberty, with an inscription of the word "Liberty" and the year of the coinage, and upon the reverse shall be the figure or representation of an eagle, with the inscriptions "United States of America" and "E Pluribus Unum," and a designation of the value of the coin; but on the gold dollar and three-dollar piece, the silver dollar, half dollar, quarter dollar, the dime, five, three, and one-cent piece the figure of the eagle shall be omitted; and on the reverse of the silver dollar, half dollar, quarter dollar, and the dime, respectively, there shall be inscribed the weight and fineness of the coin; and the Director of the Mint, with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury, may cause the motto "In God we trust" to be inscribed upon such coins as shall admit of such motto; and any one of the foregoing inscriptions may be on the rim of the gold and silver coins.
Mr. Casserly. It may be a matter of sentiment, but sentiment sometimes goes a great way, especially in those cases where it is difficult to reduce the action of men to a mere logical standard. I regret that the eagle is to disappear from the dollar, half dollar, and quarter dollar of our coinage. It will hardly be possible to think of a half dollar or a quarter dollar as being such a coin without the eagle upon it.
Mr. Sherman. The Senator will see that the reason is because it is necessary to describe the weight and fineness of the coin. This amendment has been proposed by the officers of the Mint. They have adopted a plan of describing on each coin its weight and fineness.
Mr. Casserly. What is the use of that when we know that the weight of the coin is constantly being reduced ?
Mr. Sherman. The reason given to us is because it has been adopted as a mode of international coinage. This method has been adopted in the corresponding coins of France and all the countries of Europe, pretty much, of describing upon the face of the coin its intrinsic weight and fineness.
Mr. Casserly. I must say I never saw a coin marked in that way.
Mr. Sherman. That is the reason the officers of the Mint give for this change.
Mr. Casserly. I ask the Senator whether he is very strenuous in his advocacy of this amendment. I should like to save the American eagle on the half dollar and quarter dollar.
Mr. Sherman. The eagle is preserved on all the gold coins in a size large enough to be caged. [Laughter.]
Mr. Casserly. But the half dollar and quarter dollar are the money of the people, and they are the leading coins of our entire silver coinage. I do not think it is of so much importance to put the fineness or the weight upon a half dollar or a quarter dollar as it might be upon a gold coin. I have never seen any foreign coin, and of course no American coin, marked in that way. To have the weight of the coin upon gold coin may be a useful thing because of the great preciousness of the metal; but what is the importance of having the weight inscribed upon the half dollar or quarter dollar ? Does anybody ever weigh half dollars or quarter dollars in business ?
Mr. Sherman. If the Senator will allow me, he will see that the preceding section provides for coin which is exactly interchangeable with the English shilling and the five-franc piece of France; that is, a five-franc piece of France will be the exact equivalent of a dollar of the United States in our silver coinage; and in order to show this wherever our silver coin shall float --and we are providing that it shall float all over the world-- we propose to stamp upon it, instead of our eagle, which foreigners may not understand, and which they may not distinguish from a buzzard, or some other bird, the intrinsic fineness and weight of the coin. In this practical utilitarian age the officers of the Mint seemed to think it would be better to do that than to put the eagle on our silver coins. I must confess I do not think it is very important; but I think the Senator ought to be willing to defer in these matters to the practical knowledge of the officers who have charge of this branch of the Government service. I will say that Mr. Linderman, whom the Senator must know, has suggested this as being a convenient mode of promoting international coinage.
Mr. Casserly. We cannot have an international coinage on the basis of our silver coin unless our silver coin is up to the standard of all the nations with which we expect to have relations. Now, I ask the Senator whether this bill proposes a silver coinage of that character ?
Mr. Sherman. This bill proposes a silver coinage exactly the same as the French, and what are called the associated nations of Europe, who have adopted the international standard of silver coinage; that is, the dollar provided for by this bill is the precise equivalent of the five-franc piece. It contains the same number of grams of silver; and we have adopted the international gram instead of the grain for the standard of our silver coinage. The "trade dollar" has been adopted mainly for the benefit of the people of California, and others engaged in trade with China. That is the only coin measured by the grain instead of by the gram. The intrinsic value of each is to be stamped upon the coin.---[But Sherman knows that the section relative to coinage, which we just skipped over without recording it, does not contain a $1 silver coin of 384 grains that is the equivalent of the five-franc piece; we cannot put any markings on a coin that is not minted; the only silver coin now is the "trade-dollar" that contains 420 grains of silver, which is more than the 412½-grain silver dollar we are replacing because its intrinsic value is 3½ cent more than its denominational value. So why would Sherman say these things ? Would Senator Casserly not have said anything about the omission of the $1 silver coin if had been called to "act upon" the amendment ?
Mr. Casserly. Do I understand the Senator to say then that the intrinsic value of the dollar, half dollar, and quarter dollar is raised by this bill ?
Mr. Sherman. There is a difference of about one half of one per cent.
Mr. Casserley. I suppose it must be raised to the basis of international exchange.
Mr. Sherman. I think it is slightly raised, so as to conform with foreign coins. The Chamber of Commerce of New York first recommended this change, and it has been adopted, I believe, by all the learned societies who have given attention to coinage, and has been recommended to us I believe as the general desire. That is embodied in these three or four sections of amendment, to make our silver coinage correspond in exact form and dimensions, and shape and stamp, with the coinage of the associated nations of Europe, who have adopted an international silver coinage. I do not like myself to break in upon this plan, or to change it in the slightest degree, but prefer to leave it to the proper officers of the Mint. Indeed I would be perfectly willing to leave the whole thing to the officers of the Mint rather than to fix it by law. That was not deemed convenient, and therefore we had to drop the American eagle from these minor silver coins.
Mr. Casserly. I am not prepared to go as far as that. I would not leave it to any body to remove from the eyes and the thoughts of the people those symbols of nationality which have stood this country in such good stead on many a hard-fought day by land and sea; and which may have to do the same service in the same way for many generations to come. While we laugh a good deal about the American eagle and the uses to which he is put by orators, political and otherwise, on the Fourth of July and other days, we must all feel that the associations that cluster around the American eagle are associations that make him a symbol of power, and I am not at all satisfied, because we desire to put the weight and fineness upon our half dollar and our quarter dollar, that, therefore, it is necessary to abolish the American eagle. The eagle, it is said, suffers little birds to sing, and the eagle will not object to having his value in the countries of the world put under his wing on the coin. I say retain the eagle and put whatever marks you like upon the face of your coin to indicate its weight and fineness. I do not think they will be of any value in regard to the silver coins of the denomination of half dollar and quarter dollar; but if the Senator is strongly of opinion that they ought to be there, let them be there.
The Presiding Officer. The question is on the amendment of the committee.
Mr. Casserly. I propose to strike out the words in italics in line nine of section [nineteen] eighteen, "the silver dollar, half dollar, quarter dollar."
The Presiding Officer. The Senator from California can accomplish his object by voting against the amendment of the committee inserting those words.
Mr. Nye. I should like to hear the amendment of the committee read.
The Chief Clerk read the amendment, which was in section [nineteen] eighteen, line nine, to insert after the words "three-dollar piece" the words "the silver dollar, half dollar, quarter dollar;" and in line eleven, after the word "omitted," to insert "and on the reverse of the silver dollar, half dollar, quarter dollar, and the dime, respectively, there shall be inscribed the weight and the fineness of the coin;" so that that portion of the section will read:
But on the gold dollar and three-dollar piece, the silver dollar, half dollar, quarter dollar, the dime, five, three, and one-cent piece the figure of the eagle shall be omitted; and on the reverse of the silver dollar, half dollar, quarter dollar, and the dime, respectively, there shall be inscribed the weight and the fineness of the coin.
Mr. Casserly. I think the question is not understood by the Senate generally. As I understand, to vote for the amendment of the committee is to abolish the American eagle on the silver dollar, half dollar, and quarter dollar, and to vote against it is to keep him there. The subsequent amendment, in line eleven, to which there is no objection, will allow the mark of weight and fineness to be put upon the coin.---[If Mr. Casserly had known that the $1 silver coin was omitted from coinage two sections ago, would he wanted to put an eagle image on it ? If he objected to the omitting of the eagle from the coins, would he not have objected to the omitting of the whole entire $1 silver coin ? If it had been true what Sherman years later alleged that the Clerk erred (and the amendment was acted on without the objection of Casserly or anyone) would Casserly now list the $1 silver coin in his proposed amendment ?]
The Presiding Officer. Does the Senator from California desire a separate vote on the two branches of the amendment ?
Mr. Sherman. I suppose the Senator has no objection to the last one.
Mr. Casserly. None at all to the last one. The only point is, that I wish to retain the American eagle on the silver dollar, half, dollar, and quarter dollar.
The Presiding Officer. The question will then be taken on the amendment in line nine, which is to insert the words "the silver dollar, half dollar, quarter dollar."
The amendment was rejected; there being, on a division, ayes 24, noes 26.
Mr. Sherman. As the Senate are so patriotic that they will not abolish the eagle, I hope they will be perfectly willing now to hurry along with the bill.---[Would these exact same senators have abolished the $1 silver coin ? With this amendment Casserly played into the hands of Sherman &co. otherwise this section 18 would have required to put the weight and fineness on the reverse side of a non-existent silver dollar.]
The Presiding Officer. The other part of the amendment will be considered ss agreed to, if there be no abjection.
The next amendment was on page 13 section twenty-two, [twenty-one] to add at the end of the section the following proviso:
Provided, That at the option of the owner, silver may be cast into coins of standard fineness, and of the weight of four hundred and twenty grains troy, designated in section fifteen of this act as the trade dollar.!!!!!! [according to this slip of the pen, the committee, in their wisdom, knew beforehand that the original section 15 will be eliminated and the new section 15 will be amended according to their design..... without the Senate's accepting the proposed amendment of the new section 15 --omitting the $1 silver coin of 384 grains, and inserting the 420 grain trade dollar-- this pre-printed text makes no sense. How come neither Casserly, nor anyone else, noticed this new fangled term "trade dollar," of 420 silver grains ?]
The amendment was agreed to.
The next amendment was in section: [twenty-five] twenty-four, line two, to strike out the word "standard" and insert "fineness;" so as to read:
That the assayer shall report to the superintendent the quality or fineness of the bullion assayed by him, &c.
The amendment was agreed to.
The next amendment was in section [twenty-five] twenty-four, lines five and six, to strike out the words "for the cost of converting the bullion into bars;" so as to read:
Provided, That the assayer shall report to the superintendent the quality or fineness of the bullion assayed by him, and such information as will enable him to compute the amount of the charges hereinbefore provided for, to be made to the depositor.
The amendment was agreed to.
Mr. Sherman. The next amendment is on page 14, in section [twenty-six] twenty-five, line two, to insert the words "or for converting standard silver into trade dollars." They should be transposed to line seven of the same section.
The Presiding Officer [Justin Morrill]. It is suggested by the Clerk that the words ought to be inserted in line eight, after the word "bullion."---[The Clerk talked to the Presiding Officer ?!? Why not he said something when section 16 was skipped over ?!?]
Mr. Sherman. At any convenient place, either after the word "bullion" in line eight or after the word "standard" in line seven.
The Chief Clerk. The amendment of the committee is section [twenty-six] twenty-five, line eight, after the word "bullion" to insert the words "or for converting standard silver into trade dollars;" so that the section will read:
That the charge for converting standard gold bullion into coin shall be one fifth of one per cent.; and the charges for refining when the bullion is below standard, for toughening when metals are contained in it which render it unfit for coinage, for copper used for alloy when the bullion is above standard, for separating the gold and silver when these metals exist together in the bullion, or for converting standard silver into trade dollars, and for the preparation of bars, shall be fixed, from time to time, by the Director, with the concurrence of the Secretary of the Treasury, so as to equal but not exceed, in their judgment, the actual average cost to each mint and assay office of the material, labor, wastage, and use of machinery employed in each of the cases aforementioned.
Mr. Sherman. The Senate will see that the charge for converting standard silver into trade dollars instead of being fixed at one fifth of one per cent. is fixed at the actual cost. It is provided that the price for this work done at the Mint shall be fixed by the Director of the Mint, but not in any case to exceed the actual cost of the operation.
Mr. Casserly. I did not suppose that the amendment to section [twenty-six] twenty-five had been disposed of.
The Presiding Officer. That is the question now pending.
Mr. Casserly. I supposed that the charge there of one fifth of one per-cent. for silver coinage was a clerical error.
Mr. Sherman. The words "or for converting standard silver into trade dollars" were intended to come in after the word "standard" in line seven. The Committee on Finance observing that it was printed at the wrong place corrected it, and I gave the Secretary the correct place where it should be inserted. It is only to be the actual cost of the operation, whatever that may be.
The amendment was agreed to.
The next amendment was on page 16, section [twenty-nine] thirty, line one, after the word "coins" to insert "other than the trade dollar;" so that the clause will read:
That silver coins other than the trade dollar shall be paid out at the several mints and at the assay office in New York city, in exchange for gold coins, at par, &c.
The amendment was agreed to.
Mr. Casserly. I wish to ask what has become of the amendment to section twenty-six ? I did not know that it had been passed upon.
The Presiding Officer. It has been adopted.
Mr. Casserly. I presume it will still be in order to offer an amendment to that section after the amendments of the committee have been disposed, of.
The Presiding Officer. It will be.
The next amendment was on page 19, section [thirty-four] thirty-five, line four, to strike out "two thousandths" and insert "three thousandths;" so that the clause will read:
That no ingots shall be used for coinage which differ from the legal standard more than the following proportions, namely: in gold ingots, one thousandth; in, silver ingots, three thousandths; in minor coinage alloys; twenty-five thousandths, in the proportion of nickel.
The amendment was agreed to.
The next amendment was on page 25, section [forty-nine] forty-eight, line four, after the word "Pennsylvania" to insert "the Comptroller of the Currency;" so that the clause will read:
That to secure a due conformity in the gold and silver coins to their respective standards of fineness and weight, the judge of the district court of the United States for the eastern district of Pennsylvania, the Comptroller of the Currency, the assayer of the assay office at New York, &c.
The amendment was agreed to.
The next amendment was on page 27, section [fifty-four] fifty-three, line three, to strike out "metals" and insert "medals."
The amendment was agreed to.
The next amendment was on page 30, section [fifty-nine] fifty-eight, line five, to strike out "twentieth" and insert "second;" so as to read, "as prescribed by the act of July 2, 1862."
The amendment was agreed to.
The next amendment was on page 34, section [sixty-six] sixty-five, line two, to strike out "July" and insert "April," and strike out "1872" and insert "1873;" so that the clause will read, "that this act shall take effect on the 1st day of April, 1873," &c.
The amendment was agreed to.
The next amendment was on page 35, section [sixty-eight] sixty-seven, line two, to strike out "1872" and insert "1873;" so that the clause will read, "that this act shall be known as the coinage act of 1873," &c.
The amendment was agreed to.
The Presiding Officer. This concludes the amendments proposed by the Committee on Finance. The bill is open to further amendments.
Mr. Cole. I offer the following amendment, to come in on page 13, at the end of section [twenty-one] twenty:
And the Secretary of the Treasury may issue through the Director of the Mint certificates for gold bullion deposited at any of the mints or assay office at New York, which certificates shall state the value of the bullion less the coinage and other mint charges, and be payable to bearer on presentation at the mint or assay office at which the bullion was deposited, either in bullion or coin, at the option of the superintendent of the mint or assay office, or in such proportion of bullion or coin as the superintendent may prefer: Provided, That if any holder of a certificate demands to be paid in coin a certificate may be issued stating the time when such coin will be ready for delivery.
Mr. Nye. That is a thing that is already provided for by existing law. Each one of our mints has a bullion fund provided from which the depositor gets his pay in coin for the value of the bullion as soon as it is ascertained. There is no delay now or waiting for coinage at the Mint.
Mr. Sherman. The Senator from California showed me this amendment. As it had never been considered by the committee, I hesitated to give my consent to it, but I could not see any objection to depositing bullion with the Treasury or the mints or assay offices and allow certificates to be issued, and therefore I had no objection to allowing the amendment to be made. If there seems to be any objection to it we can abandon it in a committee of conference, although if there is any doubt about it I think it had better not go on the bill.
The amendment was agreed to.
Mr. Pool. In section [sixty-seven], sixty-six, line seven, after the word "Idaho," I move to insert the words "and the United States assay office at Charlotte, North Carolina." The chairman of the Committee on Finance I believe agrees to accept this amendment.
Mr. Sherman. That depends upon the fact whether there is a legal assay office in North Carolina. If the Senator says there is, I shall not object; but I have the impression it has been abolished.
Mr. Pool. No, sir, it has not been abolished.
Mr. Sherman. If there is still a legal assay office there it ought to be named in this bill.
Mr. Pool. There is no question about its being such.
The amendment was agreed to.
Mr. Nye. With the consent of the Senate I should like to have the vote reconsidered by which the amendment of the Senator from California [Mr. Cole] regarding certificates for gold bullion was adopted.
Mr. Cole. The bill has not yet been reported to the Senate. The Senator can have it reserved.
Mr. Nye. Then I shall reserve it in the Senate. I do not think the Senator himself will insist upon it.
The bill was reported to the Senate as amended.
The Presiding Officer. The question is on concurring in the amendments made as in Committee of the Whole.
Mr. Sherman. The Senator from Nevada wished to reserve the amendment offered by the Senator from California, [Mr. Cole.]
Mr. Nye. I ask to have that amendment reserved.
The Presiding Officer. If there be no objection the Chair will put the question on concurring in all the amendments together except the one indicated by the Senator from Nevada.
The remaining amendments were concurred in.
The Presiding Officer. The question now is on concurring in the amendment proposed by the Senator from California, which will be read.
The Chief Clerk read the amendment, which was to add to section [twenty-one] twenty, the following:
And the Secretary of the Treasury may issue through the Director of the Mint, certificates for gold bullion deposited at any of the mints or assay office at New York, which certificates shall state the value of the bullion less the coinage, and other mint charges, and be payable to bearer on presentation at the mint or assay office at which the bullion was deposited, either in bullion or coin, at the option of the superintendent of the Mint or assay office, or in such proportions of bullion or coin as the superintendent may prefer. Provided, that if any holder of a certificate demands to be paid in coin a certificate may be issued stating the time when such coin will be ready for delivery.
Mr. Nye. I do not understand that this amendment is insisted upon. The Senate will perceive at once that it is putting another currency into circulation, and one by which the superintendents of mints would be very likely to be injured and defrauded. I hope, therefore, it will not be adopted. They get their coin whenever they present their bullion now.
Mr. Stewart. There is a bullion fund provided for the purpose.---[he was present, how did he vote on the amendments and the passage of the bill ?]
Mr. Nye. There is a bullion fund for that very purpose.
The amendment was non-concurred in.
Mr. Casserly. I wish to move an amendment to section [twenty-six] twenty-five. As it now stands it reads:
That the charge of converting standard gold bullion into coin shall be one fifth of one per cent.
I move to amend it so that it will read, "that there shall be no charge for converting standard gold bullion into coin."
Tho question raised by this amendment is not a new one in the Senate, nor indeed is it new in Congress. As I understand it has happened at least once that the Senate adopted the principle of my amendment, and that the House also adopted it; but neither of them adopted it upon the same bill. So that the amendment has the sense of each House of Congress in its favor. The principle of it is obvious.
I wish to say but this word in reference to it, that the only ground upon which the coine charge has ever been supported was that the person depositing bullion for coinage ought to pay the Government for turning his bullion into the current coin of the country. I think it only requires a statement of that proposition to enable any of us to see its fallacy.
The person who furnishes the Government with the means to coin money for the necessary uses of its own citizens never should be taxed to pay for that which really is a great advantage to the Government. Why, sir, Governments would be forced, if they could not get bullion without charge, to pay for it in order to manufacture their coins. It is contrary to the first principles of Government, it seems to me, especially as applicable to this subject that coinage charge should be continued. It is one which is evil in its results. It keeps up a discrimination which is always against us; and the reason to-day why the American man of business loses at the rate of two cents and fraction of a cent upon every pound sterling of exchange, all of which goes to the benefit either of the banker on this side or the payer of the exchange on the other, rests precisely in the maintenance of this extraordinary charge. But for this charge there would be no such discrimination in the rate of exchange against us.
A great many other grounds might be given, but I hope the Senator from Ohio will be willing to concede this amendment at this time, and that what the two Houses have both indorsed may now be embodied in this bill.
Mr. Sherman. I must confess my regret that the Senator from California should raise this disputed question at this stage of the bill, just as it was about on its passage. The Senate of the United States deliberately, after full discussion, after hearing the Senator at length and other Senators who maintain his view of this question, decided to retain the charge for coinage of one fifth of one per cent. It is now one half of one per cent., but we reduced it to one fifth of one per cent. The Senate, by a very decided vote, after a full debate, settled that question.
---[Oh the unmitigated audacity and the presence of mind of the natural-born liar: yes, the Senate did settle that question two years ago, after a full discussion, and rejected the coinage charge by a vote of 26:23; and you were so unhappy with that outcome that you voted against your own bill !!
The bill went to the House of Representatives, and there there was another effort made by the members from the Pacific coast to repeal the coinage charge, and there, after full debate, it was settled by an overwhelming majority to retain the charge of one fifth of one per cent. The Senator says both Houses have at some time or other passed a bill abolishing the coinage charge. I am quite sure a proposition of that kind has never passed either House after debate and with full consideration.
If this question about the coinage charge is to be opened and pressed, it will compel those of us who are in favor of retaining the coinage charge to enter into an elaborate debate. I did so when it was here before ---[and you lost the argument]. The Senator now in the chair [Mr. Morrill, of Vermont (who also lost his argument)] and many other Senators participated in that discussion. The question has been settled, and this bill has now gone to its last stage. This bill once passed the Senate a few years ago, and was fully discussed, and the charge of one fifth of one per cent. was retained. ---[outright lie] I trust therefore that the Senator will not now seek to reverse the decision taken first by the Senate, and afterward agreed to by the House. This point is beyond our consideration practically. We ought not undertake, at this period of the session, to review that decision.
The people of California are very largely interested in the revision of the mint laws. Indeed I have received more letters from that State about this coinage bill, desiring it to pass, than from any other portion of the country. I can see the great importance of it to them, and I believe it to be one of great importance to the whole people of the United States. Therefore I do not wish to enter into a discussion in regard to this coinage charge that may probably weary the Senate and delay the passage of the bill. I promised that the bill would not take more than an hour, and when I made that promise I supposed these amendments which have been acted upon would be acted upon sub silentio, and that other questions which had been settled would not be revived.
I therefore will not undertake to answer the argument of the Senator from California except to say that the question is res adjudicata so far as this bill is concerned. If, however, it is to be opened, as the Senator has a right to open it, it will lead to a long debate. I therefore prefer not to say anything on the question except that the coinage charge has not been and ought not to be repealed entirely. We have reduced it now to the lowest rate of any nation in the world except only Great Britain.
Mr. Casserly. If I have made a mistake as to the fact of the adoption in each House of the principle of this amendment, of course I desire to withdraw what I said.
Mr. Sherman. I do not deny that if the Senator says it is so; but I do not remember it ever passing the Senate. ---[bold-face, brasen lie]
Mr. Casserly. I was so informed, and I have the impression that among the gentlemen so informing me was the Senator from Ohio.
---[you don't remember ? you were there and spoke up and voted against it ! So did Nye, Cole, Sumner, Bayard, Saulsbury, Stewart; and not one of them stands up and tells Sherman to stop lying !?!
Mr. Sherman. I have no recollection of it.
Mr. Casserly. I understand fully the objection to protracting debate at this late hour of the day, and I was very reluctant to say a word, even so much as was necessary to propose this amendment. I felt it to be my duty, however, to do so. I desire now to say that the continuance of this coinage charge repels from San Francisco, and of course from this country, almost the entire gold bullion product of Australia. We refine so much more cheaply in San Francisco than they do in London, that but for this coinage charge the whole gold bullion of Australia would come to San Francisco to be refined.
Mr. Sherman. Oh, no.
Mr. Casserly. Perhaps the Senator does not understand me. I say the cost of refining in London is so much more than it is in San Francisco that but for this coinage charge the gold bullion product of Australia would come to us. Why ? Because what they want in England all the while is silver for their Asiatic exchanges, with India and China. We have more silver than we want. Nevada appears to be getting ready to deluge the world with silver. I see that her silver product last year was probably over $20,000,000.
Now, sir, there could not be a better basis for exchange, nor a more profitable operation for the American people, than to take the gold bullion of Australia and coin it in San Francisco and diffuse that much more specie through all the arteries of business, getting ready for the resumption of specie payments, of which the Senator spoke so well and so truly the other day, and to give them in return for their bullion this silver which we do not want and which before a great while may be at an absolute discount on our hands. I wish to say that much. I feel very earnest about this matter, because I think I understand the financial and commercial bearing of the great blunder we make in continuing this obsolete coinage tax. Having said so much, I leave the question to the Senate.
The Presiding Officer. The question is on the amendment of the Senator from California.
The amendment was rejected.
The amendments were ordered to be engrossed, and the bill to be read a third time. The bill was read the third time, and passed.
IN SENATE, Thursday, February 6, 1873.
Mr. Sherman submitted the following report:
The committee of conference on the disagreeing votes of the two Houses on the bill (H.R. 2934) revising and amending the laws relative to the mints and assay offices and coinage of the United States, having met, after full and free conference have agreed to recommend and do recommend to their respective Houses as follows:
That the House recede from its disagreement to the amendments of the Senate numbered 1, 2, 3, 5, 7,10,11,13,14,15, 16,17,18, and 20; and agree to the same.
That the Senate recede from its fourth amendment, and agree to the words proposed to be stricken out, with the following amendments: After the word "by," in line 16, insert "natural;" in lines 17 and 18 strikeout the words "on the double-eagle and eagle, and 1 per cent on the other coins;" and in line 19, after "law," insert the words "after a circulation of twenty years, as shown by its date of coinage, and at a ratable proportion for any period less than twenty years;" and the House agree to the same.
That the House recede from its disagreement to the sixth amendment of the Senate and agree to the same with the following amendments: In line 5 strike out the word "grains" at the end of the line, and insert in lieu thereof "grams (grammes;") and in line 6 strike out "grain" and insert "gram (gramme;") and the Senate agree to the same.
That the House recede from Its disagreement to the eighth amendment of the Senate, and agree to the same with the following amendments: After "silver" insert "trade," strike out the words "half-dollar, quarter-dollar, and the dime, respectively, there shall be inscribed," and the word "the" before "fineness;" and after "coin," at the end of the amendment, insert the words "shall be inscribed;" and the Senate agree to the same.
That the House recede from its disagreement to the ninth amendment of the Senate and agree to the same with an amendment, as follows: Strikeout the words proposed to be inserted, together with the remainder of the section, and in lieu thereof insert the following: "that any owner of silver bullion may deposit the same at any mint to be formed into bars or into dollars of the weight of 420 grains troy, designated in this act as trade dollars, and no deposit of silver for other coinage shall be received, but silver bullion contained in gold deposits and separated therefrom may be paid for in silver coin at such valuation as may be from time to time established by the Director of the Mint;" and the Senate agree to the same.
That the House recede from its disagreement to the twelfth amendment of the Senate, and agree to the same with amendments as follows: Strike out the words proposed to be inserted and insert after "for." In line 3, section 26, the words "converting standard silver into trade-dollars, for melting and;" and in line 3, strike out "the;" and the Senate agree to the same.
That the House recede from its disagreement to the nineteenth amendment of the Senate, and agree to the same with an amendment as follows: Insert after "New York," in line 8, page 36 of the bill, the words "the United States assay office at Charlotte, N.C.; " and the Senate agree to the same.
Managers on the part of the Senate.
Managers on the part of the House.
An Act revising and amending the laws relative to the mints, assay offices, and coinage of the United States.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the Mint of the United States is hereby established as a Bureau of the Treasury Department, embracing in its organization and under its control all mints for the manufacture of coin, and all assay offices for the stamping of bars, which are now, or which may be hereafter, authorized by law.
Sec. 14. That the gold coins of the United States shall be a one-dollar piece, which, at the standard weight of twenty-five and eight-tenths grains, shall be the unit of value; a quarter-eagle, or two-and-a-half-dollar piece; a three-dollar piece; a half-eagle, or five-dollar piece; an eagle, or ten-dollar piece; and a double-eagle, or twenty-dollar piece. And the standard weight of the gold dollar shall be twenty-five and eight-tenths grains; of the quarter-eagle, or two-and-a-half-dollar piece, sixty-four and a half grains; of the three-dollar piece, seventy-seven and four-tenths grains; of the half-eagle, or five-dollar piece, one hundred and twenty-nine grains; of the eagle, or ten-dollar piece, two hundred and fifty-eight grains; of the double-eagle, or twenty-dollar piece, five hundred and sixteen grains; which coins shall be a legal tender in all payments at their nominal value when not below the standard weight and limit of tolerance provided in this act for the single piece, and when reduced in weight, below said standard and tolerance, shall be a legal tender at valuation in proportion to their actual weight; and any gold coin of the United States, if reduced in weight by natural abrasion not more than one-half of one per centum below the standard weight prescribed by law, after a circulation of twenty years, as shown by its date of coinage, and at a ratable proportion for any period less than twenty years, shall be received at their nominal value by the United States Treasury and its offices, under such regulations as the Secretary of the Treasury may prescribe for the protection of the Government against fraudulent abrasion or other practices; and any gold coins in the Treasury of the United States reduced in weight below this limit of abrasion shall be recoined.
Sec. 15. That the silver coins of the United States shall be a trade-dollar, a half-dollar, or fifty-cent piece, a quarter-dollar, or twenty-five-cent piece, a dime, or ten-cent piece; and the weight of the trade-dollar shall be four hundred and twenty grains troy; the weight of the half-dollar shall be twelve grams and one-half of a gram; the quarter-dollar and the dime shall be, respectively, one-half and one-fifth of the weight of said half-dollar; and said coins shall be a legal tender at their nominal value for any amount not exceeding five dollars in any one payment.
Sec. 16. That the minor coins of the United States shall be a five-cent piece, a three-cent piece, and a one-cent piece, and the alloy for the five and three cent pieces shall be of copper and nickel, to be composed of three-fourths copper and one-fourth nickel, and the alloy of the one-cent piece shall be ninety-five per centum of copper and five per centum of tin and zinc, in such proportions as shall be determined by the Director of the Mint. The weight of the piece of five cents shall be seventy-seven and sixteen-hundredths grains troy; of the three-cent piece, thirty grains; and of the one-cent piece, forty-eight grains; which coins shall be a legal tender, at their nominal value, for any amount not exceeding twenty-five cents in any one payment.
Sec. 17. 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. 21. That any owner of silver bullion may deposit the same at any mint, to be formed into bars or into dollars of the weight of four hundred and twenty grains troy, designated in this act as trade-dollars, and no deposit of silver for other coinage shall be received; but silver bullion contained in gold deposits, and separated therefrom, may be paid for in silver coin, at such valuation as may be, from time to time, established by the Director of the Mint.
Sec. 25. That the charge for converting standard gold bullion into coin shall be one-fifth of one per centum; and the charges for converting standard silver into trade dollars, for melting and refining when bullion is below standard, for toughening when metals are contained in it which render it unfit for coinage, for copper used for alloy when the bullion is above standard, for separating the gold and silver when these metals exist together in the bullion, and for the preparation of bars, shall be fixed, from time to time, by the Director, with the concurrence of the Secretary of the Treasury, so as to equal but not exceed, in their judgment, the actual average cost to each mint and assay office of the material, labor, wastage, and use of machinery employed in each of the cases aforementioned.
Sec. 67. That this act shall be known as the "Coinage Act of 1873;" 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
Approved February 12, 1873.
Alabama 2. George Goldthwaite (D) 3. George E. Spencer (R) Arkansas 2. Powell Clayton (R) 3. Benjamin F. Rice (R) California 1. Eugene Casserly (D) 3. Cornelius Cole (R) Connecticut 1. William A. Buckingham (R) 3. Orris S. Ferry (R) Delaware 1. Thomas F. Bayard, Sr. (D) 2. Eli M. Saulsbury (D) Florida 1. Abijah Gilbert (R) 3. Thomas W. Osborn (R) Georgia 2. Thomas M. Norwood (D) 3. Joshua Hill (R) Illinois 2. John A. Logan (R) black-jack Logan, friend of people, greenbacks, silver 3. Lyman Trumbull (LR) Indiana 1. Daniel D. Pratt (R) 3. Oliver H.P.T. Morton (R) Iowa 2. George G. Wright (R) 3. James Harlan (R) Kansas 2. Alexander Caldwell (R) 3. Samuel C. Pomeroy (R) Kentucky 2. John W. Stevenson (D) 3. Willis B. Machen (D) Louisiana 2. J. Rodman West (R) Maine 1. Hannibal Hamlin (R) 2. Lot M. Morrill (R) Maryland 1. William T. Hamilton (D) 3. George Vickers (D) Massachusetts 1. Charles Sumner (R) reconstructionist 2. Henry Wilson (R) Michigan 1. Zachariah Chandler (R) reconstructionist, war-profiteer 2. Thomas W. Ferry (R) Minnesota 1. Alexander Ramsey (R) 2. William Windom (R) Mississippi 1. Adelbert Ames (R) 2. James L. Alcorn (R) Missouri 1. Carl Schurz (R) 3. Francis P. Blair, Jr. (D) Nebraska 1. Thomas Tipton (R) 2. Phineas Hitchcock (R) Nevada 1. William M. Stewart (R) 3. James W. Nye (R) New Hampshire 2. Aaron H. Cragin (R) 3. James W. Patterson (R) New Jersey 1. John P. Stockton (D) 2. Frederick T. Frelinghuysen (R) New York 1. Reuben Fenton (R) 3. Roscoe Conkling (R) a likeable crook, of 14 amendment fame North Carolina 2. Matt W. Ransom (D) 3. John Pool (R) Ohio 1. Allen G. Thurman (D) 3. John Sherman (R) Oregon 2. James K. Kelly (D) 3. Henry W. Corbett (R) Pennsylvania 1. John Scott (R) 3. Simon Cameron (R) Rhode Island 1. William Sprague (R) 2. Henry B. Anthony (R) President pro tempore South Carolina 2. Thomas J. Robertson (R) 3. Frederick A. Sawyer (R) Tennessee 1. William G. Brownlow (R) 2. Henry Cooper (D) Texas 1. James W. Flanagan (R) 2. Morgan C. Hamilton (R) Vermont 1. George F. Edmunds (R) 3. Justin S. Morrill (R) Virginia 2. John W. Johnston (D) 1. John F. Lewis (R) West Virginia 1. Arthur I. Boreman (R) 2. Henry G. Davis (D) Wisconsin 1. Matthew H. Carpenter (R) 3. Timothy Otis Howe (R)