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F I F T Y - T H I R D

C O D S T G K R E S S ,





F r i d a y , August


The House having under consideration the bill (H. R. 1) to repeal a part of
an act, approved July 14,1890, entitled " A n act directing the purchase of
silver bullion and the issue of Treasury notes thereon, and for other purposes"—

Mr. McKEIGHAN said:
Mr. Speaker: I shall not attempt to conceal my disappointment caused by the message of the President. However patriotic in his motives, his recommendations point to the conclusion
that the platform upon whioh he was elected is an interesting
document, not on account of what it sought to reveal of the intentions of his party, but for that that it sought to conceal.
That the situation is grave enough to warrant this special session of Congress, no one denies. Productive industry lies prostrate from the strangulation of administrative monometallism;
enforced idleness has filled the land with men and women that
are asking us for an opportunity to earn their bread; shall we
" give them a stone? "
This is no time to scold or criminate, no time to mete out to
political parties the share of blame belonging to each of them.
Sir, in this discussion Pilate and Herod have been made friends
on this floor, and the political Judas has shown no disposition
to go out and hang himself. But there is a to-morrow for political parties in this country, a to-morrow that will bring con:
demnation and death to any political party that turns a deaf ear
to the just demands of our people.
There is a God that rules over the destinies of men and nations; a God that is not deaf to the earnest appeal of his humble
poor; a God who will see to it that the desire of the people of
this great nation shall "not fail," but shall come to bloom and
fruit not alone for those who dwell in a brown-stone front, but,
sir, for those whose dwelling place may be in the log cabins
among the mountains or in the sod-built homes of the Western
My Democratic friends, it is to you that the people of the
country appeal for protection against the encroachments of organized wealth as a political power that to-day threatens the
subversion of our Government. Our people hare been taug-hfr to
rely on their inherent sovereignty as the only true basis of human government, and they are not willing that power and dominion should have any other foundation. To your care they
have intrusted this country for the term of four years. I warn
you that if,flushedwith you great victory, you forget that you
are and ought to be the servants of the people to crystallize their
wishes into law, they will forget you, and in that day when you
will again ask their continued support they will judge you by
your works and approve or condemn you as you deserve.
Mr. Speaker, I am indisposed to trespass upon the patience of
the House by any extended argument lor a bimetallic constitution of money. I am content for my own part with the presentation made on this floor in my speech of March 23 last year.
I have read with diligence, have listened with eager attention
to single standard discussions and to those who hold that action
without European cooperation would be disastrous, and have
been unable to discover any feint, even, of attempt at an answer
of our arguments or denial of our facts—hardly any appearance
of their comprehending the first principles of monetary science
from the standpoint of statesmanship.


S E S S I O N .

Nowhere in their deliverances can be found any propositions of
elementary doctrines or guiding principles, except the wishes
and interest of foreign creditors and that we should have stability in the value of our money.
The first of these desiderata simply reflects the selfish interest of security-holders. The second, while perfectly sound, pertinent, and elementary doctrine, is rendered utterly empty by
the idiotic assumption that stability of gold is proven and shown
by the fact that 25.8 grains of it, which under compulsion of the
law the Mint certifies into a dollar by gratuitous coinage, has
same value in bullion as in coin.
Is it the infatuation of bigotry, of selfishness and stupidity,
or is it sheer hypocrisy, that these gentlemen do not understand
that this much-vaunted "parity" of coined with uncoined metal
is purely legislative, and will accrue to any metal to which the
statute would give freedom of coinage?
Consider a moment the emptiness of this logic, 25.8 grains of
gold by coinage.becomes the instrument by which gold is priced.
Under such legal conditions, gold can have no other than the
mint price, and that is pricing gold by itself. A pound of putty
or a peck of beans can be shown to be constant in value if measured by itself.
But the crowning logic of lunacy is reached by the claim that
since that piece of gold was worth 100 cents last year and the
year before, "and is still worth exactly 100 cents," therefore no
change has taken place in its value in the meantime. It would
be difficult tofinda more palpable piece of nonsense than that.
If pig iron were fashioned gratuitously into cook stoves there
would be parity of value between a stove and the iron in it, and
there would be constancy in the value of iron estimated in stoves.
But such necessary relations would be useless as a guide to the
larger question as to whether iron and stoves together had not
greatly changed in value as estimated in something that was not
iron. Nowhere is the imbecility of our adversaries more conspicuous than in this notion that the alleged stability of a money
metal can be demonstrated by comparison to a money unit, constituted by law, upon itself.
In our advocacy we emphasize this feature of stability and
constancy in the value of the unit of money and make it the
Gibraltar of our defence of silver. W e go further, and explain
exactly what constancy of value is, and deduce proof of such
constancy in silver, and nobody tries to controvert our definition
or our demonstration. What respectable writer denies the
over and over proven fact that gold and all money at a level with
gold will buy 50 to 60 percent more than it would prior to 1873?
They tell us," Oh, yes; gold will buy more, but the value change
is in products," on account of improved processes of production.
Industrial development has been more rapid in British India
the last twenty years than anywhere else in the world, but prices
have not changed there. These gentlemen are ignorant of the
nature of value, and do not know what a value change in money
is, and they confuse their thinking by the notion that value is
something intrinsic, and that gold is the only thing that does
not change in value—because their case falls to the ground without the support of that absurd dogma.
The question " What is the rate at whioh goods swap for
money? * constitutes the heart and sinew of this whole subject.
It is prices, prices, and forever prices. The value of money is
constant when prices are stable. This proposition is fundamental, and is as vital and central to a sound and tenable theory
of money as it is the one determining force of success in business, of the,beneficence of commerce, and equity in time contracts. Any constitution of money under which a protracted
fall of prices year after year is possible is a vicious one, though
all the money-mongers of the world grow hoarse in calling it
the "best money."
Not in the countinghouse, not among moneychangers, not in
loan agencies, can be learned whether money is behaving well,
is serving beneficially or injuriously in its high office. Not
there can you study the dynamics of value. It is at those collisions of contending interest known as the " higgling of the
market," where money exchanges with products under the allpowerful dominance of supply and demand, i. e., the quantity of
things for sale playing against the quantity of money obtainable
for Sieir purchase, where the value of money as well as the
value of goods is determined. The final outcome of those in-



finitely varying conditions and estimations of men is exactly
reentered in price; and the sarno market report which records
a change in tho general price range indicates nswo'l the precise
change in tho value of money.
It is error, gross and mislead ingorror, to suppose that stability
in tho valuo of money cm be anything else than stability of prices,
or that there is any other modo of finding its variation than to
learn tho change in prices. It is betrayal of .incompetence for
this whole discussion not to understand that a confession of a
ono-third fall in prices is confession of an appreciation or rise in
tho valuo of money of 50 por cent; that those two confessions
stato one single incontrovertible fact. Yet curront utterances
defending tho dogma of gold infallibility are but verbose revelations of that fatal imbecility.
To those who have given a systematic study to this subject, tho
theories propounded by financiers and officials as to tho causes
of recent economic phenomena is a st inding amazement. Since
tho famous discussion between the wolf and the lamb, there h:is
not been foisted upon a credulous people a more bald imposture
thun this protonso that tho present fall of prices is duo to tho
Sherman silver-purchase act, nor ever an aptsr illustration of
tho wolfish animus than this distortion of plain facts to justify a
predetermined slaughter of innocence. A popular apprehension
of tho precipitation of ull our money down to a "debased silver
stand :rddrove money into hiding and broke down all prices
just as much, no more, no less, thun the drinking by the lamb
down in the valley polluted the water in the wolf's mountain
Itomombor that every kind of paper money afloat (excepting
a few gold certificates), including Government bonds, are by law
redeemable in silver coin. It is perfectly clear, therefore, that
if tho country were apprehensive that our money was about to
bo dub iscd by resort to silver for redemption, hoarding of money
is precisely what people would not do. They would unload it
rapidly, as we used to do in wild-cat days, lest our money became
depreciated on our hands. There is no discoverable discrimination in the hoarding as to the'different kinds of money. This is
perfect refutation 'of that theory of causes, if these bigots were
accessiblo to reason.
If men really believed money was going to depreciate, they
would hasten to buy property with it and realize in the rise of
pric-js which depreciated money wouldcompel. Those wiseacres
who prate about" intrinsic value " of the material of whichmoney
is m tde mightlearn that not the material of which it is made, but
tho difficulty of getting it after it is made—demand and supply,
control the value of money as of all other things.
If I am asked for a diagnosis of the stringency, my answer is,
monometallism. The act of 1873 in an ovil hour gave us a single standard and the panic of 1873, other conditions conspiring
to the same end. The Bland act broke the integrity of the policy
of 1873 and gavo us a crippled bimetallism. The act of 1890 was
a still longer step toward the double standard, both in what it
did and what it promised. But the single standard was all these
years doing its deadly work in lowering prices, and held the
western world in a state of strain as to its money supply.
But thefinishingstroke was dealt when it was given out that
the Government regarded silver as debased and unfit to offer in
redemption of any of our paper. Such a policy in effect converted all our paper, yes, »nd even silver coins as well, into the
rank of a secondary money, money that must be " made as good
as gold" by redemption in it upon presentation. This placed
the whole burden of redemption upon the slender basis of the
gold reserve, instead of employing silver in that office as the
law contemplated and the business interest of the country expected . Th is was noticed by the Administration t that thoirolumc
of money must shrink, ana all prices must fall to conform to
such a policy.
I aver that the panic and the business prostration (assuming
that policy as a factor) was not groundless and artificial as many
suppose. A t its basis was a perfectly sound business instinct that
under such conditions prices must fall and the volume of money
shrink, and a stopping of silver purchases must intensify the
It is the weak platitude of unclear and empty thinking this
talk of " want of confidence" being the source of our trouble,
when no hint is given as to confidence, in what? As well say it
is only fear that makes a man rush out of a burning building.
It is indeed want of confidence, but that want is born of a want
of money and a plentiful lack of confidence in prices—in other
words, a well grounded assurance that property can not be converted into money except at prices that will bring ruin to business which under ordinary conditions would be perfectly sound.
Prices, pric:s, I repeat, is what is the matter. Insistence by
these gentlemen "upon best money" is simply a crusade against
fair prices, and that prices shall forever become lower. To arrest that lowering of prices is to "depreciate" our money, and

that is a very wicked thing, you know. Great Britain docs not
want that. These creditors want dollars that uro " worth 100
cents." Well, our decimal notation as taught in our school books
will mako sure that dollars will still be worth 100 cents, quite
regardless of how they are constituted. Our anxiety is as to how
much products go to mako a "dollar's worth."
Wo say that a dollar worth 3 bushels of wheat in Nebranka, 5
pounds of wool in Ohio, 101) pounds of steel rail in Pittsburg, 15
pounds of cotton in NewOrlo »ns, 4 gallons of turpentine in North
(Carolina, 1$ ounces of silver in Denver, etc., is an extortionate and
iniquitous dollar, and if that has come about by legislation, then
that is wicked legislation,which our prostrate industries cry aloud
for the repeal of. That all these financial evils have come upon
us by tho legislationof 1873 is plain enough. Had the spontaneous and rapidly increasing fiow of silver to the Mint for coinage
into standard money not mot that interdict of February 14,1873,
wo should have resumed in silver and our dollar of account could
never have risen above tho commercial value of 3714 grains of
silver. Refusal to repeal that act is complicity in tho guilt of
tho actions of that great wrong. Tho enforced beggary of hundreds of thousands of brave hearts and strong arms crics aloud
for repeal.
That continuing wrong must ba redressed. As God lives, It
shall be redressed. It is in tho air; the stones of the field are in
league with us; time is tho groat champion of our cause; tho
conscience and rapidly growing intelligence of a strickcn people
is becoming enlisted; the resolute purpose of tho bravest and
most enterprising portion of this proudest nation on earth will
not be balked by chicane and subterfuge already planning to circumvent us by a new ratio, by which the weight of our silver dollar shall bo increased so as to mako it " honest" as gold is " honest."
. It is proposed by pretended and weak-kneed bimetallisms that
this sacred landmark be now quite removed, and by incrouse of
the weight of silver coins to rivet forever upon us tho deadly
Iniquity contrived in 1873. That unrighteous thing shall nover
get my vote, even though this Congress shall, as the alternative,
stop silver coinage and purchase entirely. There will be a Congress after this one to which the people can appeal. 1 will not
be a party to a scheme which will inject for all time a new meaning into that great word " dollar," which measures billions of
obligations, past and to come.
I will allow no man to go farther than I do in reverence for
the power and authority of the American Congress. I maintain
that under the stress of a great emergency it may override or annul all contract obligations; but where the exigency is simply
the clamoring greed of great creditors, I boldly challenge the
right under high heaven for Congress to make that thing dollar
a different thing from what it has always been, and make it
Can it be possible that honorable gentlemen understand what
this means'? Consider; I beg of you to consider what it is you
are proposing to do.
The silver dollar was no invention of the Revolutionary fathers.
They found it here, fully intrenched as the instrument of valuation by immemorial custom, by deep-down habit, conscious and
subconscious, as the norm of all value estimation. Consult all
our legislation up to 1873; consult your dictionary: remember
the Stanley Matthews resolutions, and the Bland law rein-1 iting
as definition what the law of 1873 tried to destroy. Bear i n mind
that this habit of valuation by silver is as old as history, and
covers the whole globe and embraces to-day three-fourths of the
people of the world as their exclusive pricing tool; remember
that every great money word and unit was, and still is, at bottom
silver, and that the value and office of gold is derivative -nlwavs
was (with only slight and very modern exceptions) a subordinate
There is a quite tenable theory that a money unit is a definite
coin, and when it suits the interest of great creditors they uplift
holy hands at the sacrilege of lessening the weight of st ndard
coin. Remember, also, that upon the other theory of a money
unit, viz, that it is incumbent on Congress to maintain our money
at some traditional and customary value or purchasing power,
the silver dollar is by that test, too, a sacred thing. Remember,
especially, that, as has been over and over again proven, the
value of 371i grains of silver is still, as uncoined metal, true to
the traditional dollar value, equitable to all the past , and more
likely to remain stable than gold.
To use the vicious terminology of our opponents, if free coinage will convert a tl 60-cent dollar into 100 cents, then it will
make (JO-cent wheat dollar wheat, and 6-cent cotton 10-cent cotton, and other things in the same proportion." I know it will
be said such a change will be only nominal and fictitious. If it
is a fiction to restore wheat, reduced by legislation to 60 cents,
back to $1, every wheat-grower will rise up and bless the fiction.
The money definitions of England and the prices made in their

money in Liverpool is real and sincere, but our money and the
prices made in it is false and fictitious. Out upon such treasonable and contemptible toadyism!
With free coinage, silver will be worth $1.29 an ounce all over
the world as priced in United States money, and such money
will go in Europe at the same value that it goes at here—will
go at " 100 cents to the dollar" as measured by itself, the favorite way of measuring gold, and can, like gold, be melted up in
London without loss to the satisfaction of those who account
that of supreme importance.
If a silver standard discourages credits into investments it
will be an added benefit, the chief one being improved prices to
our great staples come to stay.
No competent authority has ever tried to show that prices
made in silver can go too high for industrial health. On the
contrary, Mr. Robert Giffen, a frantic monometallist, argues
against the enlarged use of silver by England upon the'express
ground that such use would only temporarily check the fall of
prices inevitably under any metallic constitution of money.
But, it will be asked, how about parity?
Before considering that branch of the subject, I must enter my
protest against this false emphasis and studious ignoring of the
paramount consideration in the legal constitution of the money
standard. The.conveniences of exchange brokers should cut but
a smallfigurein this matter. The bugaboo of a gold premium
continually held up by foreign loan agents frightens some people out of their wits, and they can not recover their composure
for a calm consideration of the really vital points.
The bsneficence of the double standard does not depend upon
a parity of coins. It consists in equality, if legal privilege be
granted to both metals in the constitution of primary or standard money, leaving their market relation to automatic adjustment under such legal conditions. Its beneficence arises from
the guaranty of constancy through the years in the purchasing
power of money, which is thus at. liberty to temporarily retire
from the valuing office the metal that should tend to rise unduly
in value.
Parity, of course, as now maintained, is a spurious bimetallism; as well our present system quaaro-metallism, upon the
ground that our copper and nickel tokens are at par with the
standard. The Treasury administration is out and out single
gold standard; but the pretense that the metallic parity policy
declared in the act of 1890 is warrant for such administration is
a palpable subterfuge. It is treating a statute of the United
States as politicians treat their party platforms, and it is incumbent upon us with all due respect to a coordinate branch of the
Government to caution the Executive against such Wall street
interpretations of the laws of the country.
If some one would only deign to give us a coherent and reasonable statement of just how a gold premium would harm any
honest vocation, any useful industry, or wealth-producing activity, I might abate some of my zeal in this advocacy. But
over and over have we beggedfor an explicit and definite explanation of how any harm can come of it, only to be put off by the
claim that the dollars constituted, if freely coined in silver,
would not be "intrinsically " worth 100 cents, and as a result of
that some nebulous, vague calamity and dishonor would come of
it, because we would be out of harmony with England. All
which means, so far as it means anything, that creditors would
lose by it, and the business of local agents be discouraged.
I repeat, if even the least harm would come to any meritorious interest in this country from a gold premium there would
be occasion to open again and loss account and strike a balance;
for I frankly confess that while many matters in this general
subject are capable of some construction as absolute as mathematics, I am unable to frame a demonstration that such a premium could not possibly in any event accrue any more than I
c?n prove that silver would not gain to a premium over gold.
The data for such a request are. first, the quantities of the
metals, respectively, that would be offered for certification into
money, and, second, to what extent would the volume be expended by credit currency. If this second factor would be kept
within reasonable limits, there is, to my mind, what we call
a moral certainty, a high probability against it, quite sufficient
for practical guidance, assuming that a premium would be a serious harm. Silver can not come in such disproportion as to
countervail the force of this country's legislation to hold the
metals to our legal ratio.


The solicitude of some people lest we shall not have gold to
pay adverse foreign balances, in so far as it is not hypocritical,
is a puerile and ludicrous anxiety. When the importerfindsit
difficult to meet his sterling bills, my advice to him would be,
bettsr stop buying abroad. A money that brings good prices
copa© to stay is better for this country than so-called *4 best
money," regardless of the relation it may have to foreign
I am convinced that the present high purchasing power of
gold is sinister, stilted, and artificial, and is sustained by sheer
force of this international gold combine, which it is easily in the
power of this country to break, to the great relief of the debtor
and industrial classes of the entire world. That is where the
shoe pinches. It is not a gold premium in the sense pretended
which the great creditors dread. It is the loss of the virtual
premium they now enjoy in the artificially manipulated increase
in the purchasing power of money.
Let us test the sincerity of their pretenses that the legal and
the commercial ratio must stand together in order to the proper
working of the bimetallic principle, and that such parity can be
maintained only by conformity to the "natural" one of about
20 to 1; that, then, you can maintain in concurrent circulation
both coins at their bullion value. I suggest, to that end, that we
make the double-eagle weigh 4121 against instead of 516 of standard gold. I do this not at all as a bluff; I do it in the mo^t solemn sincerity as the only decent mode of manufacturing a new
There is no sanctity or prescriptive right in perpetuity of the
relation of $1.86 to the pound sterling, nor can there be any objection in law, in equity, or in public policy in making the gold
dollar weigh 20.612 grains of standard gold, so that $6 would go
to the pound sterling; at least there could not be, provided the
change be made not retroactively. Let there be the most scrupulous' regard for contract obligations. Let such contracts be
construed upon that theory of money which is most to the interest of creditors, and so let the lightened coins have a paying
power of but 80 cents on gold contracts outstanding at the date
of the change.
When 6 per cent was abstracted from our gold coins, carrying
the ratio of 15 down to 16.1 the fathers (to their honor be it
spoken), with a punctilious regard to all rights, gave the new
coins a less paying power on old contract.
I can notfindthe decorous wordB that will adequately express
my reprehension of the reckless immorality, the wanton disregard of high and most sacred equities in this proposal of increase of the weight of our standard coin, so easily assented to
by pliant and week-kneed bimetallists. There is no precedent in
all history for such an iniquity.
In the Middle Ages when spendthrift monarchs defended
against the rapacity of creditors and a diminishing money volume, the English shilling which was at first one-twentieth of a
pound,'troy weight, became by successive debasements so reduced as that a pound was made into 66 shillings. Yet the great
writers tell us that such a process of lessening the weight of coins
was wholly beneficent to society in partially staying the downward tendency of prices.
I can* not bring myself to believe that honorable gentlemen in
this august Council Chamber have duly considered the ethics of
the .legislation they propose. Have not our people suffered
enough from this "best money" legislation? When shall the
end be of our concessions to creditor dictation? I caution you,
gentlemen, as I have before on this floor in discussing this subject, against traveling further on that dangerous road.
I am moved in this appeal to an earnestness that comes from
a higher source than tne wishes and special interests of my own
constituents, dear as they are to me. You are sowing the wind,
and it will return to you in cyclones of wrath. Do you not see
what a precedent you are setting us by using your power to increase the size of the instrument which measures and defines
the effective meaning of all commercial contracts in the world,
and that in the interest of creditors? It will go hard if our people, when they come into power, do not improve upon your instruction and legislate such attenuated import into that great
word dollar as will make those heaven-kissing mountains of
credit wealth shrivel and waste away like an ice palace before a
southern sun, and history with a sigh of pity will record its verdict of approval. [Loud applause.]