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The free coinage of our present silver dollar would not be a fraud upon any
Glass of our people, hut an act of simple, unmixed justice to all.






F r id a y , J u n e 6, 1890.




HON. W I L L I A M F. P A R R E T T .
The House having: under consideration the bill (H. R. 5391) authorizing the
Issue of Treasury notes on deposit of silver bullion—

Mr. PARRETT said:
Mr. S p e a k e r : My time is limited and I shall aim to be brief. There
has been so much discussion and so many cogent reasons have been of­
fered in favor of the remonetization of silver that it would seem to be
almost a work of supererogation to attempt to say anything new on the
The most prosperous ages of the world and the most prosperous
periods under our own National Government have been* times when
there was the largest amount of substantial currency in circulation,
and when the mines of the precious metals were yielding the largest
quantities, and the volume of this kind of currency was being most
rapidly increased and put in circulation among the people. And in so
far as the Committee oh Coinage in their report express this view I
fully concur with them; but I can not concur with them in the propo­
sition that the principles contained in either the bill or the substitute
before the House tend to the accomplishment of the end desired.
The currency of the world does not consist in sovereigns aud pence,
doubloons and francs, crowns and guilders, dollars and cents. Coins of
any description are only used as representative values for convenience
in the local governments or kingdoms where by law they are adopted,
and their exchange value is fixed by the Quantity of gold, silver, or
copper they contain, that is, only by their intrinsic value. They are
made legal-tenders according to their denominational values by force
of the Jaws of the countries in which they circulate as currency; and
in this respect the legal-tender quantity and quality of every piece of
coined metal depends upon the fiat of the government which issues it.
To this extent all money or currency is fiat money, that is, money be­
cause it is declared by the supreme power of each particular nation
to be such; and it is treated as money only within the boundaries of
the state or nation where it is coined. Everywhere else it is treated
as bullion. In other words, the coins used for circulating as currency
among the different nations of the earth are local in both their origin
and intended use, and in no sense cosmopolitan. Their true locality
and home is as much fixed as that of the citizen of any nation: and
they rarely if ever go outside of their own territorial limits; all balances of
trade with other nations being settled either by the exchange of com­
modities or in bullion. So that neither our gold nor silver coins are or

could be intended for extensive circulation abroad; and when they do
circulate beyond the limits of our own country, it is only according
to their bullion value.
But in the locality in which the money coins are fixed and sanctioned
by the government, the coin so set apart and named as money becomes
a part of every contract, duty, or obligation to pay or receive dues of
any kind, either by the government or by any of its citizen?, and such
coin, thus fully monetized, is all that the creditor has a right to require
from his debtor.
Mr. Speaker, when the Government of the United States determined
upon the resumption of specie payment, and authorized a new issue of
b>onds, both principal and interest payable in coin, and declared all
bonds previously issued payable in the same manner, the people became
bound in good faith to carry this new agreement into effect.
To find out how much they had been swindled in the first instance
by receiving for these bonds a currency averaging in value about 60
cents in coin, which had been disbursed to the laboring masses and sol­
diers for full dollars, and upon the basis of which millions of dollars of
indebtedness among the people had been contracted, necessarily to be
paid in c6in or its equivalent, involves, no doubt, a mere arithmetical
But it is beyond the range of human ingenuity to devise any scheme
or plan by which the millionaires who so greatly profited by this finan­
cial policy shall ever be compelled to make restitution to the impover­
ished masses of the American people. And while I am willing to let the
iniquities of jfch past bury themselves, followed to their resting place
only by the thousands of bankrupt and desolated households of the
nation, so relentlessly destroyed by the lash of the monetary power,
I yet earnestly desire to attract attention to the present and the future,
and, if possible, to prevent any new wrongs from being perpetrated.
As 1 have said, it was settled that all debts, both public and private,
were thereafter to be paid in coin consisting of gold and silver; and the
constituent parts of a dollar in each of the money metals had been and
was equally well fixed and determined; for at that time and during
the long period of the free coinage of a bimetallic currency the two
metals had maintained a substantial parity of value; and the only re­
sult ever aimed at by the continuation of this system of coinage had
been a liberal supply of money to the people.
Open minis and free coinage, under the bimetallic system, withheld
from the Secretary ot the Treasury many discretionary powers which he
now exercises, and obviated for him much of his present trouble in the
management o f the finances of the Government. They also had a
strong tendency to check, if not to prevent, the ideal Wall street from
much of its intermeddling; and through them we gave the English finan­
cier and all his subservient adherents to understand that the United
States had sufficiently maintained her independence since the war of
the Revolution to declare and maintain her own national and financial
system without the aid of Great Britain. And had open mints and
bimetallism been adhered to as our unalterable policy, the powers of
Europe would have been constrained to follow our lead and to reopen
their mints to the coinage of silver and gold upon equal terms until
silver at 1 to 16 would have regained the position as a money metal
heretofore occupied by it, if it did not at that ratio command a premium
over gold.
In the name of common honesty and fair dealing I hold that the free

coinage of our present silver dollar would not be a fraud upon any class
of our people, but an act of simple, unmixed justice to all; and that
instead of overflooding us with domestic money it would simply sup­
ply the volume of currency'so earnestly demanded and so much needed
by the people to infuse life, energy, and activity into the waning and
drooping business of the whole country.
We all recognize the value of good character in the presence of calm
and deliberative justice. Let us look for a moment at the history and
character of the American silver dollar. Its intrinsic worth and purity
have undergone no perceptible change since its introduction among the
people as a circulating medium to assist them in the exchange of their
diversified products. Under the act of Congress passed April 2,179*2,
this dollar was made to contain 371| grains of pure silver, and when­
ever it has contained more than this, the residue has been made up of
alloy or baser metal.
The United States silver dollar was first coined in 1794r and weighed
in gross 416 grains, but contained only 371} grains of pure silver. The
act of 1837 reduced the gross weight to 412J grains, being substantially
the present weight, but it left the silver dollar containing the same
quantity of pure silver that it had contained from the beginning. And
after the lapse of nearly 'a century, certain it is that no one can for a
moment be tolerated in saying that there either is or has ever been any
deception about the value of the American silver dollar.
Facts are chiels wha dinna ding,
And downa be disputed.

And I assert that the demonetization of silver in 1873, an act which
has deen denounced as the trick of greedy conspirators to double the
value of their own possessions, was an unjustifiable invasion of the
rights of the people, and perhaps the greatest financial calamity that
has ever befallen mankind.
And I assert, furthermore, that both the bill and substitute which
are now under discussion are, in effect, nothing less nor more than a
thinly disguised attempt to make what was then claimed to be an ac­
cident the perpetual policy of this Government; in fact, an attempt to
demonetize silver for all time by making it a mere commodity, in spite
of the clamor of the people for its complete remonetization; that the
real intention is, in conformity with the views of the gentleman from
Massachusetts [Mr. W a l k e r ], to make less money, and so at once to
make all debts, both public and private, payable in gold or its equiva­
lent. Gold appreciated in value by being made the only standard of
value as money and then measured by itself alone as to its value, and
as a necessary sequence every other product and commodity, even in­
cluding silver, correspondingly depreciated; in other words, to make
the rich richer and the poor poorer.
Mr. Speaker, the demonetization of silver in the first instance was
not the result of any necessity, either real or apparent; nay, it was the
outgrowth of simple, naked cupidity* That policy was instigated by
the treachery and accomplished by the legerdemain of the millionaires
here and elsewhere, who had already grown fat out of speculations in
Government bonds and other forms of wealth drawn from the blood
and sacrifices of all other citizens of the Eepublic in the day of its
An opportunity was presented for converting their bonds and other
accumulations into a form representing over twofold the actual amount

of property and labor which, under an honest system of financiering,
they had represented or ever coulil represent; and this opportunity was
seized with t£e avidity of a hungry beast of prey.
By a system of rapid and unnecessary contraction the greenback le­
gal-tender currency had already been substantially withdrawn from cir­
culation and stricken out of existence. Moderate fortunes and accu­
mulations had thereby been made great, and by a logical sequence the
owners of these fortunes conceived the idea that by another and still
more reprehensible and nefarious stroke, their wealth might be in­
creased more and more; and that by continued manipulation ot the
same kind it might be developed into colossal proportions. And so. by
the demonetization of silver, one half or more of the remaining cur­
rency of the country was eliminated in subserviency to their wishes.
It mattered not that-the legitimacy and utility of this kind of money
had been recognized by the organic law of the land, and its exact re­
lation to gold remained unquestioned and seemingly unquestionable
from the day of the nation’s birth; it mattered not that it had been
co-existent as money With the beginning of civilization among tnen,
and retained its position alongside of gold through all the stages of so­
cial development—Patriarchal, Egyptian, and Judaical, Oriental and
Western; it mattered not that it landed on the shores of North America
with the crew of the May Flower at Plymouth Kock, and had been
recognized in every settlement by civilized men and women through­
out the colonial period as a precious metal, designed by its very nature
to be a medium of exchange co-equal and co-extensive with gold in every
particular; it mattered not that it had been regarded stnd treated as
such in the Book of Books from the earliest recorded exchange of values
in the history of our race down to the closing chapters of the inspired
writers, where we read the expression, “ Silver and gold have I none; ”
it mattered not that the great mass of the people in this land of ours-1
the laborers, farmers, and merchants—had contracted debts, in the light
of all history as to the nature of the money with which those debts
should be paid, and in firm reliance upon the good faith and justice of
their Government for the preservation of the historical and normal equal­
ity between the money metals. Blinded by avarice, the gold-bugs dis­
regarded all this, and by mingled fraud and deceit perpetrated the out­
rage of demonetizing silver.
For, as it occurs to me, this was not the result of honest, broad,
statesmanship for the benefit of the whole people. There was no ne­
cessity for it confronting the country at the time. It can be justified
only upon the supposition that laws may be enacted and repealed ex­
clusively in the interest of the rich and for the further upbuilding of
their colossal fortunes, even though by so doing all other classes are
crushed, impoverished, and reduced to the condition of menials and
slaves. If this be true, then that was good financiering. At all events,
the effect of the act of 1873 was simply that the debtor class, compris­
ing the producers and merchants, and constituting, in effect, the people
at large, were forced to gather up lor their masters, the monetary powers,
as quickly and as mngh from a half supply as from a full supply, thd
means of liquidating their debts, for the value of the currency wasdoubly
appreciated, while the value of all the commodities in exchange for which
it could be obtained was in a like ratio depreciated. The farm worth
$5,000, which had been mortgaged for $2,000, must go, or else the
owner must become virtually the tenant of his creditor, and work on
through his whole life, netting barely enough to keep down the interPAR

eat, with the terrible certainty ever present to his mind that if he did
not outlive his wife and children they would at his death become home­
less beggars.
In this way, where it before took one horse to pay a debt it now
took two; where it before took one cow or pig it now took two; where
it took one bushel of wheat, corn, oats, or other farm products it now
took two, and so on through the whole catalogue. No wonder that the
farmers and other toilers, after an experience of seventeen years undeis
this system, which has resulted in the constant depreciation of every­
thing they owned or produced, are now showing not only a spirit of
unrest, but almost a spirit of rebellion in respect to the course and pol­
icies of their would-be leaders, or that their attitude is especially
threatening towards the money oligarchy!
No wonder that we hear an ominous growl, like that of an earth­
quake, rumbling through the land ! History sometimes repeats itself.
Like causes will always produce like effects, and we may well look
into the past for a fitting interpretation of the present. Let us take
&parellel case and see how the sleeping masses may be aroused by in­
justice till they resemble an infuriated lion that has broken his chains
and scattered his keepers. And let us see how the oligarchy of wealth
has been forced to deal with them.
At the end of the first Punic war the debtor class of Home were in
about the same situation that they are in here to-day. They were
practically enslaved, but they had not forgotten that they had once
been free, or that they still had power enough to bring their oppressors
to terms. They began to agitatate, to educate, to organize, as the
masses of our own people are doing now, and their clamors agaipst the
oligarchy which had, by reason of its wealth, usurped the political pow­
ers of the Republic, were so Alarming that the Roman Senate was com­
pelled to give them financial relief.
That body ordered the coin to be clipped to such an extent as to re­
duce the as, which was the standard by which the value of all other
coins was computed, from 12 ounces of copper to only 2 ounces. In
this way the Republic and the people were enabled to pay the debts
which had been previously contracted; and in presence of the fearful
clamors and bloody threats of the people this process was repeated until
at the close of the second Punic war, the same coin bearing the same
name and paying the same amount of indebtedness, contained in actual
bullion only one twenty-fourth part of its original value. On this
point I will quote a few lines from that great book, The Wealth of Naions, by Adam Smith.
In Borne—

Says he—
as in all other ancient republics, the poor people were constantly in debt to the
rich and great, who, in order to secure elections and other favors, used to lenli
them money at exorbitant interest, which being never paid soon accumulated
into a sum too great either for the debtor to pay or for any one else to pay for
him. And in order to satisfy the peop le the rich and the great were often obliged
to consent to laws both for abolishing debts and introducing new tables.

Let me warn the American plutocracy that the lessons of history are
the laws of God, which can not be ignored with impunity.
When demands for relief come from the people, when we hear cries
from the quivering lips of children for bread, and from despairing
wives and mothers for shelter, when the old-time roof of the Ameri­
can laboring man has been sold from over the heads of his family to

satisfy taxes and mortgages which, but for legislation ljke this, he
would have been able to pay, and the laborer himself, the real arbi­
ter of the nation's destiny, turns like an exasperated lion at bay to
defy his oppressors and persecutors, it is time to pause and reflect, to
remember what responsibilities rest upon us, to consider whether
we may not, in order to avert the evil consequences of laws, like the
one how proposed, be driven to adopt that opposite and equally danger­
ous expedient referred to in the passage I have quoted; for I tell you
that as the world has always required a circulating medium coexten­
sive with the supply of both gold and silver, if we destroy one as a money
metal it will be necessary to supply the deficiency thus created by de­
basing the coinage of the other; and nothing ever proved more demoral­
izing to the people, and hence more disastrous to the rich and to society
in general, than such a system of repudiation.
The province of wise statesmanship is, therefore, to remove all leg­
islative restrictions upon coinage, to put gold and silver upon an equal
footiug, as they were in former times, without unfair discriminations
against either. Do this and they will regain their normal equality of
value. The small fluctuations occasioned by supply and demand and
by other causes, will become wholly inconsiderable, and I maintain
that without either disturbance or impairment of their mutual rela­
tions as the dual basis of a sound circulating medium, the coinage of
both metals may be made perfectly free; and that in this way, and in
this way only, the much- needed increase in the volume of our money
can be safely or honestly brought about.