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FREE COINAGE OF S I L V E R - R A T I O 16 TO 1.

SPEECH
OF

HON. J. T. HEARD,
OF

MISSOURI,

IN THE

HOUSE OF

REPRESENTATIVES,

THURSDAY, AUGUST 24, 1893.




WASHINGTON.

1893 v




SPEECH
OP

HON.

J. T.

HEAED.

The House having under consideration the bill (H. R. 1) to repeal a part of
an act, approved July 14,1890, entitled "An act directing the purchase of
silver bullion and the issue of Treasury notes thereon, and for other purposes"—
M r . H E A R D said:
Mr. S P E A K E R : It was not my purpose before coming to the
House this morning to attempt any discussion of the silver question at this time; hut by the indulgence of the House I will now
submit a few observations upon one point in this controversy.
While the Sherman bill, or it was then called "the Conger
bill," was pending in this House in 1890,1 had the honor to present to the House, at some length, my views in opposition to the
measure. My observation and the experience of the country, as i t
has impressed me since that time, give me no ground for desire to
change anything that I then said against the propositions contained in that bill; and I have but little that I now desire t o
add in the way of general discussion of those propositions.
I wish to say, Mr. Speaker, that I shall vote against the unconditional repeal of the Sherman law. While there is no man on
this floor who more utterly detests the main principles involved
in that bill than I do, I shall in conformity with the wishes of
my people refuse to vote for its unconditional repeal, because
they believe, as I believe, that there should be given to us some
assurance, in connection with such repeal, that its place shall b e
taken upon the statute book, by some law which will recognize
the principle for which we contend—the right of free coinage of
silver in our mints; in other words, the equality of the two money
metals of this country in the mints of the country.
Mr. Speaker, I have no ear for the clamor raised in some quarters, and from which proceeds this demand for the unconditional
repeal of the Sherman law, because of the effect of its operation
upon the business interests of the country. I can not believe that
the monthly addition of over $3,000,000of currency, as good as gold,
to our volume of money makes money scarcer. I do not believe,
Mr .Speaker, that the operation of the Sherman law hascontributed
in any material way, or even in the slightest degree, to produce
the condition of affairs which to-day afflicts this country. The
trouble is not a want of confidence in the quality of the money
of the country; it is not a wan$ of confidence among the people
as to the ability of this Government to make, or rather to keep—
for the different kinds of dollars of our currency are now equally
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good—to keep every dollar afloat in the circulation of this country as sound in quality as any other dollar.
Mr. Speaker, I think recent experience in the commercial
centers, as well as elsewhere throughout the country, establishes
the soundness of the proposition that the people have as much
confidence in, and as much desire for, the silver money of the
country as they have for the gold.
In evidence of that, Mr. Speaker, I have only to refer to the
fact that within the last few days, and to-day, these silver dollars, these derided dollars, and, as the enemies of silver say,
these "dishonest dollars," are not $>nly sought for everywhere
equally with gold, but that there has been a premium paid for
them in gold. We find that a premium is actually paid in gold
in the cities of New York, Philadelphia, and elsewhere.
Why? It is not because the silver dollar possesses any intrinsic Talue greater than the gold dollar, but because the silver
dollar is needed for the money uses of the people, to which they
desire to apply it. And I contend that the experience of all of
the commercial nations of the world demonstrates the fact that
within the limits to which the silver money is applicable and
for which it is needed, it is as good money as gold; and our experience in this country, recent as well as remote, tends to show
that it is just as good at the present ratio of 16 to I as it would
be if we fixed it at 20 to 1, or 25 to 1, or at any other ratio.
W e find that not only in the commercial centers has a premium
been paid for silver for uses to which the twenty-dollar gold piece
can nQt be put, but we find here at the Treasury of the nation, according to the report made to the Senate by our excellent Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Carlisle, a few days ago, that within
the first eighteen days of the present month, nearly three-quarters of a million of dollars was paid out over the counter of the
Treasury in silver dollars for the Treasury notes issued for the
purchase of silver bullion, and which notes# command gold at the
Treasury, and have done so ever since the issue of the very first
one.
W e also find that the silver dollars not only command a premium in New York and other financial centers, but are demanded
from the Secretary of the Treasury here in preference to gold;
and we are told by the Secretary himself, if I read his report
correctly, that applications have been made to the Treasury for
the exchange of silver for gold, which applications could not be
granted. And that is nothing new, Mr. Speaker, for the records
of the Treasury Department will show that in times past many
millions of gold have there been exchanged for silver to serve
the convenience of the people.
[Here the hammer fell.]
Mr. CLARK of Missouri. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that my colleague may be permitted to proceed for five
minutes longer.
There was no objection.
Mr. HEARD. Mr. Speaker, I am greatly obliged to my colleague for his courtesy and to the House for its indulgence. I
will probably not consume the entire five minutes allotted to me.
Now, sir, if these circumstances prove anything to my mind
as to the quality of our money, they tend to prove that for the
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uses to which silver money is applicable, and to the extent that
silver money is needed in this country, it is hot only the equal
of gold, but manifestly for some purposes is superior. I believe,
therefore, that we should stand by the ratio now fixed in the
law. I am in favor of retaining the present ratio and not going
to another.
As I said before, Mr. Speaker, if the silver dollar as. at present
fixed, on the ratio of 16 to 1, is good enough to command a premium over gold in the money markets of this country, if it is so
good that it is preferred by the holders of Treasury notes—
which command gold or silver at the option of the holder—to
the gold at the Treasury, there is no reason whatever why we
should undertake to improve its quality, if it could be done by
the increase of the ratio and the consequent addition of more
silver.
Now, sir, suppose that we propose to increase the ratio, where
will you fix it? Some of our friends say, " Why, your Democratic platform, on which you carried the country at the last
election, pledges you to the making of all of the dollars of the
Government equally good." The experience to which I have
referred, Mr. Speaker, I insist, shows that right now the silver
dollar is as good as the gold dollar, and that it would be no better for the money uses of the people, if the ratio were made 20
to 1, or even higher. But suppose, to please these gentlemen
who insist on strict conformity with the exact letter of our
pledges according to their own interpretation, that we shall, in
order to put ourselves in harmony with the declarations of the
Chicago platform as they construe it, add to the present intrinsic
Value of the silver dollar, where are we to draw the line?
I ask my Democratic friends who propose now in order to
meet that demand which comes from those opposed to the present legal dollar, if we shall add more silver to the dollar, where
are you going to draw the line? Why, if you propose 20 to 1
these gentlemen will say, "You have already confessed away your
case; you have admitted that the 16 to 1 dollar is a dishonest
dollar; you have admitted that the dollar is short and that it
must be made good, and, having found that there is a deficiency
in the weight of your dollar, yet you propose to go only onethird of the way marked out in the right direction." They say,
"The commercial difference between the value of the two metals
requires more than 20 to 1—that it requires 28 to 1—and therefore, if you give, asyou propose, only 20 to 3, you have gone but
one-third of the proper distance, according to your own admission, in the right direction."
Now, Mr. Speaker, j.% may be that our people are wrong in demanding the unlimited coinage of silver. I do not believe it,
however, but I would sooner yield something from that demand
than consent that the ratio should be changed. I donot believe,
sir, that any harm would come to this country from the unlimited coinage of silver at the present ratio, at least for many years
to come; and until, in case harm should be discovered,"in the
operation of the law, the people will have had ample opportunity
for electing another Congress charged with the duty of repairing any wrong we may have done, or of rectifying any errors we
have committed,'by following now what we know to be their
wishes—for that is the will of my people,
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I would sooner stand by the present ratio and accept a reasonable limitation on the amount to be coined, and trust to future
legislation to remove such limit, than to accept unlimited coinage at an increased, and a probably increasing ratio. W e know,
Mr. Speaker, that in this country, with our five hundred and
odd million dollars of silver and silver certificates in circula-tion, the silver dollar is as good as a gold dollar. Then the first
thing we want to do, Mr. Speaker, and the point we want most
sacredly to guard, is to preserve ihe debt-paying power of the
present silver dollar, w e want to guard against the curtailment
of the power of the silver dollar to discharge business obligations
in this country, and next, to guard against making it a more expensive dollar.
Now, Mr. Speaker, if we can float the silver we do to-day, on
an equality with gold, and as we see the European nations floating $1,500,000,000 more of silver on a parity with gold, when
the quality of their's is intrinsically poorer than our own, I say
that the man who has want of faith in our country being able to
keep our silver at a parity with gold, even at a largely increased
coinage above what we now hav3,1 think really lacks appreciation of what our people are capable of doing.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentleman has
expired.
Mr. DOCKERY. I ask that he be allowed to proceed for five
minutes.
Mr. BRETZ. Indefinitely.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Without objection, the request
of the gentleman from Missouri [Mr. DockEry] will be granted.
Mr. HEARD* Mr. Speaker, we are told by the Secretary .of
the Treasury—and there is no man filling a public position in
this country in the accuracy of whose statements we have more
confidence, and for whom officially and personally I have greater
respect—that to increase the value of the silver dollar as suggested and to recoin our present volume of silver money at the increased ratio of 20 to 1 would cost this country not less than $112,000,000 to $120,000,000.
Now, I ask you, Mr. Speaker, how can I go before my people,
who are perfectly content with the quality of the silver money
which we have to-day, who see it applied for at our Treasury in
exchange for gold, and who see it exactly equal with gold everywhere in the country, how am I to satisfy those people when I
stand before them, having voluntarily consented and agreed to
add $120,000,000 to the debts and burdens of the people, not for
the increase of the volume of their currency, but to supply a
supposed defect in the quality of the money we now have afloat,
which, as every man here is bound to admit, is meeting all tho
requirements of gold or paper in this country to-day? W h y
should we impose an additional burden upon our people amounting to $120,000,000 to make good that which we now have and
which, as my friend from Texas [Mr. Baidey] says, is now as
good as gold? To supply this additional value to our present
silver coinage we must either issue bonds, and thus increase our
interest-bearing debt, or raise the amount by increased taxation.
I am unwilling to do either.
Mr. Speaker, more than that, ther gentlemen who, upon this
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floor and elsewhere in this country, have always opposed and
who to-day oppose the extension of the coinage of silver, have a
great deal of confidence in the regulations to be hereafter made
by some imaginary or possible international monetary conference. Whenever the people of this country have shown a determination to put silver on an equality with gold, and have had
a prospect of being able to do it, those who are opposed to silver
coinage at all, or except as subsidiary coin only, those who stand
for gold monometallism, try to divert the attention of the public
from the issue by promising some possible relief to come from
the operation of a phantom international monetary conference.
Now, Mr. Speaker, suppose we are to pin our faith to the action
of such international monetary conference, how will we stand
before such body with our increased ratio? I admit that international action would be very valuable. It may be necessary,
but I do not believe it. But, Mr. Speaker, how are we to get to
that? That increase in ratio would make an increased burden
upon the people you ask to go with us in the opening of the
mints of the world to the coinage of silver. W h y shall we so
greatly increase to them the burden of accomplishing what we
ask them to do?
Why, Mr. Speaker, Prance has $700,000,000 of silver. It is in
circulation to-day side by side with gold, as ours is in this country, and as ours always has been for over one hundred years; but
if we should establish a new ratio of 20 to l a and ask France to
come with us on that ratio, we would virtually ask her to add
$160,000,000 or $170,000,000 to the value of her present money
circulation, and to put that burden upon her people when they
have not asked for it, when the people do not want it, when
France's silver is as good as her gold.
And so, Mr. Speaker, it would be with the othe? nations who
own the balance of the $1,500,000,000 of silver circulation. In
the different commercial nations of the earth to-day this silver
is engaged in performing all the offices of good, sound money.
No, Mr. Speaker, the experiences of our people here at home
show that we do not need it so far as the quality of our money is
concerned. W e can not expect by so doing to encourage these
other nations of the earth to join us in an international monetary
arrangement. They certainly would not accept such ratio if we
offered it. As my friend from Texas [Mr. CULBERSON] says, we
have tried it, and they have refused to accept any such proposition.
The fact is, Mr. Speaker, that those who are opposed to the
free coinage at the present ratio would oppose it if it was proposed to make the dollar on a basis of 28 to 1. They are not opposing th6 quality of the money, because it is just as good as any
other, but they are opposed to an extension of silver coinage on
any condition; and that, Mr. Speaker, is where this clamor against
the Sherman law comes up. It is opposed not because of the
quality of the money by which it increases our volume of money,
but simply because it does increase it. That it is a vicious law,
being founded upon the i i aubtreasury " principle advocated by our
Populist friends, can not be denied; but that is not the ground
of the present opposition. It establishes the pawnbroking system of depositing a commodity and issuing pawn tickets,'or
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Treasury notes, in lieu of it; and it not only adopts the subtreasury principle referred to, but applies it to one of the money
metals of the country, making it a commodity only, and virtually
destroying its money quality.
Mr. Speaker, for that reason, if for no others, we should all
be in favor of the repeal of the law on general principles; and if
it did not recognize the right of silver coinage, and was not the
only remaining law on our statute books that does, I should say
repeal it.
Now, one word further. It not only recognizes the right of silver coinage under some conditions (though I believe that provision in the bill was intended as a cheat and a fraud), but the
conditions have so changed as to surprise its authors; and the fact
is that the Secretary of the Treasury has been compelled within
the last month under the provisions of the law to increase our
silver coinage nearly three-quarters of a million of dollars, because he is obliged to coin a sufficient amount of the silver bullion purchased to provide for the redemption of Treasury notes
returned for redemption in silver coin, and the report shows
that for this month there has been a redemption of Treasury notes
in silver to the amount of over $700,000. Then the proper enforcement of this law not only gives us recognition of silver coinage, but an actual increase in circulation by reason of some silver
coinage.
Mr. Speaker, I do not desire to enter into a general discussion
of this subject, which has already been discussed so thoroughly;
but I want to say, in one moment, by the indulgence of the
House, that I will vote for the free coinage of silver, as my
people desire me to do, at the ratio of 16 to 1: I do not say
that I will not accept some other, for I believe it to be my duty
to go as far* as I can within the limits of my conscience and
judgment to try and accomplish what they need and desire, and
that is an increased coinage, if I can not get unlimited coinage
at the ratio we desire; but my candid judgment is that we should
adhere to the present ratio. [Applause.]
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