View original document

The full text on this page is automatically extracted from the file linked above and may contain errors and inconsistencies.



HON. S. W . M C C A L L ,

M A S S A C H U S E T T S ,



A U G U S T 16, 1893.

X8 93 .




S. W


The House haying under consideration the bill (H. R. 1) to repeal a part of
an act, approved July 14, 1890, entitled 4 'An act directing the purchase of
silver bullion and the issue of Treasury notes thereon, and for other purposes"—

Mr, McCALL said:
Mr: SPEAKER: I agree entirely with the proposition advanced
in this House by most of the opponents of this bill, that the question at issue is monometallism against bimetallism; but I do not
agree with those gentlemen as to which side represents monometallism and which side represents bimetallism. To my mind
it is as clear as the sunshine that a continuance of the policy of
the Government in purchasing 4,500,000 ounces of bullion each
month, or the free coinage of silver at any of the ratios in the
amendments pending before this House, will result in this country becoming a monometallic and not a bimetallic country, and
that metal will be silver, and in our having as our standard of
value the amount of silver coined in the silver dollar.
I believe, Mr. Speaker, in bimetallism so far as it can be maintained on the gold standard, which is our present standard. I
believe that we should have all the silver we can circulate in
this country, and yet adhere to the standard which prevails
among the nations of the civilized world; and because I so believe, I am in favor of this bill.
Let us consider what the policy of this Government has been.
It would take no very great gift of prophecy to foretell that
when this Government must invest in a certain amount of silver
each month without any surplus revenue over and above its expenditures, that it could only acquire silver at the expense of its
gold. That is what the effect of this policy should be. Let us
see what the effect has been.
During the three years in which we have been upon this policy our Treasury^ has parted with nearly $100,000,000 of its gold,
and the reason it has not parted with precisely the amount of
gold that it has purchased in silver is, in my judgment, due to
the extraordinary measures pursued by it during the last two
years to keep it. If we look at the matter from an international
standpoint we find this remarkable coincidence, th-it up to July
1,1893, we had purchased $140,500,000 of silver'bullion, and we
had exported from this country $141,000,000 of gold. The effect
of this policy then, I say, is precisely what tve might expect it
would be—that as we have parted with our gold we have piled up
Mr. Speaker, it will not require any very long time, it will not
be a very distant day when this Government, at this rate, will


have parted with so much of its gold that it will be compelled to*
suspend gold payments, and the result will thus inevitably be the
expulsion of all our gold from circulation, and the placing of the
country upon a silver standard.
And. that is the essential question at issue here to-day. What
standard do we propose to maintain in this country? What is
our dollar? You might infer that a u dollar " was simply a fiat
of the Government, an umbra, a piece of that very intangible
and unmeasurable thing called the " faith of the Government.'*
You might infer that any other word containing the same number of letters, if it was emitted by the Government, would have
the same value.
But there is this significant thing in the situation, this extraordinary coincidence, that what we call our dollar is worth precisely, and has been since the first day pf January, 1879, the
amount of gold in the gold dollar. That is the striking fact.
That means simply that we are upon a gold standard. That
means that the gold dollar is, in effect, the dollar of ultimate redemption, and every one of our dollars, whataver may be the intrinsic value of the material of which it is made or upon which it
is stampsd, whether it is worthless paper or whether it is silver, is
worth precisely the value of the amount of gold in a gold dollar.
That results from the fact that this Government has since 1879
declared its purpose to convert every kind of its dollars into any
other kind that any person may desire. The consequence has
been that so long as it could maintain payment upon the basis
of the gold dollar, which is the most expensive dollar, that would
be our standard of value. But when we see the gold flowing
frOm our Treasury we see that the Government is approaching
the point where, although it may have the willingness, it can not
have the ability to redeem its promises, and when the time arrives then it will have to go to the basis of the next most valuable dollar.
So, instead of your dollar being anything intangible or a subject of mere imagination, it will then be the amount of silver
contained in our present dollars, or in whatever silver dollar
we may hereafter adopt, if we adopt free coinage. Believing,
then, that the important question involved in this debate is the
question of standard, it seems to me that we ought to consider
for a moment whether it is wise to-day for the United States to
adopt a silver standard in preference to a gold standard.
What does that involve? It is said that silver was demonetized in 1873 by this Government, by Germ my, by France, and
by other nations, and that, as a result of that demonetization,
there has been a far less demand for it, and, consequently, that
it has gone down in value. Now, Mr. Speaker, notwithstanding
the reduced demand for silver, caused by the demonetization of
1873, you will find that, in the face of that decreasing demand,
the product of silver has constantly increased, and to-day the
annual outDut of that metal is nearly 250 per cent greater than
it was in 1873. It has gone up so that to-day silver can hardly
be ranked among the precious metals, and the new output of this
metal, to say nothing of the stock at present existing in the
world, amounts to nearly 6,000 tons per year.
Now, in view of the fact that the mints of all the civilized and
of the greater part of the heathen world have been closed to
silver, I submit that it would be madness for this Government to28

day to go upon the silver standard and, atleast, thereby shoulder
the new output of silver. But that is not all. I taink there is
a great deal in the argument, though I do not think it should
have the force that has been given to it, that the silver of other
nations, especially if there was any rise in the value of the article
by reason of our adopting free coinage, would be unloaded upon
us. Those nations would seize the opportunity to unload their
silver upon us, precisely as Germany did in 1873 and 1874. It is
said that the German Government sold its silver at a loss.
Mr. Speaker, it might have sold its silver at a loss as compared
with the arbitrary ratio fixed in the German coinage, but there
has been no day from that time to this when the German Government could not have purchased back, if it desired, that very
silver at less than what it received; so that it would have made
by the transaction.
It seems to me entirely clear that the result of our going upon
the silver basis would be to expose this country to the great
fluctuations in that metal and in the value of our dollar, and that,
by reason of our alone attempting" to carry silver as against all
the rest of the world, we would see a constant shrinkage in the
value of our dollar.
We should not have free coinage, simply because Mr. Carlisle
is not a pattern of consistency and apparently has seen a new
light. I do not agree upon many political questions with Mr.
Carlisle, but he possesses the instincts of a statesman; and the effect of the great responsibility of the office he now holds, with his
hand upon the throttle of that mighty engine which can start or
stop all our wheels of industry, has been to sober him, as it would
sober any man who had at heart the interests of his country.
I do not imagine that it is necessary here to repeat any of the
old classical arguments about the desirability of the gold standard as asrainst the silver standard; and I may say here that I take
no stock whatever in the exploded theory that we can have a
double standard. I do not believe you can have any double
standard of value any more than you can have a double quart
measure or a double pound weight. It seems to me that we
must adopt some standard in value; and while, from the nature
of the case, we can not get anything that is inflexible, that will
never rise or decrease in value, it is our duty to adopt that at
least which will put us on terms of equality with the other trading nations of the world, and which will possess, in the highest
degree obtainable, the quality of stability.
If we tike the value of gold as compared with labor, which I
think is fairly the unit of production, we shall i? e that gold and
labor during the last twenty years have maint .ined their relations to each other, and that wages expressed in terms of gold
are at least equal to-day to what they were twenty years ago, Lf
not greater.
But gentlemen say you must take commodities as the measure of value. Now, Mr. Speaker, I submit that commodities do
not constitute a proper test. If twenty years ago an article required so much human labor in its production, and to-day that
article is produced by the mere automatic motion of a machine
at one-third the cost at which it was produced then, I say it
should have, with reference to human labor, only ona-thirJ the
value that it had then. The work of a machine does not count in
this matter.

The work of a machine, except as it may involve the ingenuity
of the inventor, to whom money is paid for the invention and
the cost of labor in producing- the machine, should count for
nothing whatever in the transaction.
And now let us see what terrible burden is laid on the debtor
class in this country. Twenty years ago, for instance, you may
have loaned a man $100. That $100 required on your part a certain amount of labor to procure it. To-day that man returns to
you $100; and I submit that this sum of $100 should require as
much human labor to-day to procure it as was required to procure $100 when you lent him that sum. I submit it would be
most unjust if to-day the man should undertake to repay you in
any commodity which, by reason*of the invention of a new machine, costs to-day only $20 in labor, although at the time the
original loan was made the cost would have been $100 in labor.
Consider the improvement in various processes of human labor.
Sixty years ago the labor involved in carrying a bushel of wheat
from a point west of the Missouri river to New York would have
been one hundred fold in excess of the amount of labor involved
in the original production of that wheat. But by reason of improved methods of transportation that wheat can to-day be put
down in. New York for an infinitesimal fraction of what it would
have cost then. Shall we select some metal'as our standard of
value which will go backward and simply record what was the
cost of a given transaction sixty years ago—which will keep its
par with" the obsolete and expensive methods of twenty years
ago? I submit that the most nearly correct unit of value you can
get is the unit of human labor, which is the unit of production,
and as measured in that gold has been the most stable.
Mr. Speal^er, there is another reason in favor of the gold
standard besides the reasoh that it is the better standard. The
gold standard is the existing standard in this country, and it
should require some very potent reason to justify us in changing
that standard to another. But it is asked: *'' Why do you propose
to diminish the amount of your money when we are having a
money famine; when ail our industries are crying out for
more money, why should you go to work and* practically demonetize a large part of the money of the country "? .
Mr. Speaker, there never was a more patent fallacy than that.
This country is not suffering from lack of currency or circulating medium. If you will compare the Treasury report of the
1st of August in this year with the Treasury report of one year
previous, you will find that there has been an increase in the
amount of circulating medium to the extent of at least $10,000,000; and when you take into account the $20,000,000 of gold which
since the 1st of August has reached New York, and the increase
of ten or fifteen millions more in the national bank circulation,
it is entirely clear that our circulating medium to-day is $40,000,000 more than it was a year ago.
Why is it, then, that our business has declined? It may4be
from a variety of causes. I have no doubt that the fear of a radical change in the tariff has contributed to a considerable degree
and has curtailed the operations of our manufacturers. But it is
to be observed that this depression did not begin with the stopping of mills and the cbnsequent tightening of money; but
when, with the wheels of our mills revolving, with our manufacturing establishments having orders upon which to run, they

have had to shut down because of the lack of money, it is clear
that there is some cause which^ affects those who have money,
creating a fear which is paralyzing the business of the country.
So long as this Government is able, and so long as the people
believe it able, to redeem all its money in gold, people will be
entirely controlled in the kind of money they select by considerations of mere convenience. But the moment the point is
reached when it appears that the Government may not be able
to redeem all its money in gold, but that some holders of its obligations will be obliged to take a less valuable metal, then convenience gives place to fear; the bill holder becomes timid; and
from the effect of this impulse of fear there is a locking up of
our money from actual use.
Gentlemen call this a conspiracy to tighten the money market;
but there never was such a widespread and universal conspiracy
since the world began. It does not affect merely the great financial heart of this country, the city of New York, where the
bankers to-day see their deposits constantly decreasing, where
the national banks have run below their required reserve—
$15,000,000—but this distrust has appeared in Boston, in Chicago,
in Denver, and in cities beyond the Sierras; and I believe it is
due to a fear which can chiefly be traced to the effect of the policy
of the Sherman law and the continuance of the purchase of silver upon our circulating medium.
I have said what to my mind are the chief things which should
be considered here in this discussion. In the first place, we have
in this country to-day about the sum of $650,000,000 in silver.
That is all that we can stagger under. But if we stop where we
are, I believe we can carry that amount and return to our normal financial condition, but it is necessary to stop there in order
to prevent a further contraction of the currency which would result by the demonetization of gold, and in order to keep us from
a silver standard.
The only thing for us to do, in view of the policy of the other
nations of the world, is to take up the battle and fight, not
merely for ourselves, but for the common interests of mankind;
and in that view to go into a struggle with the other nations of
the world for gold. That is the surest way to fix the international status of silver. W e will never get there—to the point
desired by those who favor silver—if we are content to load down
the energies of the nation with a burden that would swamp the
greatest nation that ever existed by attempting to carry the silver of the world alone.
I do not care, sir, whether the Republican party or the Democratic party was originally responsible for the passage of this bill,
or what motives or methods were involved in its passage. I will
admit that the Republican party was. responsible for its enactment. But I believe that they were dealing then with an evil,
and this movement was made, as the President of- the United
States has said in his message, by the conservative financial element, with the intent to solve an existing grave question of
finance. But whether the Republican party was responsible
originally or not, I believe that it stands here to-day ready to terminate its responsibility.
The Democratic party unanimously voted against the act of
1890. It unanimously voted against that act when it had not
been tried, and when it might possibly have been a measure of

wis© and sound finance. Is it not, then, most extraordinary,
Mr. Speaker, that the operation of that act should produce a
change, ana such a change, in the policy of the Democratic
party? I submit it would be-scarcely to the glory of the Democratic party if they stood out opposed to that policy when it
might be for the financial interest of the country and become
converted to its support by the disaster and the ruin which have
followed from putting it into practice. And that, Mr. Speaker,
would be simply their attitude to-day if they fail to adhere to
the position they took when this act was originally before the
Congress for consideration and when it originally passed the
House—an attitude of uncompromising hostility to it.
Now, sir, to go outside of the two points on which I have been
speaking I desire to say that I have listened with somewhat of
amazement to some remarks on this floor concerning the bankers
of this country. I have no doubt that there are some very wicked
men in the country engaged in this business. It is my experience
with mankind that while we are all generally good you will find
a bad lot here and there, and sometimes very bad men are found
in Wall street; and we find also some bad men in Missouri. Under
our complicated social system the banker of the country is just
as necessary as the farmer. The farmer's crops could not be
moved from the place of production to the place of consumption
but for the banker.
Great railroad enterprises could not be inaugurated, important
industries and interests could not spring up throughout the
country, if there was not some place where the business men,
the enterprising men of the country could go and get money to
carry them into execution. The banker is a necessary part of
our institutions, and is entitled to as much respect as any other
class of business men in our community. . And, sir, when I look
at what they have done during the last few months, bearing aa
they have borne the brunt of this tempest, a tempest that threatened to engulf both them and us, and when I see the courage
shown in the face of decreasing deposits and increasing deficits,
when I see the ingenuity of the expedients to which they have
resorted in order to maintain the vast interests intrusted to their
care and prevent the breaking down of the business of the country,
so far from speaking of them in terms of derogation as " Shylocks," or "gold bugs," or other epithets of derision, I should
say that they are entitled to the admiration and support of the
Mr. Speaker,I say, in conclusion, that if we want to maintain
the two metals in circulation here, if we want to maintain the
gold standard in this country, if we do not desire to drive from
our business every drop of the rich, red, golden blood that vitalizes every civilized nation, if we do not wish to continue this
paralysis of business, and subject our farmers to the system of
exchange that is chiefly responsible for the degradation and practical slavery of the Indian peasant, we will have to repeal the
act of 1890 unconditionally. And while w£ may not restore confidence in the minds of the people at one blow, we will go very
far towards remedying the depression which has settled upon
all of the industries of the country. [Applause.]