View original document

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



F. G R A D Y ,

OF N O R T H C A R O L I N A ,

Thursday, August 24,1893.

The House having under consideration the bill (H.R.I) to repeal a part of an
act approved July 14f 1800, entitled "An act directing the purchase of silver
bullion and the issue of Treasury notes thereon, and for other purposes "—

Mr. GRADY said:
Mr. S p e a k e r : It w a s not my intention at the beginning of this
session of Congress, called together, as I understood the command
from our Chief Executive, to repeal the purchasing clause of the
Sherman act—it was not my purpose, I say, to engage in this discussion, or add anything to its length. I hoped that I might sit
quietly and drink in wisdom from the great men of this House who
have had experience for a number of years, and have studied this
question, and are supposed to know all about it.
But I soon found myself in the condition that a pious old deacon
up in Connecticut once found himself in* He was a very devout
old gentlemen, and was distinguished for always accepting with
sublime resignation whatever ills the Lord saw fit to inflict upon
him. He never murmured. One day a tornado came along and
tore down his fruit trees, uprooted his yard trees, and blew down
everything in its path. He took it all with quiet submission and
fortitude. After awhile he ran out to his barn and tried to save
its contents from the fury of the winds, but as he reached the door
a shutter swung violently around, struck him, and knocked him
down. Picking himself up he remarked: " I think it is time for
me to express my sentiments." [Laughter and applause.]
The. first speech, Mr. Speaker, delivered in this House [by Mr.
R a y x e r ] on the opening of the discussion on this measure knocked
me down. I will read the statement that gave me the blow:
If this desperate system offinance,with nothing to justify it, with almost
the whole intelligence of the country against it, etc.

" Almost the whole intelligence of the country against it." That,
Mr. Speaker, was the blow that struck me. [Laughter.] I cannot
admit the truth of this assertion. I do not think that all of the


intelligence of this country is in favor of the unconditional repeal of
the purchasing clause of the Sherman act, and even if it were in
favor of it, I would have some hesitation in accepting this view of
the situation.
You will find no more devout worshiper at the shrine of intelligence than myself. I repeat, no more devout worshiper than
myself will ever he found at the shrine of that intellect which has
brought the arts and the sciences to the degree of perfection which
is the wonder and the glory of these declining years of the nineteenth century; but when we survey the past or the present and
rest our eyes on the deeds of the human intellect when greed,
pride, vanity, spite, and ambition have been among its controlling
motives, horror takes the place of admiration, and we hang our
heads in shame. The intelligence of Athens compelled Socrates to
drink hemlock. The intelligence of Judea crucified Christ. The
intelligence of Europe imprisoned Galileo for twelve years, and
built slow fires under John Huss and Jerome of Prague. And almost every page of history is stained with the blood of the victims
of laws and institutions established by the intelligence of the
And coming to our own shores, Mr. Speaker, we find that the intelligence of this country has in twenty years wrought out a condition which, with a few names of persons and places changed, we
might mistake for tho condition of Rome in its most corrupt period,
as described by Froude.
No, Mr. Speaker, I can not surrender my convictions because the
intelligence of the country is against me; and when it comes asking
me to join it in enacting, repealing, or amending laws, let it come
with facts—not with analogies which are not analogous, not with
parallels which are not parallel, nor with guesses founded on insufficient or irrelevant testimony.
Let us see and consider one of the facts that is presented to the
House. It was first asserted in the House in the early part of this
discussion—rather tentatively—that silver was demonetized practically in 1834. The next speakerfindingthat assertion was not denied,
repeated it with a little more confidence, and it has gone on until I
believe the day before yesterday it was repeated [by Mr. B y n u m ] ,
without any qualification whatever. Let us see about that. In
1834 the act of Congress providing for the coinage of gold coins
Every such eagle shall be of the value of $10.

Now, what was ten dollars f What did the word " dollar" mean f
What did it mean from the foundation of the Government f There
never had been coined a gold dollar up to that time. The only dollar known to the people at that time, or since, except the few gold
dollars in circulation for a little while, were silver dollars^ the
Spanish milled dollar that was fixed as standard coin by the First
Congress—the Spanish milled dollar that was declared to be the
unit of value by the Congress under the Confederation—the Spanish milled dollar that has been the unit all along until it was demonetized in 1873.
This debate, Mr. Speaker, has brought to me humiliating reflections. I see strong men—men of giant intellects and of nnsullied
honor—contending for opposing and conflicting measures of relief,
with the same facts and conditions before their eyes. Wnat should
we think of two schoolboys who should go through Euclid's Geome144

try, arriving at different results from tlie same axioms? One demonstrating, for instance, that the square on the hypotenuse of a
right angled triangle is equal to the sum of the squares ou the other
two sides, while the other proved that there is no such equality?
We should say that one of them was demented. Why not say this
of one side or the other in this debate ? Because the conditions are
not the same.
The student of geomet M y has neither pride, ambition, nor spite,
nor any selfish motive to warp his judgment, nor is he influenced by
liis education or his environment; nor is there any room for guesses.
In this discussion every participant gives voice to the promptings
of his own environment—using that word in its broadest sense.
Every man is more or less—and more, perhaps, than less—the creature of circumstances, lie is the creature of his own environment.
Why, if I had been born and reared in Mecca, I would have been a
Mohammedan. A man who has been born and reared in New York,
if he is a pet among the gold bugs, will bo a gold bug. If he is born
on a cotton plantation in the South, and works for 65 cents a day,
whether he is white or black, he will be in favor of more money—in
favor of free silver. It is altogether a question of where a man has
been raised. So these gentlemen have voiced their own environments.
For this reason I cau not find it in my heart to complain of them.
I can not find it in my heart to think evil of them. They are as
sincere as I would dare claim to be, and their motives are as pure
as mine. But, Mr. Speaker,.all this could be said of Peter the Hermit, whose mistaken zeal plunged Europe into two hundred years
of destructive war. He was just as sincere as these gentlemen are,
and from his surroundings and the influences that controlled his
thoughts, not only as sincere but as wise, perhaps, for his day and
It could be said, too, of the God-fearing people of New England
who cropped the ears of Quakers and bored holes in their tongues
with hot irons, until the Catholic King of England ordered John
Endicott to have it stopped. I trust, therefore, I may be pardoned
if I warn these gentlemen to study well the ground on which they
stand, and srok with all possible caution the path of duty. We are
to decide a question of supreme importance, and on our decision
hangs the weal or woo not only of the present generation, but of
those who are to come after us; and I think we ought to .weigh
well the conditions confronting us before we cast a vote on the
measure before the House.
It would be an unreasonable reflection on the intelligence of this
country if it could not justify its claim to respect and to its right
to guard the "honor of the nation" and the " credit of the Government." The honor of the nation and the credit of the Government—they are the things this intelligence is to guard. It is not
the honor of the people and their welfare. They may go to the
dogs. They may stay in the poorhouses. They may stay in rags
and in ignorance, but the "honor of the nation" and the "credit
of the Government" must be preserved.
When the Pharisee heard the accusation that he devoured widows'
houses and laid on the shoulders of the people burdens grievous to
be borne, his answer was just such as we might have expected. His
accuser was a disturber of the public peace, an enemy of good government, a destroyer of vested rights, an infidel, and a nobody who
consorted with publicans and sinners. And just here I can't help

expressing my mortification at seeing some Democrats consorting
witli Republicans and sinners and applauding their speeches on the
silver question. [Laughter.]
The Pharisee's answer, Mr. Speaker, can be found paralleled in
all ages and in all countries wherever the right of the ruling classes
to live on the labors of others has been disputed. It was disputed
in Judea. It was disputed in Greece. It was disputed in Rome.
It was disputed in every country on the face of the earth so far as
history gives us any light. And the excuse has always been about
the same.
In this boasted land of liberty every man who demands justice for
himself and his children is denounced by the intelligence of the
country as an enemy of the laboring man, an enemy of those who
are patriotically striving to build up a great and powerful nation,
as a hireling of British manufacturers, as an agrarian advocate of a
dishonest dollar, as an ignoramus who deserves to be laughed at by
soft-handed intelligence which u sits at the receipt of custom."
If a law of Congress had been passed twenty years ago requiring
the destruction of all the mules in the United States, and forbidding the rearing or importation of any more mules, the friend of
the mule would soon have found the " intelligence " of the country
against it. The price of horses would have gone up, no doubt, but
as a horse was not a measure of value the same arguments could
not have beed used; but other arguments could have been found.
The friends of the mule would have been laughed to scorn as advocates of " d cheap and nasty" substitute for the noble animal which
has been the companion of man in all intelligent countries.
Electrotype plates would have been furnished free to all the
country newspapers, caricaturing the mule, warning the people of
the danger in his hind legs, and poking fun at his obstinacy and
his voice; and the u nigger" with his 40 acres and a mule would
have cut a conspicuous figure. [Laughter.] All the poetry on the
mule would have been collected into an attractive volume and furnished for "ten names," and soon every boy in the country would
have had one, and nobody would have been ignorant of the mishap
to the owner of Nebuchadnezzar." [Laughter.]
After twenty years of such education as this, Mr. Speaker, an effort in this House to " remonetize" the mule would have been resisted with as much eloquence, as much earnestness, and as much
sound reasoning as we have witnessed against the " dollar of our
daddies." [Laughter.] I shall not quote any authorities, Mr.
Speaker, on the Sherman law, nor on the question of remonetization.
My reason is that if I quoted one, somebody might quote him on
the other side. The distinguished Senator whose name is joined to
the act which it is now sought to repeal, can be quoted on both
sides, and most of the distinguished Republicans on this floor who
cheer Democratic advocates of repeal, voted for the act. Which
side would you quote them on? At least one of their platforms denounces the Democrats for omitting a free-silver plank from their
platform. What, then, Mr. Speaker, is authority worth? Why,
sir, there are Democrats here who voted for free coinage last year,
and are now declaring that free coinage would be disastrous. No;
we do not want any authorities. We want common sense, and a
just regard for the welfare of the people.
Nor do I intend, Mr. Speaker, a dissection of thfc arguments of

the monometallists; most o f tliem have been post hoc, propter hoc,
and merely a rehash of what have already been lavishly supplied to
us in " m a r k e d " copies. [ L a u g h t e r . ] But I can not let the opportunity pass to remind the doctors who have been feeling the
pulse o f the patient and looking at his tongue that tlie disease is
deeper d o w n than they have looked.
Here is an extract from a memorial, which is published as Senate
Miscellaneous Document No. 24, Fifty-first Congress, second session—that famous Congress:

c a l l i n g attention" t o t h e present depressed
tion of t h e country.



To the United States Senatf:
Your memoralist, the National Convention of the Representatives of the Commercial Bodies of the United States, respectfully calls the attention of your honorable body to facts as follows:
The financial affairs of the country are in a perilous condition. Business men
in all of the States of the Union are apprehensive tbat there will be a panic. Citizens in general are alarmed at the outlook. Values of property ^ire decreasing.
Persons, firms, and corporations are daily failing whose assets are largely in ex.
cess of their liabilities. There is but a single cause for all of the above conditions, and that is a want of confidence. As a result of that single cause, money
is being withdrawn from circulation and the evils which are following, and are
liltely to continue to follow are innumerable. There is but a single certain remedy i'or such single cause. The putting into circulation of more money may or
may not avert the danger as there is no limit to the amount of money that "can
n as the single
* * will
* be hoarded so long
» cause,
» want of confidence continues.
Signed by the national convention of the representatives of the commercial
bodies of the United States, by its executive committee, as follows:
"Wm. E. Scliweppe, chairman, St. Louis; Isaac Atwater, Minneapolis; Herbert
P. Bissell, Buffalo: Mortimer N. Burchard, Chicago; Richard D. Coughanour,
Dallas; J. Frank Fort, Newark, N. J.; Joseph Faliys, New York City; Henry
A. Fry, Philadelphia: Frank Gaiennie. St.Louis; Justus Goebel, Cincinnati;
David Hirsch, New York City; John J. Horner, Helena, Ark; Rosel Weissinger,
Louisville; Anthony Itlner, tit. Louis; John A. Lee, St. Louis; Henry M. Men
del, Milwaukee; ISeverly K. Moore, Boston; Fred. F. Myles, New Orleans;
James M. Nave, Kansas City; Peter Nicholson, St. Louis; Ferdinand W. Risque,
St. Louis; Channin^ Seabury, St. Paul; Daniel M. Thomas, Columbia, Pa.;
Francis B. Thurber, New York City.
In 1890 it was sent her© to induce Congress to pass the Torrey
bankruptcy bill. I read that part of it w h i c h stated that the condition was such that everything was goiug to wreck and ruin then
and that a panic was on the country, before the Sherman act was
in force.
I have an account of another memorial clipped from to-day's New
York Press, which will be published to-morrow in the Dry Goods
Economist, warning the people, b y this same sort of intelligent
gentlemen. W h a t flo they say n o w is the matter with ihe country ?
They say it is the Sherman l a w . Now, if the same set o f doctors
in diagnosing a case come to such contradictory conclusions, what
are w e laymen t o d o ? Here it i s :
" s t r i k e n o w ; s t r i k e h a r d . " — a r e m a r k a b l e a p p e a l t o congress by f o r e m o s t

Tbe Dry Goods Economist, to be issued to morrow, will contain a petition to
Congress asking prompt repeal of the silver purchase act, signed by about 100 of
the foremost dry goods wholesale houses in the United States. The editorial accompanying the petition says:
Everyone knows pretty well now what thisccuntryiasuffering from. Itis lack
of confidence; in other words, lack of credit. There is nothing the matter with
national strength nor with natural national wealth. There is no serious lack of
currency; we have got a good many millions more now in the hands of the people
and banks than we had a few months ago, when there was no complaint of its
scarcity. We have, in fact, $24.34 of currency for every man, woman,,and child
in the United States, while Great 13ritain has only an amount equal to $13.42 per

head of population; and yet England, with only about half as much currency per
capita as this country, has quantities of money to loan, while we can scarcely get
hold of enough to pay OH" help.
The reason for this topsy turvy condition becomes plain enough when it is
known that 95 per cent of business is carried on by means of credit, leaving only
about 5 per cent to be transacted with actual cash. It would be from tit'teen to
twenty times easier for us to get along if every bit of our currency were destroyed
and our credit system left intact, than it would be with our currency intact and
our credits gone.
To £et business back into good shape it is absolutely indispensable, therefore,
to revive confidence. TVithin three weeks over $24,000,000 in hard gold coin have
been brought into this country, and something like half that amount of equally
good national-bank notes have been added to the circulation; but it has all disappeared like a drop of water on a red-hot stove, leaving the stove as hot as ev«r
Confidence is wanted, not more currency. Congress has been two weeks in ses.
sion, but has done nothing.
No more talk. Kepeal the silver-purchase law!

Let us search, Mr. Speaker, into the history of this country for
the causes of the present distress. Twenty-eight years of Republican rule have resulted in general nervous exhaustion, with loss of
blood and loss of hope, and no amount of faith cure can restore the
patient to a healthy condition, nor can the repeal of any one law or
the enactment of any one law undo this mischief. The people have
been taught that this Government is omnipotent; that it can enrich
or impoverish as it pleases, and hence all classes are asking it to
legislate money into their pockets.
The laboring man everywhere, except on the farm, has learned
that he is the beloved pet of this Government, and that it has his
rate of wages in its fatherly care and keeping. Hence, when distress comes upon him he looks to Congress for employment and demands extravagant appropriations of other people's money that ho
may find work to do. The foundations of self-reliance, Mr. Speaker,
have been sapped in every class of people except these who have
been the victims of misrule; and the long train of evils resulting
in the present distress can not be remedied by this Congress immediately. As it has taken time for bad legislation to bring on present conditions, it will take time to undo the wrongs.
But, Mr. Speaker, I have wandered from the purpose I had in
view; it was to give in a few words the reasons why I shall oppose
the measures of the monometallists.
Much ot the rubbish piled up about this discussion and obstructing the view will be removed when we rid ourselves of the notion
that our coinage of money concerns anybody besides ourselves. The
foreigner takes our gold and silver coins just as he does our wheat
and cotton, by weight. Even our own Treasury does this. If any
gentleman will carry gold to tJtie Sergeant-at-Arms and ask him to
give him paper for it lie will find out whether it does or not.
The naked question for us, then, Mr. Speaker, is whether the
67,000,000 of our people ought to be compelled to conduct their
business on a gold basis. I do not think they ought. As a measure of values gold gradually adds to the burden of the taxpayer
and debtor and to the wealth of the deferred creditor and the recipient of a fixed income. Why, the $5,000 paid to a member of
Congress in 1873 is worth $7,000 or $8,000 now, measured in commodities. In a less degree, Mr. Speaker, this is true, also of our
silver coins, and I hope gentlemen on this floor will not forget it.
Neither metal, therefore, is a fixed measure of values.
If we were obliged, then, to demonetize either metal, it should be
In order to arrive at the truth on this question I have prepared a

table from data furnished "by tlie Statistical Abstract, showing the
fall in prices, from 1873 to 1891, of twenty-four commodities, including silver. The average fall of twenty-three of these items
was from-100 cents to 57 cents, while the fall in silver "was from 100
to 76. The silver, therefore, which would pay for one hundred parts
of these commodities in 1873, would pay for one hundred and thirtythree parts in 1891, while gold had gone up in purchasing power
from 100 to 175. And since preparing this table, Mr. Speaker, I
have found one constructed by Mr. Sauerbeck which teaches the
same truth. The average price of forty-five commodities in the
London market fell from 100 in 1874 to 66 in 1892, while silver fell
from 100 to 68. These facts, Mr. Speaker, are worth more than all the
eloquence and arguments of the monometallists on this floor, and
they deserve the most careful study before we enter upon legislation which may bless or curse our children.
Shall the white man and the black man work in the fields and
forests of this country for the enrichment of money lenders? Shall
they be robbed of the means of comfortable living that others may
enjoy the magnificence of royal extravagance? Shall these people be deprived of the means of educating their children that they
may be enabled to understand and justly denounce the legislation
which impoverishes them? Are they to be kept in ignorance, to be
sneered at by the intelligence of the country? And is the Democratic party—the party of the demos, the party of the people—to go
down in history as particeps criminis^-the responsible author of this
continued degradation of the people?
Mr. Speaker, the proposition to repeal the Sherman act unconditionally is, to me, monstrous. It would have disgraced the legislation of the feudal ages, and I can never vote for it. I believe tho
purchasing clause of the Sherman law ought to be repealed, but I
can take no risks. [Applause.] Gentlemen tell us that we shall
pass a coinage bill after this is repealed. If this promise comes in
good faith let us have the free-coinage act first, and then there will
be no trouble about the Sherman law. [Applause.]
The following table gives in parallel columns for the years 1874-1892 (1) the index numbers for the forty-five commodities and (2) the index numbers of silver for
the same year:
Mr. Sauerbeck's index numbers.


187 5




Index numbers of
forty-five number
principal of silver.




Index numbers of
forty-five number
v commodities.


Table showing how prices fell in tho United States from 1873 to 1891j
and comparing these prices with the depreciation of silver.
Starting at 100 cents in 1873 the price of each article in tho table fell gradually
to the number of cents in 1891, shown below :
Freights on Xew York Central Kailroad
Freights on Pennsylvania Eailroad
Freights on Illinois Central Railroad
Freights on lake and canal from Chicago to New York
Freights on canal from Buffalo to 3\'ew York
Price middling cotton
Price wool, average
Price mesa pork
Price pig iron

Price cut nails
Price corn, export
Price wheat, export
Price dour, export
Price cotton, export
Price leather, export
Price illuminating oils, export
Price bacon and liains, export
Price lard, export
Pi'ice salted pork, export
Price beef, export
Price butter, export
Price cheese, export
Price tobacco, export
Price silver
The average of these*twenty-three items, excluding silver, is
Xote—The export price is more than is paid the farmer.