The Free Coinage Craze.
MR. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN OF THE HAMILTON CLUB:
To be the first to publicly address you in this our new and beautiful club house, is an honor I do not deserve. Not possessing the graces of speech, as you well know, your ears may not be pleased by my plain discourse. Neither occupying nor coveting any public position, nor prominently connected with political affairs, it is atleast doubtful whether my views will be deemed even instructive. Nevertheless my assurance will be as bold as if I were Secretary of the Treasury, a congressman from Nebraska, or a machine politician in ring-ruled Chicago. My sole qualification for addressing you at all on monetary questions is that for about forty years my professional practice has brought me into close association with numerous men of intelligence, engaged in commercial pursuits small and great, from whom l should have derived much instruction, and the continuous investigation of financial matters which such a clientage has made natural and necessary. The changes which have occurred during that long period in our financial and political affairs, quite familiar to me, have been most instructive. Moreover, I was myself a State banker in a small way, before the war,
2and until the tax on wildcats caused them to hunt their holes.
One of the leading purposes for which the club was organized, is the frank and candid discussion and consideration of political questions, — looking at them from all points of view — to the end that we may ascertain the truth, and engraft our conclusions, as far as may be, upon Republican party policy. We recognize that there are many sides to every important question, and that no two persons entertain identical opinions. The money question, now uppermost in the public mind, is a fair illustration, each man seeming to enjoy his own favorite vagary. As Lincoln said, "all the people can be fooled sometimes, some people all the time, but not all the people all the time." So let us inquire diligently in the hope that before the election of next year, the clouds may roll by, which now seem to obscure the popular horizon on this question, and that the broad sun of honesty and common-sense may so penetrate and enlighten our minds and those of the people who do the principal voting, that this great nation may not become financially disgraced.
The Underlying Politics.
In discussing the question, it will be profitable to look backward a little, and endeavor to ascertain the underlying causes which now make the money question so prominent. It is not that the money in use in this country is unsatisfactory to the people, for it never was in ampler volume for all purposes, and each dollar of it is as good as any other dollar, even as good as gold. It is not that the so-called common people, the voters, have any critical
3opinions on the subject whatever, except, of course, that they would like more money. It is not that the financiers of this or any other country have views or purposes antagonistic to the common welfare, for they certainly have not. It is not that the introduction of free silver coinage would permanently benefit any class of the community. It is for none of these, or any other honest reason. It is simply a question of practical politics brought to the surface in the natural evolution of our affairs. Patriotism and politics have ceased to be synonymous. Perhaps they never were so. Politics has degenerated. Ambition for power — that, and nothing else — dominates.
Prior to the rebellion of our Democratic friends, the policy of our government had been chiefly dictated by the statesmen, of the South. Although the North was much more populous, the South excelled in diplomacy, and generally had its own way in the councils of the nation. We were operating under an extremely low tariff. The government was paying 12 per cent. interest, for borrowed money. Nobody then ever more than dreamed of inaugurating a high protective tariff in the country. The necessities of the war drove us to it. The enormous Democratic war debt incurred, made such a tariff for a long time necessary. Under its benign influence vast manufacturing interests grew up in the North, and colossal fortunes were thus accumulated. Beyond doubt, Chicago owes half its present vast magnitude and commercial importance to the establishment here of manufacturing industries, rendered possible only by high tariff protection. If, before the war, such a scheme of protection had been proposed, it would have met with a derision well nigh
4unanimous. The war taught us the lesson that protection does protect. As time wore on the vast millions of capital attracted to manufacturing, made competition so intense that almost every manufactured article could be bought at prices much cheaper than before the high tariff was imposed, and the wages of labor were everywhere largely increased. A protective tariff thus demonstrated not only that it had made this one of the greatest manufacturing nations of the earth, but that it had ultimately cheapened to the people the very prices of commodities which it was expected to increase.
The South was in the slough of despond over the successful march of Northern armies, and the conquest of Northern ideas, and bewailed its own financial and political downfall. By and by it became possible and desirable to reduce our revenues. The South insisted that the reduction should he on custom duties. They wanted free trade. The North preferred abolishing internal revenues, and this to a great extent was accomplished. The South laid this offense tip against us.
Meantime the Republican Moses made some mistakes. As one of the reconstruction measures, the right of citizenship and suffrage was conferred on the colored people, and was followed up by enactments which, if they could have been made effectual, would have placed several Southern states and many counties and cities under the control of the negro population, there in decidedly numerical majority. At the time of the adaption of these measures, they were regarded almost as a military necessity. The state
5of feeling in the North was so embittered toward the Southern white population lately in rebellion, that many Republicans would have been glad to see them ruled by their former slaves. Notwithstanding this virulent sentiment which then seemed to justify these enactments, the statesmen of that time, if they had possessed cool heads or been at all wise, would have easily foreseen, that such measures could never be enforced in the South, and also that they ought not to be. Laws not sustained by general local public sentiment, are nugatory. No considerable communities of white men have ever been dominated by negroes, and from the very nature of white men and their prejudices, never will be. Right of wrong, it cannot he done, and there is now very little sentiment, in the North desiring to see it done. Negro domination is no more practically justifiable in the South, than it would be in the North. Here, surely, nobody would submit to it. There nobody should be expected to. That the constitution justifies it, nobody denies. That the practical denial of the political rights of colored people in the South, gives that section a great political advantage over us, is as plain as it is outrageous. It is the inevitable consequence, however, of our own political mistake in including the colored people in the ratio of representation there on equal terms with the whites. We must stand the consequences. The Southern people should be left to handle the question as to them seems best. If we keep hands off, their own sentiment of honor may in time adjust the difficulty. If not nothing else will. It should be borne in mind that Southern negroes differ widely from their Northern representatives. The masses there are removed but little from original
6barbarism. Here good citizenship is with them the rule, and their votes are cast with the average intelligence of other citizens.
Then, all along, the policy was adopted by our party of admitting new states for the purposes of strengthening the party in the Senate. Nevada, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and others were thus admitted. Neither their population nor their prospects justified it. It was purely a political move and a bad one.
Republicans in Congress soon also undertook to enact the so-called force bill, to protect the political rights of the negroes South, if need be at the point of the government bayonet. It was a wholly impracticable measure, and as impossible of execution, had it been enacted, as would be a prohibitory liquor law in Chicago. It was constitutional, however, and accorded with the general sentiments of that class of Republicans who only look at one side of questions. Its discussion would also, it was thought, fire the Northern heart and make votes. But it fired the Southern heart also. Nothing is there so detested as negro suffrage, and especially enforced negro suffrage. Something must be diplomatically arranged to blockade this Republican threat.
Free Silver — No "Force Bill".
About the same time the free silver craze hove in sight, and began to assume prominence. The Populists, from their lairs of ignorance, were also wailing of hard times and cursing the luck which had made ether people rich instead of themselves. Ready for any bait, they espoused the cause of free silver and clamored long and loud, and
7still continue to. They wanted some of that free silver themselves. Their leaders promise them it shall soon be plenty.
Southern business men and politicians, east of the Mississippi, are by nature and self-interest quite as conservative as those in the North, on financial questions. They could not have been unaware that the free coinage of silver by this country independently, would be as disastrous to the South as to the North. Any disaster, however, any doctrine, was better to them than enforced negro suffrage. They would submit to no "force bill." Moreover they had been outgenerated on the tariff question and in the admission of numerous new Republican states. It was a condition and not a theory that confronted them. Diplomatic as of old, they proceeded to form an alliance, offensive and defensive, with the jack rabbit silver states and the Populists, whereby the force bill should be forever defeated, and, as compensation, free coinage of silver should be enacted and a lower tariff adopted. The force bill was accordingly defeated. It is dead forever. We only escaped free silver coinage by a narrow majority, and the McKinley tariff act has been emasculated. Thus the good Republicans, by endeavoring to enforce negro politicans protection at the South, which few really wished to accomplish, antagonized the financial conservations of that region, cut their own throats on the tariff and rendered the free coinage of silver the uppermost question in national politics.
No sooner was the alliance between the South and the silverites accomplished, than the Southern representatives returned to their states, and justified their course to their
8people, by proclaiming, not only their victory over negro suffrage there, but by extolling the merits of the free coinage of silver. This was kept up constantly and persistently for several years, and so continued, until many of the leaders have come to believe in the policy themselves. Most of the unthinking people South were easily convinced. In the silver states, and the others west of the Missouri river, the subject has enjoyed a craze exceeding anything that ever preceded it in the popular mind, and apparently overwhelming in its proportions. The distemper is advancing eastward also.
Mutual Amity Should Prevail.
It is thus my opinion that the Republican party, until lately, has pursued a course too antagonistic to the South, on matters where that section is peculiarly sensitive, and which it should be left in peace to work out and solve, as it inevitably must, according to its own conscience and good faith toward us. Our continued interference will only make a bad matter worse. And so, by antagonizing our Southern friends, by the scare of enforced negro suffrage, we have driven them, in apparent self-defense, to embrace the heresy of free silver coinage so effectually that their re-allegiance to financial good sense may with great difficulty be secured. Beyond doubt also, their adverse position on the tariff question is much affected by the same hostile consideration. The new South and the new men there should be our friends, and we theirs. Our interests do not antagonize theirs. All animosities born of the war have ceased. All prejudices should cease. We are affording them a lesson here of how they should,
9in their own good time, treat their colored people there. This should end the matter. Give the bright boys South a chance to act politically upon national questions according to their honest convictions. This they have never had since the war. This done, there would soon be as many young Republicans in the South as Democrats, and the scions of that country dwelling among us, Republicans by interest, would not feel obliged to vote against us as antagonists of their Southern friends. In my judgment, if our continued hue and cry about the South had long since ceased, the policy of the free coinage of silver would not have a corporal's a guard in its support, east of the Missouri river. It was originally and sincerely the scheme of the silver kings of the remote West only. The South has no natural interest in it.
Few Republican politicians have been so frank as to publicly proclaim sentiments akin to those I have here expressed, but private conference with many, assurer me that these views are very generally entertained by the best men in our party. We should cease clamoring for impossibilities, and contend only for policies within range of practical achievement.
Last Straw of Democracy.
There is another strong reason why the silver craze is now so seductive to our Democratic friends. By the object lesson of the late panic, the consequent continuous depression of all industries, and especially by the election last fall, they have discovered that the common people have entirely lost confidence in them. The false and fraudulent statements and promises made by them, which
10for years they have been putting forth to deceive the people on the tariff question, have been found belied by the performance of the party when in power. The Wilson Bill has been found wanting both in revenue and in protection. The doctrine of efficient protection seems safely established, to be executed as soon as a Republican President shall again be in authority. The people in many states have been humbugged by the democracy for years. They can be fooled no longer with free trade. It seems a dead issue. Some other humbug of a plausible character must needs be discovered by our adversaries, with which to regain popular confidence and a restoration to power. In politics any foolish scheme, if made plausible by eloquent, clamorous and persistent advocacy, and promising to right the wrongs of the people, will find many believers and catch many votes. As illustrative of the persistency of men in contending for a barren idea, recall the weary wars of the crusades, which raged for about two hundred years, involved all civilized nations, destroyed more than tell million lives, bankrupted every public treasury, and consumed well nigh all private wealth. Yet the goal of that grand conflict was but the possession of a hole in the ground — the holy sepulcher — held by the Saracens, and from which the occupant was known to have departed more than a thousand years before. The hole is there yet, and so are the Saracenal. In the blind pursuit of vagaries, brilliantly advocated, how much less ardent are the masses to-day then were their ancestors a thousand years ago?
The silverites and the Populists heartily favor free coinage. The South inclines that way, and is under contract
11to deliver. If, with these political discontents, the Democrats can unite, and secure enough of the conservative Northern States, the conglomerate party can return to the public crib once more. That is the scheme. Something to deceive the people. Anything to gain power and pelf. It is for this reason that we behold many Democratic politicians clamoring to have that mossback party declare for free coinage. It may be good practical politics. I am no judge. It is certainly the last and I trust the expiring gasp, of a motley assortment of political malcontents, but it may win. Is it pleasant, however, to believe that the more prominent and thoughtful members of the Democratic party, rather than sustain such financial folly, would join the Republican fold in such countless thousands that the few thin money worshippers who might desert our own ranks would scarcely be noticed.
Sound National Currency.
I shall not discuss at length the currency or paper money question. That has been done during the past winter, and is being done during the past winter, and is being done through the public press and elsewhere, ably and amply, by men better qualified for the task. It would seem that they leave no room for doubt in intelligent minds as to the proper methods of providing a sound national currency. I suggest, however, that the government should retire from the banking business altogether. The constitutional authority to "coin money and regulate the value thereof," did not contemplate that the government should run a bank. It is, in my judgment, entirely foreign to proper governmental function. The government should not be burdened with the duty or embarrassed
12with the necessity of borrowing money or otherwise raising into redeem our currency. That is the legitimate function of banks the world over. Congress should authorize the issue of 2 or 2Ë % gold bonds in amount sufficient to retire and destroy, gradually but forever, all the demand government obligations now in circulation. These bonds should be sold to national banks at par, and the banks should issue upon a deposit of these with the comptroller of the currency as security, national bank notes for the face value of the bonds. These notes should be payable on demand, in gold, at the bank of issue and at redemption agencies in the prinicipal cities. In case of sudden general financial emergency, such banks in good standing, should, whenever the comptroller might deem proper, be empowered to issue further currency to an amount equal to one-half of their capital and surplus, these emergency notes, however, to be retired within six months from date of issue. Government examination and the double liability of stockholders of such banks, should be preserved. The notes should be a first lien upon the assets, and in consideration of a small annual tax upon the capital, the government should guarantee the bill-holder having its own bonds in possession as security. Such a currency would be as safe as our present national bank notes — would be as ample as at present, and flexible when in general emergency it might become necessary. No better currency than this exists in the world. The bonds of states in good credit might be used with entire security, as a further basis of circulation. Duties on imports should be collected in gold.
Thus the banks would be obliged to provide the gold for
13redemption, and to care for the strength and usefulness of the currency. Uncle Sam is poorly qualified for that business. How much better could bankers do this than a lot of Washington politicians! How much better indeed would be such financial control, than that dictated by some Populist convention! Or has it come to this that men educated in the business of finance, and having everything at stake in it, are less fit for its management than a lot of Kansas, farmers, sagebrush statesmen or Chicago ward politicians? Every man to his trade. I trust I have not wearied you by such extended reference to the path of evolutionary events which have brought into such prominence, the free coinage of silver, to which we will now give more particular attention. I shall give the subject general and not technical treatment.
The Crime of Demonetization.
The friends of silver propose that this metal be freely coined at our mints on the same terms as gold, and that both be alike legal tender in the payment of debts. They say that gold and silver are constitutional money, and therefore that it was the crime of the century to demonetize silver in 1873. Now there is in fact no such thing as constitutional money. Congress is authorized by that instrument to coin money and regulate the value thereof, and the states are prohibited from making anything legal tender, except gold and silver. That is all there is in the constitution on the subject. Congress accordingly in 1792, authorized coinage of both metals at the ratio of 15 to 1, but only gold was coined or circulated in quantities, because at that ratio, silver was commercially the more valuable metal.
The Demonetization Act of 1873, a crime indeed! Provisions to the passage of that act, though the coinage of both metals had always been authorized, nine hundred and fifty million dollars in gold had been coined, and only eight million of silver.
For practical purposes, silver had never been considered money, except for small change. We had not seen a dollar of either gold or silver for twelve years, and did not for six years afterwards. Specie payment was suspended. Greenbacks were at a large discount. Against eight million of silver coined in all our previous history, six hundred million of the stuff has since been monetized and thrust into our currency. If crime there was, it was in the subsequent silver legislation, which transferred this enormous tonnage of silver from the depths of the mountains to the vaults of the treasury, and pledged this nation to keep it at par with gold. Political craft alone, and not public advantage, made such legislation possible. We are now undergoing the penalty, and what is worse, threatened with a still more grave offense.
The Money of the Fathers.
But they say, at any rate, that what was good enough for the people of those days, is good enough for us. They had both gold and silver. We should have it. So they did have, or might have had. They had codfish and muskrat skins also a short time before. An odor of popular favor still clings to those ancient double standards also. There was between them the desired parity, about 10 codfish 1 muskrat. The industry of the rat-trap on land, was fostered, alike with the fish-hook at sea. There was
15at last some excuse for demonetizing muskrats, as they were getting scarce, but what a horrid crime was involved in depriving the abundant codfish of his legal, tender capacity, and how many codfish miners were thrown out of a job! In the ancient days of Massachusetts, this finny currency passed freely at so much apiece the year round. After the demonetization, if the fisherman had good luck, and came in with loaded boats, they had to accept fifty cents on the codfish dollar, or some other small figure which the stingy Yankee might offer them, or else dump the product of their labor in their harbor. What a deadly blow the "codfish aristocracy" of that day thus received! Such was the crime of a past century. What was good enough for the pilgrim fathers is good enough for us, we are now told. If we are not to have free silver, let us have the sacred codfish and fragrant muskrat skin, the beads, the cowrie shells, and all that convenient and effectual currency which so happily supplied the wants of our East ancestors. No panic or labor strike occurred when codfish where plenty. They were caught, sold and eaten at one hundred cents on the dollar, with no politicians to molest or make them afraid. Give us, then, the ancient currency in general and in detail, or else "let the dead past bury its dead:" Those old constitutional ancestors drank rum and molasses. The present generation prefer something better, and prefer it straight!
Even if it be true that gold and silver were the moneys in use when the constitution was adopted, what of it? Was not the worthless continental currency in use also? Should we reinstate that also? The real question for us
16to pass upon is not what money served the purpose a hundred or two years ago, but what is best now?
History and financial experience have taught us nothing more than that no two metals travel alongside as equal partners in currency value, when their market value differs, unless the least valuable is made, by law or custom, immediately redeemable in that the most valuable. Our present coinage is an illustration of this. The usage and implied pledge of the government is to redeem everything in gold, on demand. Were it not so, our six hundred million of silver and silver notes would drop to its market value at once. Faith in the honesty and ability of the government alone keeps up the currency. Even this confidence is seriously and properly shaken in the minds of foreign financiers, and our own bankers know very well that a strong combination among a few of them could bankrupt the gold paying power of the United States on short notice. Their patriotism and self-interest have thus far prevented them from doing so.
The vast quantity of silver which we have coined since 1873, and upon which silver certificates have been issued, constitute the chief if not the only source of the present embarrassment of the federal treasury. We are only enabled to keep that money at par by great expense and humiliation, and by borrowing the gold to do it with.
With these facts plainly apparent, or silver friends want to increase the misery by throwing the mints wide open for countless millions more of the same unworthy coinage. Shall we jump from the current frying pan into that fire?
We are told that the adoption of free silver coinage would improve the market value of that metal. Doubtless it would to some extent, owing to the first greedy grab that would be made for it by those astute financiers who would prefer to pay their debts at a large discount, if the law so authorized. But the improvement in value would only be slight and temporary. The world's store of cheap silver would move this way speedily until our gold would be exhausted in paying for it. The price would then fall back again. If it were certain that independent free silver coinage were to be adopted by us, is it not plain that the expert and watchful financiers of this country would be diligent in advancing their own selfish ends? Before the bill could be signed by the President every dollar of gold in bank of this country would be contracted for to purchase and import silver from Europe. The financial sharpers would pay their depositors and their creditors in silver, and would thus add about half the amount of their debts to their wealth, by a simple turn of the wrist. Is there any doubt about this? If you were a finance sharp would you not to so? Of course you would and so, would I.
The indebtedness due to banks in this country is payable generally in gold. It will soon be all made payable in that manner, and must be so paid. If we should undertake to run the free silver machine alone, every one of these banks would pay their depositors in silver, and would be prepared for it in advance, to the extent that silver could be made available in the markets of the world. Buy silver as fifty cents on the dollar, or thereabouts, in gold — pay debts with it at par. Profit fifty per cent.
18Stockholders individually responsible! Dividends satisfactory! Where do the profits of the Populists come in?
The champions of independent free silver, however, tell us that if their scheme succeeds, silver and gold will circulate freely together at the ratio of 16 to 1, with a ligament of brotherly love between them, as binding as that of the Siamese twins. I think these gentlemen know better. If Congress should enact the law, and one of these men had a thousand dollars in gold on hand with which he could buy two thousand dollars of silver that would pay this amount of his debts (and I think he must be desperately in debt); would he pay the gold to his creditors at par, or would be buy the silver and pay twice the amount? What would you do in such a case? Buy and use the silver, of course. The money-changers of this country would continue such exchanges, even though there were not more than a tenth of one per cent profit in the transaction. Can anybody doubt this? Has it not always been so? The cheaper metal, when not circulating under reliable guaranty of equality, always drives out the other. The reasons are plain. The free coinage scheme proposes no guaranty. Indeed we have already guaranteed the honesty and convertibility into gold of three times as much silver as we can continue to shoulder and live. This is the root of all the present trouble. Shall we submit to the further infliction?
The Cry of Scarce Money.
We are assured also that there is not sufficient money in this country to do our business with, that the volume ought to be greatly increased, if not doubled. Such pretenses
19are altogether misleading. We have never had more money per capita, than now, never were the banks so loaded down with idle money as at present, never was it so cheap. Interest for the use of money has fallen within the past fifteen years on an average at least two-thirds. Then, the lender could make his own terms. Now, the borrower, if he has sound security, can pretty nearly make the terms. Does this indicate a scarcity of currency?
The popular pretense that the wealthy are treating the poor with increasing severity, is also, to a great extent, overthrown, by the fact of this serious and rapid decline in the value of money. Some of us have borrowed at twenty-five per cent a year, well secured. We can now borrow for five per cent. Yet this mitigating and ameliorating circumstance is scarcely ever considered, and is perhaps unknown to the majority of the present generation. Money is scarce with a great many people, no doubt. It always was, and always will be; but that there is an inadequate supply of money in this country for all legitimate uses is nonsense, pure and simple.
The Silver Millennium.
Suppose we take our silver friends at their word, that independent free coinage will before long double the volume of money in this country, and that silver and gold at 16 to 1 will both remain forever in circulation at par. "Tell me, ye winged winds, that round my pathway roll," how the poor devils who have no money now are to get their paws on that coin! If they have anything to sell, or if their labor is required, they can get money now. So they can then. But if they have neither of these, they
20cannot either now or then, touch a dollar of it. The owners of silver mines, only a thousand men at most, would reap the only advantage. It is doubtful if they would even raise the wages of their miners, for on a gold basis, which it is said would still continue, these wages are already satisfactory. Have we ever heard of the silver kings of this country scattering their profits among the needy? They are ready enough to disseminate a little "Coin" to deceive the people, but that is all. Is it not thus plain, that the few colossal fortunes about which the cranks are prating so much, would be greatly increased, while the plain people would possess but an added supply of grievances? Still we know that these results, in this form, will never occur, for we can never have an independent coinage of silver in this country which will circulate at more than its commercial value.
The concurrent agreement of the commercial nations that gold and silver at a ratio approximating their relative abundance and market value, and guaranteed by those nations to be always interchangeable the one for the other, would undoubtedly be in the interest of commerce. Upon no other basis would the attempt be at all effectual, and even upon that, if the commercial value of one metal should, after a time, permanently exceed its coinage value, the better would be retired to buy the poorer, and soon this only would continue to circulate. If independent bimetallism means to buy the cheaper metal with the dearer, here you have it. No other justification of the term has ever been exhibited in practice.
As has already been made clear, the inauguration by this nation of the coinage scheme proposed by our Rocky Mountain friends and their allies, would discredit every dollar of our present currency, and drive gold out of the country. It would do this immediately. Nothing could stop it. Even the possibility of such a scheme has already driven out many millions. That would leave us on a silver basis only. The double standard would remain visible only in the Revised Statutes, just as it was before 1873. This, in my opinion, is precisely what the silver people are aiming at. The leaders are not fools, whatever their followers may be. They want to make a market for silver. That and nothing else. Rather than such a calamity, let the stuff remain locked up in the mountains, say I.
Demoralization of Prices.
Now let us look forward a little. Assume that the silver craze has been successful, and that we are running our finances on the Mexican basis. The domestic price of everything we export is immediately doubled, for the gold paid for it abroad will buy twice its nominal value in our silver at home. Everything we buy abroad must be paid for two dollars in silver to one of gold. The exchangeable value of our money is determined by its currency in the world's markets, just as in the value of our wheat. The price of everything would gradually grow to the standard of two to one. It would require some years, perhaps ten, to adapt everything to this change. It would surely come. Members of Congress must have double salary, or they
22could not pay their board, to say nothing of election expenses. So likewise all public officers. The judges all over the land, already underpaid, would be striking for a proper increase. Government expenses, small and great, would be doubled. It would require a two-fold McKinley Bill, and a like increase of internal taxation to pay the expenses. Our navy, in foreign waters, could not enforce the acceptance of silver at par, even at the cannon's mouth. Railroad freights and passenger tariffs would be double. Taxes everywhere must be alike increased. Paying now, in Chicago, the small pittance of seven per cent on assessed values, fourteen would be the figure, for surely no assessor desiring re-election, would dare increase the valuation, or if he did dare, would not do so, when presented with twice the number of reasons heretofore current in such cases! Rents would be duplicated. Household expenses would have to correspond. The lawyer, the doctor and the preacher could not be propitiated with pay of less than twice the former proportion. Morning papers would be a sixpence, beer ten cents, whisky entirely out of sight, and worse than all, the club dues of this organization would have to be doubled.
These may seem fanciful ideas, but they are surely prophetic of what will occur if we come to an independent silver basis in this country. Mexico to-day is a standing confirmation. Pending this effervescence of transmigration from gold to silver, panic, financial depression, shrinkage of values, riot, bloodshed, want and misery, such as this country has never seen, would surely occur, and the deluded people would curse the day that our silver mines were ever discovered.
And how about the poor farmer, who, they tell us, is mortgaged up to the eyes? This is very simple. His mortgages are payable in gold. He will get two dollars in silver for his product, but must be spend it for gold, two dollars for one, to pay his debts, and must pay two for one for everything he buys. Where does the laugh come in with him?
The wage-worker will demand higher wages. Through strikes and lockouts it will take ten years at least before he can get his present day duplicated. Meantime he is far worse off than now, and even when the proper goal is reached, his two dollars will serve him no better purpose than one does now. The man on salary, would he get it doubled at once? Let human experience answer. Even the miner of silver, delving in the mountains, would not for ten years or more be able to force his wages to a point where their purchasing power would equal those now received by him. Meantime, the employers, all along the line, would be growing richer, and the employed, poorer — the very thing the plain people desire to avoid. By and by even the silver shark of the mountains would awaken to the fact that after the expenses of mining had actually doubled, his net profits, though double in figures, would not be more available in the commercial world than those he realized when the parity of sound money and common sense were the only ones recognized. And so, in the end, it would occur, that everybody would have two dollars in silver, where he now has one of gold, but would be neither richer nor poorer. Meantime this great nation would have been humiliated and disgraced in the eyes of the world, a lot of cranks would have been elevated to office, and the common people, as usual, would have paid all the bills.
Politicians and the People.
Ever since I can remember the politicians have been prating of the wrongs of the poor, and promising relief, by some legislative cure-all. The Democrats have never kept a pledge, and never will. Even the Republicans have not been infallible. If, however, they had done nothing else for the common people but to pass a high protective tariff, a measure of more general relief to all classes than any other ever enacted, they would deserve the confidence of the people for at least a century to come. But politics, in both parties, is mostly wind. More loquacious than executive. The common people have grievances, that is certain. But I have never known a politician to truly state what those grievances really are, or to suggest any appropriate remedial measure. They seem desirous of husbanding the crop of grievances as capital for the next election, and are too much engaged in looking after their fences, to give attention to practical means of relief. Personally I am a friend of the masses. The under dog always enlists my sympathies. The wealthy in general can take care of themselves. If there is to be a change from sound to unsound money in this country, you will see that the rich as usual will land on top. Congress cannot stop if God Almighty cannot. It is the nature of this breed of human criminals, and, in my judgement, a blessing to the poor that it is so, for what would become of the plain people if there were not, in every community, a few men who devote their energies to the accumulation, conservation and prudent use of wealth, while the great body of their neighbors are squandering it? With all this, when I see the uses to which the votes of the unthinking multitude
25are seduced by desperate and deceitful politicians; when I perceive, now, the false but plausible talk which is put forth to stimulate this coinage craze, and reflect upon its possible success through the faith of those who should most oppose it, my heart fairly bleeds for the deluded people who blindly follow such unscrupulous leaders, and I cannot but be ashamed of the men who for ambitious or selfish ends continue to thus deceive the people. There is nothing but politics involved. Out of office, we must get back. In office, we must stay there. This is the sum and substance of free coinage agitation. The end justifies the means!
The Purgatorial Democracy.
Some people have an idea that the Democratic party is dead. It ought to be, sure enough, for think how many years it has enjoyed a purgatorial experience. Oh, no, it is not dead. It dare not die. It has too many sins to answer for. It is afraid of the great hereafter. In spite of the numerous blows we have dealt in sundry vital parts, its tail, like that of the snake, still wiggles, and has even now taken on the additional rattle of free coinage. It rattles everywhere, even in its throat. Think of the shameless record of that party. The friends of national slavery extension; the promoter and apologist of treason; the copperhead of the North; the cause of our $2,000,000,000 war debt; the advocate of its repudiation; opposed to the resumption of specie payment; the ally of flat greenbacks; the champion of free trade; the foe of protection to American labor; author of the Wilson bill. All these
26doses and many others it has swallowed, yet still survives to take that other and bitter one, independent free coinage. It has advocated nothing in the past which it is not now ashamed of, and is even now ashamed of what it advocates.
This party, historic and horrible, and especially its present heterogeneous condition in Illinois, suggests the story of the Irishman who swallowed the potato bug. He sat on a stump in his potato patch, tears bulging from his eyes, his face indicating the misery writhing within. An acquaintance riding by sings out, "Pat, what is the matter with you? You seem in trouble." "In trouble, sure enough I am, your honor. Begorra, sir, I swallowed a potato-bug, and although within five minutes I swallowed a handful of Paris green to kill the baste, still he is raising the very divil inside of me yet, so he is." The Irishman died. But it is my impression that the stomach, gizzard and alimentary canal of the Democracy have been so long accustomed to bitter doses, emetics and purgatives that he Paris green of free silver will scarcely cause more than a temporary nausea.
How about the grand old party of Republicanism? For forty years since its baptism on the steps of the capitol at Madison, Wisconsin, where I was a spectator, it has moved proudly forward to the music of the union, for the protection of labor, for honest government, for sound money and for the rights of the man. How can any fail to see that this is the party, par excellence, of glory and