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S I L "V" I E I R .

S P E E C H

OF

HON. CHARLES TRACEY,
O F

N E W

Y O R K ,

IN THE

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,




SATURDAY, AUGUST 2G, 1S93.

WASHINGTON.

1893.




S P E E C H
OF

DON.

CHARLES

TEACET.

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"—

Mr. TRACEY said:
Mr. S P E A K E R : If up to last night any argument for or against
the passage of the Wilson bill was overlooked, it would seem
that after the eloquent addresses made by the gentlemen who
closed the debate to-day, nothing is left to be said, and it will
be difficult indeed to do more than call attention to statements
already so effectively presented to the House.
One hundred and seventy speeches have been made, and we
can congratulate ourselves that this body includes as large a
proportion of able orators as has been found in any Congress in
the history of the country.
We know that under ordinary conditions new members hesitate to address the House until some time after the commencement
of a session, but circumstances have now forced our young colleagues to exhibit at the start all the oratorical powers possessed
by them, and with satisfactory results, as the attentive listeners
are pleased to testify.
Occasions arise in all countries when, by reason of some great
danger threatening the welfare of the general public, partisan
feeling is temporarily laid aside, and men ordinarily bitter antagonists in politics join hands in a common effort to avert disaster.
Such a situation presents itself before us in this Chamber tonight. The President of the United States has summoned us to
assemble in extraordinary session, asserting that the great distress which exists through the land is due to a statute which
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compels the purchase of 4,500,000 ounces of silver a month, and
which we are urged at once to repeal.
I doubt not that the President is correct in his belief that a
fear of our being thrown upon a silver basis is the cause of the
panic. What other conclusion can be arrived at?
Gradually the receipts of gold at the custom-houses lessened
until no more came to us. Foreign holders of our securities
threw them upon our market, and the climax came when the
gold reserve was cut into. By reason of heavy losses met with
by holders of securities, the banks of the country were unable
to respond to demands of borrowers, and a few weak financial
institutions were the first to succumb. Other failures followed;
then depositors became frightened, generally, and money was
withdrawn and hidden away.
One hundred and ninety-three millions of dollars more were
taken from national banks than were deposited in them, and it
is estimated that at least as much more was withdrawn from
savings banks and State banks.
So, Mr. Speaker, as a consequence, to day we find the country
in a condition of panic, and the only check to general ruin the
expectation that Congress is to give relief. Indeed, so hopeful
are the people of wise action being taken on our part that already a large number of these banks which have suspended have
given notice of an intention to resume, and in various qifarters
of the country manufacturing establishments which were obliged
to close down are preparing again to give employment to the laboring classes receiving benefit from them.
Mr. Speaker, in response to these expectations will we give
relief? Yes, thanks to the patriotic spirit of the great portion
of the Republican members, and to the brave men of our own
side who have determined to do their duty, we will give the
relief the country demands.
During the progress of this ever to be remembered debate, we
have had most ably expounded theories as to the effect of the
volume of money on prices; on the necessity of holding sacred
the money of the Constitution—gold and silver; on the desire of
capitalists to oppress labor; and on the necessity of a double
standard. We have listened to the praise of France for main217




5
taining bimetallism;. denunciation of the crime of 1873, and explanations of the Democratic platform of 1892.
To give proper attention to all these subjects in a short speech
is impossible, and I will not attempt to do it.
It is not easy to determine how much an increase of volume
of sound money has to do with prices. It may enter into such a
calculation as a factor, but it is overshadowed by the importance
of the question of production, of improvements in machinery, of
facilities for exchange by use of checks, drafts, etc. Carefully
prepared tables go to show that with the fall in the price of
silver, or as some have stated it the rise in the price of gold,
wheat has become cheaper year by year. This has been met by
equally positive evidence that labor is receiving greater remuneration than ever before, and that the rate of interest has
fallen the world over.
Respecting the money of the Constitution, we admit that no
State can make anything but gold or silver coin a payment of
debts, and we have great respect for those honorable metals.
Capital and labor should not be opposed to each other, and there
would be less conflict between them if legislators would cease
being interested in money-making schemes and demagogues were
looked upon as common disturbers of the public peace.
To the question of a double standard I will devote a few minutes. Closely connected with it are the statements made relating to the bimetallism of France and the crime of 1873.
The debate on this bill clearly shows that the opponents of repeal desire it to be understood as believing that the double
standard, in any country, is to be maintained by throwing open
to all comers the mints of the Government to the coining, as
legal tender, of any amount of gold or silver, the holder to be
given the coin at the established ratio. But then, Mr. Sperker,
they confuse this question of double standard with bimetallism.
In 1873 we were put on a gold standard and have been there
ever since. The Bland-AlliBon act of 1878 and the act of July
14,1890, which we are dealing with at present, are both based
on the gold stan dard. The act of 1873 put us in that position
and I doubt that any conspiracy existed or was necessary. Such
action was inevitable. Up to that time we had coined but eight
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million silver dollars because the silver in each was worth more
than the gold in a gold dollar.
Silver and gold had in Europe a coinage and a bullion value of
15i grains of the former to 1 grain of the latter, and our silver
dollar bore a ratio of 16 to 1; all our silver dollars disappeared
and no silver came to our mints. When, in 1871, Germany, seeing that silver was becoming cheaper, demonetized it, and in
1873 commenced exchanging it in other countries for gold, thus
disposing of many millions of silver received from Prance as indemnity, Italy, France, Balgium, Switzerland, and Greece found
it necessary to form what is called the Latin Union, and in 1874
this was done and a limit was put upon the coinage of silver.
Then Germany began sanding it to the United States, although
we received it at a loss to Germany on its coinage value, and if
it had not happened that the coinage act of 1873 demonetized
silver here, we would undoubtedly have been flooded with it
from Europe and would have been forced to legislate to retain
our gold.
The statement of the Bank of France in 1873 and the letter of
Minister Washburne, written in 1876, go far, I believe, to warrant this conclusion:
[Moniteur Officiel, Paris, 1873.]
Statement by officers of the Bank of France of the form of payment of the indemnity to Germany.
Francs.
In bank notes of the Bank of France
125,000,000
Tn French gold coins
273,003,050
In French 5-franc pieces
— 239,291,875
In German bank notes
105,039,045
Bills of exchange drawn in thalers
2,485,513,729
Bills drawn on Frankfort in
florins
235,128,152
Bills drawn on Hamburg in mark-bancs
265,216,990
Bills drawn on Berlin in reichs-marks
79,072,309
Bills drawn on Amsterdam in
florins
250,704,546
Bills drawn on London in pounds sterling
637, S49.832
Total francs

—

4,990,860,349

Equal to $998,172,069, the dollars reckoned at 5 francs.
The indemnity from France to Germany after the war of 1870-'71, including interest at 5 per cent per annum, amounted to, at the time of payment
in 1872, $1,060,209,015. After crediting France with the value of certain railroads in Alsace and Lorraine, the amount of indemnity due to Germany was
$998,172,069.
The patriotic people of France raised the vast sum by a loan in less than
six months from the time the Government appealed to them. The money
was deposited in the Bank of France, which drew on even the German
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bankers, the debt was paid, and the interest ceased also. Germany expected
lor years to draw the rate of interest at 5 per cent per annum.
From the above will be seen that Germany receive 1 from
France in gold only, francs in French gold

273,003,0)0

And francs in pounds sterling

637,349,833

Total francs in gold

9i0,332,882

Or, in gold
Balance, in silver

$18.2,070,576.40
816,101,493.00

Total paid to Germany

998.172,069.40

Or 18.2 per cent in gold, and 81.8 per cent in silver and paper.
The Franco-German war was fought in 1871 and 1872, while in reality it
began in the middle of 1870, and early in January, 1871, William of Germany
was proclaimed in Versailles, near Paris, Emperor of German^, and the war
was thus over.
The Reichstag of Germany passed a law demonetizing silver in 1871, but
with the proviso that it take effect January 1,1873. The indemnity was
mostly paid in 1871, a small balance comparatively in 1873.
In 1873, when the law demonetizing silver went into effect, she sold silver
at a loss of 50,030,000 of marks, or 812,503,000.
[Letter from Minister Washburne.]
L E G A T I O N OF T H E U N I T E D S T A T E S ,

Paris, March 27,1876.
SIR: * * * In fact, at that time (1874) silver, which was then and still
is a legal tender in France, Belgium, Italy, and Switzerland, could be coined
to any amount in those countries; there was no law to prevent a French,
a Belgian, an Italian, or a Swiss citizen from carrying to the mint all the
silver which he could obtain; the coining of it could in no case be denied
him. It would, therefore, have been an easy matter for Germany to have
her florins and thalers, which could not be advantageously disposed of in
England or the United States, converted into francs and lires, circulating
at par with gold.
France hoped to avert this danger—if there were any danger in the c a s e by promoting the formation of a monetary league, the object of which was
to restrict the liberty of coining. This is what is known as the Latin Monetary Union. It was constituted in 1874 by a convention signed at Paris.
These countries bound themselves not to produce during the year 1874 more
than 120,000,000 francs of silver coinage. Such an agreement was in reality
nothing else than a step toward the adoption of gold as the sole standard,
since this measure of precaution was against silver alone while leaving the
coinage of gold completely free.
The results of this measure, however, did not correspond to what its authors
expected. The value of silver still declined, and at the end of 1874 it was 5
per cent below par. In 1875 a second conference of the Latin Union fixed the
limit of the coinage of silver in the four states at 150,000,000 francs for that
year; nevertheless the decline continued. It had reached 8 per cent wften
the conference held its third meeting, at the beginning of the present year.
No other remedy was sought for than that which had been attempted so far,
and the amount of silver coinage was still further reduced for 1876. France
was allowed to make5-franc pieces only to the amount of 54,003,000, instead
of 75,000,000, which had been authorized in 1875; Italy, 36,000,000, instead of
50,000,000; Belgium, 10,800,000 francs, instead of 15,000,000; Switzerland, 7,200,217




8
000francs, Instead of 10,000,000; Greece, which had recently Joined the union,
was authorized to coin 15,600,000 francs, of which 8,400,000 francs were allowed
in the place of old silver specie withdrawn.
*

*

*

*

*

*

*

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. B. WASHBUKNE.
H o n . HAMILTON FISH,

Secretary of State.

It is the opinion of some able financiers that if we had passed
no act in 1878, and had remained under the act of 1873, greater
prosperity would have been our lot.
I am not going to discuss that question; but in consequence of
our legislation we have forced upon ourselves the necessity of a
reserve to protect our outstanding paper. This principle was
admitted when the $100,000,000 of gold reserve fund was recognized. It stood us well as a protection for the $346,000,000 of
greenbacks.
The Sherman act sought to both raise the price of silver and
to form a reserve for the Treasury notes by piling up the four
hundred and a half million ounces in our vaults. How singularly it failed all admit. The wonder is any one even hoped for
benefit to silver or safety to pap6r from such an act. History
will record our action as a wonderful piece of folly. To corner
the market in any commodity, the entire product must be locked
up, but the stored article stands a menace to come out some day
and break the pool. The money is made by those who buy early
and get out before the crash. We are to hold on as a nation to
make ourselves the victims. The Windom bill was a project to
give the Government a chance, but the Sherman bill was agreeing to suicide.
As a reserve, what use is the silver if to dispose of it is to
break its price? Gold will be accepted the world over, It is plain
that for reserve purposes, at present, silver is of little value, the
existing law practically causing a constant issuance of unsecured
paper.
One might have expected that our financiers would have been
cautious, being familiar with the results of the English land
bank scheme in 1696, the Khode Island effort in 1788, the John
Law Mississippi scheme in France, which collapsed in 1720.
The Argentine Republic in 1884 was in goodfinancialcondition,
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its paper on a par with gold. About the time we took up the
Sherman acl; our consul at Buenos Ay res reported the total
financial collapse, owing to too great an issuance of paper money.
Now their gold reserve is gone, and gold at 325 premium, yet
that is a country which was prosperous and has vast resources.
Why must we occupy time in opposing the Sherman act? It
is almost universally condemned, and more than 300 of our 354
members say they want repeal; but, Mr. Speaker, a number of
members in both Houses of Congress insist that we must couple
with the repeal an amendment.
My honored friend from Missouri [Mr. B L A N D ] leads this host,
and proposes a series of amendments. I congratulate him on the
strength of his vote, considering the nature of his proposals.
He asserts that ths act of July 14, 1890, should be repealed; that
afree-coiriage measure should be substituted for it; that we are so
strong in the United States we can, by legislation, raise the price of
silver from 76 cents an ounce to $1.29 an ounce, making the value
of 373i grains of silver, now worth 58 cents, equal to $1; or, if*we
can not do that, he proposes to make 62 cents of silver equal to
$1; or, if not able to accomplish that, 70 cents' worth equal to $1; or,
if failing in that, to make 73 cents' worth equal to $1; or, if not that,
he proposes the old Bland act, which would give a larger output
of poor money than the present law. And theh he states that if
all this fails he will be happy on a Silver basis.
I firmly believe that no man on earth, but my dear old friend,
the chairman of my committee, could rally so many brilliant men
under his banner on such propositions. He seems to possess the
qualities of a hypnotizer.
But, Mr. Speaker, let any of these amendments pass and the
panic already checked by expectation of repeal will break?loose
again with a force impossible to control. Supposing, by reason
of any of these amendments becoming a law or of the repeal failing, we go on a silver basis, what position will we find ourselves
in? Prices will undoubtedly advance, nominally, and the man
with a mortgageon his house will b3 better able to pay it off, but
the holder of the mortgage will lose a portion of his claim.
This will not be an honest settlement. The laborer receiving
$2 a day will not be pleased to find that he can get but $1.20
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worth of goods for it. The holder of money in a savings bank
will not thank us for receiving only $60 when $100 is turned
into gold to send to relations in the old country or in Canada.
The widow's pension, scaled from $12 or $8 per month to $7
or $5 will leave her short to pay the grocer, and in larger transactions in what position will the borrowers who have agreed to
pay interest and principal in gold be found?
During the last Congress we saw our Southern friends, ably
led by the gentleman from Tennessee [Mr. RICHARDSON], exerting every effort to prevent the passage of the car-coupler act,
because the railroads were so poor that they could not stand the
expense. How will these same roads meet the demands of their
gold bonds when we are on a silver basis?
The Norfolk and Western has many millions of bonds, nearly
all payable in gold; the Richmond and Danville, the Savannah
and Western, the Alabama roads, the Columbia and Greenville,
the East Tennessee and Ohio, have many millions of gold bonds.
The Chesapeake and Ohio has a very large number of gold
bonds outstanding. The Pennsylvania many millions, and also
the Jacksonville and Tampa, and many others. A silver basis
will bring sure ruin to many of them, but that may be no reason
for influencing the members who, I suppose, do not like corporations.
The gentleman from Tennessee [Mr. Cox] raised some question as to the wording of the Wilson bill. Since replying to his
questions I have examined this act carefully, and have advised
with others, and the conclusion arrived at is that it needs no
alteration.
Mr. VAN VOORHIS of New York. Do you claim that those
$119,000,000 are protected as legal-tender dollars under this Wilson act?
Mr, TRACEY. I claim that they are as much protected under the Wilson act as under the existing law.
Mr. VAN VOORHIS of New York. Will you tell me, then,
what is the office of the words of the bill, " Provided, nothing in
this act shall affect the legal tender of dollars heretofore coined."
Mr. TRACEY. I think that language is superfluous; but I
understand that it was put in to appease those who might be timid
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respecting the legal-tender qualities of the dollars coined und^r
the Bland-Allison act.
Mr. VAN VOORHIS of New York. Is not the inference perfectly plain that while you protect the one class of dollars as legal teftider you leave the other class unprotected?
Mr. TRACE Y. I do not think so. I do not think that affects
anything but the portion of the act that is repealed.
Mr. VAN VOORHIS of New York. Do you not think it is
better to save all question by amending the bill?
Mr. TRACEY. If anybody desires to do that I have no objection, but I do not think it at all necessary.
The gentleman from Tennessee [Mr. MCMILLIN] was much
concerned lest the passage of this bill would indicate that we intend to coin no more dollars.
I beg to call to his attention the fact that the law provides for
coining the $119,000,000 bullion, and the Secretary of the Treasury can commence doing so whenever he deems proper.
I desire ,to call attention to some figures showing cost of recoining, at new ratios, the stock of silver now on hand.
At 17—the number of grains of pure silver in the dollar would
be 394.74, which would add 23£ grains to each dollar, or, at present price of silver (75 cents an ounce), would cost on 419,332,000
silver dollars $15,397,000.
Pure silver in dollar addition:
At 18—417.96, add 46.7 grains, would cost $30,598,000.
At 19—441,18, add 69.93 grains, would cost $45,818,000.
At 20—464.40, add 93.15 grains, would cost $61,037,000.
Actual weight of the silver dollar (with the copper alloy added)
at each ratio:
At 17—438.6 grains, or 16 to the pound (avoirdupois).
At 18—464.4 grains, or 15 to the pound (avoirdupois).
At 19—490.2 grains, or 14 to the ponnd (avoirdupois).
At 20—516 grains, or 13 to the pound (avoirdupois).
Mr. Speaker, immediate action is absolutely necessary to prevent disaster coming to our beloved land. The time has arrived
when the danger point has been reached. We must stop the increase of silver purchase until it can be resumed without danger.
France has often been spoken of as a bimetallic nation during
this de jate.
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12
Mr. Speaker, when France found itself in danger as we are,
it stopped coining silver. I will read an extract from the address made at the Brussels Conference by Monsieur Tirard, the
French minister of finance. * * *
For instance, our legislation has aided France to procure a very considerable quantity of money; and I believe that I may state, without fear of contradiction, that France of all the nations of the world is the one which has
the largest quantity of money both in gold and silver.
Do you believe, gentlemen, that this situation is the result of chance ? No,
it is the natural consequence of the manner in which labor is organized with
us. In France riches are infinitely divided; real estate is cut up into smaller
holdings from day to day, and personal property also. We find the proof in
the growing number of real estate sales, and of the subscribers to the public
funds, and to investments of every description which at the time installments fall due may be counted by millions.
The governor of the Bank of France said to me recently that during the
last few years the number of shareholders of that great establishment, the
shares being registered, had noticeably increased.
It is the same with the condition of labor. There are in France, as elsewhere, great workshops and important manufactories; but there is also a
multitude of humble artisans who work in their own homes, some singly,
others with an apprentice or with one or two journeymen at the most, and
who do a very small business, with very small transactions, with an extremely limited capital, which, by its very smallness, imposes upon them
an almost daily liquidation of their affairs.
It will be understood that these modest workers can not, like the manufacturers of countries where riches are very centralized, have recourse to
payment by bill or check—methods which require not only a deposit of capital, but also bookkeeping and operations out of proportion with the total
value of their business. 1 These operations can not be carried on except with
currency.
"With our agriculture it is the same. The land is so minutely divided in
France that the greater part of those who cultivate it can not adopt the
conditions of business which are in use in countries with great estates.
For these reasons we have in France that quantity of money which, however considerable it is, incommodes no one and renders, on the contrary,
«important services to everybody.
And from that, gentlemen, you see the difficulty which France would have
in the wide extension of the processes of which Mr. de Rothschild and Sir
Rivers Wilson speak. Our honorable colleagues tell us that in England the
greater number of transactions are settled in the banks by means of checks.
That is true of England, but in France it could not be the same. And given
these profound differences which are revealed between these two countries,
would there not be some temerity.

*

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»

o

*

•

The silver reserve of the principal banks of issue of Europe amounted in
the aggregate some weeks ago to about 2,230,000,000 francs. Of that total
figure the Bank of France alone holds as much as all the other banks together. Consequently, I have the right to say that she has quite enough.
In spite of that she would consent perhaps to do what it is asked of her if
there was any reciprocity, if those powers also which are wedded to monometallism should decide to adopt the free coinage of silver. But otherwise
what would happen? If France and the L*atin Union—-I believe that for the
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moment I may speak in its name—should alone open their mints to the free
coinage of silver, all the surplus silver of the United States and of Mexico
would go to France, to Italy, to Belgium. And where would these countries
he able to use it? Nowhere, since in the rest of Europe none wish to admit
it as legal tender.
As a matter of fact, France is still bimetallism.
If we ceased to coin silver, simultaneously with the other States of the
Latin Union, it was because we were face to face with a continually increasing volume of silver not only from the growth of its production, but also in
consequence of the transformation of the monetary system of Germajiy.
All the silver extracted from the mines or demonetized elsewhere arrived
in France and in the mints of the Latin Union, and from this superabundance of metal came its depreciation.
We have ceased to coin it and I think that our course was perfectly right.

From what Monsieur Tirard asserts, it will be seen that conditions in this country are not the same as in France, and that we
have no necessity for using so much money per capita. France
stopped adding to its supply of silver when it reached $700,000,Q00. We have now just about the same amount.
After the repeal, what are we to do? Members in conversation ask me what position the President will take regarding the
future use of silver. I have replied to them that, without being
in the confidence of the President, I have no doubt that he is
entirely free from prejudice in the matter, and that, knowing
the desire of the silver States to see their favorite metal in rse,
the President, who has the welfare of the workingman at he:irt,
will gladly accept any legislation which will safely carry us along
without danger of our currency being depreciated. It is the
hope of many that owing to the scarcity of gold silver will be
in demand. Just as soon as that time arrives, the metal will be
useful as a reserve, and not until then. The President, while
conservative, has no prejudice against silver.
Remove the cause of trouble, and in some way, either by international agreements or by gradual renewal of purchases, silver
may come into sharp demand again.
The finances of the country are in good hands. The Secretary
of the Treasury, Mr. Carlisle, is recognized the world over as one
of America's greatest statesmen. He
known to be much in
symp ithy with the desires of the South and West, and he has
also shown himself proof against yielding to any unsafe suggestions. [Applause.]
The Comptroller of the Currency, Mr. Eckels, who is response




14
sible for the safe conduct of the national banks of the country,
has, during these trying times, proved himself capable to meet
and solve with exceptional ability the m ost intricate problems
which our banking system can present. [Loud applause.]
Mr. Speaker, surely no Democratic member of this House
should hesitate to take the responsibility of following the advice
given by the President of the United States. He was nominated
by the people in spite of a vigorous resistance from many prominent politicians, and was elected by the people, who knew as
well at that time as they do now his views in opposition to any
unsafe financial legislation; and any Democratic member of this
House who believes that he will curry favor with his constituents
by endeavoring to oppos3 and break down the Administration
of this man, who was the people's choice, will, I have no doubt,
find that he has misjudged the temper of the voters in his district.
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