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The House having under consideration the hill (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. GEAR said:
Mr. SPEAKER: I have the honor to represent on this floor a
district which employs a larger amount of labor, probably, than
any other district in m^r State. I am also here representing- a
large proportion of agriculturists, not only in my district, but
also in the State—farmers whose lands fairly groan with the
crops that have been given to them by a kind Providence this
year. There are more cattle, more hogs, more sheep on the
farms of Iowa and more grain in the granaries of Iowa than
ever before, and yet buyers can not procure money to move these
crops to market.
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the peculiar conditions which surround this special session ol Congress. We are called upon to
legislate at an extraordinary crisis in the affairs of the country.
It is a "condition and not a theory" that we have to meet, but,
Mr. Speaker, I do not believe that the President in his proclamation calling us together has stated the real cause of the troubles
that have overtaken the country and produced the widespread
disaster that exists to-day; but as to this real cause we shall have
ample opportunity later on in the session for discussion. W e
must address ourselves to the present, and we find a most remarkable condition of affairs; and what is that condition?
A country that six months ago was prosperous in the most
marked degree, labor well employed at remunerative wages,
capital trustful, and abundance of money in circulation, to-day is
swept from ocean to ocean with disaster and a lack of confidence
uuparalleled in the history of the country exists. Thousands,
tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of thofce who six
months ago were employed at remunerative wages are walking
our streets clamoring for work and bread; mills that have been
in operation for year3 have closed down indefinitely; the country
which has reverberated with the hum of industry has been
stricken with blight, and prostration, as it were, in a moment has
overtaken the nation; values of all kinds have depreciated and
men who but yesterday considered themselves affluent are today made poor by this sudden and alarming crisis.
in addition, the startling information comes to us that the
revenues of the Government from customs, internal revenue, and


post-office receipts have fallen off during the present fiscal year
at the rate of nearly six millions per month, or seventy millions
for the current year. It is a question with me, if this deficiency
continues, if the present Democratic Administration will not
have to call on Congress to issue bonds to meet the deficiency,'
as did the Democratic Administration of James Buchanan. As
the barometer indicates the condition of the atmosphere, so do
the revenues of a country indicate prosperity or a lack of it
among the people of that country, and this is special evidence of
the distress that is prevalent to-dav throughout the whole country.
This distress is not confined to any one class of people; it is
widespread and far reaching, and a general lack of confidence
pervades the nation. BanKs which yesterday were considered
solvent are to-day in the hands of receivers; the same is the case
with many railroads, and a general demand comes to Congress to
take such action as will relieve the congested condition of financial affairs, and it is, therefore, our bounden duty to do all in our
power to restore confidence and credit.
There is more money to-day in circulation than at any time
before in the history of the United States, and more than in any
other nation in the world, with the possible exception of France,
and yet money can not be obtained at any price, for the reason
that there is a deep-seated feeling that there is something at
fault in the financial policy of the country which requires immediate remedy, coupled with the fact that we may possibly be
coming to a silver basis.
It may be well to review for a moment the condition of the
To-day silver dollars and paper dollars are as good as gold
dollars, because the Treasury of the United States will pay gold
for them, and to-day a man with a paper dollar or a silver dollar
can obtain a gold dollar for it if he wishes to do so. I am in
favor of maintaining that condition, and it is what both Republicans and Democrats insist on in their national party platforms.
I am, furthermore, in favor of the free coinage of both silver
and gold whenever we can be sure that the condition I speak of
will not be thereby disturbed.
It was, in my opinion, a mistake to demonetize silver in this
country and in Europe in 1873. I believe the two metals are
necessary to keep our medium of exchange, our measure of value,
steady and unchanging in its purchasing power. I believe that
sinco 1873 gold has been going up in value, because the demand
for it has been greater than the supply. 1 think this works an
injustice to debtors and depresses business everywhere.
I am earnestly in favor, therefore, of bimetallism, the use of
the two metals, silver and gold, as money. But in dealing with
money matters experience teaches us that we must move with
caution. The money of a country is its lifeblood; and when you
do anything to impair its purity and efficiency you produce in
the body politic the same kind of effects as those produced in
the human body by a course of living which brings on diseases
of the human blood.
It will not do to say that we can do anything we see fit to do

about money, any more than that a man can abuse his physical
system without suffering for it. The United States, as a nar
tion, is rich, and its credit is high. But if we should make an
issue of greenbacks to-morrow and make no promise or provision
for redeeming them they would not pass current at par with gold
and silver. The mere liat of the Government can not make paper into dollars any more than printing milk tickets makes
milk." If there is a promise to redeem, and the people believe
in the ability and intention of the promisor to keep the promise,
then paper will be as good as dollars and milk tickets will bring
the same price as milk, but not otherwise.
Now, what would be thought of a lawmaking body like this
Congress of the United States if in times of peace it should issue
paper without promise of or provision for redemption, aijd
should call it money and make such paper a legal tender for the
payment of debts'? Gold and silver in this eountry would at
once go to a premium, or, in other words, this legal-tender paper would be at a discount. But being legal tender, every man
would pay his home debts in it.
There are seventeen hundred millions of dollars due from savings banks in the United States to small depositors. Every one
of them would be paid in this depreciated legal tender. Every
man who earns his living by his day's work would be paid in this
currency. Would this be a just and wise measure for this Government to become responsible for? Obviously not.
Now, let us apply the argument to silver dollars instead of paper dollars. In all the great commercial countries, except in
Mexico and South America, silver bullion is only merchandise,
like iron and copper. It is coined to a limited extent and used
more or less as money, but it is not money in the sense that gold
i^ money. If I have gold I can take it to the Mint and have it
stamped, but I can not do that with silver. Gold has a fixed
value, while silver has not. If I have silver bullion to dispose of
I must sell it in the market at the market price. In short, outside of Mexico and South America the coinage of silver is not
free, like the coinage of gold.
Now, what is it that certain of our friends here propose? They
propose that the United States, acting alone and without any
agreement with other nations, shall permit the free coinage of
silver in this country. What does this mean? It means that if
I own silver bullion I may go to the mint and get what is called
$1 for 60 cents' worth of it. Would those dollars pass current
with gold dollars, or would gold at once command a premium,
or, in other words, the silver dollars be at a discount? The
Treasury of the United States could not maintain silver dollars
at par under a system of free coinage of silver without straining
even the high credit of this country, and gold would just as
surely go to a premium as it would in the case of the paper currency and*just as it is in Mexico to-day.
The only difference between the paper dollars and the silver
dollars would be in the percentage of fiat. In the paper dollars,
without promise of redemption, all would be fiat, while in the
silver dollars, without promise to redeem them with gold dollars, a large percentage would be fiat. But silver dollars being
legal tender in this country, every man would pay his domestic

debts with them. Every savings-bank depositor would get about
60 cents instead of a real dollar when ho went to draw his money.
Every insurance policy would be paid in 60-cent dollars; every
day's labor would be paid in the same way. They would be called
dollars, but they would only buy 60 cents' worth of bread or meat
or clothing.
We are advised by the President that later on in this Congress
we are to turn our attention to a revision of the tariff. Of course,
this revision of the tariff will be made on Democratic lines, the
result of Which will be to put the labor of the United States in
direct competition-with the cheaper labor of Europe. This will
bring about one of two results: First, labor engaged to-day at
remunerative wages in the factories must accept the lower wages
prevalent in Europe; or, second, if not accspting such wages, the
industries of the United States must to a large extent come to a
standstill and the labor engaged therein be discharged.
What will this labor do in that event? It must, in the nature
of things, go on to the farms, and thereby become competitors with
those engaged at present in farming. This means an overproduction of farm products, which, of course, means low, prices for
those products; and it also means, by virtue of the stoppage of
our own industries, an influx of foreign merchandise; in other
words, instead of being self-dependent on our own manufactories
for goods, we are to be dependent upon Europe. It is, therefore,
neither fair nor just to the labor of this country to be put in the
position of receiving a depreciated dollar for wages and be compelled to go into the markets of the world and pay for such goods
as they buy in a depreciated dollar.
Then, as gold would command a premium, the, condition I
have spoken of as now prevailing, when a man can get a gold
dollar for a silver dollar or a paper dollar, would prevail no
longer. If the ratio should be made 20 to 1 instead of 16 to 1,
then a silver dollar would be worth 80 cents instead of 60, but it
would not be a real dollar. It would contain 25 per cent of fiat
I can not cast my vote for any measure which will have the
effect I have described.
But, besides that effect, there would be another effect perhaps
even more serious. When gold goes to a premium it ceases to
be money, and becomes a commodity in the market, because no
man will pay out as a legal dollar something worth more than
the cheapest legal dollar he can find. If the five or six hundred
millions of dollars of gold coin in the United Statos should be
forced to a premium, as it would be"by the free coinage of silver
on any practicable ratio in this country alone, it would retire
all gold from circulation, and such a shrinkage in the circulating
medium would produce at once a panic compared to which the
panic we are now going through would seem like a breeze in
summer to a winter blizzard from Montana.
Every gold dollar in the Treasury of the United States would
at once be drawn out by the holders of paper notes, and this
nation, the richest in tne world,'would find its Treasury and most
of its people bankrupt. I can not regard it as possible that any
measure which would produce such results will become a law.
Mr. Speaker, I voted three years ago for the Sherman law. In

my judgment that law was a temporary measure and was enacted
to prevent a worse measure which our Democratic friends, with
a few Republicans from the silver States, sought to pass, to wit,
free coinage. We have gone on under that law purchasing
month by month a large amount of bullion and issuing therefor
legal-tender notes, piling up bullion in the Treasury and paying
the notes in gold. If we are to continue that policy, in my judgment, the time must soon come when it will be a physical impossibility for this Government to maintain specie payments for
the notes issued under that act.
There is, however, a free coinage of silver which will not have
these disastrous effects, and, in my opinion, itisin thepowerof this
country to bring it about. I mean through international agreement,
I do not question nor criticise the motives of the vote of any member on the floor of this House on this or any measure; it is a matter
of conscience and judgment for every man to vote on this measure as he deems for the best interests of the whole country, and
so believing I feel it my duty, as a step in the right direction of
international bimetallism and the enlarged use of silver as money,
to vote to stop buying silver under the act of 1890.
And if after we have stopped buying silver this Congress shall
strengthen the Treasury in the proper manner, I believe Europe, seeing that we are no longer willing to take upon our
shoulders all the silver in the world, and seeing that we really
intend, as both of the great political parties have said they do,
to keep every American dollar as good as every other American
dollar, will come to our terms and agree with us upon international bimetallism. That is what the people of this country
want; it is what they have declared for in their political platforms, and it is what they can have if we here in Congress do
our duty.
We are all in favor of maintaining the equal value of all American dollars, and we should all, therefore, be in favor of providing the means to do this by strengthening the Treasury to meet
the necessities of the case. And when to this is added the fact
that such a policy will drive Europe to join us in an agreement
for bimetallism, the argument is, to my mind, conclusive and
unanswerable. 4
If all the great commercial nations agree among themselves
that silver coinage shall be free at a practicable ratio, the value
of silver would be fixed and could be maintained, not only because its actual value would be augmented by reason of this enlarged use, but also because it would cease to be merchandise
fluctuating in market price when it became universally recognized as money. But as a quart measure can not hold a gallon of
water, no one or two countries can maintain a fixed level of value
for silver when in other countries it is merchandise in the
I believe that the United States Government, by strengthening itscredit,and by selling gold bonds, if necessary, and buying
gold, can bring Europe to agree to international bimetallism, and
when any plan for accomplishing that object is before us it will
receive my earnest and active support.
If this nation should enter into the struggle for gold by the


use of its vast credit, we should compel Europe to admit that
there is not gold enough to furnish a safe and steady measure of
value, and we should in that way bring about the permanent use
of silver as money, not only without any suffering, but greatly
to our advantage, and, as I believe, to the advantage of the whole
civilized world. In my judgment there is no other way to bring
about an enlarged use of silver and to make the world's measure
of value a more certain and stable one.
I am amazed at the temerity of gentlemen who discuss this
great monetax^y question in a party spirit and appeal to passions
and prejudices. There can not be two kinds of money/one for
the banker and another for the farmer, and all attempts to make
the people believe otherwise, to stir up sectional strife or party
strife over this question, are not only unpatriotic, but to the last
degree unwise and dangerous.
This nation is too rich to have any money but the best for the
use of all its citizens, and believing- as we do that gold and silver
taken together at an agreed and practicable ratio make the best
money, we should endeavor by all fair and reasonable means to
bring the other great commercial nations to our way of thinking. We can never accomplish this by placing ourselves upon
the basis of silver monometallism, which we shall do if we attempt to solve the problem single handed.
Some men seem to think that free coinage of silver is the
panacea for all the evils that man is heir to. [Laughter.] Sir,
I do not so believe; neither do I believe that the "plain people " of this country are in favor of such a policy. The farmers
and laboring men whom I represent are in favor of good money.
W e fought the battle in Iowa in 1873 and 1879 against the craze
of " fiat" money and gained a great victory. From that time to
this the people of Iowa have always been in favor of good money.
Let me call your attention to an extract from a letter from one
of my German constituents, a workingman. He says;
No doubt you are engaged In the struggle that is going on in Congress to
day to fix the money matters of the country, so if the people are promised a
dollar they will get a dollar that is worth a dollar, and confidence and regularity in our business will once more be established and the laboring men
will stop crying for work and for bread.

That, Mr. Speaker, covers the whole question in a nutshell,
and no sophistical arguments can change the opinion of those
people. They believe in a fair day's wage for a fair day's work.
This they are entitled to, and by no vote of mine can they be deprived of it.
Many gentlemen hesitate r.bout voting for the repeal of the
purchasing clause for fear that Congress will not provide a currency sufficient to meet the constantly increasing wants of our
increasing population. Others are afraid that we may reinstate
the old "red dog" and "blue pup" currency of my boyhood days.
Others are afraid we will reinstate the "wild-cat" currency of
lS57-'60, all of which brought great loss to the farmers and laborers of the country. I have no such fear, Mr. Speaker. I believe
that this Congress is competent and willing to enact such laws
on the financial question as will give to the country the high
class of circulating medium that it has enjoyed.
Sir, the national Republican party is the author of all the


financial legislation on our statute books for thirty years; it has
placed the credit of the nation on the highest plane; each and
every dollar issued under that policy has been made as good as
the best dollar in the world, and to-day the nation turns as one
man to the Republican minority in this House to contribute its
share to the maintenance of a stable currency and to see that the
nation's currency is to be maintained in the future, as it has in
the past, as good as the currency of any country in the world.
While we may differ and do differ on many questions here of
party policy, yet on this question, which concerns the common
good of all the people, I shall cast my vote on this and all other
financial questions in such manner as will meet the just demands
of the people in this great crisis, and I earnestly hope that in
this critical time Congress will act with that promptitude that
the situation demands. [Applause.]