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" Free coinage of the American product of silver is essential to
our national prosperity."








30, 1893.

(Being the legislative day Tuesday, October 17,1893.)




S P E E C H


The Senate having tinder consideration the hill (H. R. 1) torepeala part or
an act, approved July 14,1890, entitled "An act directing the purchase of silver
bullion and the issue ol Treasury notes thereon, and for other purposes"—

Mr. CAMERON said:
Mr. PRESIDENT: Before the final vote is taken, I consider i t
my duty, coming as I do from an Eastern State, and standing
alone from my section in the advocacy of what I consider honest
money, the money of the people, to protest against the want of
courage of this bill.
Through this long debate I have listened patiently, hoping
that from some quarter or another we should hear the proposal
of a measure broad enough to meet the difficulties before us, and
to take the place of the suggestions which I ventured to offer
more than a month'ago. The hope has been disappointed. This
side of the Senate has chosen to think its ideas of duty satisfied
by throwing on the other side all the responsibility for the form
of this legislation.
The other side has accepted and obeyed some impulse from
without and has added nothing; suggested nothing of its own.
Neither side has made a suggestion which, in my opinion, has
been broad enough, and, therefore, I have studiously avoided
voting for or against the amendments proposed. There can be
but one solution, free coinage of the American product of silver
is essential to our national prosperity.
I do not rise now to oppose longer the passage of the bill,
which seems to be accepted ascertain. On the other h a n d , !
would urge the Senate to vote at once. Not to oppose or delay
the bill, do I asic a moment of your attention, nor to irritate still
further the temper which the struggle has already roused, but
to make a last appeal on behalf of common patriotism. The Senate can not with self-respect pass such a measure as this. W e
can not, by a naked order, without providing for the consequences, reverse a settled national policy and still retain a claim
to be regarded as men of capacity, character, or courage.
The answer will, of course, be made that Congress must first
decide the principle—the single issue—before dealing with its
remoter consequences. The answer itself is a confession, an
avowal of feebleness. Never in the history of our country has so
serious an issue been met in a narrower and less libera, spirit.
We can not separate the act from its consequences. W e can not
set an avalanche in motion without first providing for the safety

of the people beneath it. W e can not deliberately break the
dam of a reservoir without first taking at least ordinary .precautions to protect the villages in the valley below. We can not—
at least if we are men of common sense, or common honesty, we
would not—declare a war without first providing either arms,
men, or money.
We of the minority need not set ourselves up as prophets.
W e know quite as well as any of the majority knows, that all
forethought is subject to error, and that events rarely turn out
as expected; but the question is not whether our forethought
may be mistaken, it is whether Congress is or is not bound to
think at all. The majority of this Chamber seems determined
to act without thinking, for fear that if it stops to think it will
not act. We on our side maintain that every public duty and
interest bind us to measure the possible results of our acts, and
that some of the possible results of this act leap into our very
Look for a moment at the arguments put forward in support
of the repeal. One of the most forcible is that it would oblige
Europe to enter into an agreement with us to return to the use
of silver as money. That is to say, we intend to cut off our
American market for silver in order to throw 50,000,000
ounces a year on the European market in addition to what we
already send, in the hope of breaking down its market price.
W e expect, we intend, to break down the market for silver.
Only'this last week, too, we have been informed by telegraph
that the government of India has requested the home Government to impose a duty on the import of silver into India, and
that the home Government has refused until our action in this
Chamber should be decided. Whether this report is true or not
matters nothing. In any case, the Indian government is known
to be in serious difficulty in the attempt to raise the rate of the
exchange and the value of its rupee; and a duty on silver sufficient to shut out silver bullion from India seems inevitable and
Apparently, therefore, the two chief markets for sliver are to
be closed simultaneously within a few days. We are surely not
unreasonable, then, if we infer that the value of silver, with
reference to gold and money of all sorts resting on a gold basis,
will materially fall. We may differ in opinion as to the extent
of this fall, but the difference does not affect our duty as legislators. W e are bound to consider the reasonable possibilities, and
|jood judges think it possible that the fall may be great. Should
it be great enough to cause distrust among the people of India, I
believe many well-informed persona fear t h a t the Indians may
begin to throw their hoards on the market, which would make
silver bullion unsalable.
All this may turn out ^uite differently. England may be converted; the present ministry may resign, and a new ministry
may,offer to adopt our silver policy, which this bill proposes to
discard; war in Europe may change the conditions of the whole
World; new mines or new processes may cheapen gold; but we
are not gambling on such chances. W e are bound only to provide against dangers, and only against dangers reasonably evident. The fall in the price of silver is a probability admitted by

everyone inside or outside this Chamber. W h a t security do we
propose to offer in this bill, or in any legislation now before Congress against the consequences of such a fall?
One of these probable consequences is an increased demand for
gold to take the place of silver. Already in Europe the governments are fighting for gold. France refuses to part with hers;
the Imperial Bank of Germany keeps up a high rate of discount
to attract gold; the Bank of England has recently annoyed the
whole business commuaity by keeping its rates of discount far
above the market rate in order to protect its gold reserve. India has for fifty years absorbed much gold. If silver is to be discredited, she may want more than ever. What, then, is to be our
position if we pass this bill as it stands, without regarding probable consequences? We have liabilities in paper or silver, the
value of which we are about to imperil, amounting to one thousand millions, and we have, as the foundation for all this credit,
only about eighty millions of gold in the Treasury.
This view is too favorable to the Treasury. As matter of
fact, we have a deficit of several millions a month. The Treasury has thus far met this deficit by paying gold out of its reserve. No application has been made to us for resources; no
application can now be made and met without some further
delay. If we manage to keep fi£ty millions of gold in the Treasury we shall do well.
Every intelligent American knows that such a course is worse
than error and approaches hard on crime. No banker who feared
the penitentiary would knowingly and willingly let his liabilities stand in such a relation to his assets. If he did it by deliberately destroying the talue of his chief asset, he would certainly have to pass the rest of his life in a prison or in an asylum.
Ten to one is a gambler's chance. Twenty to one is the risk only
of a lunatic* No banker who values his solvency allows his coin
or convertible assets to fall below the scale of one to three, and
on that scale our Treasury is bound to put not fifty millions, but
three hundred and fifty million gold dollars into the vaults before this bill becomes law.
What shall be said, what can be said of financiers who deliberately set to work to destroy the value of their assets and
intend afterwards to borrow to the full extent of the value they
have wantonly destroyed? If the "Secretary of the Treasury,
or the Committee on Finance of this ^ Senate, had begun by
a request for three hundred millions in gold, they would, at
least, have shown that they knew what sort of a financial operation they were undertaking. If, after the passage of this bill,
and a further decline in the value of silver, they should ask for
such a loan, the request will be fatal to their reputation as
financiers. They have not asked for it; we can hardly thrust it
upon them; this bill contains no suggestion of gold, and the
Secretary is paying it out with a free hand. We are wasting
our sil ver and our gold and our credit, and we call remonstrance
The bill, then, does not propose to increase the gold reserve.
Will it protect the eighty millions now in the Treasury? The
Bank of France flatly refuses to pay out gold. The Bank of
England raises its rate of discount indefinitely, and contracts

the circulation. Our Treasury can do neither. Any one who
can obtain a greenback can take gold, and the greenbacks alone
amount to more than $ 3 0 0 , 0 0 0 , 0 0 0 . If this bill should, as is
reasonably probable, increase the demand for gold, the Treasury is exposed to the necessity of paying only in silver—of discharging one liability by another, which we are, by this act,
making more or less worthless.
Since we are on the subject of possibilities, which we arebouud
to consider and for which, if they are reasonable, we are bound
to provide before passing this bill, ^ will venture to suggest
another. The new policy looks to a further fall in the value of
silver bullion. Any fall, which causes much further decline,
must render silver coin a very dangerous medium for the Government to use as money. W i t h modern appliances, and with
little capital, a skillful mechanic could coin a dollar identical
with the Government dollar—perhaps not to be distinguished
from it—in any quantity, and with little risk of detection.
The temptation even now is great; perhaps the thing is already
being done on a large scale wi thouA our knowing it. W h a t would
it be if the profit were still greater—say 80 cents on the dollar?
If the time should come when coiners can make a clear profit
of $80,000 out of every hundred thousand they manufacture,
without danger, or loss, or injury to any one except the Treasury, the conclusion is surely reasonable t h a t we may be obliged
to withdraw all our silver coin. If so, what shall we substitute?
Shall it be gold? Would our people consent to buy eleven hundred millions of erold at a time when every other government
would necessarily be obliged to do the same thing?
Evidently we should not resort to gold, but to paper. Am I
wrong in saying that we all feel fear—and I, for one, feel not only
fear, but certainty—that in such a situation we should be driven
by political necessity into the use of irredeemable paper—fiat
money? Is this result which is or ought to be present in all our
minds provided for or even considered in this bill? Has the majority faced the possibility? Yet should this evidently possible
case occur every member of this Senate who votes fbr the bill
as it stands will have to admit that he knowingly, deliberately,
advisedly refused to provide against the danger which his own
act brought on.
Again, this is a measure of contraction. Reversing our whole
policy, it announces to the million and a half of new citizens,
who every year enter upon active life, that they must get along,
as best they can, with the same amount of specie money, which
many, if not most, of their fathers already declare to be insufficient. Do we intend this new policy to be permanent? For
myself, I solemnly protest that I have not the smallest idea what
our intention may be. A bill like this, which upsets from top
to bottom the whole of our old System, ought to explain and
affirm the new one; but I study the bill and the debate in vain
to discover what ultimate object the majority has in its mind.
Finally, if gold should be made by this act scarcer than it is—
if commodities should fall still further with reference to the gold
standard, this bill may seriously affect your revenue laws. We
all know that the best authorities estimate the fall in the price
of commodities since 1873 at more than one-third. If gold should

be forced up—if new panics are to be foreseen—if commodities
are to be still further reduced on the gold standard, our whole
revenue system must be reformed to meet the emergency. We
can not touch the tariff until we know the effect of our silver
legislation on prices.
If we do so now, we may merely have to undo, in the next
session, what is done in this. The Senate will tie not only justified, but will possibly be compelled, to take this risk into grave
consideration, if not in passing this bill, then in acting on any
future measure which may concern the revenue.
The majority does not choose to accept these views of reasonable possibilities, which ought to be embraced in this scheme.
They have chosen to ignore these questions. After opposition
to this bill had practically ceased, and its passage was regarded
as assured, Senators were bound to answer reasonable criticism
of the details of their scheme. Silence at this point ceased to
be good policy or good politics. It was never a sign of statesmanship, or of courage; it has now become a sign of something worse,
something I will not characterize.
In the history of parliamentary government, as far as a general rule can ever be called established, it lias been established
that the party which resorts to silence as a weapon—which
votes, but refuses to answer—is in the wrong. The question I
am trying to ask is, not whether the majority is correct in its
principles, for that seems to be settled in its favor as far as numbers go, but whether it has seriously faced its own act. If not,
it is in the wrong, whatever the event may be.
Already the action of Europe and European governments has
spread ruin throughout the United States; has for six months
paralyzed industry; has thrown our largest corporations into bankruptcy; has ruined several of our Western States, and through
them has cost Eastern capitalists many millions of money invested in the West. W e are going—certainly not in the gaiety
of our hearts, for of gaiety I admit that the majority shows no
trace—but, willingly or not, we are going to finish what Europe
has successfully begun.
Those who have steadily and stubbornly opposed this policy
may now fold their arms and wait. Henceforward the responsibility rests on the other side, and no doubt the majority will
be held to it. If the party, or the combination of parties, or
whatever the number of Congressmen and Senators and other
individuals may be which makes up the combined responsibility
for this measure—if they, or it, do not provide for dangers distinctly pointed out, or for any other dangers which they ought
to have foreseen even if not expressly pointed out; if they refuse
to widen their vision and listen to warning, the country will have
to be the final judge between us. No great statesman in our
history has ever effected any good object by such means.
Not in such a spirit or by such tactics did Hamilton organize
the national finances, or Gallatin direct them. Clay and Webster did not enlighten the Senate by methods like this, or by
narrowing the field of their intellect. You may search long and
far in the worst periods of our history to find a parallel for legislation so narrow in a crisis so vast.
Finally, no Senator must reply by pleading that all these quee686

tions can be settled by subsequent legislation. They can not be
delayed. The difficulties keep step with the act. The Senate
can not afford to pass this bill in its present shape, and then adjourn, leaving further legislation to take its chance among the
difficult and violently disputed questions that will crowd on us
in the regular session. The influence, whatever it is, which is
responsible for the present bill, certainly does not command the
confidence of a majority of the Senate.
Even though we had been directed by the genius of the greatest statesmen the world ever saw, we should still need—and, in
that case, we should certainly have—not only the guaranty of
further legislation, but also the legislation itself. Directly and
personally we are ourselves responsible for its absence. If we
fail now of our duty, we have no ground for confidence that the
duty will ever be performed. On the Republican side of this
Chamber, if not on the other, we have thus far seen nothing to
create confidence of any sort in the wisdom, the unanimity, or
the courage of the party—if it is a party—which controls, or is
supposed to control, the Government.
In the hope, therefore, of inducing the majority to deal with
the subject in a broader spirit, and with the intention, if that
hope fails, of at least completing the record and of leaving no
excuse in future for the supporters of this bill to plead that the
whole subject was not offered for their consideration, I may ask
the Senate to vote on the propositions which I have already offered in debate, or I would prefer that this bill be referred to a
select committee of seven or more members with instructions to
report on the further measures which may be required to provide for carrying safely into effect the object of the legislation as
proposed some time since by the Senator from Alabama [Mr. MORGAN].