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Monday, March 21,


On the bill (H. R. 4426) for the free c o i n a g e of gold and silver, for
the issue o f c o i t i notes, and for other p u r p o s e s -

Mr. Baker said:
Mr. Speaker: There is a period in the history of every
legislative body when it becomes their duty to raise
themselves above party consideration and to stand upon
the broad platform of patriotism.
Is such a period upon us now?
The question now before us for consideration is one,
as I understand it, that must and will affect the interests
directly or indirectly of all classes of citizens. Such being the case,4 it becomes our duty to inquire in what way
will it affect them. Will it be for their betterment?
A s a representative from an agricultural and stockrasing section of the West, I shall treat this question
first from the standpoint of an agriculturist.
T h e basic principle upon which all wealth
is agriculture; and as no effect can exist in nature without an adequate cause to produce it, we shall inquire
first, what effect the free coinage of silver will have upon
the agriculturists of this country. Will it bring to them
prosperity; and if so, in what way will their prosperity
affect other branches of industry? Can a nation as a
whole be prosperous unless the agriculturists thereof
are prosperous?
A s the giant oak springs from a healthy germ planted
in rich soil, nourished by sunshine and moisture, so
must the agriculturist have the-elements which are essential to give inspiration to thought, t<s quicken the pulse
of inquiry, and to give vigor to mind and body, that h6
may be enabled to perfectly fulfill his mission.
This hypothesis we believe to be true, viz., that prosperity is essential to man's happiness, and that unless
the agriculturist is prosperous he will be neither contented nor happy. This leads us to this inquiry: What
changes have been wrought in his condition by legislation in the last twenty-fivefyears?
Twenty-five years ago farmers owned their homes.

In fact they were then the most independent class of
people in this country. A ready market was found for
all their products, and each man was proud to say " I
am a farmer.'' But how is it now? The farmer of
to-day is in many cases a tenant at the will of a landlord. Does the farm cease to yield its natural increase?
Does the farmer spend less hours in labor to-day than
then? W e believe the fault is with our legislation rather
than our farmers. From i860 to 1870 the average price
of wheat in New York was $1.99 per bushel. Corn was
96 cents per bushel; other farm products in a like proportion. From 1870 to 1880 farm products had declined,
wheat from $1.99 to $1.38, corn from 96 cents to 63
cents; other farm products in like proportion. From
1880 to 18S7 wheat had declined from $1.38 to $1.07;
corn from 63 cents to 46 cents; other farm products in
like proportion.
The man who bought a farm in 1S65, paying $10,000
for the same, to-day finds his farm worth from four to
five thousand. What has become of £5,000 t at he invested in his farm? Has he destroyed it, or has some
one else got it? If $1 represents a day's labor, and if
the farmer has lost by the shrinkage of his property
£5,000, has he not lost five thousand days' labor?
John Stuart Mill, in Principles of Political Economy,
page 103, says:
If the whole money m circulation was doubled, prices would double. If it was only increased one-fourth, prices would rise one-fourth

The very same effect would be produced on prices if
we suppose the goods (the uses for money) diminished
instead of the money increased; and the cnntrary effect
if the goods were increased or the money diminished.
So that the value of money, all other things remaining
the same, varies inversely as its quantity, every increase
in quantity lowering its value, and every diminution raising it in a ratio exactly equivalent.
Ricardo ?ays—
That commodities would rise and fall in price in proportion to the
increase or diminution of money
I assume as a fact that it is incontrovertible. That such would be the case, the most celebrated
writers 011 political economy are agreed. T h e value of money does
not wholly depend upon its absolute quantity, hut en its quantity
relative to the payments it has to accomplish', and the same effect
would follow cither of two causey, from increasing the uses of money
one-tenth, or from diminishing its quantity one-tenth, for, in either
case its value would rise one-tenth.

M. Wolouski said, in 1869, before a French monetary
T h e sum total of the p r e c i o u s metals is r e c k o n e d at fifty m i l l i a r d s ,
one-half gold and one-half silver. If by a s t r o k e of the pen t h e y
s u p p r e s s one o f t h e s e metals in the m o n e t a r y s e r v i c e , t h e y d o u b l e
the d e m a n d for the o t h e r metal, to the ruin of all debtors.

Now, Mr. Speaker, in submitting the statements of
Mill, Ricardo, and Wolouski, you will see that we have
the key that will solve the problem of the situation of

our people to-day. Wolouski very clearly points out
the motives that have actuated the capitalists in controlling the legislation of the last twenty-five years.
Granting that the statements of those three men are
true which are sustained by many other able writers as
well as by the observations of every intelligent citizen of
our country, we find that the wealth of the creditor class
has not only been doubled, but has been quadrupled by
legislation. In 1865 men of great wealth in this country
were very rare indeed. T o - d a y statisticians tell us that
a little over thirty thousand of our people own threefifths of all the wealth of this country, and that the
sixty-three million own but the two-fifths.
I ask you, Mr. Speaker, is this a happy condition of
affairs? O r rather is it not one to be deplored by e v e r y
lover of his county? Is not history repeating itself very
rapidly in this country of ours? Does not the same dark
cloud hang over us that destroyed almost every nation
of antiquity? Let us for a brief time revert to the
changed condition of the debtor class of this country.
Mr. Jones in 1865 borrows $1,000, agreeing to pay 6 per
cent interest per annum, note 10 be paid July 1, 1S75.
During that time owing to the financial policy of the
country the value o f his note is doubled, and instead of
canceling his debt with $1,600 it takes $3,200 worth of
his labor or products of labor to pay the debt. L a b o r
divided against itself has allowed our present unjust
financial policy to become law, and labor united must
overthrow the wrong and establish right and justice in
its place.
A buys a farm in 1875, price $20,000. H e pays$io,000 in cash and gives his note for $ 10,000, one-tenth to be
paid annually with interest at 6 per cent. H e pays his
interest regularly for ten years, but has been unable to
pay the principal of the note. H e has at the expiration
of ten years paid in principal $10,000, and in interest
$6,000, o r a total of $16,000. H i s farm has shrunk in
Value between 1875
1885 from $20,000 to $I2,O:K>.
W e can readily see that the farmer's* condition is one of
insolvency. That there has been a steady decline in
value of all classes of products is acknowledged by
A r e we to-day a nation of debtors or creditors? In
1865 McCullough, Secretary<of the Treasury, is reported
to have said that the American people as a people were
then virtually out of debt. " B u t , " says some one,
"McCullough never said t h a t . " It matters little whether
he said it or not. It remains true just the same, and no
less a personage than Senator Plumb, on the 6th of June,
1890, said:
T h e debts to-dav resting on the American people would aggregate


W e find that in 1865 there were but 520 failures i n the

United States, and they aggregated but little over $17,000,000. In 1870 there were 3,551 failures, aggregating
a little over $88,000,000; 1873, failures 5,180, their aggregate $228,000,000; 1875, failures 7,740, aggregate
$201,000,000; 1878, failures 10,478, aggregating #234,
There was a regular, steady reduction in the volume
of money, with but slight variations from 1865 to 1890,
^nd as the volume of money decreased the number of
failures increased. The shrinkage in the volume of
money has brought ruin upon the debtor class in our
country and if debts and failures are evidences of prosperity. we may then well claim to be a very prosperous
Some may claim that there has not been a gradual
decrease in the volume of money. W e have decreased
it by Increasing the demand for it. If there is to-day
five times the amount of business done in this country
that there was in 1865, will it not require five times the
amount of money to transact it? No man will attempt
to argue that the food which will nourish a thousand
men can be made to support five thousand in a healthy
condition. It would be just as sane a proposition to
say that five times the business could be transacted
with the same volume of money we had in 1865.
That apart of our people have enjoyed an era of unparalleled prosperity for the last twenty-five years, that
many have accumulated immense fortunes, that millionaires have become more numerous here than in any
other country on the face of the globe, and that nearly
all these vast accumulations of wealth have been effected within the last few years are facts beyond question.
Knowing as we do that wealth is the accumulation of
labor, it is the duty of the legislator to enact just
and equitable laws, ihat the laborer may enjoy the product of his own labor. A very pertinent question here
would be, how may thisbe v done? The capitalist says:
'•Reduce the number of laborers by increased use of
machinery." The debtor says, "Increase the volume
of products by increasing the demands for them, and
in order to increase the demands for them you must
increase the ability of the people to purchase the products of labor/' and how can this be done? First, we
must have a good currency, placed on a sound basis, of
sufficient volume to transact the legitmate business of
the country. If in the history of the past gold and
silver have proven such a basis, let us have* them. If
the present higher civilization can give us a better
basis than gold and silver, let us have it. In either
case let us have a sufficient volume of money to transact the legitimate business of the country. The people
demand it and the people will have it.

Baron Rothschild said:
T h e s i m u l t a n e o u s employment of the t w o p r e c i o u s metals i s satisf a c t o r y a n d g i v e s r i s e to no complaint. W h e t h e r g o l d o r s i l v e r
d o m i n a t e s for the time being, it i s a l w a y s true that the t w o metals
c o n c u r together in f o r m i n g the monetary c i r c u l a t i o n o f the w o r l d ,
and it is the g e n e r a l m a s s of the metals combined w h i c h s e r v e s a s
the m e a s u r e of t h e v a l u e of t h i n g s . T h e suppression of s i l v e r w o u l d
a m o u n t to a v e r i t a b l e d e s t r u c t i o n of v a l u e s w i t h o u t any compensation.

Professor Laveleye said:
D e b t o r s , and a m o n g them the S l a t e , h a v e the r i g h t to pay in g o l d
or s i l v e r , a n d t h i s r i g h t c a n not be t a k e n a w a y w i t h o u t d i s t u r b i n g
the relation of d e b t o r s and c r e d i t o r s , to the p r e j u d i c e o f d e b t o r s , to
t h e e x t e n t of p e r h a p s one-half, c e r t a i n l y one-third. T o i n c r e a s e all
debts at a b l o w , i s a measure so violent, so r e v o l u t i o n a r y , that I c a n
not believe that the g o v e r n m e n t w i l l p r o p o s e it o r that the c h a m b e r s
w i l l vote it.

These two authors agree in this one thing, that the
two precious metals together concur in forming the
monetary circulation of the world, and that they form
the measure of the value of things. Has not the demonetization of silver proved a veritable calamity in reducing the value of labor and its products on the one
hand and doubling its debts on the other?
From reports of the comptroller of the currency we
find that there is between fifty and sixty million ounces
of silver mined in this country annually. W e find also
that the price of silver and the price of farm products
have run very nearly parallel for the last nineteen years;
that when silver advanced farm products advanced, and
when silver declined farm products declined.
thereby learn that silver rather than gold is the measure
of farm products. Such being the case, let us examine
and see if we may not ascertain the reason for the low
prices of farm products during the last fifteen or twenty
years. Let us illustrate:
It the products of the farm amount yearly to $3,000,000,000, and the farmers suffer a reduction on their products of 25 per cent caused by demonetization of silver,
you will readily see that it m a k e s a difference of $750,000,000 annually in thjir income, and in twenty years
would amount to the nice little sum of $15,000,000,000.
Give the farmer the fifteen billions he has lost by the
demonetization of silver and let him pay his debts. He
will not then be as prosperous as the manufacturer or
If by legislation we double the debts of the debtor do
we not confiscate his property? And if we double the
debts of the debtor do we not double the capital of the
creditor? Will a just government confiscate the property of one class of her citizens that she thereby may
quadruple the capital and income of another class? Has
not the unjust legislation of the last twenty-five years
impoverished nine-tenths of her citizens to enrich onetenth? If this be true, as stated, that nine-tenths of our

people are debtors, we have then but one-tenth belonging: to the creditor class. [Applause.]
Daniel Webster said:
T h e freest g o v e r n m e n t c a n not long endure w h e r e the tendency of
the law is to c r e a t e a r a p i d accumulation of p r o p e r t y in the hands
of the few and to r e n d e r the masses of the people poor and dependent.

Mr. Speaker, is not that the condition of our country
Horace Greely said:
W e h a v e s t r i c k e n the s h a c k l e s from four million human b e i n g s ,
and b r o u g h t all l a b o r e r s to a c o m m o n level; but not so m u c h by elev a t i n g the former s l a v e s a s by p r a c t i c a l l y r e d u c i n g the w h o l e population, w h te and black, to a state of serfdom. W h i l e b o a s t i n g of
our noble d e e d s we a r e careful to conceal the ugly fact that by our ininiquitous monetary system w e h a v e practicalh- nationalized a system
of o p p r e s s i o n w h i c h t h o u g h more refined is not less cruel than the old
s y s t e m of c h a t t e l s l a v e r y .

W e have not only demonetized silver, but we have
continued to contract the volume of paper money which
was in circulation, notwithstanding the wonderful expansion of business in this country.
W e may learn how history is repeating itself by turning to Allison's "England in 1815 and 1845," wherein
he said:
T h f e p e r i o d o f a c o n t r a c t i o n of the c u r r e n c y and consequent fall
in the money p r i c e s of all the articles of human consumption is one in
w h i c h g r e a t profits are sure to be r e a l i z e d by the l a r g e r c a p i t a l i s t s
and g r e a t losses sustained by the smaller. T h e f o r m e r p r o s p e r bec a u s e t h e m a g n i t u d e of their t r a n s a c t i o n s enables them to r e a l i z e a
h a n d s o m e income upon t h e w h o l e from a d e c l i n i n g and at length
almost i n c o n c e i v a b l y small amount of profit from e a c h t r a n s a c t i o n ;
a n d they g r a d u a l l y g e t t h e monopoly of the market in t h e i r o w n line
of b u s i n e s s by the e x t i n c t i o n o f smaller c a p i t a l i s t s w h o m the fall in
the price of c o m m o d i t i e s h a s ruined or the d i m i n i s h e d profits h a v e
repelled f r o m e n t e r i n g into c o m p e t i t i o n w i t h them. * * *
Smalt t r a d e r s , t h e r e f o r e , and f a r m e r s w i t h o u t c a p i t a l are s p e e d i l y
ruined in such a state of things, and the l a b o r i n g or destitute condition is only t e n d e r e d the more d i s t r e s s i n g by the c o n t r a s t w h i c h it
a f f o r d s to the w e a l t h and splendor w i t h w h i c h the h o l d e r s of l a r g e
c a p i t a l in the same line of b u s i n e s s a r e surrounded. * * * A period of c o n t r a c t e d c u r r e n c y is one o f e m b a r r a s s m e n t , difficulty, and
generally It) the end of i n s o l v e n c y to the small f a r m e r and m o d e r a t e
landholder. * * * If a supply p r o p o r t i o n e d to the i n c r e a s e of
men and the w a n t s o f t h e i r c o m m e r c i a l i n t e r c o u r s e is not a f f o r d e d ,
the c i r c u l a t i n g medium will b e c o « e scarce; it will rise in p r i c e from
that s c a r c i t y , and b e c o m e a c c e s s i b l e only to the more rich and affluent
c l a s s e s . T h e i n d u s t r i o u s poor, or those e n g a g e d in b u s i n e s s but
p o s s e s s e d of small c a p i t a l , will b e the first to suffer.

In speaking of some of the evil results produced by
that act, Doubleday, in hU Financial History of England, says:
T h e d i s t r e s s , ruin, a n d b a n k r u p t c y w h i c h now took place w e r e
u n i v e r s a l , a f f e c t i n g both the g r e a t interests of laud aiwi trade; but
a m o n g t h e l a n d l o r d s w h o s e e s t a t e s w e r e b u r d e n e d by m o r t g a g e s ,
j o i n t u r e s , settlements, l e g a c i e s , e t c . , t h e effects w e r e most m a r k e d
a n d out o f the o r d i n a r y course. In h u n d r e d s of c a s e s , from t h e tremendous r e d u c t i o n in the p r i c e o f land w h i c h now took p l a c e , t h e
e s t a t e s b a r e l y sdld for a s much as would pay off the m o r t g a g e s , and
hence t h e o w n e r s w e i e s t r i p p e d of all and m a d e b e g g a r s .

This we find to be the result of the legislation which

prevailed in England from 1815 to 1845. W e find that
history is not only repeating itself in this country, but in
Germany also. There 80 per cent of the farm property
is mortgaged.
T h e cry "honest money" comes with an ill grace
from the creditor class; they, who have been the violators of contracts from 1865 until the present time; they,
who have sought by repeated legislation to enhance the
value of their hold ngs until, by such legislation, onethird of their holdings of to-day has been gotten by the
confiscation of property belonging to the debtor class.
It is they who do "not want honest money. They
know that the products of labor are measured by the
silver standard; and yet we find them demanding that
labor shall give one and one-third times the product of
her labor to pay its obligations. In fact, the most potent objections in the minds of a great many to the remonetization of silver are that it is honest money; and
that should free silver be adopted they would be compelled to receive honest money in payment for the obligations of the debtor class.
These obligations of the debtor class were contracted
on a financial yardstick measuring 36 inches. That
yardstick has been ignored and the demand is now
made for us to settle our obligations upon ai golden
yardstick measuring 48 inches, thereby increasing all
indebtedness 3 3 ^ per cent. There is not a responsible
writer, ancient or modern, but condemns these demands
of the creditors as unjust, inhuman, and revolutionary
in their character.
A s the resources of the debtor classes are their dependence to meet their obligations, so the resources of
a nation are the only means by which she can meet her
obligations. And as the value of the products by which
she meets her obligations is the measure of the quantity
of the products, we thereby discern the importance to
the debtor class of a fair compensation for the product
of their industry.
A bushel of wheat that is worth $1 on a silver basis,
is worth but 75 cents on a gold basis. Therefore, a
farmer must give 13,333 % bushels of wheat to pay the
debt on a gold basis, while 10,000 bushels would pay the
same debt on a silver basis.
Our nation has established an arbitrary value for all
products in establishing a gold standard. The productive industries in this country have or are said to
have increased 500 per cent during the last twenty-five
years. But the standard of values has decreased rather
than increased during that time.
Do not equity and justice demand that we shall establish as near as possible the same basis for the settlement of debts of our nation and people as existed at the
tithe of their contraction? W e believe that every right

minded man would say yes. Let us, then, remonetize
siiver and thereby restore, as far as we can by such an
act, justice between the debtor and creditor class. Let
us lessen, if possible, the great gulfthat has been growing wider and deeper year by year between the rich and
the poor.
And now, Mr. Speaker, let me offer in conclusion a
few lines from the pen of James G . Clark:


L e t the f a c e and the h a n d of the M a s t e r
N o l o n g e r be h i d d e n f r o m v i e w ,
N o r t h e lands He p r e p a r e d for the m a n y
Be trampled and robbed by the f e w .
T h e soil tells the same fruitful story,
T h e s e a s o n s their bounties d i s p l a y .
A n d t h e flowers lift their f a c e s in*glory
T o c a t c h the w a r m k i s s of the d a y .
W h i l e our fellows arc treated as cattle
T h a t a r e muzzled w h i l e t r e a d i n g the c o r n .
And millions sink d o w n in life's battle
W i t h a - s i g h for the d a y they w e r e born.
Must the sea plead in vain that the r i v e r
M a y return to its m o t h e r for rest,
A n d the earth b e g the rain-clouds to g i v e her
Of d e w s that h a v e d r a w n from her b r e a s t .
L o ! t h e a n s w e r comes b a c k in a mutter
F r o m d o m e s w h e r e the q u i c k l i g h t c n i n g s g l o w ,
A m i from h e i g h t s w h e r e the mad w a t e r s utter
T h e i r warning lo dwellers below,
A n d w o e to the r o b b e r s w h o g a t h e r
In fields w h e r e they n e v e r h a v e s o w n ,
W h o h a v e stolen the j e w e l s from labor
A n d builded to M a m m o n a throne.
F o r the s n o w - k i n g , asleep by the f o u n t a i n s ,
Shall w a k e in the summer's hot b r e a t h ,
A n d d e s c e n d in his r a g e f r o m the mountains,
B e a r i n g t e r r o r , . d e s t r u c t i o n , and death;
A n d the t h r o n e of t h e i r g o d shall be c r u m b l e d ,
A n d t h e scepter be s w e p t from h i s hand,
A n d t h e h e a r t of the h a u g h t y be humbled,
A n d a s e r v a n t be chief in the laud;
A n d the T r u t h and the P o w e r united
Shall rise f r o m the g r a v e s of t h e T r u e ,
A n d the w r o n g s of the Old T i m e be r i g h t e d
In the midst and the l i g h t of the N e w .
F o r the L o r d of the h a r v e s t h a t h said it,
W h o s e lips never uttered a lie.
A n d his p r o p h e t s and poets h a v e r e a d it
In s y m b o l s of earth a n d of s k y : ,
T h a t to him w h o has r e v e l e d in plunder
"rill the a n g e l of c o n s c i e n c e is dumb,
T h e s h o c k of the e a r t h q u a k e , and thunder,
A n d tempest and t o r r e n t shall coine.
S w i n g i n w a r d . O g a t e s of t h e futures!
S w i n g o u t w a r d , ye d o o r s o f the p a s t !
A g i a n t is w a k i n g ' f r o m slumber
A n d r e n d i n g h i s fetters at last.
F r o m the dust w h e r e hts p r o u d tyrants found h i m
U n h o n o r e d , and s c o r n e d and b e t r a y e d ,
H e shall r i s e w i t h the sunlight a r o u n d h i m ,
A n d rule in the realm be h a s m a d e .