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SILVER.
SPEECH
OF

Hon. Thomas B. Reed,
OF MAINE,
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Saturday, August 26,189$.
The House having under consideration the bill (H. R. 1) to repeal the part of an aot 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. REED said:
Mr. Speaker, I am not certain of the' wisdom of any member of this House, and
least of all of my own. I am quite conscious also how difficult it is for anybody to know anything about currency in general, and how especially difficult it is to provide a remedy for a
derangement of currency at any particular time. Nevertheless, while I have grave doubts of
the wisdom of each individual, including myself, and no doubt whatever of the difficulty of
the task, it is a comfort to me to fallback upon a well-established belief in the wisdom of all,
even when shown by the decisions of the Congress of the United Stages. It may not be an absolutely righteous decision which we shall reach, nevertheless it is a comforting assurance to believe that that decision will be sufficient for the emergency, especially since it is accompanied
by the certainty that no other wisdom is possible at the present time. Uj>on us and the people
who are influencing our votes rests the decision of this and of other very important questions.
Crises like thepresentare not uncommon in the history of the world; indeed, they eeem to
be essential to human progress, and to arise out of the characteristics of human nature itself.
Probably if wise men, now alive, had been consulted in the formation of the nature of mankind
there would not have been thesefluctuationswhich now disturb us, and which disfigure the
history of the time. If we could have had that perfection of wisdom which is exhibited, so far
as I have ever known, only in a greenback oration [laughter], we should have the human race
proceeding on the upward grade steadily, without faltering and without relapse. But, unfortunately, human nature was not framed in that way. Instead of a continuous upward movement, always rising, always going forward, the movement of the human race seems to be a
series of upward starts and of falls of almost proportionate length. The general progress has
always been onward, but there have been many times when the movement has seemed to
be to the rear. In the history of civilized nations these alternations have not been infrequent, The great rises and the great falls have extended over long periods of time. At
intervals there have been minor falls as well as minor upliftings. We seem to be now at
the beginning of one of those declines, the like of which happens after a long period. Unless
all indications fail, we are in a situation very much like that which afflicted England in
1793 and in 1825, and which began to afflict us in the year 1873.
After each long period of recuperation something starts the confidence o f the human race
in itself and the confidence of the nation in itself, and men feel a sudden courage to undertake
all enterprises and to indulge in every effort tending to progress. Each one seems to encourage the other. Each enterprise seems to be an assistance to the other. The result is, that for
a series of years prosperity seems to increase; men are busv, capital is busy, and prosperity
without limit seems to be within the reach of the race and of the nation. Suddenly,fromsome
cause entirely unanticipated, a doubt is cast upon the reality of the progress which has been
made. Something awakens the element of caution in the race or nation, and, thereupon,
rapidly and steadily, confidence disappears. Men feel that it is necessary to take an exact
observation of the situation before resuming strenuous efforts. When that hour arrives there
is no possibility of retreat or of change. The race or the nation has determined to examine
into its condition, and the result is apparent disaster, misfortune, defeat, destruction of industries,'and a general paralysis of business and of labor- There is a general liquidation of human
affairs. Each man discovers what he is really worth, and the nationfindsprecisely what ita
absolute wants and needs are. If the period of prosperity could be expressed in a single
word, that word would be confidence ; and if the period of adversity, as we call it, could be
expressed in a single word, that word would be distrust.
During the period of progress, during the period of increased endeavor, where all capital is
employed and e\fery man is at wotk, confidence reigns supreme. Every man believes in his
own success and in the success of his neighbor. Consequently he is free to take goods and
property at the general valuation; and the people who sell property are ready to take the
checks and instruments by which property is transferred. When the period of doubt sets in
values become uncertain, because it is felt that a readjustment must be had. Checks and
evidences of transfer are scrutinized with care, because men who were wealthy yesterday
may be poor to-day. So, also, production ceases because the producer has great doubte whether



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the production of his mill or his workshop will be capable of sale, and, above all, whether he
will gather in the proper payment. How far this element of distrust may go depends upon
the seriousness of the previous inflation of values; and after a time, when men find precisely
how they are situated themselves, and how their neighbors are placed, there begins slowly to
revive the confidence which distinguished the former period, in small measure atfirstand
afterwards in larger measure, until finally we reach another period, where confidence reigns
and productiveness is at its utmost. This alternation between extreme production and production reduced to its lowest terms, is something which the philanthropist may regard with
horror; but which the man who has observed the history of the world is obliged to regard
with tolerance., While thesefluctuationsoccur often in the history of the human race, each
one occurs from its own separate and special cause.
In former times they used to be more especially confined to each particular country and
were not simultaneous; but modern times have bound the earth together, so that it is impossible for even the greatest nation to disregard the other nations of the earth. The railroad has
diminished distance and the telegraph has obliterated time. The ocean steamers plying between the different hemispheres, the trains of cars which sweep across the continents, have
made business a far different thing from what it was in the earlier ages. Without undertaking
to give the particulars of the change, it is enough to say that the world, which in the days of
Magellan it required three years to circumnavigate, can be circumnavigated to-day in a period
of two months. This binding together of the whole world by obliteration of time and distance has bound together the business of the world, and hence these periodic changes occur
in greater or less measure throughout the world, not always exactly simultaneous, but always
more or less sympathetic.
Nevertheless, in each particular nation the cause is peculiar to itself. Each nation produces
its own means of temporary prosperity; also its own causes for temporary depression. The
fact that these depressions are nearly simultaneous does not in any way militate against the
suggestions just made. If anyone desires to notice the connection between the different coun-.
tries he has only to go back to the crisis which occurred in the year 1890. It was found that
there was a great scarcity of money in the United States, so great that under the influence of
universal clamor more than forty millions of currency were let loose from the United States
Treasury among the people of the United States. I do not think at the time that anyone
here fully comprehended the cause, although some wise men had an inkling of it; 'but there
was felt to be a constant drain of currency which was taking from us not only the money
which we previously had in circulation, but the large sum which I have mentioned from the
Treasury of the United States. When the course of events reached its end it was discovered
that the great money center of the world, London, the capital of England, had been severely
drained by a most tremendous set of enterprises in a distant nation of South America.
The effect of that tremendous call upon the money center of Europe, which resulted in the
shaking down of the house which was the synonym, especially in the United States of America,
of credit, of enterprise, and of solidity—the house of Baring Bros.—drew upon the resources of
the United States with a vigor that no one would have dared to prophecy a year before.
But the United States at that time was sound in every way, and had not yielded to any disposition to inflation; consequently the storm was weathered and we continued upon our career
of prosperity and of labor. The country was prosperous because everybody was at work, because capital was thoroughly employed, and all the goods that were produced were consumed
and were necessary for the wants of the people. In the year 1890, from a variety of circumstances which it is not necessary now to discuss, for the country cares very little today whether
anybody was or was not to blame for the passage of the Sherman act, conspired to make the
passage of that act an absolute necessity. The passage of that act pledged the United States
to purchase every month, and issue its value in currency, 4,500,000 ounces of silver.
At the time when that act was passed every patriot sincerely hoped that the expectation
of thefriendsof silver, that that purchase would result in solving the problem of bimetallism
for this country and placing silver on a par with gold, would be realized. That the friends of
silver entertained that view I cannot doubt, because it was expressed to me in terms of the
utmost confidence. At the time, the passage of the act caused very little fear on the part even
of the wisest; but a series of events, which are so fresh in the memory of every man who hears
me that I need not recapitulate them, caused a drain of gold from the United States to Europe.
That drain of gold sounded the alarm to the American people that the period of prosperity
through which they had passed, and which was then in existence ; which was shown by the
employment of capital and the employment of labor, had reached a period of suspicion; a
period always reached in such forward movements of the human race, and always to be anticipated, but never in reality anticipated. At no time when any nation in the world has
been at one of these periods of prosperity have men in general suspected that the period of
prosperity was about to close. Every man is in the whirl of ambitious effort, carried away by
it, swept in the direction of it, and hence does not know what is about to happen. The
stroke of the clock which shows that the time of settlement has arrived is always a surprise ;
and, from the nature of things, and of human beings, al ways will be a surprise.
Last May It became apparent that we had reached a period when a wise and judicious man
would be careful to curtail the amount of his obligations. Some wise men had done so beforehand ; other wise men had waited until that period. The banks then commenced to examine
their collaterals, to call in their loans, and to put themselves in a position of safety go far as
possible. Thefirstelement of dissatisfaction and doubt which pressed itself upon the people
was the fact that there was a continuous and unaccountable drain of gold. That drain of
gold amounted, in round numbers, to a very great sum, so nearly equalling the amount of the
issue under the Sherman law that it seemed Almost conclusive that the displacement of currency which was happening was on account of the issue under the Sherman law, because it



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seemed to be driving out the same proportion of gold which was the equivalent of its own
amount. Whether that reasoning was sound or safe or correct is in no wise a matter of discussion. The fact that the feeling existed was sufficient for all the purposes of practical life.
Men felt that it was absolutely necessary, even if that question was a question of doubt, so
long as it was a question at all, that they should curtail their enterprises in the future, and
that they should put themselves in order for a storm. Then followed what seems to be one
of the characteristics of such a period—universal distrust. Thefirstdistrust arose from the
doubt whether the United States was not rapidly approaching a system which would inevitably result in a silver standard and a lowering of the value of the dollar as compared with the
gold standard, upon which the United States was then undertaking to base itself. This has
nothing whatever to do with the question of the righteousness of the double standard or of
the single standard. The United States at that moment was making gold its standard, and
any questions as to whether it was to fall or not to a silver standard was a question which instantly aroused the desire of the people to hoard,firstgold, then, as the distrust Bpread, all
kinds of money, for we not only began to doubt the Government of the United States and
its policy, but also to doubt the solvency—not the present solvency, but the future solvency
—of all the institutions of the country.
When suspicion and doubt of that kind once enter the minds of 65,000,000 of people there
is no knowing where it will end. That it took serious possession of them is shown by the
simple fact that out of the United States banking houses alone one hundred and ninety millions of deposits were drawn by depositors from all parts of the country. How much was
drawn out of State banks and out of trust companies, how much has been drawn out of savings banks no one will ever probably know; but so much has been drawn, so much has
been hoarded, so much has been kept out of circulation, that we are suffering to-day all
the calamities of a restricted circulation in the midst of an abundant supply'of money.
This, then, at the present moment is the situation in which we find ourselves. I have, in
thus narrating the outward circumstances which have attended our present position, failed
to state what is, after all, according to my judgment, the main underlying cause of the present
condition of affairs. At the last election the Democratic party was brought into power by a
curious combination of circumstances, as the result of a hundred causes—not with careful
and candid deliberation, but as the result, in a large measure, of the apathy of the American people.
The vote shows what I declare, and the recollection of every individual to whom I am speaking can be safely appealed to. While this thing has not been specially manifest during this
discussion, while there has been little talk with regard to it, nevertheless, the consciousness of
this fact underlies our entire situation. I do not intend in alluding to this fact to in any way
refer to party politics. I do not undertake to raise any question as to whether the system of
protection is a wise one or not. I do not undertake to dispute the proposition on the part of
the Democracy that protection is a tax, wicked and iniquitous. [LaughterJ For the purpose
of discussion, and for that purpose only, I am quite free to admit that protection is a fraud,
and that virtue resides only in a revenue tariff; but there remains, even if it be admitted that
the propositions of the Democratic platform are righteous every one—there remains the feet
that the system upon which the manufactures of this country have been regulated for thirty
years is threatened with a total change; whether that change is to be for the better or not
no man can know.
What the Democratic party purpose to do with the power which is in their hands, nobody
can say. They do not even know themselves; and hence they are not able to impart it to ,
others. For my part, I do not expect the Democratic party to be utterly bad. [Laughter.] I
do not believe they will be permitted to be so if they should so desire. [Applause] Such is
the restraining influence of the people, even after election, that I believe that through all the
disguises, through all the masks which this election has thrown over the wishes of the people,
nevertheless those wishes will be carried out. But at this present moment no man can know
what will be the result of the action of this Congress upon the manufactures of this country.
If the reformation of the tariff were m the hands, even, of its friends, if a change in the
tariff were contemplated by those men who are in favor of the principle of protection, instead of in the hands of those who denounce it, I should feel entirely confident that business would be stagnant or remain at a standstill; but when this reformation of the tariff is
in the hands' of men opposed to the present system, those manufactures of the country
which are built upon the present system must necessarily call a halt.
.
If their goods which they manufacture are to be in competition with the manufactures of
other lands, where the cost of production is upon a different basis, where labor is differently
rewarded, as a matter of fact no manufacturer in this country will dare to manufacture goods
until he knows the basis upon which his labor is to go into the production of his articles of
sale. Until that question is settled you may be sure that the manufacturers of this country
wiH never dare to manufacture more than the absolute necessities of the people require.
. Prominent among the symptoms of the present condition of affairs is the closing of
milla in all parts of the country* The currency question has something to do with that,
but that which is of most importance is the uncertainty as to the Tbasi» u$on which
manufactures are to go on. Manufactures. to-day are, in no respect, the subjects of chance
or of miscalculation. All the elements of costs are bo thoroughly understood, all the
elements which enter into production are so thoroughly comprehended, that it is impossible for manufactures to go on, except upon the basis of small but sure profits;
Unless the manufacturer can see his way directly to that, he has no object in running
his mill; and unless in the future he can see that that mill can go on satisfactorily there
is no object on earth for him to continue his manufactures 1 and his organization. ThereDigitized foryou may depend upon it, that until the question is settled—-until men know the
for^ FRASER


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terms upon which they are to employ labor, until they know the terms upon which they
are to compete with foreign competitors—no loom will be in motion more than is necessary and no wheel will turn except with the prospect of immediate profit.
I will not undertake to dwell at this present time—for I do not want to confuse the issue
—upon those unfortunate parts of the Democratic programme which are at present in abeyance^ like the establishment of State banks and otherfinancialmeasures, which we may
possibly have to struggle with. [Laughter.] I can characterize in a single phrase the
cause of the present condition of affairs. It is the undiscoverable uncertainty of the future
of both the currency questions and the questions of protection and revenue tariff.
It will be seenfromwhat I have said that I do not regard the Sherman act as in itself alone
responsible for our present condition of affairs; that I believe that the causes of our present
disaster underlie that; that the necessary stoppage of hundreds and thousands of mills all
over this country is at the bottom of our disaster. Nevertheless, I do believe that the Sherman act and the accumulation of silver in the Treasury was the earliest indicator of the
disaster which we are approaching, and that it has played a part not entirely unfortunate
in warning us so that we can be saved from still further misfortune and doubt.
We are now, therefore, in this condition of affairs: We are on a down grade to that period of recuperation, economy, and self-denial which, in some cases, may lead to very grave
and serious suffering; for there can be no doubt whatever that the threatening aspect of
aflairs, while it threatens this country as a whole, capitalists and laborers alike, is more especially, in the future, threatening to the laboring people of the country. When mills shut
down, they shut down beeause they must ascertain by Democratic legislation what the
basis of their future manufactures is to be. If their basis is to be competition with foreign
countries upon less favorable terms, they will be obliged to meet those less favorable terms
by reducing the cost of manufactures themselves. The cost of manufactures, of the finest
kinds especially, is largely in the pay which is given to laboring men.
*As the gentleman from Mississippi [Mr. CATCHINGS] has very candidly, and at the same
time very accurately said, the wages of labor have been steadily rising in this country, until
they have reached a point unexampled in the history of the*world up to this time. If the
American manufacturers were to compete alone with each other, it is possible that the
standard of wages mignt be maintained; but if they are to compete with people abroad,
where wages are less, where skilled labor is at a much lower price, then there can be no
doubt that a reduction of the wages of labor will follow. Indeed, all over the country there
are signs that that will be the case; and there are signs also that the workingmen are recognizing the fact that their labor is one of the elements, the strongest element, perhaps, in
the cost of production,Jand that that cost of production cannot be measured by any arbitrary
standard, but must be measured by the standard of competition. Such being the case, we
may expect more or less misfortune to happen to our people. I do not believe that the
Democratic Congress, influenced as it will be by the pressure on the part of the people of
the United States, will so revise the tariff that the workingmen will be brought back even
to the condition of the workman under the Walker tariff; but that there will be doubts and
difficulties and reductions I have not the slightest doubt. The capitalist has met with his
misfortunes. He has Been his stocks, his bonds, his holdings, and he will soon see his real'
estate reduced beyond any fear which he entertained a year ago ; and in due time will
come the reduction of the wages of labor, unless by great good fortune the laboring man, by
demonstrations on his part, should show that he understands this question in such a fashion
that he will refuse to allow it to be misunderstood by his member of Congress.
*
Now, in this matter I do not expect to be accused of any party bias, for this does not in
any way involve the question of the propriety or the righteousness of a change in the tariff.
Let that be as it may. The very fact that there is a change requires readjustment all over
the country of all the relations of mankind to each other, ana such a readjustment cannot take
place simultaneously with the period of prosperity. It is evident, then, from what I have said,
that two questions mast be settled as the indispensable preliminary of our arrival at thatperiod
when prosperity will commence again. With the settlement of the question of the tariff I shall
undertake to have nothting to do today. That will come at its proper time, when people begin
to realize that that is the serious matter which underlies this whole situation. For the present
we have another question before us, and one which we will havetodetermine upon its merits.
It is perfectly true that the Democratic party is responsible for whatever occurs in the future, and whatever does not occur. They have the President; they have an enormous majority
in the House of Representatives, and they have the Senate to themselves. For thefirsttime
in thirty years they have been removed from the low level of criticism of the acts of others,
and have been lifted to the high level of responsibility and of performance. It could not be
expected that they would change their nature in the twinkling of an eye. Elections might
put them into power, but only the lapse of time can give them proper sense of responsibility*
The time will come when the Democratic members of Congress, instead of disputing with each
other what the Democratic platform means [laughter], will be disputing with each other as to
what the necessities of the country demand. Until that period of responsibility shall fairly
rest upon tb&r shouldoxs, and oko afterwards, they eau rely, apon the asafltanee of the Republican party in the minority as they relied upon them in the majority, in the direction of
sound government, of responsibility, and of honest administration of affairs. [Applause on
the Republican side.] While we leave the question of tariff to itself, there remains for us to
consider the proposition which has been submitted to us by the President of theUnited States
as to the method cf dealing with thefinancialquestion. The action of the President and the
action of the majority of the Democratic party, acting together, has limited our scope of action.
I am sorry that we have not been permitted to exhibit our wisdom in the way of amendments;
that we have not been allowed to take the vote of the House as to the various propositions to




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tneet this affair, which would seem satisfactory to us. We are confined to those propositions
which the whole Democratic party have finally determined to submit to us.
I shall spend no time in pointing out the contrast between this action on the part of the
Democratic party and their claims during the Fifty-first Congress. I shall waste no time in
citiations showing how the rights of the minority are outraged, according to them, for I
recognize now, as I recognized then, the necessity and duty of the party in power assuming
the responsibility of its actions. I am only sorry that this question cannot be settled, ana
settled righteously, within the bounds of the Democratic party itself; but, as I know, and
every man in this country knows, the majority of the Democratic party would decide against
the good sense of the nation.
I am very glad for even the poor privilege of recording our votes in the direction of our
thoughts and beliefs and ideas. While I am in favor of the repeal of the purchasing clause of
the Sherman act, and have always been since the failure of that act to realize the hoj)es of the
men who believed in a silver currency, I do - not think that the repeal of that act will be an
immediate cause of the revival of the prosperity of this country. I am in favor of its repeal,
however, for two reasons. First, it seems to me to be deeply settled in the public mind, from
causes which can be easily understood, that the Sherman law is the cause of the unreasonable
hoarding of currency throughout tixis country. It has been made the foundation of distrust
by a variety of causes. The President of the United States deemed it to be his duty, and I
make no question without regard to it, in the most public manner to appeal to the last Congress to repeal the Sherman act, announcing in every way in which he was capable of announcing his belief that the continuance of that act was the forerunner of disaster.
Coming from such a source as that it is no wonder that the people of foreign countries believed that the danger from the Sherman act was as great as it possibly could be. Then,
in addition to that, the bankers who desired to call a halt in the condition of affairs whichexisted last year, who believed that the time of settlement had arrived, joined in that objection. Then, the Democratic papers, scenting out the disaster that was upon us, and being
desirous of charging it to some other party than their own, trained all their guns upon the
Sherman act. The Sherman act itself had no defenders. The silver men, although they
were glad to get it, stood prepared to declare that it was not what they wanted. Those
who had yielded to the demand for that act in the earnest hope that what they desired might
turn out to be just and right were in no condition to defend it at all. It had not answered
their hopes. Wherever their is an attack upon one side and no defence on the other there
is sure to be a very shining victory. [Laughter.] Hence, the popular mind is so filled
with the idea that the existence of the purchasing clause of the Sherman law is an element
of disorder, that if we remove it we shall do more to restore confidence than anything we
can do in the world.
What would a restoration of confidence in this country mean just now? It would not
mean, in' my judgment, a revival at Once of business prosperity, but it would be a tremendous relief to those who are endeavoring to carry on the business of this country without
bankruptcy and disaster. It would, in my judgment, and I do not intend to be in the least
degree bigoted with regard to such a matter—I do not pretend to be overconfident that my
judgment is right—but, in mv judgment, it would have such a reassuring effect that we
should be temporarily assisted by capital from beyond the seas, and that that very assistance would result in the loosening of hoarded money, which is now to be found in stockings and in every possible receptacle; and the result would be ease of money. And those
who are carrying on a sound and safe business would be rescued from the disaster which
threatens them, and the country would be saved from many unnecessary failures.
It is sometimes customary here to make remarks indicative of great contempt and hatred
of banks and of corporations. I expect during the next year or two to hear a great many
such declarations. In this country corporations are sometimes brutal. They are difficult to
approach. You cannot reason with them, and they have to have iron-clad rules, and veij
few men have dealings with corporations without having their tempers ruffled and their
feelings hurt. Nevertheless, a fundamental purpose and object of all corporations is to
gather together the odds and ends of money in such quantities that large business operations can be carried on by wealth which is aggregated out of small sums; and, in the main,
large corporations represent little holders. This is especially true with regard to banks ;
and whatever vituperation may be visited upon those institutions in the future, I say to
you now that in my judgment the banks of this country are doing a patriotic and honorable work, and are at this moment the mainstay of this country against failure and future
disaster. [Applause.] If, therefore, this proceeding will relieve them and will give them
confidence, if it will send back the depositors to their counters, if it will ease the rates of
money, we shall be able to get over this disaster with less harm, less misfortune.
But I am in favor of the repeal of this act for another reason. I am desirous not only of
weathering this storm with as few sails blown to pieces as possible, but I am also looking for
the upward movement, which is sure to come, and which can only be postponed by bad
management and bad actions. It is sometimes the fashion to be very contemptuous of foreign capital; but it is as sure as the rising- of to-morrow's sun that when wa tak*
upward turn it will be by the aid and assistance not only of the capital of the United States,
but of the capital of the whole world. The transaction of borrowing, as I hope to show before I get through, and the practice of lending is not disadvantageous to either party.
When, as I have said, we reach the time for an upward movement, the capital of the
whole world should be ready, not for its sake, but for ours, and we should be ready to
receive it. Whether the world be right in its doctrines with regard to money or not is a
question which I shall not at present undertake to dispute; but' to-day, and 30 far as we
can judge in,
the future, our hold upon the world's capital depends ana will depend upon


6

our being in accord with the world as to our views in regard to payment. Sometimes
gentlemen, in their patriotic flights of eloquence* exaggerate even the greatness of the
United States of America. It is perfectly true that the United States, under thirty
years of Republican rule, has made enormous progress. It is true that our nation is, perhaps, the wealthiest on the face of the earth. It is true that our wealth has increased
year by year^ and that in the future it will increase still more. Nevertheless, there remains
the fact that our country is larger than our wealth; that the possibilities of the United
States area thousandfold in advance of any progress which it has yet made.
There never was a time in the history of the United States when its development required more capital. It has reached that point where its richest treasures can be exploited; and the richest treasures of the land can only be exploited by the assistance of the
treasures garnered up in, past times in the whole world. When, therefore, we take our
next upward rise, one of the greatest assistants whi«h we shall have to develop our new regions
will be capital from abroad. The spare capital of the United States, great as it is, will not
be sufficient for our purpose. We, therefore, ought to put ourselves in such a position that
when the time comes we may command the capital of the entire world, for we shall need
it. This is by no means a day-dream. Within my own lifetime, and under my own eyes,
has occurred an example of precisely what I am talking about.
When I first entered Congreas years ago, I listened to a debate of precisely the same
character as that to which I have listened this year. Hardly a new idea has been presented, hardly a new prophecy. There was the same attack upon wealth; there was the
same laudation of the poor. Everything seems to me, as I sit and listen to the debate here
in the House, as if the tide of time had rolled back and I were sitting here, a new member, listening to the wisdom of fifteen years ago.
.Then the object of attack was the resumption of specie payments. Then on every hand
men declared, and this Hall resounded with the declaration, that the resumption of specie
payments meant the ruin of the debtor and the destruction of the country; that it meant
handing it over to England and to the foreigner, and that the poor citizen of the United
States was t61ie forever prostrate at their feet; and yet I lived to see every one of those prophecies forgotten, and every man connected with ttiem forgotten, too. [Laughter.] When
specie payments were absolutely and actually resumed do you not remember what a tremendous upward start this country took ? Do you not remember how the prices of all property in the country rose ? How all property actually increased in value ? How men
were at work in thefields,in the marts, in the workshops, and every where all over the country everything was at the highest pitch of production ?
It is because this country has been watered and fructified by the capital of the whole
world; and the result at the end of the last census shows what tremendous progress we
have made, and that progress has been because the whole world has helped us, has received
more or less benefit of it. but we the greatest benefit of all, for all the great works which
have been erected by foreign capital remain upon, our soil. So my two reasons for voting
for the repefd are,first,that it will restore confidence to the people and in some measure
help us out of the first difficulties of our present condition; ana second, when the time
comes it will assist us on the upward path to the next period of prosperity and of progress.
Now, letriieanswer, so far as I am able, a few of the objections which have been urged
against this repeal. First, it is said that it is a renewed demonetization of silver. On this
question of demonetization of silver there has never been a really fair, open, and honest
discussion, jl do not believe either that the present time is one which will produce such a
discussion. jThe subject has always been approached from the domain of prejudice and
passion. There is one element in it which has always excited my disgust and also my astonishment." I have seldom heard the question of silver discussed without some gentleman
presenting what he called the "stealthy demonetization of silver."
There is nothing which will arouse the wrath, dissatisfaction, and disgust of the American
people like any charge of dishonesty or knavery or trickery in pubic affairs. The American people do well to be angry if silver was dishones lv demonetized. If any trick, if
any game was perpetrated upon the American people, they do well to be angry. It is a
false appeal to tnis sense of honesty and honor and fair play which has caused one of the
most stupendous fabrications that has ever existed even in political life.
On every stump, at every hustings, in every city, with lpud voice it has been proclaimed,
as from a hill-top, that when silver ceased to be a standard of value of the United States,
it was done by virtue of a stealthy conspiracy unknown to the American people. It is astonishing that such a statement should have lived so long. It is amazing that a falsehood of
that kind should not have been burned out of existence long years ago. The fact about it is,
and I have here the RECORD which proves my assertion, that it took three columns of the
RECORD (vol; 18,1876, page 288) to even characterize and describe the number of times that
it was presented to the American people, the number of tinier that it was argued before
Congress* and the direct declarations of what the purpose of the act was.
Why, I, myself have heard a man, an honored member of the House, whose name I will
not state, irflthis very House of Representatives denounce the demonetization of silver as
stealthy and ^fiendish;" and he himself introduced the bill which did it on the floor of this
House, and squarely and openly declared that a double standard was impossible, and that
the gold standard was the only thing we could possibly have. [Laughter and applause.]
This thing has been answered so many times that I shall not encumber my discourse with
an insertion of proofs. I shall simply content myself with saying that there never was a more
open, straightforward discussion since the beginning of time than that by which silver was demonetized, as it is so said, in this country. Here is the Globe, vol. 102, page 2306, and pages
following, second session of Forty-second Congress, April 9,1872. Anybody can look at it, and



for the secon d time in my life I make profer of it in open court. Now, it is said that if we pass
this act we shall again demonetize silver. The gentleman from Georgia [Mr. LIVINGSTON] said
the other day that there was no man in the House who did not proclaim himself a bimetallist ; thereby inferring that those who claimed to be bimetallism and did not vote his way
were necessarily persons who were obtaining positions in this world by false pretenses.
I think that he omitted from his mental diagnosis of the case the great fact that the foundation of all disputes is difference of definition. He means by a bimetallist a man who is in
favor of two metals if he can have them, but of silver if he cannot. Other men may be bimetallists in the sense that the^ are willing to have both metals if they can, but are unwilling
to be put upon a silver basis without knowing it. If he would consider the range between
those two definitions, I think he wouldfindthat most people are as honest in their desire to
be bimetallists as he is himself. Bimetallism by a single nation does not seem to be possible;
bimetallism by all the nations of the world seems to me to be not only possible, but feasible.
As I understand it, the object of bimetallism, and the avowed object of monometallism, is to
have a stable and persistent standard. The theory of the monometallist is that gold of itself
is subject to lessfluctuation,to less change than silver, to lessfluctuationand change than
both gold and silver together. The theory of the bimetallist is that if two lakes, liable to be
disturbed by different causes, can be connected and made toflowinto each other interchangeably, they will present a much greater expanse, and any change of level will therefore be much
less—the change in each lake being distributed over both.
I can understand this theory as applied to the metallic standards of the world. I can
understand that if gold by any accident should be undervalued in any country and driven
out of that country, that would send it to the other countries; and the effect of that surplus of gold in the other countries would be to lower the price of gold, and, therefore,
have a tendency to send it back to the original country; in other words, that the effect of
the two lakes would be to cause a lesser variation in the level; but when you come to apply that doctrine*to a single country, you will perceive at once that it cannot be applicable,
that the effect of undervaluing one metal will necessarily be to drive that metal out of the
country. You do not have to indulge in any far-fetched theories to understand this. You
do not have to discuss the question of the Gresham law at all. All you have to do is to
apply yourself to the history of the United States; and the speech of the gentleman from
Tennessee [Mr. PATTERSON], a brave and admirable speech, shows conclusively that this
country, while it was pretending to be bimetallic in its standard, was never really so;
that one metal drove the other out of the country; that the standard was not possible of
maintenance as long as there was an overvaluation.
Now, to-day the proposition is that we shall undervalue gold over 40 per Cent If 3 cents
on a dollar of undervaluation of silver drove silver out of this country, what will an undervaluation of 40 cents on a dollar do for gold? Does anybody have any question or
doubt about it ? Not the least. But you say if we undertake to establish a gold standard
in this country,first,you will demonetize silver and drive it out of existence; and, second,
vou will raise the debts which people owe to some persons unknown, presumably enemies
who ought to be despoiled. This first charge would be a serious one if it were true. If
the adoption of a gold standard destroyed the uses of silver, it would certainly be a very
grave misfortune to this country. In the first place, it would destroy a productive industry of this country. For my part,-! am never willing to do that. Second, it would destroy an industry which, in my judgment, is of more value to this country than a merely
productive industry.
,
To my belief the regions beyond the Missouri River will one day or other constitute
comparatively the great riches of this country. It would not be possible for me to prove
this. It would not be possible for me to demonstrate this, perhaps, even to the people
who live beyond the Missouri; but I have an abiding faith that such is the case. The
wonderful possibilities of their soil has never been appreciated even by themselves. I believe that the settlement and growth of this country depend greatly upon its mining interests. I have, therefore, been ready all my life, by duties on lead, and oy any action upon
the silver question which seemed to me to be adequate and suitable to promote those industries ; and I should be sorry to believe that the maintenance of a gold standard would
cause them permanent harm. I do not. believe that the maintenance of a gold standard
in any w#y militates against the reasonable use of silver as a coinage metal. The question whether there is to be a double standard or a single standard is entirely different
from the question of the use pf silver as money.
We have purchased, and have now in the vaults of the United States Treasury Department, thousands of tons of silver, yet there never has been a moment of time since 1872
when the standard has not been gold; the standard to-day is gold. The repealing of the
purchasing clause of the Sherman act, therefore, would not in any way establish a standard,
we are only refusing to establish a different one. The continuance of the purchases under
the Sherman act would; in the estimation of the world, be a declaration that we intended
to go oh with oar purchases to such an extent that we would find ourselves upon a. silver bagis
after no great lapse of time. Now, whatever this country may desire to ao—whatever its
intentions are for the future—one thing seems to be clear: if the people are to go upon a
silver basis they want to know that they are going to do so, and want to do it deliberately.
If the plain question were presented to every American citizen whether he desired that
this country should be upon a silver basis alone, gold being banished, the great majority
of answers would be no. And this ground they would take without abating a jot their determination to coin and use both metals.
1
The next difficulty which we have to meet is the assertion that by the repeal.of the Sherman act we increase the burden of the debt * upon the borrower. This would certainly be



s
a very grave misfortune, if it were true. The business of borrowing and the business of
lending are alike honorable. Such transactions arise out of the nature of man's needs.
Some men prefer a certain gain to the chances of great profit. Some men are willing to take
the chance of the profit and pay the small gain which is necessary in order to obtain the
storedup wealth of another. Men who have money may not have enterprise and brains.
Men who have brains and enterprise do not always have money. Borrowing and lending
marries money and brains, to the great advancement of the world. If we were to make a
law which only related to a single series of transactions, such as now exist in the United
States, it might possibly be an advantage to the borrower to have the payment so adjusted
that he would have the advantage of the transaction; but when the present race of borrowers is dead, or when the present borrowers have paid their money, there will still be
forever a borrowing and lending world. In order to constitute the transaction of borrowing and lending, the first thing is the lender. Until he is willing to lend, the transaction
cannot by any possibility take place. The first thing to do is to coax the lender to lend.
After that, borrowing is possible, and not until then is it possible.
Hence, laws must be made so as to enable the lender to be satisfied of the certainty of return. If there is any uncertainty with regard to that, before he lends he will demand some
advantage which corresponds to that doubt connected with the repayment. Money paid for
the use of other money, in the nature of interest, is a different thing from money paid for the
use of other money in the nature of a risk. A man will lend you money for 5 per cent,
where there is no risk, and it may be he will not lend it to you for a hundred where there
is; consequently, if you make your laws in such fashion that the borrower has an advantage in payment, the lender will be sure to demand an advantage in lending, and, generally,
such an advantage as will cover all the chances. If you could make a man absolutely sure
to-day in any part of the United States that what he loans out would certainly comeback
to him, you would lower the rate of interest a great many per cent, everywhere.
Therefore, any law which is made to reach the case of the lender and the borrower must
be made in the spirit of fairness and, of justice; and any proposition to a man to lend you
money upon one standard to be paid upon another will necessarily be accompanied with
such a rate of interest as will make up for the possibility of the lowering of that standard.
Hence, it cannot be to the advantage of anybody to have unjust laws made between the
borrower and the lender; it is just as essential to the borrower that the transaction should
be as fair as it is to the lender. I do not propose, however, to discuss the debt question at
any length.; That would be more suitable in a discussion such as may take place when our
wholefinancialsystem is remodeled. These observations on debtor and creditor I make
merely to supplement the admirable statement of the gentleman from Mississippi [Mr.
CATCHINGS]^ I might go on and discuss the proposition to re-establish the Bland act, but
Senator HOAR, in his most excellent speech elsewhere, has shown that that act is worse
than the one under which we are now living. Certain it is that had not the decline of the
nationalbank circulation kept equal pace with the issue of the Bland dollar, that act would
have long ago landed us where we are now.
The proposition to lower the ratio, I hail as the one good sign of this discussion. To drop
from the bigoted determination that 16 to 1 is a heaven appointed ratio raised up by the
Almighty, and proceed ev$n to discuss market values, seems to give some slight hope that
when we really undertake anew to reform our financial system we may approach it with
some reference to existing conditions, and to the facts of the universe. As for the propositions now before us, we can all see that they are untenable. No one believes that we
could maintain 20 to 1 any easier than 16 to 1 without the aid of the rest of the world.
What, then, is the pathway of duty ? The unconditional repeal.* That will either give relief or not. Sf not, then we must try something else, and the sooner the better. It is a
matter of deep regret to all sensible men that we have delayed so long. Men are to-day
struggling almost against fate and praying for relief. The banks are strained almost to the
point 6f breaking. It is such a pity that we had to waste so much time in this weary welter of talk, i We stand in a very peculiar position, we Republicans to-day. [Laughter.]
The representative of the Democratic party just chosen President of the United States finds
himself powerless in his first great recommendation to his own party. Were he left to
their tender mercies [laughter] the country would witness the spectacle of the President
of its choice overthrown by the party charged with this country's government. What
wonder then that he appeals to the patriotism of another party whose patriotism has never
been appealed to in vain ? [Applause on the Republican side.]
Never, I say in vain! The proudest part of the proud record of the Republican party
has been iti steadfast devotion to the cause of sound finance. When this country was
tempted to jay its bonds in depreciated money the Republican party responded with loud
acclaim to tfat noble sentiment of Gen. HAWLEY, that every bond was as sacred as a soldier's grave.! It cost us hard fighting and sore struggle, but the credit of this country has no
superior in the*world. [Applause on the Republican side.] When the same arguments
heard to-daTwere heard fifteen years ago sounding the praises of a depreciated currency
and proclaiming the piories of fiat money, the party of Abraham Xmcohi marched steadily
towards specie payments and prosperity; [Applause.] What we were m our days of victory
the same are we in our days of defeat—champions of true and solid finance. [Applause.]
And when the time comes, as it surely will come, for us to lead this land back to those
paths of prosperity and fame, which were trodden under Republican rule for so many years,
we shall take bask with us our ancient glory undimmed by adversity; our ancient honor,
unsullied by defeat [Prplopged applause on the floor and in the galleries.]

WI O & B9 E , P I T D 4 0 1 H ST., Washington, D. C.
JS N
I B E RN E , 8 1 T