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TUESDAY, M A R C H 2 2 , 1892.



S P E E C H


G. F.


The House having under consideration the bill (H. R.4426) for the free coinage of gold and silver, for the issue of coin notes, and for otherlpurposes—

Mr. WILLIAMS said:
Mr. SPEAKER: In order that some of my associates may have
an opportunity to speak upon this question I shall occupy only
one-half of the hour to which I am entitled, and I shall be grateful to the Speaker if he will kindly remind me when I have consumed thirty minutes of my time.
In opening the debate in support of the minority report of the
Committee on Coinage, Weights, and Measures. I trust that I
shall truly represent the people of this country who are in accord with me in my views upon this great question. I trust that
I shall be able to represent, not only; the minority of the minority
of the Committee on Coinage, Weights, and Measures, but the
majority as well.
Mr. BOUTELLE. Mr. Speaker, I would suggest to the gentleman that he has not been commissioned or requested to do
anything of the kind. He has no authority to do it. [Laughter.1
Mr. O'NEILL of Missouri. Is he [Mr/BOUTELLE] a member
of that committee? [Laughter.]
Mr. WILLIAMS of Massachusetts. Mr. Speaker, I am not
acting by request. I am acting in behalf of the minority of the
committee, and I am acting in behalf of tho cause I represent,
which, so far as I know, knows no party, but is a mere question
of patriotism upon both sides. The man who now draws the
party line upon the merits of this question does not represent
his cause. He represents himself or his party, but he does not
represent the true interests of the great American Commonwealth.
Mr. Speaker, I recognize the fact that in opening the debate
upon this side of the question I am addressing a people which
has already known the evils of depreciated money. Those evils
were forced upon the people in time of national trouble and
peril, and at the first breathing moment after our money had become depreciated it became the will and effort of the American
people to rescue its credit in the markets of the world, to rescue
its own people from the evils of depreciated money, and it deliberately undertook to appreciate its standard of value.
It undertook to lift the value of the dollar up to the value of the
best dollar in the world. I recall that I represent now a party,
or, if you please ; I speak out of a party, which, during the period
of resumption, in its platforms and in legislation never faltered

in its determination to assist in securing the resumption of specie
Mr. SIMPSON. What party was that?
Mr. WILLIAMS of Massachusetts. That was the Democratic
Mr. SIMPSON. I simply wanted to know.
Mr. WILLIAMS of Massachusetts. Now, Mr. Speaker, polities
should not be allowed in the discussion of this question at this
time, and I make no distinction of party, perhaps, when I say that
I am aware that the judgment of individual members upon this
question may have been forestalled by local action. Many men
upon this floor feel obliged to vote for the free coinage of silver
though they do not believe in it, because their constituencies
have instructed them.
I have but one word to say upon that point, and it is this: That
this is a national question; that considerations which now weigh
here in the judgment of men do not weigh in local conventions
and local communities; that in different sections feelings may
prevail which ought not to influence men here in this national
assemblage. We all know that in local meetings sectional feelings may be expressed, and that even measures which are admitted to be nationally disastrous may be assented to because of
the feelings of particular localities. But, Mr. Speaker, when
men come here and take into their hands the destiny of the
monetary system of this greatest nation of the world, I submit
that they must, in their judgments, go beyond the narrow purlieus of their Congressional districts and be accountable to the
people of this country, North, South, East, and West, alone.
The fundamental error, it seems to me. with which the freecoinage advocates start out is, that quantity of money is essentially more important than quality of money, and that money
itself is of prime importance as compared with credit. These
errors are one and the same in substance. Never was a better
illustration given of the true inwardness of the question of the
appreciated, the overvalued standard, if you please, than upon
the floor of this House only a day or two ago from the lips of
the gentleman from Arizona. The remarks of that gentleman
[Mr. SMITH of Arizona] and his efforts upon this floor are in
themselves a debate upon this question.
The gentleman brought in a bill for the refunding of the debt
of Arizona,.and asked to have inserted in it a provision that the
bonds and their interest should be paid in gold. Objection was
made by the gentleman from Georgia [Mr. LIVINGSTON] that that
would establish a precedent, and the gentleman from Arizona
answered, " I have tried to float this debt at a reasonable rate of
interest, but I am satisfied that without that provision in the bill
it can not be done at less than from 7 to 10 per cent. With this
provision I believe the bonds can be floated at 5 per cent." And
when the gentleman from Georgia insisted that this would be a
national precedent which he did not care to indorse, the gentleman from Arizona responded, " I t is not a question of indorsement; it is a question of floating our bonds at the cheapest interest we can get. It is a question of saving the people of my
Territory 875,000 a year in interest."
Mr. SMITH of Arizona. Will the gentleman permit me to
interrupt him there?
Mr. WILLIAMS. I will yield for a question; not for an explanation.

Mr. SMITH of Arizona. All right. I only wanted to explain, but I will ask a question.
Mr. WILLIAMS. My time is limited.
Mr. SMITH of Arizona. I will not detain the gentleman long.
My question is this: Did not the condition which forced that expression from me result from the legislation enacted against
silver? [Cries of "That's it!" "Now you've got it!"]
Mr. WILLIAMS. Mr. Speaker, when I answer that question
I explain this whole silver question. I am debating the very
question which the gentleman asks. But let me ask the gentleman how it is that this tyrant, the creditor, is willing to lend the
gentleman from Arizona his money, if he can be secure in payment of his principal and interest, at 2 per cent less a year than
he would lend it if he had to take the risk of a fluctuating and
uncertain standard?
Mr. SMITH of Arizona. Because they have made that condition of difference by the legislation itself.
Mr. WILLIAMS. They have made the difference! " They!"
Think you, Mr. Speaker, th^t the capital of this country is an
organized conspiracy?
Mr. LIVINGSTON. That is just what it is.
Mr. WILLIAMS of Massachusetts. ' 'They
•who are *£ they?".
The gentleman from Arizona has every dollar of the world at his
disposal if he has satisfactory security to give, and when he goes
to any owner of money and says to him, " I want this loan," the
owner of that money answers him: " Sir, the money is mine.
Secure me a standard of payment, and I will let you have it at 2
per cent less a year than I can possibly accept if 1 am to take the
risk of having my money i*eturned to me at a depreciation of 30
or 40 per cent."
Mr. Speaker, that is the fundamental proposition with which
I would approach the West and the South. ~ Think you, gentlemen, that by legislation you can turn the channels of credit into
your sections? Never. You turn it away every time you do
anything to imperil the standard of payment. The creditor has
a right, in law and in morals, to have his money returned to him,
and when you imperil the standard of his payment you simply
give him notice that he shall not loan you money*
Mr. LIVINGSTON. Lord knows we do not want the standard
in the hands of an enemy any longer. W e will take our chances
on it.
Mr. WILLIAMS of Massachusetts. Now, Mr. Speaker, I have
been diverted by the question of the gentleman from Arizona from
the line of my argument. This objection of the appreciating
standard " is one which is much overestimated. I will not pretend to decide whether gold has appreciated in value or not.
There are differences of opinion upon that question. But the
fact that prices have fallen is not, I respectfully submit, any proof
that gold has risen. These gentlemen leave out of consideration
the tremendous expansion of industry in the last quarter or half
century. They leave out the facilities of exchange—the bank, the
clearing-house, the telegraph, the postal order; they leave out the
opening up of enormous territory and the increase of population;
and they leave out labor-saving machinery and other inventions
of the time, when they consider the problem of the fall in prices.
Admitting the claim, the question comes whether an appreciating
standard is not better than a fluctuating Btandard. An appreciaW2LL


standard is certainly better than a constantly falling standard—better for the world.
Mr. Speaker, there are two fundamental arguments on the
other side—arguments which have the most effect in the minds
of men. The first is that we had the free coinage of silver before 1873, and that there can be no danger now in restoring a
law which operated without loss to this country. That is one of
th<* arguments. In the minority report I have attempted to point
out} that the conditions since that time have absolutely changed;
the monetary conditions of the world have entirely changed, and
they are beyond our control.
The gentleman from Missouri asks, "Are we to have our monetary system regulated by the rest of the world? " I answer him
that the monetary system of commerce is the affair of the world,
and that we can not settle it alone; that when he undertakes to
do it the world will have its' £ own sweet will" with his American
system, and we shall be thrown out of the commercial and monetary problems of the world.
The gentleman has adverted to an inconsistency in the minority report. I would like to point odt to him that the inconsistency is his fault, not mine. He says that with one breath I say
we are going on to a silver standard and a depreciated currency,
and with the next breath I say that silver is going to pour in
here to be exchanged for gold. I ask the gentleman to take his
stand, and then I will take mine. I ask him to tell me which of
those things will result—to tell me whether, in his judgment,
silver is to remain exchangeable for gold at the ratio of 16 to 1,
or whether silver is to go down to its market value, and when he
will take his stand on that, I can discuss the question without
the alternatives which I was obliged to put into that report.
I take it, Mr. Speaker, that the recent thought upon the freecoinage side of this question is in favor of the lapsing of our currency system into the silver standard. I think it may now be
taken as practically Admitted that the silver standard is what
we are coming to.under this legislation; that it is not probable,
or even possible, that gold should remain in the currency system
at a par with silver at the ratio fixed by law. Now, what is the
silver standard, and what does it mean? When we cut off gold
and drive it to a premium, where will silver go? It will go to a
discount. The premium upon gold is the discount upon silver;
and how is that discount to be measured?
When the gentleman asks me whether we are to regulate our
monetary system by the will of the rest of the world, I answer
him that the rest of the world will fix the depreciation* upon silver according to the markets of the world, and that our standard will then be 70 cents for $1 in very truth. That will be
the truth. That, Mr. Speaker, is repudiation; that is the scaling
down of debts; that is the spectacle of this country going into a
dishonest settlement of every debt contracted upon our present
gold basis. Now, it is because the scaling of debts is dishonest
and unjust that I believe the people of this country will never
listen to this proposition. Scaling of debts! Whom does it benefit? Very few, very few. Out of our whole population there
may be some who will gain by it; there may be some fixed debts
payable in honor upon the standard of the time when they were
contracted that will be liquidated upon this dishonest standard

Mr. LIVINGSTON, Will the gentleman allow me to ask a
Mr. WILLIAMS of Massachusetts. I prefer not; I have only
ten minutes left.
Mr. LIVINGSTON. It is only a question for information.
Mr. WILLIAMS of Massachusetts. The gentleman will excuse me; I have only ten minutes left; and I do not wish to consume my time in that way.
The people who will lose by this depreciation are mainly the
industrial classes of this country. I assert, Mr. Speaker, that
the wealth of this country which is loaned is in great part the
wealth belonging to the industrial classes of this country. If
any gentleman here is a lawyer from the Northeast, I beg to compare experiences with him; I ask him who they are who have
placed their money in Western mortgages; whether the great
invested trust estates of Boston are put into Western mortgages?
No. sir; tho people who have loaned money from the East to
the West are comparatively poor people; the people of small
earnings who wish to speculate perhaps somewhat to get large
rates of interest. The people who have invested in Western
mortgages, are, I believe, seven out of ten, people who would be
seriously injured in their incomes and in their living by the seal*
ing of the western mortgages from $1 to 70 cents. This is not a
question between wealth and poverty; it is a question between
honorable industry in one section and honorable industry in the
I wish to point out in very few words what silver money on the
continent of Europe threatens our monetary system in case of
free coinage. I would point out the fact that there is now in
Germany $100,000,000 in old thalers, which the German Government did not sell in 1879 because the price of silver went down,
and it is perfectly well known that Germany would like to melt
all of that hundred millions and sell it where it can find a market. I would call attention to the fact that Roumania has recently melted five millions of silver coin and sold it in the market at a sacrifice of 25 per cent to get gold.
I would call attention further to the fact that Austria-Hungary
is now proposing, and has made it public, to melt up $30,000,000
out of its total of eighty millions of silver stock, and sell it in the
market as bullion in order to secure gold. I would point out to
you that Italy has about sixty millions of silver 5-franc pieces in
the Bank of France which it would like to sell for gold; that Belgium has between sixty and seventy millions of,dollars in 5-franc
pieces in circulation in Prance which the press of Belgium has
already claimed should be sold as bullion in order that Belgium
may get on the gold standard. About $500,000,000 worth of silver are ready for the market out of the coin systems of Europe.
Mr. Speaker, are we ready to have that $500,000,000 sent over
here to be exchanged for the gold which is in our Treasury,
which is circulating among the people, and which measures the
daily business of this vast country? What will be the result?
Does anyone need to be told? One of two things must result.
Either this Government must issue bonds to buy gold to exchange
for that silver or our silver dollar will go down, and it will be no
object for them to send their silver over here, because the silver
dollar of this country has descended to its market value.
But, Mr. Speaker, there is a remedy which I shall present, unWLlIi

less the gentleman who succeeds me from the committee wishes
to present it; and that is a bill providing that the President of
the United States shall seek an international conference upon
this question. That is the true solution of the question. I agree,
sir, that it is unfortunate that gold has become the standard coin
of Europe. I agree that this country should do everything in its
power to secure silver again in its proper place in the currency
systems of the world.
I will not yield even to the gentleman from Missouri himself
in the desire to accomplish this great result. I believe that it
is necessary, just as the gentleman does. But I do not believe
that because we see the evil, which is the world's evil, this
country should attempt to do the world's work alone and the
people of. this country be inflicted with all the disastrous results
which must flow from it under such circumstances. The nations
of the world should come together. I believe that they are
ready to come together on this great question.
I believe that the movement of Austria-Hungary at the present time of Italy and Belgium, as well as other European nations, to adopt the gold standard, can be avert ;d if we meet them
and invite them to join with us in changing the world's system,
so far as in them lies. If gold is depreciating the whole world
is suffering from it and not the United States alone.
Why, Mr. Speaker, for. this nation to undertake to stem the
tide of commerce of the world would be as unreasonable as it
would be if we saw the mercury rising in the thermometer and,
wishing to stop the heat, should get an elephant to tread on the
bulb in order to lower the temperature. This proposition is in
the last degree absurd, that because the evil exists throughout
the world we should attempt single-handed to do the business of
the world and to remedy it.
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. RICHARDSON in the chair).
The gentleman has exhausted thirty minutes of his time.
* Mr. WILLIAMS of Massachusetts. I now offer, Mr. Speaker,
the bill to which I have referred, but will waive the reading of
it at the present to save time. I offer it as a substitute for the
pending bill.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. It will be considered as pending
The proposed substitute is as follows: Strike out all after the
enacting clause and insert:
That the President is authorized to invite the governments of such countries as he may deem advisable to join the United States in a conference to be
held at a time and place agreed upon, such conference to be called with a
view of securing a permanence In the relative value of gold and silver, at a
common coinage ratio to be mutually agreed upon, through international
agreements providing for the enlarged monetary use of silver and for giving
to that metal equal mintage rights with gold.
SEC. 2. That the President shall, by and with the advice of the Senate, appoint three commissioners, who shall attend such conference on behalf of the
united States, and shall report the doings thereof to the President, who shall
transmit the same to Congress. Said commissioners shall receive the sum of
$5,000 each and their reasonable expenses, including the compensation of a
secretary and such other assistance as maybe necessary, to be approved by
the Secretary of State.

Mr. WILLIAMS of Massachusetts.
man from Ohio [Mr. HARTER],


I now yield to the gentle-