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H O N . E. O. W O L C O T T ,



Tuesday, J une 17, 1890.

W AS H I N G T O N .







The Serate, as in Committee of the Who’e, having under consideration the
bill (S. 2350) authorizing the issue of Treasury notes 011 deposi s of silver

Mr. WOLCOTT said:
Mr. P r e s id e n t : There would seem to be little excuse for my fretting
the time of the Senate upon the bill under discussion even under the
shortened rule contemplated for further debate, within which I shall
endeavor to confine my remarks. The subject has been practically
exhausted. Indeed, until the Senator from Alabama, almost at the
close o f the debate, disclosed so ably a fresh field and built a new bul­
wark for the white metal I had supposed nothing new could be said
upon the question. I have the good fortune also to be associated with
a colleague who almost since Colorado was admitted to the sisterhood
o f States has stood as the exponent of the views of an intelligent con­
stituency upon this great subject, and who has lelt nothing pertinent
unsaid. But when Senators opposed to the views which some of us
entertain charge us who live in silver-producing States, directly and
by imputation, with holding sordid and unworthy and unpatriotic
opinions, and aver that the people who are demanding that silver be
again recognized as a coin of the land equally with its sister metal are
adventurers and speculators, and assert that they are indifferent to the
true welfare of the country, I must be pardoned for leeling that I have
the right to claim the attention of the Senate long enough to protest
against such intimation and against such a method o f conducting debate.
If, however, it were true, as it is not, that the people o f the silverproducing States were governed in this matter by a desire to protect
the product upon the value o f which their prosperity depends, large
warrant ior such a course is being furnished us by some o f the Eastern
States. We seem to have fallen in the North upon days where politics
are rated at a commercial value alone; where fealty to party depends
on whether the prosperity of the locality in which the voter resides
is to be best fostered by competition with other countries, or by large
and prohibitory duties which shall exclude such foreign competition.
The prosperity of the mountain States and Territories of the West
must ever rest chiefly on the product o f its mines; yet, we, who are
less benefited than any other portion of the Union by a high protect­
ive tariff, are asked to stand each session by the duties which the East
formulates; and when we ask that our silver shall be also protected,
and have behind us the wishes and desires of the vast majority o f the
people of the United States, we are called speculators, and told that
our ideas are those of a dissatisfied and visionary people.

wonder how long the Republican majority in Rhode Island, for in­
stance, would last, if the interests upon which the people depend for
their livelihood were no longer fostered and protected by the party in
power. The worm o f Democracy seems already to have made some
headway in that Commonwealth, possibly because duties are not yet
high enough, and how long does the Senator from Rhode Island expect
the miners and farmers of the West will continue to help protect the
industries he represents, while he and other Senators who agree with
him can find for us only words of criticism and denunciation?
But, Mr. President, the East is not the custodian o f the national
conscience, and the people of the West are governed by no sectional
and selfish views. They are intelligent, industrious, and patriotic,
and are neither visionary nor sordid. I f they believed that the rein­
statement o f silver to a parity with gold meant disaster to the best in­
terests of the country, they would no more ask its further coinage than
they would ask that the iron and lead with which their mountains
likewise abound, should be stamped as coin and given to the world.
We are jealous for the honor of our country, and the sanctity of its
obligations. Vital as is this question to us and our local prosperity,
we would rather see our mining camps desolate and deserted, our min­
ing shafts and tunnels abandoned, than see the currency of the country
degraded or our credit impaired at home or abroad, and would cheer­
fully turn our hands to other industries if thereby the fabric of the
nation could be strengthened. But we have the well-grounded con­
viction that silver is entitled to its old position as money, and to the
extent of its availability for that purpose; that its re-establishment is
but simple justice, and that its value for coin should no more be meas­
ured by the standard o f gold, than the value of gold should be measured
by the standard of silver. And so believing, the person who questions
the motives o f a great and important section o f the country, because it
happens to be a producer of the metal, must himself hold narrow and
contracted views of the high duties of citizenship.
I have read, Mr. President, with some care, the greater portion o f
what has been said on this subject. I should have been more satisfied
to have listened to the spoken words, but that has been impossible.
Instead o f seating the newer Senators in the front rows, where they
could hear and profit by the words of wisdom and of eloquence which
flow with tolerable frequency from the lips of the older members o f
this body, we are relegated to the rear, where we have to be content
with the stimulus of gesture alone. But I have read the R ecord faith­
fully, and nowhere, as I can gather, is it disputed that if this country
stood alone in the use of gold and silver as coin, or if our financial re­
lations with the rest o f the world need not be considered, the coinage
o f the silver product o f this country available for that purpose, into
coin at present standards, would work no financial embarrassment.
And, sir, no intelligent man can contemplate the vast growth of this
country during the past quarter o f a century and not share this view.
The increase in population has been unexampled, great areas have been
opened up to tillage, the growth o f the towns and cities has more than
kept pace with the farming communities, thousands o f miles of railroad
have been constructed, and important mineral belts have been opened
and developed. Meanwhile, although facilities for the transaction of
the evergrowing business and commerce of this great nation have been
extended and improved, the needed increase o f the currency of the
country has moved with laggard step. I believe the silver available

for coinage, produced in this country, will not exceed, even if it equals,
fifty millions a year, but if it were double that amount it would still
be needed to carry on the business o f the country, reaching over vast
areas and covering an enormous diversity of pursuits.
I f these things be true it might pertinently be suggested that a cur­
rency properly adjusted for our own needs might well be tried rather
than that our farmers and wage-workers should see prices o f farm prod­
ucts and wages reduced in order that our financial policy should be in
accord with that of foreign countries. But the evils foreshadowed
from abroad seem too dim and uncertain to be seriously considered.
It is somewhat singular that the Senators who seem most fearful o f the
troubles to come upon us from the other side if we adopt free coinage
are the same gentlemen who are most conspicuous in their advocacy o f
a protective tariff of such proportions that if it becomes a law our com­
mercial relations abroad would be minimized; but their fears, though
genuine, seem to have little tangibility.
The great fear seems to be that silver from abroad will be shipped to
this country and find its way to our mints, and dire forebodings are
indulged in if the balance of trade should ever be against us. In spite
o f the reduced shipments o f our cereals abroad, the balance of trade
continues in our favor in increasing proportions. The amount o f gold
produced annually available lor coinage diminishes rather than in­
creases, and keeps pace in no proportion with the growing affairs and
business of the world. In view of the sensitive relations sustained by
many foreign countries towards each other, it is manifestly difficult, if
not impossible, to secure unanimity of action in the first instance; but
if this country will take the lead, there is every reason for believing
that the other nations will adopt our standards. Already every coun­
try except Germany and Great Britain are reaching out in effort to se­
cure the establishment of silver as an international coin, and in the two
last-named countries there is a growing and intelligent public senti­
ment in favor of the double standard.
The only other argument pressed with any earnestness is thp.t Roumania has a few millions of silver she is liable to sell to us. Nobody
seems to speak officially on the subject, and so far the awful rumor
has not been confirmed. Why, sir, we could absorb her silver, and
after six months never know we had taken it, and it is indicative of
the absence o f real objection to free coinage that such vague material
should stand as argument against supplying this country with the cur­
rency it needs.
It would seem, therefore, that we may with safety resume the coin­
age o f silver into standard dollars as it is presented at our mints, and
if the measure shall prove unwise the same votes that pass it in this
body will be cast for its repeal.
Yet, because the far Western States, fortified by good reason for the
faith that is in them, favor the full resumption ot the coinage-of silver,
as contemplated in the Constitution, sanctioned by the usages of all
nations since the two metals were given to man, and enjoyed by this
people for nearly a century and lost only in some mysterious fashion,
thev are charged with sinister and unworthy motives.
Before Senators charge the new West with selfishness in its advocacy
o f this or any other measure they should stop to consider. They should
remember, sir, what our attitude has been since we have participated
in the councils o f the nation.
We have not within our borders—I am referring especially to ColoWOL

rado—a single stream or lake to be benefited by the great annual ap­
propriations for the improvement o f rivers and harbors and for coast
defenses. Yet we loyally join with you in voting vast sums for these
purposes and contribute our share of the expense.
The interstate-commerce act, in its present condition, has wrought
injury to every town o f considerable size in the West; it is gradually
causing the absorption of the smaller lines o f railroad by the larger
lines, is retarding the building o f competitive roads, and must inevita­
bly work injustice to inland communities on lines o f through com­
merce, and far from the seaboard. Yet because the experiment must
be tried, and having been inaugurated must be continued until some
result universally patent is reached, we cordially second its enforce­
ment and continuance.
Peace is in all our borders. There are no wars or rumors of wars,
and no possibility is more remote than that we shall again be called
upon to unsheathe the sword. Nevertheless you ask for millions for
the further improvement o f your Navy, and for the construction o f
new cruisers and battle-ships. We are 2,000 miles from the nearest
sea. Few of our people can ever hope to look upon the pathless deep
or to see the white sails o f the stately ships they have helped to build.
But, because from Paul Jones to Farragut our Navy has been manned by
heroes, because we desire that other nations shall see that our country
is strong and valiant and ready to protect its citizens and its interests
abroad as well as at home, and, above all, because we love the flag
and are proud o f our common country, we willingly aid in voting
whatever sum may be required to insure the supremacy o f our Navy.
Colorado is less benefited by a protective tariff than any other State
in the Union, yet, as loyal citizens, we have regularly voted to protect
the industries o f other States while our own have been neglected and
ignored; and we shall probably continue so to vote under proper con­
In the face, then, of our record respecting public affairs, I trust that
we.may be hereafter spared the imputation of being either sordid or
unpatriotic in any matter affecting the public welfare.
The struggles o f the people ever since the demonetization of silver
to secure its reinstatement, though unwearied, have been in a large
degree unsuccessful; and it is doubtful i f in the whole history o f legis­
lation in this country a parallel can be found to the ingenuity and dis­
loyalty which have so tar thwarted the efforts o f the representatives of
the large majority o f the people, indorsed by the national conventions
of both parties, to carry out the will of their constituents.
It is useless at this time to inquire into the circumstances under
which silver was demonetized in 1873. It may have been by trick or
it may have been by open proceeding. We only know that there were
at that time in both branches of Congress able, vigilant friends of the
double standard who did not know until it was too late that silver was
demonetized, and we know that, notwithstanding all the extended
statements since made by those who participated in the act, nobody
has yet pretended to tell us why the silver dollar was dropped from
further coinage.
Hostile as was the act of 1873 to silver coinage, it nevertheless con­
tented itself with suspending the coinage, and it did not in terms make
silver a commodity and debase it, as does the House bill before us.
When the act of 1878 was passed and the minimum was placed at
two millions and the maximum at four millions a month, it was first

vetoed and then carried over the veto, and it was expected that the
discretion reposed in the Secretary of the Treasury was a discretion
to be exercised in the interests ot the whole people and not of any
section, yet from that day to this, whichever party has been in power,
each Secretary has traveled in the direct path of his predecessor and
contracted the currency by every means at his command.
The open and avowed views of ex-President Cleveland, while they
convinced nobody apparently, either in the Democracy or out of it,
were yet sufficient to paralyze the efforts of the friends of silver in
both political parties to secure its full recognition.
The day star of hope did not rise for us until the national conven­
tions of 1888. Then the Republican convention declared lor silver.
It seems droll now to recall the enthusiasm created in the far West in
the last campaign. The Republican candidate for the Presidency had
been in public life, but his utterances had not been many or particu­
larly important. The motto, in part assumed by Junius, could have
been applied to him:
But we hunted
up the C o n g r e s s io n a l R e co rd , and being ardent and sanguine, and
our hearts being illumined with hope, many of us lound here and there
a phrase or a sentence which indicated a friendly leeling for silver.
And we labored among the farmers in the valleys and on the plains
and with the toilers in the mining camps in the mountain gulches and
canons with these as texts. We held up Mr. Cleveland to contumely
and scorn in withering language that would make him feel very badly
if he ever heard of it, and we extolled our candidate in glowing terms
and assured our friends that upon his election the remonetization of
silver would be speedily accomplished, and that meanwhile his Secre­
tary of the Treasury, whoever he might be, would certainly commence
coining four millions a month.
If I remember aright, we made some other predictions as to the treat­
ment and recognition the great Northwest would receive when he be­
came President which have not exactly materialized, but I am confin­
ing myself to the silver question. We gave handsome majorities for
the Republican ticket; our hopes were high; our confidence supreme.
The awakening all along the line has been somewhat rude. If the
Windom recommendation, approved by the President, could have been
announced before the election, it is my humble opinion that not a single
State west of the Missouri River would have given a Republican ma­
jority. Not because the large majority,of the citizens of those States
were not and are not and will not always be true and btanch and
earnest Republicans, loving the traditions of the party and true to its
principles, but because they would overwhelmingly rebuke a party
that selected as its standard bearer one unmindlul of the interests of
the country, and disregardful of the wishes of the majority of its mem­
bers. t An open foe is to be preferred to a secret enemy; but who can
foretell the future, or gath3r figs of thistles?
The recommendations of the Secretary, largely followed in the House
bill before the Senate, strike viciously at the interests of silver. The
act of 1878 is infinitely preferable to the bill before us. Under that
act we can at least have two millions a month of legal tender; and the
whole purpose of the House bill seems to be to degrade and debase sil­
ver, and to make it a commodity, ranking it with the baser metals, and
to forever prevent its again taking its place as a standard of value.
Some amendments appear to be submitted by the Finance Committee,
but while they eliminate one of the objectionable features, thebullion-

“Stat magni nonimis umbra.”


redemption clause, other obnoxious clauses are retained and a curious
amendment is added, concerning which I hope some explanation will
be made. Why is the law to cease and terminate at the end of ten
years ? Instead of encouraging other nations to adjust their monetary
system in harmony with ours, we give them notice that this increased
silver coinage is a temporary device, expiring by its own limitation,
and much of any good effect of the law is immediately destroyed.
Such are some of the difficulties under which the friends of silver
have labored; but though we have much to contend with, we are by
no means hopeless. A bill for the free coinage of silver will some day
become a law. Administrative influe ice is strong and far reaching;
the inducements it can offer are great, very great. Its friends, when
it has any, are supposed to bask in the sunshine of executive patronage;
those who, although of the same political faith, can not agree with it,
must sit in outer darkness. Cabinet officers with patronage, soliciting
support to a Government measure, are almost omnipotent, but not
quite. We do not despair. The large majority of Senators on the
other side were uninfluenced by the utterances of the last Chief
Executive; a number of the Senators on this side of the Chamber
feel able to form their own opinions. A bill for free coinage will be­
come a law because the country is in favor of it, and in the end the
wishes of the majority govern, notwithstanding the personal desires and
efforts of the Executive. The measure is of vast importance; of far
greater importance than a new election law, an anti-gerrymandering
law, or a tariff law. So great are the interests involved that, in view
of them, party lines are obliterated and forgotten, and the South and
the West meet on common ground, animated by a common and patri­
otic purpose. [Applause in the galleries and on the floor of the Sen­