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SPEECH
OF

HON. GEO. W. FITHIAN,
OF

ILLINOIS,

tiie

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,




SATURDAY, AUGUST 26, 1893.

W A S H INOTON.
i Hy.i.




SPEECH
of

HON. GEORGE W. E I T H I A N .
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. PITHIAN said:

Mr. SPEAKER: W e are asked by gentlemen who advocate the

repeal of the purchasing clause of the Sherman act, which, without amendment, means placing this country on a single gold
standard, to act the part of patriots and sustain the Administration. Congress is a coordinate branch of the Government.
It is the duty of Congress, as the legislative branch of the Government, to make laws, and it is the duty of the Executive to
enforce the law.
It is commendable in all gentlemen to act the part of patriots,
but if it is necessary in order to be a patriot in the estimation of
gentlemen who want to force the country upon a single gold
standard to sacrifice principle and vote against what I regard to
be the interests of my constituents, I must lay myself open to
their criticism of. being unpatriotic. The gentleman from New
Y o r k [Gen. TRACEY] has said this evening:

Any Democratic member of this House who believes that he will curry
favor, with his constituents by endeavoring to oppose 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 his people.

I do not misjudge the temper of my people when I stand here
and insist that the Democratic platform shall be fulfilled and
not repudiated by the Democratic majority of this Congress,
although I may be unpatriotic, from the gold-bug standpoint.
I learned my Democracy from the gentleman who now fills the
exalted position of Secretary of the Treasury under this Administration, and I read with pleasure what he said in 1878:

I know that the world's stock of the precious metals is none too large, and
I see no reason to apprehend that it will ever become so. Mankind will be
fortunate, indeed, if the annual production of gold and silver coin shall keep
pace with the annual increase of population, commerce, and industry. Ac*
cording to my views of the subject, the conspiracy which seems to have been
formed here and in Europe to destroy, by legislation and otherwise, from
three-sevenths to one-half of the metallic money of the world is the most
gigantic crime of this or any other age.
The consummation of such a scheme would ultimately entail more misery
upon the human race than all the wars, pestilences, and famines that ever
occurred in the history of the world. The absolute and instantaneous destruction of half the entire movable property of the world, including houses,
ships, railroads, and all other appliances for carrying on commerce, while
it would be felt more sensibly at the moment, would not produce anything
like the prolonged distress and disorganization of society that must inevitably result from the permanent annihilation of one-half of the metallic
money in the world.
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Mr. COOPER of Indiana. Will the gentleman allow me to
ask him a question there?
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Does the gentleman from Illinois
[Mr. FITHIAN] yield to the gentleman f romIndiana [Mr.COOPER]?

Mr. FITHIAN. Yes, sir.
Mr. COOPER of Indiana. I would like to ask the gentleman
if he has read the whole text of the speech of Mr. Carlisle that
he has quoted?
Mr. FITHIAN. I have not read it to-night, but nothing in
the speech could change or modify the meaning of that part
which I have just read.
Mr. COOPER of Indiana. I would like to state, Mr. Speaker,
if the gentleman will allow me, that that speech has been misquoted.
Mr. FITHIAN. That part which I have read is correctly
quoted. I have only twenty minutes. I decline to yield further.
Mr. COOPER of Indiana. I wanted to state to tne gentleman
that I do not think he desires to misrepresent Mr. Carlisle.
Mr. FITHIAN. I do not misrepresent him. I learned my
lesson too well then to unlearn it now in this trying period in
our nation's history.
As a Democratic member of this House I am unable to support
the Administration in its effort to force the uncondition \l repeal
of the so-called Sherman law. It is my desire to support Mr.
Cleveland by my vote upon every question in which I believe he is
in accord with the platform of the last mtional Democratic convention. I do not believe th <t the mess.ige of the President to
this Congress is in accord with the Democratic platform. I do
not believe that the President's message recognizes the principles of bimetallism, but th .t, on the contrary, hismessage ignores
bimetallism totally. The platform declares that:

"We denounce the Republican legislation known as the Sherman act of 1890
as a cowardly makeshift, fraught with possibilities of danger in the future,
which should make all of its supporters as well as its author anxious for
its speedy repeal. We hold to the use of both gold and silver as the standard
money of the country, and to the coinage of both gold and silver, without
discriminating against eithermetal or charge for mintage, but the dollar unit
of coinage of both metals must be of equal intrinsic and exchangeable value
or be adjusted through international agreement, or bv such safeguards of
legislation as shall in ure the maintenance of the parity of the two metals
and the equal power of every dollar at all times in the markets and in payment of debts; and we demand that all paper currency shall be kept at par
with and redeemable in such coin. We insist upon this policy as especially
necessary for the protection of the farmers ana laboring classes, the first
and most defenseless vict ims of unstable money and a fluctuating currency.

The President in his letter of acceptance said:

The people are entitled to sound and honest money, abundantly sufficient
in volume to supply their honest needs. But whatever may be the form of
the people's currency, national or State—whether gold, silver or paper—it
should be so regulated and guarded by governmental action, or by wise and
careful laws, that no one can be deluded as to the certainty and stability of
its value. Every dollar put into the hands- of the people should be of the
same intrinsic value or purchasing power. With this condition absolutely
guaranteed, both gold and silver can be safely utilized, upon equal terms, in
the adjustment of our currency.

Again the President said in response to the committee of
notification:

I find much relief in the reflection that I have been selected merely to stand
for the principles and purposes to which my party is pledged, and for the enforcement and supremacy of which all who have any right to claim Democratic fellowship must constantly and persistently labor.

In this speech the President placed himself upon the platform
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of the party by saying that he " had been selected merely to stand
for the principles and purposes to which his party was pledged."
What were the principles to which the Democratic party was
pledged? I turn again to the platform for the answer:

We hold to the use of Doth gold anl silver as the standard money of the
country, and to the coinage of both gold and silver without discriminating
against either metal or charge for mintage.
• And for the enforcement and supremacy of which—

Said Mr. Cleveland-

all who have any right to claim Democratic fellowship must constantly and
persistently labor.

Again I quote from the President in response to the committee of notification:

True to its history and its creed, our party will respond to the wants of
the people within safe lines, and guided by enlightened statesmanship. To
the troubled and impatient within our membership we commend continued,
unswerving allegiance to the party whose principles in all times past have
been found sufficient for them, and whose aggregate wisdom and patriotism,
their experience teaches, can always be trusted.

The President commended "the troubled and impatient within
our membership " to " unswerving allegiance to the p rty."
Now,Mr. Speaker, what has pr» duced the "troubled and impatient " within the membership of the Democratic party? The
silver question. That there were troubled and impatient within
our party every Democratic member of this House who represents an agricultural district knows, and it was only by the assurance of Democratic leaders that the party would be faithful
to its pledges that the "troubled and impatient" of our p rty
were quitted and again brought back to " unswerving allegiance
to the party."
By the last national platform the party is pledged to th3 coinage both of gold and silver into money. This platform was the
last declaration of the party in national convention upon this
great, important question. He who is a good Democrat must
honestly and faithfully keep the pledge. He is not a good Democrat who repudiates it. Bimetallism is therein so explicitly
and plainly declared for that no tortured construction can cloud
its meaning. This is the platform upon which the Democracy
won before the people last November. This is the platform upon
which Grover Cleveland accepted the Democra.ic nomination
for President. This is the platform and these are the principles
upon which the national Democracy fought the battle.
Did we mean it t h e n ? If we did, and we are faithful to our
pledges, each and every Democratic member of this House is
pledged to the people to keep the faith. If we refuse to do it
we will forfeit the confidence of the people who by their votes
placed the Democratic party in control of both the executive
and legislative branches of the Government. I, for one, meant
it. I expect to k e e p the faith. As a Democrat I w i l l n o t be
blindly led into casting my vote in the direction of placing this
country upon a single gold standard. Upon this question I, for
myself, must take such i n d e p 3 n d e n t action as I believe to be in
accord with the principles oi. the party, and in accord witn the
sentiments of the great masses of the Democratic party.
Bimet allism has been a cardinal principle of Democratic faith
from the foundation of the party to the present time, I defy
the single gold standard men to point out a single platform to
any Democratic national convention, where the party declared
upon the subject, where the principle of bimetallism has nof
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been recognized in unmistakable terms. Ninety per cent of the
party to-day believes in it. and if I should repudiate it, ignore
it, and trample it under foot, I would be falS3 to the teachings
of Democracy and a traitor to its principles.
The President said that 44 True to its history and its creed,
our party will respond to the wants of the people."
The great mass s of the people of this country, irrespective of
party, favor the use of gold and silver as money. The people
are unalterably opposed to placing the country on a single gold
standard, and a part^ pledged to a gold standard would meet ignominious defeat at the polls in a national contest. The Democratic party will never be committed to that policy. In the last
Presidential election all p irties favored silver. The platform of
the last Republican national convention on silver is as follows:

The American people, from tradition and interest, favor bimetallism, and
the Republican party demands the use of both gold and silver, as standard
money, with restrictions and under such provisions, to be determined by
legislation, as will secure the maintenance of the parity of value of the two
metals, so that the purchasing and debt-paying power of the dollar, whether
of silver, gold, or paper shall be at all times equal. The interests of the producers of the country, its farmers, and its workingmen, demand that every
dollar, paper or coin, issued bv the Government shall be as good as any
other. We commend the wise and patriotic steps already taken by our Government to secure an international conference to adopt such measures as
will insure a parity of value between gold and silver for use as money
throughout the world.

How m^ny Republican members of this House will vote to
continue 44 the use of both gold and silver as standard money,"
and how many will vote to wipe from the statute books all legislation for further coin :ge of silver? The record vote will tell.
It seems to me that there is a combined effort on the part of Republicans and some Democrats to repudiate both platforms of
the Republican and Democratic parties on this question.
The present financial disturbance is more artificial than real.
The present condition of affairs has been precipitated upon the
count *y by the money-lenders and stock-;'obbing, bondholding
Shylocks of Wall street to force an issue of Government bonds.
A scarcity of money mak^s dear money. The money-loaning and
bondholding class seek t > exclude siLver f om use as money in
order to make money dear and make correspondingly cheap the
product of every farm in the land.
Much talk is indulged in by the single gold standard adovcates
about the (iO-cent dollar. t;ie dishonest doll ir, and putting a dollar's worth of silver in a dollar. Silver has been depreciated by
unfriendly legislation, and gold hns been appreciated by favorable legislation. It is the money use that gives to either metal
its chief value.
If silver was scarce and gold plenty, the enemies of silver
would soon renounce their faith in gold and become strong advocates of silver. There is not sufficient gold in the world to supply the necessary coin for the world's wants, which are d lily increasing with the advance of popul tion and we 1th. The supply of gold being limited, the creditor classes seek to make it the
sole money metal of the world, that they may thereby add untold
millions to their we ilth.
Up to the time th t -iiv .r was demonetized by the act of 1873
anyone had the right to t *ke gold or silver bullion to the mints
of the United States find huve it coined into stmdard money of
full legal-tender quality. No public demand was made for the
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demonetization act of 1873. There was no honest reason for it.
It was done by stealth, and the motives behind it were little less
creditable to those concerned in it than highway robbery. It
was a fraud upon the people. It changed every contract involving the payment of a dollar. It increased the public debt, and
by mxking money scarcer added incre >sed burdens to every obligation that every debtor had to discharge by the payment of
money. It was in the interest of the creditor and bondholding
classes, and enabled these Shylocks to extort from their unfortunate victims more than their pound of flesh.
We are reminded that " the very man of all others who has the
deepest inter est in a sound currency and who suffers most by mischievous legislation in money matters is the man who earns his
daily bread by his daily toil." This sounds well. All classes of
people want a sound currency, and silver would be a sound currency had it not been debased by mischievous legislation. Who
are the people that demand unconditional repeal and the placing
of this country on a single gold standard? Not the farmer, not
the mechanic, not the laborer, nor none of the men who earn
their " daily bread by their daily toil." The bank presidents
and stock-gambling influences of Wall street are the " sons of
toil" who demand unconditional repeal.
This is what the New York Evening Post of the 15th instant
has to say:

It is most fortunate for the metropolis that the hankers of New York have
so excellent a Representative in the House as Congressman Hendrix,whose
maiden speech on the silver question last Saturday was such a clear and
forcible presentation of <he sound-money side. There is no surer way of
overcoming the unreasonable prejudice of so many Southern and Western
men against the " gold Dug" than to have a man appear on the floor who
fairly represents the banking interests of New York.

The Post is a gold paper. It demands the unconditional repeal of the purchasing clause of the Sherman law. It wants the
country placed on a single gold standard. The speech of the
gentleman from New York [Mr. HENDRIX] is highly commended
by this paper because he 1 'fairly represents the banking interests of New York." Why do these New York bankers need a
special champion here on the floor of this House ? Are they not
yet satisfied ? For the last thirty years they have been fed upon
the fat of the land, while the masses of the people had to be contented with the crumbs that fell from their tables. How long is
this to continue ? These bankers of New York, whose interests
no doubt will be u fairly represented " on the floor of this House,
not alone by the gentleman from New York [Mr. HENDRIXJ,
have not bean known to suffer for want of legislation in their
interests.
When gold was at an enormous premium during the war they
bought the bonds of the United States, redeemable in the money
of the country, for an average of about 50 cents on the dollar,
and then by being u fairly represented " in Congress had the contract changed, making these bonds payable in gold. I should
be sorry, indeed, if these much-abused, unfortunate, and friendless bankers of New York should wake up some morning and
find themselves without representation in Congress.
I am compelled to take the course I do because nowhere in the
message of the President to this Congress can I see the least
ray of hope for the continuance of bimetallism. On the contrary, I see in the message a fixed and unalterable determina165




92
tion to place this country on a single gold standard alone, which,
in my judgment, means ruin and destruction to the agricultural
interests of the people that I represent. I am strengthened in
the position that I take in regard to the meaning of the Presi*
dent s message by the declaration of the gentleman from New
York. Mr. COCKKAN, who is leading the forces for unconditional
repeal, in an article in the North American Review, in which
he said:

The recent utterances of the President * * * however, appear to settle
the question that the present Administration is determined to use all the
means at its command to maintain a gold standard. The question of free
coinage of silver toy the United States may be excluded from consideration,
as nobody deems the passage of such a law within the limits of possibility
during the present Administration.

If that be the meaning of the recent utterances of the President, the advocates of silver can have no hope of future legislation in behalf of silver if the Sherman law is unconditionally repealed. It is so plain to my mind that " h e who runs may read,"
and the member of this Congress who votes for the unconditional
repeal of the Sherman law deliberately does so with the full
knowledge that when he so casts his vote he is casting it in favor
of placing this country upon a single gold standard. Let the
members who desire to do so take the responsibility of such a
course.
This is not the first time that the principles of Democracy have
been assailed by its foes within its councils. The time was when
the same struggle th it is now going on was made by the true
friends of Democracy to relegate to tiie rear the so-called Democrats who wanted to commit the party to the theories of protection. The men who then stood out boldly for tariff reform, and
who fought the btttles of the party in Congress upon this great
question upon which the party is now practically a unit, were
defe ited by coalition wi h Republicans; they saw tariff reform
smothered in the House of Representatives, but to their satisfaction to-day the phrase "unnecessary taxation is unjust taxar
tion' has become a Democratic watchword.
The Democratic party is great enough to purify and purge
itseL of its enemies and foes who now forget its promises and repudi >te its national platform, and it will do so in the settlement
of this gre it financial question as it did in settling the principles of the D mocratic party on the tariff issue.
Under the Democratic platform we should so adjust the ratio
between the two metals as to maintain a parity, and coin both
freely " without discriminating against either metal or charge
for mint ge." When the pledge is fulfilled no free-coinage
Democrat will refuse to vote for the repeal of the Sherman law.
I shall vote for each and every amendment fixing a ratio between the two metals, beginning with 16 to 1 and ending with
20 to 1. If all shall be defeated I shall vote to restore the Bland
act. and if that should be voted down I will feel it my duty to
cast my vote against the unconditional repeal of the purchasing clause of the Sherm m law. The platform of the Democratic
party must be fulfilled, in whole and not in part. [Loud applause.]
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