View original document

The full text on this page is automatically extracted from the file linked above and may contain errors and inconsistencies.

REMARKS
BY

DR. THOMAS DUNN ENGLISH,
OF

N E W

JERSEY,

IN THE

HOUSE

OF

REPRESENTATIVES,

ON

BILL (H. R. NO. 1) REPEALING THE SO-CALLED
"SHERMAN" ACT,




FRIDAY, AUGUST 18,1893.

WASHINGTON.
1893.




S P E E C H
or

DR. THOMAS DUNN ENGLISH.
The House having under consideration the bill (H. R. 1) to repeal a part or
an act. approved July 14, lb90, entitled "An act 'directing the purchase of
silver bullion and the issue of Treasury notes thereon, and for other purposes"—
Mr. ENGLISH of New Jersey said:
Mr. SPEAKER: I stand here in a position peculiar and perplexing. I do not quite agree with the parties on either side of the
House. I do not agree with the unometallists of the gold stripe,
nor with the unometallists of the silver stripe; for I am a bimetallism and as such I shall vote for the repeal of the purchasing
cl.iuse of the Sherman law.
I shall vote for the repeal, because the law is vicious of itself,
based on a wrong principle, has defeated the object which its
friends assumed it would attain, and is a bar to that international
monetary agreement, which, in my judgment, in the condition
that England has placed herself by her blundering Indian policy,
will otherwise be brought about. Whenever that bar be removed, when the countries of the world agree upon a ratio between gold and silver, then we may safely coin, not the dollar
of our fathers, which never was in any great amount, but the
silver and gold of our fathers. But when I vote for the repeal of
the law I do not vote for it for a moment holding that it will be
a panacea for our ills, for its repeal will not restore that confidence which we lack if unaccompanied by other measures.
I have a great respect for the opinion of the President of the
United States. I have read his message; but I have read it between the lines. I am satisfied that he is actually and really a
bimetdlist, whenever we can return to our old system without
injury to the public and without debasing the dollar. I am not
in the confidence of the President; I do not know him personally: I have no favors to ask of him, because in my district, happily, there are very few place-huntei'S; but I^ave confidence from
his record in his sagacity and honor, and I 'think him sagacious
enough to know that the mere repeal of this measure will not
reach the causes of the present disaster; and I have such confidence in his honor that I believe at the proper time, so far as
he is concerned, he will redeem every pledge of the platform,
and these attacks made upon him in this House are ill-timed and
unjust.
I have this to say: That not only is the purchasing clause of the
Sherman act not the most potent factor in producing the present
72
3




4
commercial distress, but, on the contrary, it has been conservative, the only silver lining to the dark cloud, as I shall proceed
to show in the few minutes I shall consume of the time of the
House.
Look back into the history of this country. Remember that
in 1815 we had a panic. W e had a lull the next year, followed
in 1817 by another and greater panic. Twenty years after, in
1835 and 1837, we had the same. Twenty years later, in 1855 and
1857, we had another. In 1873 it leaped two years, but twenty
years after 1873 we have the same condition of things.
The remote occasions which we are apt to lose sight of in these
panics are plain enough. They are to be found in the overtrading and over speculating of the people, and we become optimists:
and as Americans, rush into methods and channels of profit
which the foreigner does not rush in, or approaches with great
caution.
The result is disastrous. W e fail to note the remote occasions
but merely look at the causes: and you can easily see what are
the causes of this disaster—the many causes. The purchasing
clause was one} but among the other causes one seems to have
been lost sight of in this House. In 1800 our friends, the enemy,
created a new tariff policy by regradingL the duties on imports.
W e were told that that would check importation, that it would
build up a home market, that it would make American industries
prosperous.
The people of the country did not think so, and what has happened has justified them. Mark you, in 1891 there was an increase of importations. That was natural enough. Importers
were rushing in to secure the advantage of low duties. But in
1892 it seemed that what the friends of the tariff had claimed
for it had come to pass, for in that year there were of imports
only $827,000,000, while there were of exports $1,030,000,000.
There was a balance of trade in our favor of $203,000,000.
Now, that looked very charming, but in 1893 the importations
rose to the enormous amount, unprecedented in our history, of
$941,000,000, and the exports shrunk so that there was a balance
of trade against us of $94,000,000, making a total in the two years
of $297,000,000, change. There is one of the causes of your present distress. But the immediate and the greatest cause lay in
the action of the national banks.
In 1882 there were $352,000,000 of national-bank currency. The
banks began to contract, to put on the screws regularly year by
year, and in 1892 they had contracted their currency $185,000,000.
Against that, fortunately, so far as the actual deficiency of currency was concerned, came in the only good result that ever
could be credited to the Sherman law; it gave us one hundred
and forty-five millions jot currency, leaving the actual deficiency
only forty millions.
Now, it was this contraction, going on steadily, which the people saw at first without consideration, then with careful thought,
and finally with alarm, that produced the hoarding of money.
That hoarding withdrew large amounts from the banks and placed
them with the safe-deposit companies, and among the masses of
the people savings were withdrawn from the banks and placed
72 ~




44
between mattresses and behind looking-glasses and in other like
places of concealment.
That is what has produced the currency famine under which
we are suffering to-day, and it is for that reason that the farmers
of the West and the South—and I do not blame them for getting
wild when they think of it—have lost millions of dollars by the
fall of pricas, baing unable to get currency to move their crops
to the seAboard until the prices becjime so low and beggarly
that John Bull began to come in with his gold. Mr. Speaker,
what we want are remedies for these evils, practical remedies.
Now that you have thousands and thousands of men out of
work, with hunger threatening them and their families, now
that you hear the cry of "bread or blood," and when you know
that it is b:\sed on real suffering and is no mere braggadocio on
the part of these desperate men, you have got to resort to some
other measures besides the repeal of this law. With it, supplementally or conjunctively, you have to do it. I am no doctor of
finance. There are a great many gentlemen in the country
who write D. F. after their names, but I am not ambitious of
doing that, because I have sometimes found that the letters do not
stand with the populace for "doctor of finance," but are taken
to mean two other words which I should not care to have applied
tome. [Laughter.]
But, wltiile we have two physicians quarreling over the patient, while the whole country is in the condition of a sick man
who is moribund, while Dr. Gold Bug, on the one side, says that
the only way to relieve the patient from his sufferings is to administer the gold cure, and Dr. Free Coinage, on the other side,
tells us that he never will recover unless he gets large doses of
silver—while this controversy between the doctors is going on
the patient is dying, or at least his strength is sinking; he
needs tonics, and I think that under the circumstances an irregular practitioner may be pardoned for coming in with t nostrums. [Laughter]. Therefore, if I m.iy have the privilege, I
will suggest what I would do had I the power of controlling the
legislation of this House.
In the first place I would not repeal absolutely the tax on the
State banks, as has been suggested, I see, in the other House of
Congress, but I would make this provision. In my own State of
New Jersey, and I believe in New York and other States, recently in Georgia and North Carolina, laws have been enacted
by which no bank can issue notes without providing a basis for
their redemption in bonds, approved by the governor and the
financial officers of the State. From that New Jersey law the
national-bank system was borrowed, and it is as good a law today as it was then.
Therefore had I the power I would pass a law providing that
when banks of any State gave sufficient security for their currency, so as to avoid the danger of inflicting wild-cat or red-dog
upon us any more: that when they provided such security to the
satisfaction of the Comptroller of the Currency, and it was duly
certified and approved by him, the Secretary of the Treasury
should be empowered and directed to cause to be 'paid a rebate
of 85 per cent of the 10 per cent tax>thus placing the State banks
on a level as to taxation with the national banks.
72




(i

I would do that in order to hold a rod over the national banks,
who are now making the Treasury work night and day in order
that there may be brought back some of the money they have
withdrawn from circulation. Furthermore, I would have all the
bullion in the Treasury that was not there to meet absolute obligations, coined—not into dollars (whose legal-tender pow$r I
would not disturb), but into half-dollars of the present weight
aitd fineness. For mark you, there are currencies and currencies.
The currency of everyday life, the currency of trade, is a currency mainly of tokens. Its intrinsic value is of very little consequence. To-day two half-dollars do not contain as much silver
as one standard dollar, but do you know any man outside of a
lunatic asylum, did you ever find a mnn anywhere, who when
you offered him two half-dollars in purchase of goods would say
to you, 44 My dear sir, there is too little silver -in these; give me
a standard dollar." These coins come into your hands and they
go just as the filthy, disease-breeding notes do; nobody looks at
them. How many of you have circulated counterfeited notes
without knowing it? I have no doubt I have been within range
of the penitentiary unwittingly a dozen times in my life. [Laughter.] But I would also prohibit the issue of any Treasury note
or other noninterest-bearing obligation under the denomination
of five dollars.
With these measures you would at once bring relief in the
way of currencv, and you would give confidence by the repeal
of this purchasing power. Of course we want in this country,
as in every country, a system by which we can regulate the currency according to the needs of the people—expand it as desired
and contract it if necessary. I do not know of any better mode
of solving that problem than that which was first suggested, I
believe, by the late President Garfield, and which hus been
adopted. I understand, by a distinguished member of this House;
that is, that the holder of a. United States bond shall be authorized to take it to the Treasury and receive United States notes
for it, the interest ceasing from that moment, and when he has
no more occasion for the money shall be allowed to come back
and buy his bond at the same rate at which he sold it. I think
this would be a very excellent thing conjunctively or as a supplement to the other measures.
But I tell you plainly—and you know I have not indulged in
crimination or recrimination, because I think with the present
distress around us anything- of that kind is a very bad thing to
do—something like Nerofiddlingwhile Rome was burning—I say
plainly that if in the present temper of the public you adjourn this
Congress without the repeal of the purchasing clause or repealing it, without supplementary legislation to relieve the wants and
distresses of the public and to restore confidence, I tell you plainly
you will hear from the people in thunder tones. [Applause.]




O