Pictures and Illustrations.
Signature of William H. Hinrichsen.
Capt. Jas. H. Farrell, Chief Marshal Cook County Democracy.
Hon. W. H. Hinrichsen, Chairman Illinois Democratic State Central Committee.
Theodore Nelson, Secretary Illinois Democratic State Central Committee.
Hon. Washington Hesing, Postmaster of Chicago.
SPRINGFIELD, ILL., MAY 23, 1895.
TO THE PUBLIC: —
This will certify that Mr. C. R. Tuttle, of Chicago, is authorized to edit and publish the proceedings of the Illinois Democratic Convention, called for June 5, 1895, to consider the currency question, in book form, and that the book may be properly considered an official report of the proceedings of the Convention.
W. H. Hinrichsen,
Chairman Illinois Democratic State Central Committee.
THIS volume has been written and compiled in the cause of the restoration of the double standard monetary system of the fathers, and is therefore in the interests of true Democracy. It sets forth in clear, plain, truthful terms the causes that led to calling the Illinois Democratic Currency Convention of June 5, 1895; embraces, in convenient form, a summary of the arguments, pro and con, on the silver controversy in the West previous to the convention; contains the proceedings of the convention in full, including the speeches and resolutions; states and defines clearly the real issue before the country; estimates the political forces at work for and against the restoration of the people's money; and draws from existing circumstances more or less correct conclusions as to the outcome of the great silver campaign.
It is in a large sense the first silver campaign book, and, because of its strict adherence to the truth, and to the teachings of historic Democracy on the money question, will perhaps recommend itself to readers everywhere.
C. R. TUTTLE.
Chicago, June 10, 1895.
Chapter I. Cause of the Convention.
THE Illinois Currency Convention was the first gun in the campaign that may settle the question whether the money power or the people is to govern the United States. That gun was fired by the people, and may be regarded as a warning to the money monopoly and the politicians in its service that the people are rising in a struggle to assert their rights. How far they will succeed, remains to be seen. The most hopeful indication in the struggle is that the currency controversy has resolved itself into a campaign of education.
Almost immediately following the adjournment of the last Congress, an attempt was made to organize a free silver party in the United States, distinctive from the two old parties. With this movement readers are familiar. It was justified on two grounds. One of these is that neither the Republican nor Democratic party, in the past, has shown a disposition to carry out its platform pledges to restore the double standard monetary system in this country. The other
8is, that the people, having suffered severely from the demonetization of silver in 1873, were ready to support any movement that promised to restore bimetallism.
In Illinois, as elsewhere, the Democratic managers knew perfectly well that the rank and file of the party were heartily in favor of the restoration of silver as fundamental money, and, realizing that the new silver movement, in the form of a separate political organization, would tend greatly to destroy the Democratic party, determined to put their organization in line with the well-known sentiment of the people on this question.
President Cleveland, in defiance of the national Democratic platform of 1892, had espoused gold monometallism, and some of his immediate advisers, who were most enthusiastic for the single gold standard, set on foot in Chicago a movement to banquet the president in the name of the business men of the city. At this proposed banquet, according to the plan of the gold advocates, Mr. Cleveland was to make a great speech in support of their views.
This movement of the gold standard men of Chicago, together with the efforts put forth elsewhere to organize a distinctive silver party, precipitated, as one can readily see, a crisis in the Democratic party, not only in Illinois, but throughout the whole country. It was plain that some steps were necessary to preserve the usefulness of the party, and I am bound to say, that Hon. W. H. Hinrichsen, the Secretary of State of Illinois and Chairman of the Democratic State Central committee, proved himself equal to the
9occasion. An account of his action in the premises, together with his reasons for the same, is presented in this volume in his own language. It required great force of character and decision, amounting almost to boldness, to meet the exigency, but it appears that Mr. Hinrichsen possessed these in a sufficient degree to grapple with the situation. Whatever may be said of the wisdom of his conduct, as the head of the Democratic organization of Illinois, he stands peculiarly and personally responsible for the currency convention which has just been held. Whatever of good shall come out of it, must in a great measure be entered up to his credit. If on the other hand, evil results follow, he will be in like manner chargeable with them.
Probably the history of political parties, so far as state organizations are concerned, affords few parallels of the bold action taken by the Illinois Democratic State Central Committee in calling a currency convention at a time when, perhaps, to the minds of the majority of the professional politicians, inaction appeared preferable to experiment, but Mr. Hinrichsen's political foresight was so clear and unmistakable, in his judgment, that he determined, at some risk, to involve the fortunes of the Democratic party of Illinois in a controversy in which, as time has already shown, the people were anxious to engage.
Already the question of the restoration of silver had become irrepressible. It was useless to evade or conceal the fact that the sentiment of the west, and to a great extent, the whole country, was in favor of bimetallism. It was true then, as it is now,
10that the people of the west were as firmly devoted to honest money as the people of any other section of the country can be. The difference between the contending elements, then as now, arose from confused notions as to what constitutes honest money on the one hand, and selfish and dishonest motives on the other. These selfish and dishonest aims did not and do not obtain among the advocates of bimetallism, for these people do not constitute the governing class; while on the other hand, among the gold monometallists were to be found many persons who were actuated by dishonesty.
The most distressing indication in this whole controversy is the fact that the real defenders of dishonest money are organizing themselves everywhere into "honest money leagues." It is true that the enemy of the free coinage of silver and gold, at a ratio of 16 to 1, is the hypocrite, and is traducing the cause of honest money by every available species of deceit.
The people realize that the monetary system of the present day is dishonest, and that those who are fighting so eagerly to maintain it, are either money monopolists or their hirelings.
One of the circumstances most detrimental to the cause of silver, is the fact that too many people are unable to distinguish between the forced coinage of silver or subsidiary coinage, and the remonetization of silver, which would make it a fundamental money. The demonetization of silver in 1873 has been properly called a crime, but the forced coinage of silver by the government of the United States under acts of Congress passed since that date, is equally a crime
11in fact, though perhaps not of equal magnitude. By the forced coinage of silver the country has lost more than $150,000,000 within a few years, but this loss may be repaired by remonetizing that precious metal, which will restore the intrinsic value of the present standard silver dollar by re-establishing the parity between gold, silver and commodities. It is a remarkable fact, that the men who are responsible for the present dishonest monetary system, which is scarcely less than a direct fraud upon the people, are the most enthusiastic advocates of its continuance. They are upholding dishonest money with one hand, and organizing "honest money leagues" with the other.
The people are beginning to realize that through demonetization in 1873, the resultant gold standard money has been appreciated to such an extent that it is out of all honest proportion in value to the value of commodities as measured by that standard. As a result, money, being dear, is scarce, commodities are depressed, business is paralyzed, the poor are becoming poorer daily, and the rich richer. Under gold monometallism the wealth of the nation is being rapidly transferred to the few. Great fortunes are being built up at the expense of the masses; the debtor class is being robbed; labor is impoverished; our silver product, depreciated to half its intrinsic value by the gold yard-stick, is being carried to foreign countries.
By gold monometallism the United States is held in commercial slavery to Great Britain. Gold is constantly rising, the national debt is rapidly increasing, and as our bonds are made payable in gold, our people are being robbed by foreign countries.
It is expedient to call attention to these things here, and to present a somewhat full statement of the effects of demonetization, in order to set forth the causes which led to the Illinois currency convention. It is a simple question of cause and effect.
Our fathers fought long years to achieve the political independence of the United States, and when this great work was accomplished they began to lay the foundations of commercial, industrial and financial independence. They addressed themselves to this task with great patriotism and ability, but a subsequent generation of politicians has torn down the magnificent structure which they reared, so that today the enslavement of the people of this country to Great Britain and other foreign nations is more complete than it was a hundred years ago.
As early as 1792 the builders of our nation established a monetary system on the plan of bimetallism, or the double standard. In doing this they followed the teachings of the experiences of all past generations. Making the dollar the unit, they decreed that 371-1/4 grains of pure silver should constitute a dollar, and fixed the ratio between silver and gold at 15 to 1. In a large sense the silver dollar was the unit, and the value of gold was counted from that unit. This is shown by the fact that the quantity of pure silver in a dollar was not changed from 1792 to 1873, while the amount of pure gold in the dollar was subsequently decreased so that the fixed ratio was changed from 15 to 1 to 16 to 1.
This continued to be the monetary system up to 1873. During all this period the silver dollar was
13unchanged, and it continued to command the full dollar value in comparison with gold, for, as stated, it was, to a greater extent than gold the unit of value. The only change in the fixed ratio between silver and gold from 1792 to 1873, was when, in 1834, the gold dollar was changed from 24.7 grains to 23.2 grains of pure gold, thus making it smaller.
During the whole period both coins were legal tender in payment of all debts, and the mints were open to the coinage of all the silver and gold that were presented. It will be seen that up to 1873 the monetary system of the United States was on a bimetallic foundation, and to a great extent, on a silver basis. This is true, for the standard or unit silver dollar was never changed, while the gold dollar was, as stated, decreased in size in 1834.
W. H. Harvey, the author of "Coin's Financial School," holds that silver was the unit, absolute, but the writer agrees with him only to the extent stated. Concerning this feature of bimetallism that author aptly remarks
"Our forefathers showed much wisdom in selecting silver, of the two metals, out of which to make the unit. Much depended on this decision. For the one selected to represent the unit would thereafter be unchangeable in value. That is, the metal in it could never be worth less than a dollar, for it would be the unit of value itself. The demand for silver in the arts or for money by other nations might make the quantity of silver in a silver dollar sell for more than a dollar, but it could never be worth less than a dollar. Less than itself.
"In considering which of these two metals they would thus favor by making it the unit, they were
led to adopt silver because it was the most reliable. It was the most favored as money by the people. It was scattered among all the people. Men having a design to injure business by making money scarce, could not so easily get hold of all the silver and hide it away, as they could gold. This was the principal reason that led them to the conclusion to select silver, the more stable of the two metals, upon which to fix the unit. It was so much handled by the people and preferred by them, that it was called the people's money.
"Gold is considered the money of the rich. It was owned principally by that class of people, and the poor people seldom handled it, and the very poor people seldom ever saw any of it."
Under bimetallism, which extended from 1792 to 1873, there was never any trouble with our monetary system. Those who controlled the money power had not the advantage over the producing class that they now have. A parity was maintained not only between silver and gold, but between fundamental money and commodities of all kinds.
But in 1873, the money monopolists "stole a march" on the people, and on February 22 of that year Congress passed an act revising the coinage laws of the nation. It demonetized silver, by repealing the act of 1792, and substituted the following
"That the gold coins of the United States shall be a one-dollar piece, which at the standard weight of twenty-five and eight-tenths grains shall be the unit of value."
This was a fatal blow at the people's money. It deprived silver of the unrestricted right to free coinage, destroyed it as legal tender money in the payment of debts except to the beggarly amount of five
15dollars. Then the work of enriching the rich and impoverishing the poor began. At the time the people were using only paper money, and were therefore not aware of the theft that foreign countries had perpetrated through a Republican Congress on them. None but the robbers and their corrupt agents in Congress knew what had been done. It is believed that many of the latter were ignorant of the magnitude of the crime which they committed.
England was whipped by the United States in the War of the Revolution, but the United States was betrayed into the hands of England by a Republican Congress by the demonetization of silver in 1873.
This betrayal brought a mighty change. Previous to it silver enjoyed free coinage at the ratio with gold of 16 to 1, and was a legal tender for all debts. So did gold. Since then silver has been discarded, gold is the unit and enjoys a monopoly. Silver is refused at the mints, and, in sympathy with other commodities, has fallen in value as measured by the monopoly gold standard. Harvey very truthfully says
"We might get along with gold as the unit, if silver enjoyed the same right gold did prior to 1873. But that right is now denied to silver. When silver was the unit, the unlimited demand for gold to coin into money, made the demand as great as the supply, and this held up the value of gold bullion.
"At the time the United States demonetized silver, in February, 1873, silver as measured in gold was worth $1.02. The argument of depreciated silver could not then be made. Not one of the arguments that are now made against silver was then possible.
They are all the bastard children of the crime of 1873."
The results of the "crime of 1873" have been so disastrous to the people of the United States, so destructive of their commercial and industrial interests, that they are rising from one end of the land to the other to secure a repeal of the law of 1873, and a restoration of the monetary system that existed for more than three quarters of a century previous to that date, under which they prospered. The Illinois Currency Convention is the advance guard of that uprising.
It is not the intention to delay, here, to enumerate any considerable number of the disastrous results of the demonetization of silver, but a few must be noted. Official statistics, showing that by the appreciation of gold, silver and wheat have steadily fallen, in sympathy with each other, under gold monometallism, are at hand as follows:
Under gold monometallism, gold standard money is constantly rising, and by its measure of value, which is false and dishonest, commodities are steadily falling. The debtor is being robbed; the producer is being robbed, and the government and the people
17generally are being robbed by foreign countries. It is time to call a halt.
Nothing can be plainer than that the demonetization of silver has depreciated the commercial value of that metal and all other commodities. It is proved by Mr. Sauerbeck's statistics and in a thousand other ways. For twenty years previous to 1873, while the free coinage of silver was the law in the United States, notwithstanding England was under gold monometallism, the commercial value of silver in the London market did not vary either way more than two per cent, and the extreme was always in favor of silver. But how has it been since 1873? Let Mr. Sauerbeck speak for himself:
|Years from 1873 back to 1854.||Yearly Index-numbers of Silver.||Yearly Index-numbers of Silver||Years from 1873 on to 1892.|
But let us take the figures for 200 years, from 1687
18to 1892, and note the official commercial ratio of silver and gold. These will provide overwhelming proof that the demonetization of silver in 1873 was a death blow at that metal, as other statistics, given later on, will show it to have been destructive of labor and all other commodities also:
If the years 1893, 1894, and 1895 be added, which show that the pure silver in the standard dollar has
19fallen to 51 cents, as measured by the single gold standard, the proof becomes positively alarming, for all commodities are falling in value, or in single gold standard value, in proportion to the decline of silver. I speak of the decline in the value of silver and other commodities, which ought to be expressed, and would be more correctly expressed by the term, "appreciation of single gold standard money."
The average export price, as measured in gold, of wheat, cotton and silver, each year since the demonetization of silver, teaches a lesson from which the gold monometallists can find no escape, and to which they can make no answer. Here it is:
|Years.||Bu. Wheat.||Lb. Cotton.||Oz. Silver.|
But one might go on until figures became tedious and taxing, as well as instructive. So blighting and
20destructive has the effect of silver demonetization been that in less than a quarter of a century a vast proportion of the population has been reduced to a condition of poverty and misery. The conditions of life to half the people are so hard that "individual selfishness is the only thing consistent with the interest of self-preservation." Harvey truly says:
"All public spirit, all generous emotions, all the noble aspirations of man, are shriveling up and disappearing as the volume of primary money shrinks and as prices fall. Honest labor seeks employment it cannot find, and hungry and shelterless, our unemployed are seen daily on the streets, without hope and in despair."
Such are the circumstances and conditions which led to the Illinois Currency Convention of 1895. But this is not all.
Chapter II. Cleveland and Palmer.
WHILE Chairman Hinrichsen and his colleagues were considering the situation, and canvassing among themselves the propriety of placing the Democratic party of Illinois in touch with the struggling masses, President Cleveland, having decided not to visit Chicago in the interests of gold monometallism, was drafting a letter to the business men of that city "regretting" his inability to make the visit, and declaring for "sound money."
This letter has proved the most disturbing force if not the most injurious to the Democratic party in the West and South, ever let loose. It was most insulting in tone towards the advocates of bimetallism, misrepresenting their position and libeling their patriotism. It was received as an affront by every supporter of bimetallism in the country, and from the hour of its issuance Cleveland was regarded as a gold monometallist and a traitor to the national Democratic platform of 1892.
President Cleveland's letter was ambiguous as well as insulting. He said: "What is now needed more than anything else is a plain and simple presentation of the argument in favor of sound money." It was plain to the people of the West that Cleveland,
22since he secured the unconditional repeal of the Sherman law, had taken the place so long held by the author of that law, Senator Sherman, and had become the acknowledged leader of the single gold standard advocates, in both political parties.
The people had hoped that the president would give them a plain statement of what he understood "sound money" to consist of, but he failed to do this. He did not say what "sound money" was, but in his letter he made frequent use of that and kindred phrases in a way that was calculated to belittle bimetallism. In the course of his letter he spoke three times of "sound money," twice of a "safe and sound currency," once of "safe and prudent financial ideas," and once of "wholesome financial doctrine." He also spoke once of a "debased currency," once of a "degenerated currency," and once of "cheap money." In one place he described bimetallists as "the forces of silver monometallism," but nowhere did he say what he considered "sound money" should consist of.
Now, everybody in the West favored "sound money" and a "safe currency," but a plain and straightforward statement of what he meant by the terms was withheld. In an open letter to him in reply, ex-Congressman Bryan, of Nebraska, who fully expressed the feeling of the West, wrote
If by "sound money" you mean a gold standard, why did you avoid the use of the word "gold" in your letter? If by a "safe currency" you mean bimetallism, why did you avoid the use of the word "bimetallism" in your letter? Your letter nowhere contains a direct reference either to the gold standard or to
bimetallism, but is quite replete with expressions which may mean a great deal or nothing, according to the interpretation placed upon them. Your opponents have always given you credit for courageously defining your position on public questions; will you prove their confidence well founded by stating frankly what kind of a financial system we shall enjoy "if the sound money sentiment abroad in the land" succeeds in saving "us from mischief and disaster?" Your opponents candidly avow their purpose and clearly outline the legislation which they desire; is it not fair to ask that you define your policy with as much frankness.
Your opponents favor the free and unlimited coinage of gold bullion into dollars, each containing 25.8 grains of standard gold; are you in favor of this? Your opponents are in favor of the free and unlimited coinage of silver bullion into dollars, each containing 412.5 grains of standard silver; are you in favor of this? If not, are you in favor of the coinage of silver bullion into dollars of any size? If not in favor of the free coinage of silver, what charge, if any, would you make for coinage? If you are not in favor of the unlimited coinage of silver, what limit would you suggest? Your opponents not only believe in the restoration of the free and unlimited coinage of both gold and silver at the present ratio of 16 to 1, but they are in favor of taking this action at once, without waiting for the aid or consent of any other nation on earth; do you agree with them.
If not, do you favor the restoration of bimetallism by international agreement? If you are in favor of an international agreement, what ratio would you advise and what nations are, in your opinion, necessary to such an agreement? If you favor an international agreement, how long are you willing to wait for it? Your opponents are in favor of making standard gold coin and standard silver coin equally a legal tender for all debts public and private, and
are opposed to making a silver dollar a promise to pay a gold dollar, or a gold dollar a promise to pay a silver dollar; do you agree with them.
Your opponents believe that the free and unlimited coinage of gold and silver at the present ratio of 16 to 1, by the United States, regardless of the action of other nations, will give us "sound money" and a "safe currency;" they not only believe this, but they support their position by arguments so "plausibly presented" that even you are frightened into the belief that "the sound money sentiment" "must be crystallized and combined and made immediately active" in order to prevent their success at the polls. Can you define your position so clearly and defend it so plausibly as to scare your opponents as badly as they scared you? Is the failure of gold standard advocates to define their purposes and defend their financial system due to lack of knowledge of the subject, or to an unwillingness to let the people know what they intend?
In short, the Democrats of the West who had not sold out to the money power — and the number probably constituted four-fifths of the party — felt that, beyond his recognized views as a tariff reformer, Cleveland was not a Democrat, and that he had gone over to Wall Street, soul and body.
It was under these circumstances that the call for the Illinois Currency Convention went forth from the pen of Chairman Hinrichsen to the Democracy of Illinois. It was moderately criticised by Hon. Ben. T. Cable, who represents the State of Illinois on the National Democratic Committee, but in terms that indicated that Mr. Cable, while unwilling to create an open breach with Mr. Cleveland, was by no means ready to take sides with the President as against the people. Mr. Cable knew very well that
25the vast majority of the people of the West, of both parties, was in favor of bimetallism, and that, under the influence of the mighty educational wave going over the country, the laboring and producing classes in all the states of the Union would be in favor of the restoration of silver as fundamental money, long before the close of the campaign of 1896. Being a wise and experienced politician, he took conservative ground, saying only that he regarded the movement as hasty.
But it remained for Senator John M. Palmer to announce himself the slave of Cleveland and the money power. This thoroughly disgusted the rank and file of the Democracy all over the country. Of all men in the National Senate Palmer owed his elevation to the common people; to the free silver wing of the Democracy, if that expression may be used. He was elected in a desperate struggle in 1891 between the Democrats and the Republicans, in the Illinois legislature, when, by the grace of two Populist votes, he was sent to the United States Senate pledged to the restoration of silver by every vow that can appeal to manly honor.
In that struggle Democracy placed its all on the altar of labor, and consecrated its life anew to the cause of the struggling masses. Palmer was the impersonation of that consecration. But he has turned out the embodiment of hypocrisy. His declaration, after four years service in the United States Senate, for the single gold standard, in view of his election promises, not only shows that he has gone from the people to the service and slavery of their enemies,
26but it proves once more, that whenever the Democratic party goes outside of its own ranks for a leader it will be betrayed. Palmer's betrayal of the people of Illinois, in this regard, is one of the most distressing political misfortunes that has overtaken any party. His political career may be written in words of lamentation. He has certainly disappointed many of his once warm and enthusiastic friends. Four years ago the working people of Illinois rallied to the support of Palmer. To-day they see in him the friend of their enemies, the money monopolists.
By his espousal of gold monometallism, Palmer sold his political birthright, but for what, remains to be seen. Like every other citizen, John M. Palmer has a right to his opinions and to enjoy the liberty of expressing them whensoever and wheresoever he pleases. But to steal his way into the United States Senate with false pledges to support a movement for the restoration of silver, and then when that movement crystallizes among those who redeemed his political life from failure and oblivion, to denounce it as a "silver craze," as he has done, is a political crime that may well obliterate from the memory of man all his good deeds. Yes, Palmer, returning from Washington, fresh from the inspirations of Cleveland, espoused the cause of the money power, and opposed the Illinois Currency Convention, thus once more turning his back upon the people and embracing their enemy.
The attitude of Cleveland and Palmer towards bimetallism and the Illinois Currency Convention was criticised by ex-Judge S. P. McConnell, in the Cook County Convention, held May 4, to elect delegates
27to the Springfield Convention, in the following plain and forcible language in his speech upon the occasion of his being elected chairman
In 1892 the Democratic convention solemnly resolved in favor of a bimetallic system, most solemnly resolved in favor of the restoration of silver and its free coinage, most solemnly, most positively resolved in favor of a bimetallic system. And upon that platform we elected a man to the Presidency, we elected him for the second time, believing that if he accepted that nomination, if he took our suffrages and became the President of the United States, he would recognize the policy which had been so solemnly declared in that platform, and attempt and help the national legislators to enact it in a provision which would make it effective. It is not necessary for me to say that that gentleman who secured from us our suffrage, who stood upon that platform as we believe, is to-day the apostle, the prophet, and everything but a man who has been attempting to carry out the declaration of the Democrats in national convention assembled. (Applause.)
Gentlemen, the President of the United States, the man who was elected by Democratic franchise, has repudiated the Democratic party. (Applause, and cries of "Right.") We repudiate him. (Applause.) We stand on the platform of 1892. We are in favor of the restoration of silver as we declared then. (Applause.)
In 1891 there was a tremendous struggle at Springfield for the election of a United States Senator. We had 101 men who endured through many ballots, who cast ballots, consistently, constantly, persistently for a Senator of the United States. They succeeded in electing him. They were rejoiced; so were we here. These 101 gentlemen subsequently met as they sat in their respective houses and all of them voted for a resolution then instructing the Senators
and Representatives in Congress to vote for a free-coinage bill which was then pending, and which was designed for the purpose of restoring silver to the place which it had held in our monetary system prior to 1873. It was unanimously voted for by all of the 101. I understand, gentlemen, that the Senator who was at that time selected by the 101 noble, loyal Democrats, is in this city to-day, and will to-night apeak in favor of the continuity of the policy of Grover Cleveland, which is not the policy of the Democratic party. (Applause.)
Chapter III. Chairman Hinrichsen's Statement.
HON. WILLIAM H. HINRICHSEN, Chairman of the Illinois Democratic State Central Committee, was asked for a statement of the causes which led him to summon his committee and advocate the issuance of a call for the Currency Convention, with the understanding that his reply should constitute a chapter of this volume, and, in response, he furnished the following:
The election last November, which resulted in the overwhelming defeat of the Democratic party throughout the United States, convinced the Democratic leaders of Illinois, that either the policy of the party was not in line with the sentiments of the people, or that the Democratic Congress had not carried out their wishes. The Democratic State Convention of '94 had selected a State Committee made up of unusually strong material, the following being the members:
W. H. Hinrichsen, Chairman, Springfield, Ill.
Thomas Gahan, Vice-Chairman, 4209 S. Halsted St., Chicago.
Theodore Nelson, Sec'y, 41 Palmer House, Chicago.
Wm. B. Brinton, Treasurer, Tuscola, Ill.
John P. Hopkins, 2428 115th St., Chicago.
William S. Foreman, East St. Louis, Ill.
Samuel B. Chase, 396 Garfield Ave., Chicago.
Dennis J. Hogan, Geneva, Ill.
W. O. Wright, Freeport, Ill.
Daniel Heenan, Streator, Ill.
Walter Watson, Jacksonville, Ill.
Reed Green, Cairo, Ill.
E. F. Binns, Chairman, Pittsfield, Ill.
J. B. Ricks, Taylorville, Ill.
George E. Brennan, Joliet, Ill.
Thomas Byrne, 4209 S. Halsted St., Chicago.
Frank J. Quinn, Peoria, Ill.
S. S. Hallam, Monmouth, Ill.
J. H. Baker, Sullivan, Ill.
J. D. Baker, Lebanon, Ill.
Ross R. Fuller, Charleston, Ill.
Jos. P. Mahoney, Chairman, Ashland Blk., Chicago.
John P. Leiendecker, 356 State St., Chicago.
William Loeffler, 2 19th Place, Chicago.
Rudolph Brand, 53 Cedar St., Chicago.
Charles Williams, 85 Janssen Ave., Chicago.
J. W. Potter, Chairman, Rock Island, Ill.
R. E. Spangler, 858 Warren Ave., Chicago.
Ben. T. Cable, Rock Island, Ill.
Adams A. Goodrich, The Rookery, Chicago.
M. C. Conlom, 349 W. Monroe St., Chicago.
The old members of the committee realized that some measures should be taken to gather together
31the remnants of their political army, and after a number of consultations, it was decided that I should be chairman of the committee, with the understanding that the campaign to be carried on was to be a vigorous one, and that all were to bend their energies to the work of reorganizing and reinstating the Democratic party in the good opinion of the people. Immediately after my election, I began, through correspondence and personal interviews with Democrats in every locality in the State, to investigate the cause of our crushing defeat, and to find out, if possible, the prevailing sentiment on the issues likely to be predominant in the next campaign. After a thorough investigation, I found the situation to my mind to be as follows:
A large number of Democrats at the November election voted the Republican ticket; a large number had voted the Populist ticket; a still larger number had refused to vote, and many of those who had voted, had only done so through the urgent requests of the candidates for county offices. The causes of these defections and apathy were generally given as being, first: dissatisfaction with the national administration in the matter of patronage and for its financial policy as shown in its opposition to the use of silver as money and to its bond purchases; second, the inability of the Democrats to agree earlier on the Tariff Bill; third, the failure of the administration and Congress to establish a permanent currency system for the country and their evident intention to drive silver out of that system and to use gold as the only monetary standard.
I found that the money question was the one great subject of discussion amongst the people, particularly the farmers and laboring men. I found that they did not care to talk about the tariff. The general opinion was that no tariff legislation would be attempted for some time; that McKinleyism was dead; and that a gradual reduction of the tariff without
32regard to party lines was inevitable. The repeal of the Force Bill took away another subject for discussion and there seemed to be a disposition to make the currency the only question for the next campaign. The representatives from the different counties in the State indicated that fully 90 per cent of the Democrats favored the free and unlimited coinage of silver at a ratio of 16 to 1 without waiting for the action of any foreign government. I also found that at least 30 per cent of the Republicans were in sympathy with the same plan. I found that many of the bankers and other moneyed men, together with their paid attorneys, their hangers-on and representatives, were in favor of the gold standard, and opposed to use of silver except as a token currency. I found that they masked their monometallism under the cover of alleged bimetallism. They claimed to be in favor of the use of silver, but demanded an international agreement or an increase in the ratio, or some other thing that was impossible to obtain.
Soon after the silver manifesto was issued from Washington, and the movement for the establishment of a distinctive silver party was set on foot, I received many letters from members of the State Committee and others, calling attention to the situation and pointing out the necessity of action. Among them was the following from Hon. J. B. Ricks of Taylorville, Ill., which I give here because it is strikingly typical of my daily mail at that time
"TAYLORVILLE, ILL., March 2, 1895
"HON. W. H. HINRICHSEN, Chairman State Central Committee, Springfield, Ill.
"MY DEAR SIR: — In the last few days, I and the Chairman of our County Central Committee have been urged by prominent Democrats of this county to call a mass-meeting of the party in this county and take some stand upon the monetary policy of the party.
"The silver manifesto in to-day's papers brings the matter prominently before the people. As I have had no intimation from our committee, I have not felt safe in either taking any action or expressing any opinion with reference to the matter, further than the general statement of the usual declaration of our party in favor of maintaining the parity of the metals.
"I realize the importance of unison of action and unanimity of opinion upon the part of the Commitee, as far as it is possible to have it so.
"It looks to me very much like this question is destined to be a controlling one in the fates of the party in the struggle of 1896. I am among those who want to win, if it is possible to do so, and maintain the integrity of the party.
"Your county was about the first to take a stand. I do not know what, if anything, you had to do with it, or what your attitude is.
"If the committee has not consulted about it, either in whole or through its executive branch, it seems to me that it should be done at once.
"To make this committee effective, it must have a common opinion and a common purpose. And I do not think it safe to take part in any meeting that would give an expression, unless I know that it is to be in harmony with the general policy of the party of this state.
"Personally, inter-nos, I am strongly impressed with the position taken in this manifesto as the correct party policy, and in looking over the committees you can count me that way, for the present.
"I wish you would let me hear from you at the very earliest time you can, giving me your own views and what you believe will be the policy pursued by the committee and party in this state. Very truly yours,
JAMES B. RICKS."
Having these facts before me, I determined upon
34the movement which is now in progress. I quietly worked out all the plans, put them on paper so that there might be no weak places in them, and having arranged in advance the details, and having prepared myself to meet every objection that might be urged against the plan, I laid it before Theodore Nelson, Secretary of the State Committee, and with him went over it. He approved it heartily. I then selected two friends in Jacksonville, both thorough politicians, one of them a prominent lawyer, Judge Owen P. Thompson, the other, M. F. Dunlap, a leading banker and recognized as one of the best business men in our county. After a thorough discussion they agreed that the plan was a good one. I then consulted Senator Reed Green, Thomas Gahan, Senator J. R. Campbell, Lieutenant-Governor Joseph B. Gill, J. W. Yantis and other Democrats in whose judgment I had confidence. All approved the plan. I then laid it before Governor Altgeld, in whose political sagacity I have always had great confidence. After taking two or three days for consideration, he also approved it. I then, as opportunity offered, laid it before the other members of the committee, until I had seen a majority of that body. Every one consulted on the subject favored it.
I had at first intended that the convention should be held some time in the fall of '95, but the organization of the National Silver Party at Washington induced me to make it earlier. Free silver clubs were being formed throughout the state, and county meetings were being held to discuss the currency question. It was evident that if the National Silver Party succeeded in launching its boom, it would carry away a good many Democrats who had lost faith in the ability of the Democratic party to agree on the question. The date of the convention was fixed at a time when it was supposed that the legislature would have adjourned, which was as early as it was wise to call it.
Much has been said of the irregularity of the action of the committee in calling this convention, but everything was perfectly regular. Every member was notified by letter urging him to be in attendance, and saying that important business would be considered. Stress has been laid by Senator Palmer and objectors on the fact that the object of the meeting was not stated in the notices. This is never done. A State Central Committee may at any meeting take up any subject, advance it or carry it out, and it is the duty of every member to be present in person or by proxy in order to take part in the discussion. The committee consists of thirty-one members, twenty-one of whom were present in person or by proxy, sixteen being a quorum. When the committee met, I placed before it the situation of the party in the state and nation as I viewed it. I also laid before it the plan for calling a convention together. After considerable discussion, a resolution was adopted calling the convention for June 5th for the purpose of discussing the currency question, and the chairman and secretary of the committee were directed to issue a call. This call is as follows:
HEADQUARTERS DEMOCRATIC STATE CENTRAL COMMITTEE.
SPRINGFIELD, ILL., April 5th, 1895.
To the Democracy of the State of Illinois: —
The only National question now before the American people is that of the currency.
The war is over. The Force Bill is repealed never to be re-enacted. Tariff legislation of a general character will not be attempted for several years. The next national campaign must be fought out with the currency as the issue between the parties, and it behooves the Democratic party as a party to assume
a decided position on this question and to draw its party lines according to the wishes of a majority of its members.
The basic principles of Democracy forbid the decision of important questions by the party leaders without instruction from the people, and it is therefore proper for this committee to call on the Democrats of the precincts, townships and counties of this state to meet in convention in their respective localities to discuss freely the great question before the people, to give expression to their views in appropriate resolutions and to select delegates to a convention to be held at the state capitol.
In order that the proceedings of the Democracy as a party may be regulated, it is suggested that each county committee in the state call a convention of the Democracy of the county for the purpose as stated above. The time and place for holding such convention to be fixed by the county committee, but it should be previous to the date of a state convention to be held at Springfield, on the
FIFTH DAY OF JUNE, 1895, AT 12 O'CLOCK, NOON.
The basis of representation to be one delegate for every 300 voters or fraction of 150 or over cast for Bernard J. Claggett for state treasurer in 1894.
On this basis, the counties will be entitled to representation as follows: [See opposite page.]
The Democrats of the state are urged to turn out to these meetings, and to give free expression to their views in order that there may be no doubt as to the position of the party on this great and important question.
W. H. HINRICHSEN, Chairman.
THEO. NELSON, Secretary.
|COUNTIES.||Democratic Votes.||Delegates||COUNTIES.||Democratic votes.||Delegates|
When the call was issued, or authorized, April 5, I gave out an interview as follows
"What do you expect will be the result of the proclamation issued by the State Convention?"
"We expect that our call will be responded to in every county in the state. The meetings will be held and resolutions will be adopted unifying the Democratic party on this one great overshadowing question of the day and of the next campaign."
"What do you predict will be the tenor of those resolutions?"
"I am in receipt of information from every county in the state, outside of Cook, and this information convinces me that 90 per cent of the Democracy favors the free and unlimited coinage of silver at the ratio of 16 to 1 without waiting for the action of any foreign government. The resolutions adopted by the County Conventions will, of course, be on line with this feeling."
"Will not this commit the party to a fiat currency and cause the disappearance of all gold from circulation and thus cause it to go to a premium?"
"By no means. The object of this movement is to prevent that very thing."
"How can that be?"
"This movement will spread from Illinois to every state in the Union, and long before the election comes around it will be evident that the Congress to be chosen in 1896 will pass a 16 to 1 Free Coinage Act. Now, when capitalists realize that on the first day of July, 1897, the government will begin giving a legal tender dollar for every 412-1/2 grains of standard silver presented at the mint, they will begin to purchase silver bullion, which can now be bought for, say 55 cents for 412-1/2 grains. The sure profit of 45 cents on each 412-1/2 grains will bring out all the gold from the bank vaults and hiding places. The result will be that the price of silver will rise steadily, and when the law goes into effect, the question of the parity will be settled."
"But will the bankers not combine and refuse to buy silver bullion?"
"Hardly. They do not control all the money in the country and the profits on silver speculation will be sure, and the chance of loss so minute, that they will tumble over each other in order to buy. Gold will roll in from Europe to purchase silver, bullion certificates will be in demand and trade stimulated by the letting loose of hoarded millions, and the certainty of a final settlement of the currency question will bring on a most prosperous period, without the danger of following panics."
"Will not many leading Democrats be driven from the party by this movement?"
"A few, perhaps, but most of them will be swept along in the tide, especially as the character of the movement and its certain results will remove the only serious objection to the free coinage of silver."
"What is this objection?"
"A great many Democrats, myself among the number, feel that the legal tender coin issued by the government should be worth as much before it is coined as it is afterward, and this movement is so certain to bring the price of silver up to the point where this condition is met, that no man who is not an absolute monometallist can consistently afford to oppose it."
"What will the Republicans do?"
"As a party they are pledged to monometallism and can take no other ground, unless they straddle the question. Thousands of them will join the Democrats, for they believe in free silver."
"You expect to carry the state and country, then, in 1896?"
"Certainly. This movement will be in effect a reorganization of the Democratic party. It will be built from the township up, and the men nominated for office will not dare to deviate one iota from the instructions given them in such plain language by
their constituents. We expect to carry every state west of the Alleghanies and south of the Ohio River, and it is more than possible that we will carry every state in the Union."
"What do you think of the attempt to organize an independent silver party?"
"The attempt begins at the wrong end. A few men at Washington cannot control twelve million voters. The county movement grafted into a strong party organization is the only way in which such political results can be produced. The extreme gold men in our party will go over to the Republicans. The free silver men of all parties must come to the Democracy, and with our objectionable statesmen eliminated, the confidence of the people in the Democratic party will be strengthened and confirmed."
"This means a Western man for President, does it not?"
"Certainly. The party will hardly trust the execution of its wishes to a man susceptible to the control of the Eastern monometallists."
It has been asserted that the success of the silver movement was due to the organized efforts of the State Democratic machine. There is nothing to the story. With the exception of sending out the call to the various counties and transmitting a circular letter calling attention to it to the school district committeemen, no organized effort was made to bring about results or to influence public sentiment. The people seemed ready, and even in small communities where the leading Democrats were opposed to the movement, the masses forced them to take action and decide to send delegates to the convention instructed for free silver at the ratio of 16 to 1.
Chapter IV. Progress of the Controversy.
THE general discussion of the silver question among the people of the West was greatly intensified by the call issued for the Illinois Currency Convention to be held June 5. From the gold monometallists it elicited the bitterest opposition. President Cleveland's letter, before referred to, addressed to Henry S. Robbins, a prominent lawyer and well-known Democratic politician of Chicago, was the signal for the organization of the Chicago "Honest Money League," into which were at once gathered the gold monometallists of the city. Democrats in Chicago rapidly took sides for or against the restoration of silver as fundamental money.
The motive behind the organization of the "Honest Money League," which elected Mr. Robbins to the post of president, was the defeat of the silver advocates in their efforts to send delegates from Cook County (Chicago) to the Currency Convention pledged to the free coinage of silver at the ratio of 16 to 1. At first appearances indicated that there would be a lively fight at the primary elections.
The Cook County Democratic Central Committee promptly responded to the call from the State Committee, and the County Convention for the election
42of delegates was convened May 4. The primary elections were held May 3, but the "Honest Money League," having gone far enough in the campaign to realize that fully four-fifths of the Democratic voters of Chicago were supporters of bimetallism, retired from the contest, and issued a card to the public, requesting the "advocates of sound money" to take no part in the election of delegates to the county convention. Notwithstanding this, some of the "gold-bugs" did take a hand at the primaries, and out of 729 delegates elected to the county convention, 23 of them were supporters of the single gold-standard. At the convention held in Chicago May 4, the following resolutions were adopted by a vote of 706 to 23
The Democratic party in its national conventions and the Democracy of Illinois have uniformly declared in favor of the use of both gold and silver as the standard money of the country. Silver and gold have constituted the money of the Democratic party, the money of the American people, and the money of the whole commercial world. It was by the use of both that the world progressed and our people prospered. As long as the mints of the world, or even of one great nation, remained open to the free coinage of both metals, silver and gold, in obedience to a natural law, maintained a substantial parity. That law is that the privilege of coining other metal into debt-paying money makes a demand for whichever metal tends to be the cheaper. This natural demand increases the value of the cheaper metal, the lack of demand decreases the value of the dearer metal, and thus an automatic and natural stability is obtained. This is not theory, it is the history of centuries; and this natural law maintained the parity of gold and silver at substantially their coinage ratio, even when
the ratio of their production fluctuated violently. When the world's production of gold was three times that of silver, and when again it was only one-third that of silver, still the bullion value of the metals under free coinage was relatively the same.
To make any single metal the standard of value is to choose a standard which must fluctuate in obedience to the laws of supply and demand. Gold monometallism and silver monometallism are therefore both unsound systems, but gold monometallism is fraught with peculiar dangers because its burdens fall on those who are least able to endure them. Bimetallism furnishes a standard more stable than any other, because each of the two metals automatically prevents or counteracts the undue appreciation of the other.
The gold standard is dishonest and oppressive, because gold tends steadily upward and makes the debtor pay more than he owes.
Upon the Republican party rests the responsibility for the closing of our mints to silver and the practical supremacy of gold monometallism, and we adjure its members, in the name of patriotism and humanity, to forsake their false guides and to join with us in prompt and thoroughgoing measures to correct the evil which they have brought into existence, and to return to the double standard approved by Hamilton and Jefferson.
There are other abuses of the currency system which must also be removed, until we stand upon the firm foundation of the precious metals as the basis of our money system, every dollar of equal intrinsic worth, and no money founded upon mere promises to pay, but backed by gold and silver.
Not until silver was denied free coinage at the mints did its value and that of gold begin to diverge, and we maintain that the apparent depreciation of silver is really, to a great extent, the appreciation of gold. Gold has become dearer because the immense
added demand for gold, consequent upon the demonetization of silver, has made it dearer. This is evidenced by the increased purchasing power of gold and the general decline of prices of commodities since 1873. There never has been, and is not now, enough gold in the world to do the business of the world. The total amount in existence is less than four billion dollars and amounts to only about $2.50 per capita for the population of the world.
We deny the statements of our adversaries that we favor repudiation or 50-cent dollars, and insist that by the operation of the natural law of supply and demand the gold and silver dollars when freely coined at the ratio of 16 to 1 will adjust themselves at a practical equality just as they did before 1873.
There is not and never has been in the United States a 50-cent silver dollar, and the only reason that the bullion in a silver dollar can be said to be worth 50 cents is because that bullion has been excluded from the mints and is unfairly compared with appreciated gold.
We are not opposed to an international agreement. We invite such action. But we are opposed to waiting one day or one hour for foreign aid. International conferences have heretofore been a failure, whether well intended or conceived in the interest of delay. We believe that this Nation can and should legislate for its own people; therefore, be it.
Resolved, by the Democracy of Cook County, That we demand the immediate restoration of the free and unlimited coinage of gold and silver at the present legal ratio of 16 to 1, as it existed prior to 1873, without waiting for the aid or consent of any other nation, such gold and silver coin to be full legal tender for all debts public and private.
The newspapers and places of public resort throughout the West were now practically absorbed with the silver argument. At the start the single gold standard
45advocates declared that the free coinage of silver at the ratio of 16 to 1 would fill the country with 50-cent dollars and create a financial panic. They shouted vehemently about an "unsafe currency," "cheap money," and declared that the present wide divergence in the relative commercial values of silver and gold rendered the free coinage of silver an impossibility.
These scarecrow arguments were met everywhere with the record of the experiences of past generations. The advocates of the free coinage of silver and gold at the ratio of 16 to 1, pointed to the period of the nation's history from 1792 to 1873, when the people enjoyed free coinage of the two metals at the fixed ratio named, and when the country had a "safe currency," "sound money," and "100-cent dollars." They pointed to 200 years of the world's history — the 200 years next preceding 1873 — when bimetallism prevailed almost everywhere, except for half a century in gold standard England, and showed that, under the fixed ratio, silver and gold did not fluctuate commercially, or as fundamental moneys, and they insisted that the remonetization of silver in the United States would re-establish a parity between silver and gold, fundamental money and commodities, and maintain better commercial and financial relations between the rich and the poor, and the United States and European nations.
They demonstrated that the depreciation of silver, and labor and its products, was due to the dishonest appreciation of gold, brought about by the demonetization of silver in 1873, and brought forward data
46and figures that could not be disputed to clinch their arguments.
As the date for the Springfield Convention drew near, the single gold standard advocates shifted from the scarecrow program and took their position on the international bimetallism propaganda. They practically admitted that bimetallism — the restoration of silver as fundamental money at the fixed ratio of 16 to 1 — would be a good monetary step for the United States to take, provided this nation could obtain the consent of England to take it.
The confession was practically made, in this concession, that the United States, financially, at least, was a dependency of Great Britain. In effect, the British lion had his paw on the neck of the American eagle, and that once proud, but now subdued bird, was not in a position to scream, except for mercy, until John Bull should call his animal off.
The free coinage of silver advocates admitted that the Republican party had sold this country into bondage to England by the demonetization law of 1873, in the same spirit of treason, treachery and disloyalty, that Joseph was sold by his brethren to the Egyptian slaveholders, thirty-six hundred years before Christ, but they declared that in remonetization, or the restoration of silver, the United States would find a Moses that would smash these slavish chains, and deliver the country from bondage.
Some of the "hard money" or single gold standard arguments going the rounds previous to the Illinois Currency Convention were ridiculous in the extreme. Perhaps none were more absurd than those which
47recently found their way to the world in the Chicago Tribune from the pen of one Charles M. Haft. He wrote, among other things
To begin with, there is a great variance between the commercial and legal ratio of silver to gold; the commercial ratio being about 32:1 and the legal ratio being 16 to 1.
Let us consider for a moment just what the advocate of free silver is contending for. It is a law permitting a man who is the possessor of silver bullion to take 371-1/4 grains of that metal to any of our mints and have it coined, without expense to him, into so-called standard dollars, which shall be returned to him, and he can then take that so stamped or coined 371-1/4 grains of silver, worth 50 cents, and discharge an obligation of 100 cents which he has incurred or may at any time incur, because the advocate of free coinage demands as a part of this system that the law shall provide that every creditor shall be obliged to accept these so-coined 50 per cent dollars (?) in discharge of 100 cents of an obligation without limitation.
The injustice of such a system is not appreciated until one considers the fact that the 371-1/4 grains of pure silver, which the owner of it can have gratuitously coined, is nowhere worth at the present time more than about half a dollar in gold. If the silver dollar contained 100 cents' worth of silver it would not be necessary to pass a law compelling people to take it in payment at its face value.
The reader will see that he sets down the difference between the legal and commercial ratios of silver and gold as 16 to 1, and 32 to 1, respectively. Then he proceeds to say that a dollar coined from silver bullion at its present commercial value, at the legal ratio of 16 to 1, would be worth only 50 cents, and would, by law, be forced on a creditor for one
48dollar. Now, if Haft were not a little "daft" in monetary science, he would know that in 1873, before silver was demonetized, the amount of pure silver contained in the standard silver dollar, 371-1/4 grains, was worth $1.03 in gold; he would also know that its commercial value has been depreciated by demonetization by the constantly lengthening gold yard-stick, by which alone it can be measured; and he would likewise realize that the restoration of silver as fundamental money, on the free and unrestricted coinage basis of 16 to 1, would restore the parity between gold and silver, not only as money but as commodities, as also an honest parity between fundamental money and the products of labor of all kinds.
Bimetallism did this for 200 years, as statistics previously given show; it did this in the United States from 1792 to 1873, as the experience of this country bears witness, and if truth is truth, it will do so again. Restore silver as fundamental money, on the unlimited free coinage basis, at the legal ratio of 16 to 1, and what? Why, by the honest depreciation of gold from its present dishonest vantage ground, and the appreciation of silver from the depreciated gutter into which demonetization has dishonestly thrust it, a parity will be established between the legal ratio and commercial ratio values of the two metals, and not only that, but financial and commercial honesty will be inaugurated in place of the over appreciated, and therefore dishonest single gold standard money now prevailing, which is a fraud upon the producer.
There never was, and there never will be a 50-cent
49dollar under bimetallism, in this or in any other country. The silver dollar of to-day, measured by the commercial ratio of silver and gold, according to the single gold standard, is a 50-cent dollar, and is dishonest money. Remonetize it; take the ban off its brow; restore its birthright of free coinage, and it will at once be worth 100 cents in gold, or in any other standard of value measures on earth.
What becomes of these Haft, and other single gold standard special pleadings when the full force of truth is let down upon them? They fade away and are forgotten; but the arguments for the restoration of silver, the pleadings of the free silver advocates for the return of the money of the fathers, the voice of the common people coming up and out of the wilderness of commercial and industrial distress in a demand for the restoration of bimetallism, appeal to history, and are founded upon the experience of the best and most glorious years of the nation's life. These can neither be forgotten nor destroyed. They will live as long as man, and will not cease to be heard until their demands are fully met.
It is with great reluctance that the gold-bugs resort to the international propaganda. It is a makeshift, more foundationless than the unsupportable Haft nonsense, quoted and exposed above. But it is more than this. It is humiliating. It is disloyal and disgustingly unpatriotic.
The only ground upon which international bimetallism, as brought forward now in opposition to free silver coinage, at the ratio of 16 to 1, has to stand upon is that this country has been a borrower in
50European markets since 1873, and has agreed to pay those obligations in gold. The restoration of silver will not prevent the country from paying its obligations in gold, for there is to be free and unlimited coinage of both gold and silver; but the re-inauguration of bimetallism will depreciate gold as well as appreciate silver, and therefore the English gold syndicate will not be able to steal as much from the wealth producers of the United States as they expected they would when they made the loans, and as they really will, if the appreciation of gold goes on under monometallism.
The international program, then, is the last trick to help the English gold thieves. If the United States pays her debts to England in gold, as she will do, and must in honor do, it is her duty meanwhile to depreciate gold all that lies in her power, so as to more cheaply obtain it with which to discharge her debts. That would be government financing in the interests of the people of this country. That would be bimetallism.
The movement for the restoration of silver met with a misfortune in Chicago, and in fact in the whole northwest, in the untimely death of James W. Scott, proprietor of the Times-Herald. Mr. Scott was a newspaper man of unusual foresight, correct in his judgment of men and measures, and, he realized the real significance of the rising tide of monetary reform throughout the country. Nor did he hesitate in putting his great newspaper in close touch with the sentiment of the people. When the Illinois Democratic Currency
51Convention was called, the Times-Herald heartily endorsed the movement, and cheerfully lent its energies to the propaganda of bimetallism.
But Mr. Scott was suddenly cut off. As a result his great newspaper enterprise, which had been brought to stand squarely for Jeffersonian Democracy, was transferred to the hands of the money monopoly — to the control of the enemy. H. H. Kohlsaat, a privilege-class protectionist and single gold standard monopoly mouth-piece, took charge and reversed the engines of force in the Times-Herald, turning them against the people. This was a serious blow to the cause of free silver. It left the Democracy of Chicago without a newspaper.
However, on May 28, The Chicago Chronicle appeared in magnificent form and dress, under the management of two of the ablest journalists in the United States, viz., Martin J. Russell and Horatio W. Seymour. Both had been connected with Democratic journalism in Chicago for many years in the highest executive positions. Both had won distinction as managing editors of the Chicago Herald. Mr. Russell had been appointed to the office of Collector of Customs at the port of Chicago, and Mr. Seymour had, a few weeks before, when the Herald and Times were consolidated, retired from the managing editorship of the Herald.
The new paper, The Chronicle, had been heralded as an advocate of a tariff for revenue only, and "honest money," the latter being understood as gold monometallism, but in its first issue was found this rather liberal declaration:
A firm believer in the old-time Democratic doctrine of hard and sound money, it will give to the important question of the currency full, free, and fair discussion, the sole aim of which will be the ascertainment of the truth and the preservation and perpetuation of the public credit. It will stand through good and ill report for all that is best in historic Democracy.
How with this salutatory The Chronicle can oppose bimetallism is difficult to see. Bimetallism is an "old-time Democratic doctrine" as surely as two and two are four, and if the paper gives, as it has pledged itself to do, "to the important question of the currency, full, free and fair discussion," it will "stand through good and ill report" for the restoration of bimetallism, for the return of the monetary system of the fathers which is truly that which is "best in historic Democracy."
But Mr. Russell is an appointee of President Cleveland in an important Federal office, and he may discover that gold monometallism, which never had an existence there, is the "best in historic Democracy." If he does, he will make a departure from his convictions that his hosts of warm friends and admirers will greatly deplore, for Mr. Russell is, at heart, a bimetallist. It looks as if he were elbowing his way to the single gold standard propaganda, for in the issue of The Chronicle referred to, he writes
It is just, right, and available to party salvation that party leaders, not manipulators of a machine, but men of thought and action, should go before the people from an administration, national or state, and frankly and clearly and to the best of their ability present to the people the views of an administration
upon any mooted question. Thus the great minister Mr. Carlisle, addressing his fellow citizens in various parts of the country, elucidating and defending the position of the administration upon the currency, performs a noble office. He instructs the intelligence of his fellow citizens. Safety for a party and safety for the republic, which is governed for the people through parties, requires open exposition of principles, not secret manipulation of party machinery.
One feels like advising the new paper, if it desires to stick close to the people, to raise the historical Democratic flag of bimetallism, which will be in line with "old-time Democratic doctrine."
Chapter V. Benefits of the Convention.
IT was plain long before the Illinois Currency Convention assembled that the outcome of the conference would be the crystallization of the current arguments in support of bimetallism, and the nationalization of the silver movement. Both these objects were well worth struggling to accomplish.
In the first place the agitation for the restoration of silver had grown so rapidly and in a soil so fruitful that abnormal development was to be expected, and it was desirable that the forces should get together and harmonize. They had drilled in companies long enough, and were ripe for regimental training. Of course this naturally pointed out the necessity for a still wider consolidation, and, when it became evident that a national movement would culminate from the state convention, the expectations of its promoters began to be realized.
In nothing, perhaps, could the state convention serve a more effective purpose than that of crystallizing or perfecting the arguments in support of the restoration of the historic bimetallic monetary system of the country. As was to be expected, much of the literature of the controversy lacked wisdom. This was true on both sides. The forces of silver
55were most unfortunate in placing the demand for free coinage before those for remonetization. This was an oversight that was duly taken advantage of by the supporters of the single gold standard.
It was most difficult in the earlier stages of the controversy to get the average advocate of free silver to distinguish between free and unrestricted coinage, and historic bimetallism. As a result the resolutions passed at the county conventions in Illinois, at which delegates were elected to the Springfield Conference, were for the greater part confused and, in a measure, misleading. As an instance of this the Cook County convention resolutions, passed May 4, after a very clear and peculiarly instructive preamble, concluded in this language
Resolved, by the Democracy of Cook County, That we demand the immediate restoration of the free and unlimited coinage of gold and silver at the present legal ratio of 16 to 1, as it existed prior to 1873, without waiting for the aid or consent of any other nation, such gold and silver coin to be full legal tender for all debts public and private.
This is not exactly what the convention meant, but it was in keeping with the resolutions previously and subsequently passed all over the state. The people were demanding something more than the "immediate restoration of the free and unlimited coinage of gold and silver at the present legal ratio of 16 to 1, as it existed prior to 1873," although this language can easily be construed to mean that something. It would have been better, however, to have stated it more clearly.
As stated, all the Democratic managers did not
56fully comprehend the difference between the remonetization of silver, and free coinage.
I am bound to say that W. H. Harvey, author of "Coin's Financial School," is responsible for this confusion. Mr. Harvey has given to the world not only a unique, but forcibly instructive little volume, the teachings of which, in the abstract, are sound and wholesome, but the main premises and conclusion of the production are false.
His false premises are that the silver dollar of the fathers was the unit of value of the monetary system existing in the United States from 1792 to 1873.
His false conclusion is that "we might get along with gold as the unit, if silver enjoyed the same right gold did prior to 1873." — Coin, page 17. According to Coin, gold enjoyed only free coinage and was not a unit of value, previous to 1873. It is folly to suppose that we can succeed with free and unrestricted coinage of silver under gold monometallism, or under the single gold standard.
Under the old monetary system, which the people demand shall be restored, we had:
1. The dollar as the unit.
2. The silver dollar as a unit of value.
3. The gold dollar as a unit of value.
4. First the legal ratio of 15 ounces of silver to one of gold, and after 1834, the legal ratio of 16 ounces of silver to one of gold.
This gave us the double standard, bimetallic monetary system. The silver dollar was not measured by the gold unit of value, nor was the gold dollar measured by the silver unit of value. The country
57had a double standard. All contention to the contrary is a libel on history.
What the fathers had, we, the present generation, demand. It will not do to give us free and unrestricted coinage of silver at the legal ratio of 16 to 1, and with it to give us the gold dollar as the unit of value. That would be to give us gold monometallism, and free silver, a system that would work immeasurable disaster.
We want to abolish gold monometallism, or the single gold standard. We do not ask that the gold unit of value be wiped out, but the true bimetallist demands that the silver unit of value be restored. Then a silver dollar will stand upon its own bottom. It will not be measured by the gold yardstick. It will be an imperial, honest, self-existing, self-supporting, popular, 100-cent dollar, in this and every other country on earth, just as it was previous to 1873.
The Cook County resolutions should have read
Resolved, by the Democracy of Cook County, That we demand the immediate restoration of the double standard bimetallic monetary system existing in the United States previous to 1873, with silver and gold dollars alike the units of value, and with it, the restoration of the free and unlimited coinage of silver and gold at the legal ratio of 16 to 1, without waiting for the aid or consent of any other nation, such silver and gold coin to be full legal tender for all debts public and private.
But as stated, this was the real meaning of all resolutions passed in Illinois previous to the State Currency Convention, though that meaning was unfortunately hidden, or obscured. The state conference
58was needed to lift the movement out of confusion, and to place it upon high, clear-cut grounds, so that its objects could not be misunderstood by the people, or misrepresented by its enemies.
The convention was also needed to give the movement official organic character, and to endow it with the fatherhood of Democracy. It could scarcely be otherwise than that the Illinois Currency Convention would prove the nucleus of a great national movement and a national convention to promote the restoration of the bimetallism of the fathers.
Even before the convention assembled there was much discussion as to what steps the body should take towards nationalizing the movement and securing a national convention of the Democracy to take suitable action in view of the campaign of 1896.
But the convention took decisive steps towards carrying the campaign beyond the borders of the state. The necessity of this was strongly urged by Governor Altgeld in his address, and, among other things the convention,
"Resolved, That we request the Democratic national committee to call a Democratic national convention to consider the money question not later than August, 1895. If the said national committee refuses to call such a convention, then we invite the Democratic state committees of the other states to take concurrent action with the Democratic state committee of this state in calling such convention."
Chapter VI. Ante-Convention Incidents.
THE Illinois Democratic Currency Convention convened, according to call, on Wednesday, June 5, at 12 o'clock noon. Delegates and spectators began to arrive at Springfield, the state capital, by noon of the previous day, and early in the evening of Tuesday the streets and hotels of the city were crowded.
No call for a state convention in Illinois, when candidates were not to be nominated, was ever more heartily responded to. Each of the 102 counties of the state was represented by its full quota of delegates, and when the 1,067 representatives of the Democracy of the state took their seats in general assembly hall in the state house, the audience was one of the finest ever witnessed in that chamber.
There was a large attendance of spectators, among whom were many prominent Democratic politicians, and from the opening to the closing hours of the convention, the galleries and lobbies of the chamber were packed by eager and enthusiastic advocates of the restoration of silver.
It was manifest from the start that the convention would be a magnificent success, both as to numbers, and the high personal character of the delegates. The constantly arriving delegations from the various
60points of the state demonstrated that the gathering was grandly representative of the Democracy of the state. It was not the voice of a faction. The marshaling hosts comprised the rank and file of the Democratic party, the bone and sinew of the producing classes of the population.
The time-honored leaders of the party were in their places, with here and there an exception due to the unfortunate influence of President Cleveland. Senator Palmer held aloof, but when the capital had been filled with his old-time friends and supporters, he must have distinctly heard the voice of the people, for he had but little to say. Palmer probably felt that his mistake in opposing the convention was due to Cleveland's attitude and unwholesome influence over him, and, if he did not, everybody else did, and the old man at once became an object of kindly expression, rather than hostile criticism.
The first business on the program was the meeting of the state central committee, which took place on Tuesday evening, June 4. This was really the first gun of the convention, and its report was heard all over the country, when that body almost unanimously requested the convention to choose delegates to attend a national Democratic monetary conference. In addition to this, resolutions upholding the previous action of the state committee, in calling the convention, were also adopted.
The entire interest of the night was centered in the action of the committee. Delegates filled the Leland hotel lobby, and patiently awaited the news of the
61committee's action. It was nearly 11 o'clock when adjournment was taken. The result was shown in the resolution. The first set adopted, touching on the question of a national conference, is as follows
Resolved, That it is the sense of this committee that no effort should be spared to secure unanimity of Democratic sentiment throughout the nation in the matter of monetary legislation, and to this end, that it is advisable the delgates should be selected at the coming Democratic convention to attend any national Democratic convention which may hereafter be called to solidify Democratic sentiment on this issue.
Resolved, further, That the district committeemen at the several district meetings to-morrow be instructed to request their respective delegations to select delegates as aforesaid and to further select members of a committee to select four delegates at large to said convention, all subject to rejection or ratification by to-morrow's convention.
Resolved, further, That the names of said delegates and of the committeemen to select delegates at large shall not be reported to the convention until after that body shall have taken action favorable to the proposed national Democratic convention.
The second set adopted follows
Whereas, It has been alleged that the action of the Democratic state committee of Illinois, in calling the state convention June 5, was irregular or illegal, therefore be it
Resolved, That the call for the meeting of the committee was regular and according to party precedent and the custom of the committee; that a quorum of the committee was present either in person or by regular proxy and that these proxies were according to the rules of the committee fully authorized to cast the vote of their principals; that the resolution for calling the convention was presented in due
form, discussed thoroughly and received the vote of seventeen of the twenty-two members present, and that the members of the committee now present do hereby confirm the action of the committee in calling said convention.
The first resolutions were adopted by a vote of 24 to 4, and the latter unanimously.
There were present in person: W. H. Hinrichsen, chairman; Theodore Nelson, secretary; Thomas Gahan, S. B. Chase, W. S. Forman, Joseph P. Mahoney, Adams A. Goodrich, Thomas Byrne, William Loeffler, M. C. Conlon, Charles P. Williams, Dennis Hogan, Daniel Heenan, George E. Brennan, W. B. Brinton, E. F. Binns, J. B. Ricks, R. R. Fuller, Walter Watson, J. D. Baker and Reed Green. Those represented by proxy were: John P. Leiendecker, by John J. Coughlin;John P. Hopkins, by Alex J. Jones; W. O. Wright, by M. F. Dunlap; Frank J. Quinn, by John Warner; S. S. Hallam, by A. W. Wells; J. W. Potter, by William McEniry, and R. E. Spangler, by Leo Hornstein. Absent and not represented: Ben. T. Cable and Rudolph Brand, making twenty-two present in person, seven by proxy and two absent.
The committee agreed on the following as the temporary officers for the convention:
Chairman, Judge Monroe C. Crawford of Union county; secretary, Arthur C. Bentley of Pike county; assistant secretaries, William J. Cochran, Cook county; G. M. McDowell, Vermilion; John D. Breckinridge, Fulton; Robert I. Hunt, Macon; William Stoffel, McHenry, and H. T. Eberleyn, Green; sergeant at arms, T. J. Sparks, McDonough county; official reporter, Chas. R. Tuttle, of Chicago.
By Tuesday evening the opposition had dwindled to a conspicuous few, and had decided upon a program of inaction. The flooding tide for the remonetization of silver was sweeping all before it. Opposition was useless. It served only to strengthen the earnestness of the advocates of free coinage, so that the opponents of the convention went under cover. Conspicuous among these were Senator John M. Palmer; Washington Hesing, Postmaster of Chicago; ex-Judge William A. Vincent, president of the Waubansee club of Chicago; ex-Judge Adams A. Goodrich, president of the Jeffersonian club of Chicago, and J. H. Hopkins, secretary of the Waubansee club. These gentlemen held a conference late Tuesday evening and decided that opposition or obstruction of any kind would tend only to more fully demonstrate the unanimity of the Democracy in favor of free coinage, and therefore it was agreed that nothing in the way of an opposing force should make its appearance. Their last effort was an attempt to prevent a movement for a national Democratic monetary convention, but on this point the rank and file of the Democratic party were peculiarly enthusiastic, and there was no such thing as stopping the tide in that direction.
A notable feature of the convention was the "Silver Special" train over the Illinois Central railroad from Chicago, carrying the Cook county delegation escorted by the Democracy marching club. The demonstration was one of the most successful in the history of the club, and reflects much credit upon Capt. Jas. H. Farrell, chief marshal of the club, upon its
64president, John S. Cooper, its secretary, Robert E. Burke, and upon all the officers of the organization.
The train bearing the County Democracy, First Regiment band, County Democratic Marching club, and about 300 of the 346 delegates left the Twelfth street station at 10:35. The run through to the city limits was made without stopping. At the various
65suburban stations crowds of people were gathered to watch the train pass.
The train, composed of ten first-class coaches and two baggage cars for the commissary department, was decorated throughout with flags, bunting, and streamers. Two cars set apart for the marching club bore elaborate decorations. The locomotive was also gaily bedecked, and every time a change of engines was made the new locomotive was decorated. Next to the engine was the first commissary car, loaded with eatables and liquid refreshments. The ten coaches containing the delegates followed, and on the rear was another and the main commissary car. In the last coach the officials of the delegation and the more prominent delegates were seated. Among them were: Chairman Thomas Gahan, Secretary Robinson E. Burke, ex-Senator John F. O'Malley, ex-Building Commissioner James McAndrews, Leon Hornstein, Aldermen Coughlin, Mulcahy, Schlake, Brennan, and Deist; William Legner, J. H. Hopkins, one of the anti-silver minority; ex-Judge Frank Scales, ex-Aldermen Gosselin, Loeffler, and O'Brien; Frank B. Gorman, Election Commissioner P. H. Keenan, C. A. Williams, B. J. Maguire, L. C. Legner, John O'Brien, Jerry Flynn, Frank Agnew, J. H. McAusland, John Conroy, W. J. McAllister, Justice J. K. Prindiville, Justice M. A. LaBuy, John Fitzsimmons, and a number of others.
The first stop was made at Kankakee at 12:50 o'clock, and at this point the train was met by a party of the prominent free silver advocates of Kankakee. The band, marching club and delegates left
66the coaches and marched through the principal streets of the town. Twenty minutes were spent at Kankakee and at 1:10 the train left to make the next stop at Gilman. At both of these places crowds of Democrats thronged the depots and the Chicago party was loudly cheered. Sixteen delegates were added to the party at Gilman. At Gibson three delegates, W. B. Holmes, J. E. Ewing and L. E. Gill, were taken aboard, but the delegates did not leave the train.
At Clinton the most auspicious demonstration was made. The Chicago delegates were received by 100 Democrats, led by Fred Ball and Dr. Meyer with a band, and a procession was formed which marched through the principal streets of the town headed by the First Regiment band. A parting serenade, "Auld Lang Syne," was played as the train pulled out of Clinton at 5:05 o'clock.
The best of feeling prevailed on board the train and the crowd was as orderly as any ever brought to Springfield on a similar excursion. There were 550 persons on the train on its arrival here. Nineteen of every twenty announced themselves in favor of the free coinage of silver. A chorus, similar to the college yell, was arranged, and, led by Alderman John Coughlin, the delegates gave it frequently. The yell was:
Sixteen to one!
The "silver special" arrived at the state capital at 6:50 p. m. and was sidetracked. The delegates formed in procession to serenade Governor Altgeld. They
67were not in the least tired by the seven hours' trip. Several hundred people cheered the train as it drew into the depot. Adjutant General Alfred Orendorff, Colonel Thomas Wilson, J. W. Yantis, and Theodore Nelson were present as a local reception committee, and the Fourth Regiment band of Springfield played a triumphant march as greetings were exchanged. Captain Farrell marshaled the club and delegates for a procession to the governor's mansion.
The streets were lined with spectators, who cheered the Cook county men to the echo as they passed. Governor Altgeld and several members of his official household stepped on the porch as the procession came up. Captain Farrell called for three cheers for his excellency and the governor bowed in response to the salute.
When the cheering ceased the governor briefly expressed his thanks for the honor. It was especially significant, he said, because of the importance of the coming campaign, one of the most momentous in the history of the Democratic party in the West. As he had watched the procession approaching he was convinced from the splendid appearance of its constituents that there was no place for hypocrisy or mugwumpism in the ranks. (Cheers.) In the coming campaign every interest that had become great and powerful by the aid of corrupt and class legislation would try to strangle every effort put forth in behalf of the masses. But if Democracy would be arrayed on their side the bulk of the honest, toiling people would succeed. He warned them of the arts of their enemies and urged them to reject any overtures
68for alliance with those now working to stamp out the great movement for currency reform.
"Stand shoulder to shoulder," concluded the governor amid loud cheering, "and fight this battle for the restoration of silver to its proper place among the money of the world; fight it out fairly and fearlessly. Let there be no alliance and no compromise, and we must surely win." (Cheers.)
The bands and the club marched merrily through the streets, serenading the people in one or two public buildings and finally separating at 8 o'clock in front of the St. Nicholas hotel.
Most of the delegations from the other portions of the state had now arrived, and the capital was crowded with the advocates of the restoration of silver.
Chapter VII. Chairman Hinrichsen's Speech.
THE convention was called to order at 12 o'clock, noon, in the hall of the House of Representatives, by Hon. William H. Hinrichsen, the secretary of state, and chairman of the Democratic state central committee. The hall was crowded. All the delegates were in their seats, and thousands of anxious spectators were standing in the lobbies and aisles. The chamber was tastefully decorated with flags and bunting and the scene was one of the most inspiring that was ever presented at the capital. On calling the body to order Mr. Hinrichsen was cheered by the vast assemblage in the most enthusiastic manner for several minutes. This long continued and hearty applause was in approval of his political heroism in the departure taken by the Democratic party in favor of the remonetization of silver, and he regarded it as such.
Rev. F. W. Taylor, rector of St. Paul's Cathedral, Springfield, then offered prayer as follows
Almighty and everlasting God, our Heavenly Father, who art the giver of all wisdom, guide, direct and bless, we pray Thee, the people of this commonwealth and their representatives here assembled. Grant unto us and to this whole nation peace and prosperity based upon a faithful adhesion to those
principles of honesty and integrity, of truth and justice, which conform to the unchangeable standard. Thy divine righteousness grant that our national honor may be preserved inviolate in all our public obligations and that our private conduct may be governed by the supreme ruler of divine love, to do unto others as we would they should do unto us, through Jesus Christ our Lord, amen.
Mr. Hinrichsen spoke as follows:
Gentlemen: Before stating the object of this convention it is proper that I should give briefly the reasons of the state central committee for calling you together
When the present committee was organized, last January, it found the Democratic party of the state in a deplorable condition. At the November election thousands of its members had voted the Republican ticket, thousands had voted the Populist ticket, while others sulked and refused to vote any ticket. In fact, with the exception of a few old bourbons and us officeholders, there seemed to be little left of a party which had carried the state by over 20,000 plurality two years before
The situation demanded the most energetic action on the part of the state committee and an investigation for the causes of the demoralization was at once set on foot. It was found that the most general cause of complaint was that Congress had failed to establish a permanent currency system for our country, and that even in her attempts to do so our representatives had not reflected the real sentiment of their constituents. The President and each member of Congress had interpreted the currency plank of the platform of 1892 to suit himself, and it was evident that most of them had attempted to carry out the wishes of a minority rather than a majority of the party. (Applause.
The currency question was found to be the most common subject of discussion among the people and it was easy to see that it would be the great issue in the next campaign. Silver clubs were being formed all over the country, mass conventions of silver Democrats were being called in the counties and the organization of the national silver party in Washington threatened to take from us the last forlorn remnant of our demoralized party. (Applause.)
The situation was a grave one. The President and other Democrats in high places seemed to be determined
on a line of policy to which the rank and file of the party were opposed. The administration could not or would not believe that it was not in accord with the people in its financial policy, and the committee, in planning a campaign of education, found that one side or the other side of this great financial question must be taken. It had no right to make a platform or to outline a policy; so in its trouble it determined upon the Democratic plan of asking the people for instruction, and this convention was called. (Loud applause.)
The question has been asked: Why was this convention called so early? It is easily answered, for there were two good reasons — one to forestall the action of the national silver party which was preparing to launch a boom which would have carried away many good Democrats in this and other states; the other was to open up the question for discussion long enough before the meeting of the national convention in 1896 to prevent a hopeless split in the party. It was remembered that just previous to the convention of 1888, when the Democratic party was divided on the tariff question much as it is on the money question to-day, President Cleveland issued his famous message committing the party to tariff reform, and the shortness of the time between the issuing of the message and the election prevented the thorough discussion of the message and so brought on Democratic defeat. This was one of the mistakes of President Cleveland that the committee did not care to imitate. (Applause.) It has been asserted that a state convention has no right to discuss and pass upon a national issue and that consequently this convention should not have been called. Such a suggestion is absurd. A national convention is made up of delegates from the different states and the party in each state has a right to express itself at any and all times upon any and all questions and to instruct its delegates to national conventions as
to the policy it desires carried out. (Applause.) While the action of the convention cannot bind the action of the delegates to the national convention of 1896,yet its action can and will serve as a basis for a campaign of education to be carried on by the state committee to the end that the party be united on one common object. (Applause.)
The committee has been severely criticised for calling
this convention. The worst motives have been suggested, the vilest epithets used, and men calling themselves Democrats have not hesitated to say through the public press that the action of the committee was irregular, illegal, traitorous and destructive.
The committee has had little to say in reply to these attacks, and has avoided any personalities that might drive any good Democrat out of the party, but I feel it my duty at this time and place to make a denial of these charges. The action of the committee was strictly regular and according to party precedent. I think I have shown clearly that it was necessary for the good of the party, and that it is approved by the party is shown by the hearty response it has met with from the people. (Applause.)
Now, I believe a man may be a good Democrat and be in favor of any form of currency whatsoever until the party platform has been built. He may be a goldbug and be a good Democrat; he may be a bimetallist and be a good Democrat; he may be a greenbacker and be a good Democrat, but the man who says and believes that the state committee has no right to call on the people for instructions or who says and believes that this convention has no right to assemble and discuss any question has not one drop of Democratic blood in his veins, and has no right or place in the Democratic party. (Applause.)
This convention was not called for the purpose of reading any man out of the party, nor has the committee or any member concerned in the call given utterance to any expression that would indicate any such intention. On the contrary, every effort has been made to prevent anything like a rupture in the Democratic ranks. (Applause.)
At the same time the committee has resisted the attempts of a few would-be bosses to control the masses, either by means of public patronage or by threats of leaving the party, and now that they have
so evidently failed to accomplish their purpose and desire to leave us we can only bid them good-bye and wish them better luck in bossing the opposition. (Applause.)
Gentlemen, you have responded to the call of the committee in coming here to-day, and it is my hope that your further action will not only mark out a line of policy for the committee to follow, but will serve to unite the Democratic party on one common object and enable us to again write ourselves the majority party in the state and nation. (Cheers.)
Chapter VIII. The Temporary Organization.
AT the conclusion of his address, Chairman Hinrichsen read the list of temporary officers as approved by the state central committee, and introduced Hon. Monroe C. Crawford of Union county, as temporary chairman of the convention. Mr. Crawford was received with cheers. He said
Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen of the Convention: I have no fitting words to express to you to-day the honor that I feel has been conferred upon me by being called upon to preside as the temporary chairman of this Democratic convention. (Cheers and applause.) Gentlemen of the convention, I want to make a little bargain with you now, and then we will see how we will get along. You see this gavel that has been placed in my hands as your Temporary Chairman. The bargain is this: that if you will obey the sound of this gavel in my hand I will agree that I will not inflict upon you a speech to-day. (Applause.) Gentlemen of the convention, I presume you are here for business. I understand that this Democratic convention is assembled here for a great and important business, and you want to be about that business and at once. This is a high honor that I feel to-day in looking into the faces of more than a thousand Democrats of the State of Illinois, who are assembled for the purpose of giving expression of Democratic sentiment. Let me say one word to you,
gentlemen, in the beginning. The eyes of the people of every city, every town, village, and hamlet in this State of Illinois are turned towards Springfield today and every ear is listening for the sound that shall come from this convention. Let that sound be no uncertain one. (Loud cheers and tremendous applause.) What you say, gentlemen of the convention, say in such words and such language that it will not require a lawyer to interpret it. (Continued cheering and applause.) If you mean to say you want the free and unlimited coinage of gold and silver, say so. (Applause and cheering.) Now I am
ready for business. Are you, and what is your further wish, gentlemen? (Loud and continued applause.)
According to custom the delegations from the various congressional districts had met during the forenoon at their respective designated headquarters, and had selected each two delegates to the national Democratic monetary convention (to be called), and one representative on the following committees:
1 — Credentials.
2 — Rules.
3 — Permanent organization.
4 — Resolutions.
5 — To select four delegates at large to the national convention.
Judge Kramer of Wayne county moved that the various congressional districts be called by number and that the chairmen of the district delegations name the committeemen and delegates that had been selected. The motion passed by unanimous vote.
Following are the convention committees:
Resolutions — First District, P. H. Keenan, Chicago; Second, C. Porter Johnson, Chicago; Third, J. P. Miller, Chicago; Fourth, Joseph Mahoney, Chicago; Fifth, R. C. Sullivan, Chicago; Sixth, Richard Michaels, Chicago; Seventh, J. W. Lanehart, Chicago; Eighth, D. J. Hogan, Geneva; Ninth, J. S. Tichnor, Rockford; Tenth, L. B. Deforest, North Henderson; Eleventh, M. T. Moloney, Ottawa; Twelfth, George E. Brennan, Braidwood; Thirteenth, P. C.
79Sloan, Tuscola; Fourteenth, N. E. Worthington, Peoria; Fifteenth, J. Bailey, Macomb; Sixteenth, W. P. Callon, Jacksonville; Seventeenth, T. T. Beach, Lincoln; Eighteenth, Edward Lane, Hillsboro; Nineteenth, G. W. Fithian, Newton; Twentieth, J. R. Williams, Carmi; Twenty-first, W. A. J. Sparks, Carlyle; Twenty-second, W. B. Choisser, Harrisburg.
To select four delegates at large to a Democratic national monetary conference: First, Alex J. Jones; second, Robert Mulcahy; third, Michael Kenna; fourth, William Loeffler; fifth, M. C. Conlon; sixth, William H. Lyman; seventh, Fred F. Eldred; eighth, Thomas Horan; ninth, Colonel Feezer; tenth, Sol Frolich; eleventh, Alex Vaughey; twelfth, A. R. Orr; thirteenth, W. E. Krebs; fourteenth, A. L. Champion; fifteenth, A. W. Wells; sixteenth, O. P. Thompson; seventeenth, H. W. Clendennin; eighteenth, William M. Farmer; nineteenth, A. G. Reavill; twentieth, W. H. Green; twenty-first, Thomas J. Cahill; twenty-second, Reed Green.
Permanent organization — First, William McAllister; second, M. J. Tierney; third, Stephen D. May; fourth, John Powers; fifth, Charles R. Tuttle; sixth, John McGillen; seventh, Michael Ryan; eighth, Chester Bartlett; ninth, Hiram Brooks; tenth, Winfield Scott; eleventh, John Davidson; twelfth, Edwin Beard; thirteenth, T. J. Cannon; fourteenth, Charles Foshender; fifteenth, George Edmunds; sixteenth, Robert H. Davis; seventeenth, Langley Whitley; eighteenth, Alfred Allen; nineteenth, H. B. Lee; twentieth, S. M. Wright; twenty-first, Edward Abend, twenty-second, William S. Morris.
Credentials — First, T. A. Foley; second, E. J. Williams; third, W. J. Carmody; fourth, A. J. Sabath; fifth, D. Considine; sixth, R. E. Burke; seventh, L. C. Legner; eighth, J. D. Donovan; ninth, J. W. Bowman; tenth, L. Bunbar; eleventh, S. M. Knox; twelfth, A. L. White; thirteenth, E. L. Gill; fourteenth, E. Dyson; sixteenth, J. Adams; eighteenth,
80C. Spurgeon; nineteenth, G. N. Parker; twentieth, J. R. McCauley; twenty-first, T. E. Merritt; twenty-second, W. H. Warder.
Rules — First, C. C. Rolfe; second, G. A. Weimer; third, P. J. Wall; fourth, F. Scales; fifth, O. P. Bennett; sixth, W. E. Schlake; seventh, B. W. Delaney; eighth, C. Reardon; ninth, J. S. Eddelstein; tenth, R. M. Johnson; eleventh, —; twelfth, C. F. Smith; thirteenth, A. J. Barr; fourteenth, J. W. Pitman; fifteenth, G. S. Campbell; sixteenth, T. J. Selby; seventeenth, E. J. Roberts; eighteenth, E. A. Silver; nineteenth, J. J. Lockhart; twentieth, H. P. Bozarth; twenty-first, A. L. Brands; twenty-second, G. W. Hill.
Following are the delegates by districts elected to the national Democratic monetary convention, to be called:
First — Thomas Gahan and Frank J. Gaulter.
Second — F. H. Kern and Thomas Byrne.
Third — John J. Coughlin and William O'Brien.
Fourth — Thomas G. Gallagher and James McAndrews.
Fifth — John Claney and John J. Brennan.
Sixth — H. C. Bartling and Frank Agnew.
Seventh — D. G. Moore and J. W. Lanehart.
Eighth — James Branen of Sycamore and Philip Freiler of Elgin.
Ninth — M. H. Cleary of Galena and Charles Nieman of Freeport.
Tenth — Charles K. Ladd of Kewanee and M. J. Daugherty of Galesburg.
Eleventh — D. Heenan of Streator and C. S. Brydia of Fairbury.
Twelfth — J. W. Downey of Joliet and G. M. McDowell of Danville.
81Thirteenth — W. H. Purcell of Champaign and David Felmley of Normal.
Fourteenth — Charles Fosbender of Lacon and Lute C. Breeden of Lewiston.
Fifteenth — C. S. Hearne of Quincy and U. P. Kennedy of Browning.
Sixteenth — H. T. Rainey of Carrollton and Sylvester Allen of Bluffs.
Seventeenth — W. E. Nelson of Decatur and T. W. McNeeley of Petersburg.
Eighteenth — Rufus Hull of Sullivan and W. H. Dowdy of Greenville.
Nineteenth — George M. Lecron of Effingham and J. W. Graham of Marshall.
Twentieth — W. S. Cantrell of Benton and J. R. Creighton of Fairfield.
Twenty-first — N. B. Morrison of Odin and E. C. Pace of Ashley.
Twenty-second — H. N. Detrich of Anna and F. M. Youngblood of Carbondale.
Delegates at large — John P. Hopkins of Chicago, W. H. Hinrichsen of Jacksonville, George W. Fithian of Newton, and Lewis B. Parsons of Flora.
Alternates — John Warner of Peoria, John Wasson of Knox, Alfred Orendorff of Sangamon, and L. O. Whitnell of Johnson.
By resolution of the convention Henry G. Miller of Chicago, and Andrew J. Hunter of Paris were added to the committee on resolutions.
The convention then took a recess until 2 o'clock.
Chapter IX. McConnell's Great Speech.
DURING the recess the several committees performed the work assigned to them, and at 2:15 o'clock the convention reassembled. The crowd was even greater than that of the morning session. Every seat on the floor and in the galleries was filled and the aisles were packed. The personnel of the crowd was practically the same. Chairman Crawford called the convention to order, and the reports of the committee on credentials, rules and permanent organization were adopted without discussion.
There were no contests and the sitting delegates were declared the delegates of the convention.
The committee on permanent organization reported the name of ex-Judge S. P. McConnell of Chicago for permanent chairman, and recommended that all other temporary officers of the convention be made the permanent officers thereof. The report was adopted.
The announcement of the name of Judge Samuel P. McConnell of Chicago as permanent chairman was greeted with prolonged cheers. The Cook county delegation arose as one man. Hats were thrown in the air and umbrellas and canes were waved while the delegates cheered with all the power of their lungs. Judge Worthington of Peoria, Judge Stelle
83of Hamilton county and Free P. Morris of Watseka escorted Judge McConnell to the platform, where he was received with prolonged cheers. After the applause had subsided, Chairman McConnell thanked the convention and proceeded to read his address.
He was interrupted at frequent intervals with applause and cheers and at the conclusion was cheered for several minutes. The enthusiasm of the delgates
84from the smaller cities and towns and rural districts of the state was marked. It far overshadowed that of the Chicago delegation. The cheering always was started among the ruralists and there it lasted longer than in other parts of the hall. The Chicago delegation sat well in front, to the left of the speaker's stand.
Ex-Judge McConnell, after appropriately thanking the convention for the honor conferred upon him, spoke as follows
This convention has a most peculiar and most important significance. Heretofore managers of political parties have so arranged that party policies should be declared only at the time candidates were chosen and only a short time before the gathering of the franchises of the people. The result has been, often, that our conventions have put forth a mere assertion of general principles or on live issues expressed themselves in meaningless compromises. Colorless candidates have been presented to the people, or candidates unsympathetic with the real purpose of the party.
This convention marks a departure, and is intended not only to allow a free discussion before the next political engagement, but to define our party position with distinctness and definiteness, so that no voter shall fail to understand us, and no candidate — if chosen to office — have a chance or excuse to defeat our commands.
This is a government of the people, and this convention of the people — more than any other ever held before in this broad land — should say what we mean and what we want. I applaud the courage and discretion of the state committee in convening this conference. There are critics who say that the party should not be called upon so early to take a position
on the currency question; their counsel is that of cowardice and dishonesty. We shall take no position we are ashamed of — no position we cannot defend — no position that will not bear the illumination of reason and the trial of discussion.
We are here particularly to confer and express ourselves upon the monetary system of our country and determine how we can accomplish what we have vainly resolved was wise and proper and necessary in our party conventions for many years.
The Democratic party has always been an advocate of hard money and is so still. The Democratic party has always been an advocate of the double standard and, I believe, is so now. Ever since the discovery that our monetary system had been changed (and, gentlemen, think how strange that such a thing were done, and done so quietly it had to be discovered, in a nation where the people are supposed to rule ) — I was saying that ever since our monetary system was overthrown the Democratic party has been demanding its restoration. So long, however, has our demand been unheeded — even by men chosen by ourselves — that now, when we make the same demand again, there are those calling themselves Democrats and, adding pharisaically to their ordinary name the word "honest," so forgetful of their country and the party's history as to claim we are seeking to introduce an innovation and to drag down a system approved by a long course of practice and of time. They ignore the plain fact that they are the innovators and that they are seeking to fasten upon the people a system established in silence and in derogation of the people's rights. They are to make the defense — not we. They are called upon to explain why they pretend to be Democrats in opposition to the traditional policy of the Democratic party and
in defiance of its repeated declarations. We have been so long despitefully used that the strange situation now exists that these heretics call on us to show why the financial system, stolen from us in the nighttime, should ever be recognized again
Gentlemen, is the Democratic party proposing an innovation when it asks for the remonetization of silver? Let us recur a moment to what has been said upon this subject. Said Alexander Hamilton: "On the whole, it seems most advisable not to attach the unit exclusively to either of the metals, because this cannot be done effectually without destroying the office and character of one of them as money and reducing it to the situation of mere merchandise."
Said Thomas Jefferson, writing to Mr. Hamilton after the examination of his report: "I concur with you in thinking that the unit must stand upon both metals."
"I am certainly of the opinion," said Mr. Webster, "that gold and silver, at rates fixed by Congress, constitute the legal standard of value in this country, and that neither Congress nor any state has authority to establish any other standard or to displace the standard."
Said Mr. Blaine: "No power was conferred on Congress to declare that either metal should not be money. Congress has, therefore, in my judgment, no more power to demonetize silver than to demonetize gold; no more power to demonetize either than to demonetize both."
Even the Hon. John Sherman said some years ago, apparently with reluctance: "The uncertainty of the relation between the two metals is one of the chief arguments of the monometallic system. But other arguments showing the dangerous effect upon the industries by dropping one of the precious metals
from the standard of value outweigh, in my mind, all theoretical objections to the bimetallic system.
Do they say that we are innovators in proposing the coinage of silver and gold at the ratio of 16 to 1? We answer that we kept our mints open to the coinage of both metals at that ratio from 1792 to 1873. We answer that for two hundred years prior to and including the year 1873 the commercial value of silver and gold in the world was never more than 16.25 to 1, and never less than 14.54 to 1.
Notwithstanding this history these forgetful heretics say to us and cry out to the whole country that the remonetization of silver would bring with it a train of calamities. Now, we must treat these gentlemen soberly and patiently. Some of them are ignorant — and need education; some are merely selfish — and we must try to awaken their patriotism; some of them are dishonest — and we must expose their pretenses; some of them, I grant, are honest monometallists, and do not therefore belong to our party and cannot get into the other, unless that party shifts its ground and changes its policy.
We can also answer these heretics and say that neither our gold nor our silver nor our wheat leaves us unless we get what they are worth in the market. If gold is worth more to foreigners than to us, why not let them have it? Certainly no one can claim that we are going to lose our gold by conquest or that it will go away of its own motion. If it goes it will be replaced by something we need more than gold.
They also try to frighten us by saying that the Europeans will buy silver bullion at 70 cents per ounce and bring it over to our mints and have it coined into dollars. They won't be able to buy silver at that price they suppose they could; if the
Europeans buy bullion and have it coined into dollars what will they do with them? They don't owe us anything, therefore they can't pay debts with them. If they use them, they must use them to buy our produce. Well, we shall be glad to sell to them — and particularly glad to do so if the thing happens that the monometallists predict, that remonetization will be followed by an undue rise in prices. After the remonetization of silver we can look without alarm upon the departure of our gold. If it goes to Europe, it will go there because it will buy more there than anything else will. If we increase the supply of money in Europe the inevitable consequence will be to raise the price of all commodities — not only of those produced in Europe, but those which we supply.
In the meantime we shall have an abundance of good money at home. Probably the first effect of the re-establishment of silver will be a check upon the importations from Europe. For a little while our Republican friends will be consoled to find an effect produced by currency legislation which they have always claimed as one of the blessings of a protective tariff. But granting that at first we don't buy so much from Europeans, yet as we are still Europe's most convenient and largest source of supply she must buy of us. This state of affairs will start our factories, give our labor employment and will enhance prices for our products, not only here but in Europe, because of the larger supply of money.
These prophets say again, as if predicting a calamity, that our securities will be sent back to us by the Europeans. Well, if they give them to us we can bear the affliction. Even if they sell them to us cheap, some of our rich men can take advantage of the market. I think we can be certain that they will not try — and really could not if they did — to make us take them unless we want them.
At the very beginning of this contest let us make
up our minds that we won't be frightened by nursery tales and that we won't give up our fight because they call us names. Let us bear in mind, in view of the direful predictions of the monometallists, that we haven't much gold at present and that what little we have we bought with 4 per cent gold interest-bearing bonds — and that even what little we have we keep through the courtesy of Baron Rothschild and Mr. Morgan. Remember all the time we are not only depressing trade, but straining our financial resources, to perpetuate a financial system which we don't believe in, and which we never knowingly established. We are trying to pretend that we have plenty of gold to redeem all our obligations and yet we know — that with any concerted demand upon the treasury we would be immediately bankrupt. That is true, too, of any nation pretending to a gold standard system. We are demanding the restoration of silver as redemption money in order that our system may be more honest and less pretentious. The monometallist gains nothing in the argument when he says that with silver restored gold would sell at a premium, when, as a matter of fact now, we couldn't get enough gold at any price to pay our treasury notes in that metal; and when, as a matter of fact, the government has had no gold in the treasury which it did not obtain at a high price.
But, gentlemen, why will gold be worth more after the remonetization of silver? Can any one say that because a great nation of seventy millions of people decide to coin silver into money, and all they get of it, the result will be to make gold more valuable? If corn by any invention could be made to serve all the purposes of wheat the tendency certainly would be to make corn dearer or wheat cheaper. We produce one-third of all the silver which now reaches the markets of the world. If we keep it all and make
money of it, certainly silver will be worth more — and just as surely gold worth less — in every market of the world. The demand for gold will be less. The demand for silver will be just the same in Europe and the East, while the supply will be reduced one-third because we have ceased to export.
Even on the theory of the gold-standard men, we either have now too little or too much of redemption money. If we are to continue to play the bluff game of pretending to have what we have not, and what we could not get if we tried, all we need to do is to make a little more pretense and sell part of our gold metal for finger-rings and dinner-services. We must come to one thing or the other to be consistent — either more or less of primary money. Our financial system to-day is only worse than the wooden guns and stuffed clothes employed sometimes in war to deceive an enemy, because our pretenses as to what we are able to do are so childish they can mislead no one.
As a nation we stand all the time on the edge of panic and bankruptcy, and are spared from it only because those who could bring us to that condition at present see no good result to themselves in the very easy achievement.
A very large number of very honest and intelligent men, sincerely in favor of the free coinage of both gold and silver, seem to think that we cannot sustain our monetary system without the aid of other nations, and have been more or less patiently waiting for some international agreement upon the matter of ratios. With the greatest respect to these gentlemen, I entirely disagree with them. I think it is a matter of no consequence whether other nations agree with us or not. We shall sell neither our silver nor our gold dollars to these other nations. We never have. When we pass the national boundaries our money — whether silver or gold — is treated like our wheat or our corn, for what it is worth. Neither
our gold nor our silver dollars are, and never were, legal tender beyond our own territorial limits. Money is a domestic servant merely.
International agreement is by no means necessary. The Paris conference of 1878 resolved that the selection for use of one or the other of the metals, or of both simultaneously, should be governed by the special position of each state or group of states. The great financiers composing that conference evidently did not reach the conclusion which some of our American bimetallists have. They evidently realized what we ought to understand — that a nation like ours, the richest in the world, producing one-third of all the world produces, can regulate its own financial system, and do so without universal consent. It is quite apparent, anyway, that if we want other nations to remonetize silver we can compel them to do so more easily than we can persuade them. We are not crippling ourselves when we remonetize silver. We are arresting the evils produced by a scanty supply of the medium of exchange; we are checking the downward tendency of prices; we are giving enterprise encouragement, youth a chance, the debtor hope and bestowing value and use upon one of our largest products.
Other nations will not leave us alone to enjoy the advantages of a double standard, for we shall, in the language of the great Hamilton, present to the world "a comparison of the benefits of a full with the evils of a scanty circulation." Even England has not been easy or content with her gold standard, for her great prime minister, Disraeli, said: "Our gold standard is not the cause of our commercial prosperity, but the consequence of it. It served our purpose as long as other nations chose to take or give us silver at a steady gold price; but from the moment
our policy was imitated in Germany in 1873, by discarding silver, this country began suffering a loss which cannot be estimated. Nor will the country which imitated us with the fruit of its war with France with success be benefited by it. It will prove to be an incredible misfortune to its people.
In fulfillment of the great minister's prediction England severely feels the torture of the single gold standard, and Germany — burdened with distress — is seeking to return to the equal use of silver and gold.
I say again that an international agreement is not necessary. France for seventy years had her mints open to the free coinage of silver and of gold at the ratio of 15-1/2 to 1. When she closed her mints to silver in 1874 she had 900,000,000 of gold and 700,000,000 of silver in circulation. The population of France was then only 85,000,000, and its area one-seventh that of the United States. During the time that France coined both silver and gold at the ratio of 15-1/2 to 1 the production of silver to gold in periods fluctuated from 5 to 1 — even from 50 to 1. Even under such strained and extraordinary conditions the free access to the French mints kept the two metals in the world at the value of their currency impression; or, in other words, their bullion and coin value were the same. The period of the greatest fluctuation of the two metals was from 1803 to 1850, inclusive. In that period there was produced forty-eight times more silver than of gold and yet the fluctuation of the market price of the two metals in that period was infinitesimal; that is to say, the ratio varied only from 15.49 to 1 to 15.61 to 1.
And again in the period from 1851 to 1874, when the relative production was an average of 6 to 1, the relative market value was never more than 16.97 to 1 and never less than 15.30 to 1.
Another fact which ought to go to quiet the alarm of those who predict the flooding of the mints with silver under a system of free coinage is that from 1803 to 1870 there was offered for coinage in France two hundred millions more of gold than of silver. Even in the period when the output was 48 to 1 there was offered for coinage only seventy-seven millions more of silver than of gold. We have, too, an advantage that France never had. All the silver and gold she coined was brought to her mints from other countries. We are the greatest producers of both metals.
Let me say again to the bimetallists who wait upon an international agreement that a money-using and a debtor nation like ours can, more safely than another, establish bimetallism without the initial consent of other countries. If our legislation in favor of the remonetization of silver does not result in making silver worth one-sixteenth of gold then England and the other nations of Europe will find it to their advantage to help us make silver more valuable. If they don't they suffer more than we do. We cheapen gold by coining silver. They can make the silver which we offer them more valuable by coining it also. In other words, they would be more interested than we in giving to silver the debt-paying power our laws give to it.
Until human wisdom has devised some other financial system than that now recognized by the entire world, gold and silver will continue to be used as money. And so long as we are to use metals as a representative of value and as an aid to exchange we cannot afford to dispense with either silver or gold. We cannot afford to allow all value to be represented in either metal, nor rely upon one or the other as the sole medium of exchange. The quantity
of either is so limited that the demand for the one exclusively preferred would tend constantly to appreciate it, working not only injustice to the debtor, but also by its apparent reduction of prices a constant check to enterprise and commerce.
Little is gained in the argument if we concede to the gold monometallist that falling prices benefit all alike, unless we also concede that hope is no factor in initiating enterprises, encouraging industry and exciting commerce. No matter if the fact be that a bushel of wheat will buy as much of a commodity as the year before, if the fact be that it will not yield to the purchaser as much in the money of the land. The farmer will measure his gains solely in the nominal price he obtains, and will not patiently resort to market quotations to determine the question of his prosperity. What is true of the farmer is just as true of the laborer and every other producer — feeling he has less, he buys less. Falling prices, therefore, affecting all business operations, bring on a kind of progressive paralysis.
It is the government approval of a certain commodity for money and its declaration that it shall be a legal tender that give to any metal any value beyond its intrinsic worth for use in the arts or other ways. This is not a fiat value, but a value dependent upon the demand, for it is almost purely conjectural what value gold would have if robbed of its law value; we may be certain that it would sell immediately at a great reduction.
Now, what is the situation with which we have to deal? We find that through our own legislation and that of other great nations, the money value of silver has been taken away from it, and all the money value which heretofore for centuries — and they are centuries of progress — had been given to gold and silver is now given to gold alone. What has been
the necessary result? Just what any one familiar with the simplest rule of political economy could have predicted — a depreciation of silver and a greater demand for gold. The greater demand for gold rapidly enhanced its value and real estate and all its products, labor and all its products, measured in gold, showed a decline in prices. And plainly, if the world grows in numbers or business increases,the demand for gold — the accepted and conventional representative of value and great medium of exchange — will continue to grow in value, and on the other side there will be an apparent reduction in prices. I do not say that from year to year this increased value will be discernible, because for a time it may be checked by an unusual output of gold or apparently modified by a scarcity of or a speculation in commodities. In the course of years, however, it must inevitably result that gold will continue to appreciate to the advantage of the creditor and money-holding class. It is the very system which will, if it has not already, fatten and fasten plutocracy on the world. Already less than 3 per cent of our population own more than half the wealth of our country.
James G. Blaine said in the Senate in 1876: "It would not be difficult to show that in the nations where both gold and silver have been fully recognized and most widely diffused the steadiest and most continued prosperity has been enjoyed — that true form of prosperity which reaches all classes, but which begins with the day laborer, whose toil lays the foundation of the whole superstructure of wealth. An exclusive gold nation like England may show the most massive fortunes in the ruling class, but it shows also the most helpless poverty in the humbler walks of life. Do our opponents say that gold has not advanced in value? I can quote against them Blaine, Sherman, Carlisle and nearly every man who has occupied a prominent position in this country.
According to Sauerbeck's reliable statistics the value of gold at the beginning of this year, as measured in commodities, had increased 66-2/3 per cent over the period between 1867 and 1877. If gold has not risen in value and decreased the price of everything else, what do the demonetizers mean when they say to the laboring man that the purchasing power of the dollar is greater now than ever before? Don't they know that they are exposing themselves to the charge of hypocrisy when they deny the appreciation of gold, and at the same time argue that the dollar now is more potential than ever? And don't they know that if the dollar will buy more than heretofore, it is harder to get — that you must give more labor for it, more produce for it.
And, again, these monometallists say that the demonetization of silver has not had a tendency to lower prices; but almost in the same breath they charge that the remonetization of silver will unduly enhance prices. They deny that the prices of commodities have gone down, and the next moment explain that the reason for the decline is overproduction. They don't care for consistency; they try to avoid the necessity of beng consistent by predicting panic and calling names. We who are in favor of the remonetization of silver say there is no injustice — even to the creditor — if the government shall restore to silver its old place in our monetary system. We grant that it will check the appreciation of gold, and in time cheapen it, but hold that the creditor will get as much in value as he lent and become a happy participant in the prosperity of the people. Even if it were to work an injustice to the creditor we must remember the debtor and the toiling masses of mankind. Even if it works an injustice to the creditor we must reflect that he is not alone to be
considered. Our poor men and our young men want a chance. Posterity, for which we are really living, must not be saddled with a system worse than that devised by any tyrant monarch of the past. A system which enriches the money-owner at the expense of the producer offers a premium to sloth, lays a burden on toil and checks useful enterprise of every kind.
Gentlemen, a financial system devised by Hamilton, Jefferson and Washington, under which we had prospered as a people and grown great as a nation, was suddenly overthrown by the machinations of a millionaire senator — without any appeal to the people.
Jefferson enjoined us to often return to a consideration of first principles. And therefore it seems to me that the great party of which he was the founder very properly leads in the great work of restoring to the people a financial system which met all their needs and which was as much a badge and a guarantee of their independence as immunity from the stamp law or the tea tax.
The remonetization of silver is a return to a system under which the world developed from barbarism into civilization. Through all the centuries of progress, and almost keeping pace with it, there have been added large stocks of the precious metals. With their aid the modes of barter were discontinued and commerce became free, humane and beneficent. Nations grew closer to each other and comforts began to spread themselves over the face of the whole world. I don't want to say — for I don't believe it — that a conspiracy was formed to make those who had wealth richer than they were, but just as if such were the fact, the capitalists of the world became eager to restrict the circulating medium of exchange.
And this great movement, iniquitous in its results, was very appropriately initiated in England, the great creditor nation and the most selfish nation of the world. It was not there, nor in France, n or in Germany, nor here, that the demonetization of silver was demanded by the people. It was not among those nations nor in ours that this monometallist legislation was proposed and effectuated to relieve any condition of business distress. Here and elsewhere the great change was the result of capitalistic advice, and not the result of any movement on the part of the people. And among us it was done so quietly that even great senators who had voted for the bill were unconscious of the great wrong which had been done. Said the venerable Judge Thurman: "I cannot say what took place in the House, but I know when the bill was pending in the Senate we thought it was a bill to reform the mint, regulate coinage and fix up one thing and another. And there was not a single man in the Senate, unless a member of the committee from which the bill came, who had the slightest idea that it was even a squint toward demonetization.
Even if it were true that there would follow some disturbances in business — even if we had to submit to some temporary inconvenience and loss — still the achievement at which we aim is so fraught with importance to ourselves, our children and theirs that we should be glad to make any personal sacrifice. Great results often cost life and blood and fortune, and they are cheerfully given by the truly patriotic. A people never struggled for a more important end than the re-establishment of our monetary system, and yet we can sacrifice much for the cause and still be richer in the end. We are to wage this fight against every enemy of the people — against wealth, monopoly and greed. We are asserting a great principle of government — the right to govern ourselves. We find it necessary to speak now more plainly than
heretofore and to be more careful in the choice of our leaders. The men we chose to represent us put a personal construction on our declarations and our laws and, pretending to be honest, betrayed us to the gold speculators of Wall and Lombard Streets.
The time has come to rebuke those who distrust the wisdom of the people and accept the selfish wisdom of the money-changer and the bondholder. The time has come now for us to be definite in demand — and resolute in exacting obedience from our official servants. We must say — and say it with the voice of command — that we demand the remonetization of silver at the ratio established by law. The system we want restored has been approved by long experience, has been sanctioned by our progress, is justified by our situation and is necessary to our national independence and prosperity. We must rid ourselves of the veto power of New York and London. Let the people command and our official servants must obey.
Chapter X. Bryan's Able Address.
EX-CONGRESSMAN WILLIAM J. BRYAN, of Lincoln, Nebraska, who has become famous throughout the nation for his fearless, able and eloquent advocacy of the restoration of silver as primary money, being introduced by a happy motion and brief speech by Representative Alex J. Jones, of Chicago, advanced to the front of the platform, and was greeted with wild cheering. He spoke as follows, and was most enthusiastically cheered throughout his whole speech, so much so that he was compelled to request his hearers to desist.
This convention has been regularly called by the party organization in order that the Democracy of Illinois may declare the position of the party in this state on the money question. The word "Democracy" means "the rule of the people." No man is a Democrat who denies the right of the people to govern themselves, and no one is worthy of the name which our party bears unless he has faith in the intelligence and patriotism of the people. The word "people" does not mean a few of the people, but all of the people, high and low, rich and poor. The Democratic party was organized by Thomas Jefferson, who gathered the common people together and led them to victory under the motto: "Equal rights to all and special privileges to none." Andrew Jackson
was the next great champion of the common people, and became the idol of the common people because he had the courage to grapple with the monster monopoly of his day — the national bank. Thomas Benton said of Jackson that he had saved the nation by overthrowing the bank as Cicero saved Rome by defeating the conspiracy of Cataline. We are confronted with a conspiracy greater than that attacked by Jackson, a conspiracy which Secretary Carlisle once described as international in extent, and destined in its consummation to produce more misery than "war, pestilence and famine." The conspiracy has been in progress for twenty years, but never until this year did the parties to it boldly proclaim their purpose.
In 1896 the people of the United States will be called upon to decide whether the influence of this nation shall be cast on the side of bimetallism or in favor of a univseral gold standard. All admit that the question is the greatest economic question which has come before the people of the United States during the present generation, if not, in fact, during the present century. This question cannot be settled by the fiat of bank presidents, or money loaners, or federal officials. It will not be finally settled until the great common people of the United States sit in judgment upon it and apply to it those principles of justice by which alone public questions can be measured. If, as all admit, the money question is now the question of supreme importance, it must follow that the people will trust that party with its settlement which fearlessly espouses the truth. The Democratic party must take its position upon this question and by the correctness of that position will rise or fall. No coward, whether an individual or a party, can long retain the confidence of the people. Not only is it necessary for the Democratic party to
take a position, but the sooner it defines its position the greater will be its opportunities to win success in 1896. We need not disguise the fact that our party is divided upon this question. There are those among us who would fasten upon us the English system of finance, just as there were those among our Revolutionary fathers who sought to continue the political supremacy of Great Britain. These gentlemen, having suspended the coinage of silver and established the gold standard, are urging us not to disturb party harmony by demanding a restoration of "the gold and silver coinage of the constitution," just as the Tories cried "Peace, peace," when Patrick Henry and his compatriots sought a restoration of the rights of the colonists. But there is no peace.
There can be no compromise upon this question; there can be no political fellowship between the advocate of a single gold standard and the friend of bimetallism. If the gold standard, universally adopted, is the best standard, then we do not want either independent bimetallism or international bimetallism. If, on the other hand, the world's commerce requires the use of both gold and silver as standard money of equal privilege, then a single standard is not to be considered at all. If the single gold standard will furnish enough of primary money, then the double standard would furnish too much and would be an unmitigated evil; if gold and silver together do not furnish more standard money than we need, then the attempt to use gold alone as standard money is a crime against society. If the Democratic advocates of a gold standard believe that is best for the country, they owe it to the Democratic party to make an honest and manly effort to save the party from the advocacy of bimetallism, but instead of doing this the leading representatives of the gold standard in Illinois urged their followers to stay away from the primaries and take no part in this convention. If the advocates of a gold standard
avoided the contest because they believed themselves in the minority, they confessed the right of the bimetallists to control the policy of the party, or, if they deny the right of the majority to direct the policy of the party, they abandon the doctrines of the party and repudiate the principles of free government. Shakespeare says that it is conscience that makes cowards, and it is possible that the advocates of a gold standard have refused to submit their cause to the rank and file of the party because they are conscious that the financial policy which they propose is hostile to the interests of the masses.
In 1878 Mr. Carlisle, then a member of Congress, declared that there was a difference between the "idle holders of idle capital" and "the struggling masses who produced the wealth and pay the taxes of the country." Senator Sherman said in 1869 that "the capitalist out of debt" was exempt from the distress and disaster attendant upon a contraction of the currency; Mr. Blaine said in 1878 that the destruction of silver money would bring an unfair advantage to those whose investments yielded a fixed return in money. When the "idle holders of idle capital," "the capitalists out of debt" and the "holders of fixed investments" organize to destroy silver as a standard money they may expect to find arrayed against them "the struggling masses."
It is to be regretted that the first Democratic president since the war should become the trusted instrument in the hands of concentrated wealth, the official head of the "communism of pelf." When he was found he was as modest as Saul, and as conspicuous among his fellows for his good conduct, but since he has sought counsel of the "familiar spirits" of Wall Street he has tried to take the political life of every David whom the people trusted. Grover
Cleveland is not the Democratic party — Democracy is greater than any man. It will exalt him who rightly interprets its truths, but it will cast him down who seeks to wear its livery and yet serves plutocracy. Silver must be restored to its ancient place and the United States must do its part in the work of restoration.
We are told that the gold standard has been adopted and that even if its adoption worked an injury we should not correct one wrong by committing another. While gold has been adopted as the standard, its work of destruction is not yet completed. As nation after nation discards silver, the struggle of gold becomes more bitter and the end is not in sight. Even if all nations adopted the gold standard at once and thus caused immediate and universal bankruptcy, we would not reach a stable basis, because the annual supply of gold would not keep pace with the need for money. There is no end to the appreciation of money which a universal gold standard will cause, and we are compelled to choose between a return to the double standard and a continuation of financial distress for an indefinite period and to an unlimited extent. If the restoration of silver is imperative, the means are important. If it is restored at all it must be restored at the present legal ratio of 16 to 1. A change in the ratio secured by increasing the size of the silver dollar would not only contract the currency, it would cause a loss in the recoinage of silver dollars into lighter silver dollars, and this loss would fall either upon the government or upon the holders of silver dollars and silver certificates. If the ratio were changed by international agreement to 1 to 24, for instance, it would cause a decrease of one-third of the silver money, or one-sixth of the entire metallic money of the world. Such a contraction in the volume of money would decrease the market value of the property of the world many billions of dollars and increase enormously
the burden of debt. Why bring such injury to the debtor class and to society and such advantage to the capitalistic class without first attempting the restoration of silver at the present ratio. We believe the apparent fall in the gold value of silver bullion has been due to legislation which on the one hand cut off the demand for silver and on the other increased the demand for gold. Bimetallism is founded upon scientific principles and recognized natural laws. Agreement can increase the price of a commodity of limited production by increasing the demand for the commodity. The production of gold and silver is limited, and any nation which is large enough to offer a demand unlimited as compared with the supply, can fix the bullion price at the mint price. The reason why bimetallism has been difficult in the past was because of different legal ratios existing in different countries. If we should attempt free coinage at 15 to 1 we should invite the coined silver of other countries to come here in exchange for gold; but when we offer free coinage at 16 to 1, our gold will not leave because it cannot find a more favorable ratio where there is any quantity of silver to exchange. If a change in the ratio is desirable, we cannot intelligently choose a new ratio unless we have put gold and silver upon an equal footing. It is absurd to measure silver by gold when we open the mints to gold and close them to silver. This country must act alone, because it cannot afford to submit the interests of American citizens to the government control of foreign nations, and because other nations are not similarly situated and therefore cannot be relied on to cooperate with us. We did not ask the consent of other nations when we demonetized silver, and we should not ask their consent when we restore it. Illinois is the imperial state of the West, and the Democracy of this state, by meeting in this convention, earned that right to lead the fight of 1896. The platform adopted by this convention will be in substance.
the Democratic platform of 1896. If we are right, as we believe we are, they that are with us are all right. Truth is right and will prevail.
Chapter XI. Andrew J. Hunter's Speech.
At the conclusion of Mr. Bryan's speech pandemonium reigned for nearly five minutes. Delegates arose from their seats and cheered lustily. Hats, canes, and umbrellas were thrown into the air. There were cries of "Hesing" and "Hunter," and after the commotion had subsided Andrew J. Hunter of Paris came forward and was received with cheers. As he progressed with his speech the display of enthusiasm brought out by Congressman Bryan was continued with renewed vigor. At the conclusion of his address he was again applauded, and there were more cries for "Hesing," "Altgeld" "Ladd" and "Merritt." Mr. Hunter said
We assemble here to-day in obedience to the will of the Democratic party of this state to reaffirm and emphasize the ever living principles of true Democracy. This convention, representing almost every honorable vocation in business, now seeks to carry out all those great principles that will add to the welfare of all the people. We are not here to gratify any spirit of resentment, or to arraign any person for the independent right of opinion. We are here because of the efforts of Mr. Cleveland to force the Democratic party to accept as final the law of 1873 on the money question. Those who have been heretofore recognized as Democrats and do not wish
to stand with us in carrying out the provisions of the Chicago platform must find a location for themselves. We are not here to fix their status or to assign to them any political position. Those who have inflicted deep and dangerous wounds on the Democratic party must be regarded as enemies and treated as such, whether they call themselves Democrats or Republicans
We are here to declare against the enemies of true
Democracy without reference to political titles. We are here to-day by the will of the people to renew our ancient faith and avow our allegiance to those principles of good government handed down to us by our fathers. We have no new duty imposed upon us and we assume none. The landmarks of the past are our mentor. We have no leadership to obey, or highway to travel outside and independent of the voice of the people. We are here for Democracy and the whole country; not as trimmers nor truncheon flourishers, nor for any man or place. We are here to meet the issues forced upon the country by the venal legislation of the Republican party and the effort of the President to perpetuate the financial system inaugurated by Thaddeus Stevens and John Sherman in 1873.
The Republican party have by every conceivable trick since that time sought to fasten upon the country the single gold standard. We have resisted its consummation with all the power at our command and made the best fight we could to prevent it. And now, in the midst of this struggle, at the very moment of our ascendency to power, when we were fully ready to strike down this law of 1873, and re-enact a law for the free coinage of silver and carry out our platform and pledges to the people, Mr. Cleveland, to the surprise of every Democrat in the United States, abandons his party and platform and goes over to the enemy and joins hands with John Sherman, Chandler, Cullom and Reed, to continue in force the laws of 1873, demonetizing silver. The party became violently incensed, more so than at any time in their history, refused to go to the polls and permitted the elections to go by default. Curses of Cleveland, both loud and long, could be heard from the old and active Democrats from one end of the country to the other. Mr. Cleveland, believing it to be part of his executive duty, presumed to force a new creed upon the
Democratic party of the gold standard alone. In doing so he has drawn the line distinctly between the gold barons upon the one hand and the Democratic party upon the other. There is no longer any doubt where the Democrat advocate of gold alone stands. Their status is definitely fixed by the Republican law of 1873. Secretary Carlisle, in his speech at Memphis, used the same argument, made the same deductions, and urged the same conclusions that John Sherman did to his Republican friends at Zanesville. Both these men appealed to the people to defeat the free coinage of silver and perpetuate the law of 1873, which law maintains gold alone as the standard of value. Upon this money question I am unable to see any difference between Sherman and Carlisle, Cleveland and Cullom, and Brice and Allison. They have joined hands to fight the Democratic party for the restoration of silver. These gentlemen charge us with being crazy upon the silver question. If we are crazy we are in good company, for every Democrat, from Jefferson to Cleveland, has been for the free coinage of silver; so if we are crazy, all of our Democratic ancestors were crazy. In this new alignment of the people upon the money question I have but little doubt that Mr. Cleveland and all those Democrats who choose to follow him will have a ticket of their own in 1896 and will insist that they are the Democratic party; that we are renegades and that we have left them.
The daring move of Mr. Cleveland to carry the Democratic party away from the platform that he accepted as a candidate and upon which he was elected has but one parallel in the long history of Democratic Presidents. Strict adherence to principle has been and is the corner-stone upon which all true Democrats stand. In 1857, many of us well remember,
and we are not strangers to those in high places who sought to force new doctrines and new creeds upon the Democratic party, Mr. Buchanan, during his administration, attempted to use the power of his high office to force the Democratic party, at the time of organizing the states of Kansas and Nebraska, to carry out his views upon the slavery question instead of the declared principles of the party. History has recorded the result. The party was rent in twain, two national tickets were placed in the field, and notwithstanding we had half a million majority of the popular vote, Mr. Lincoln was elected President of the United States. We had two tickets in Illinois. The regular Democratic ticket received 121,609 and the Danite ticket of the administration received 5,071 votes. Mr. Buchanan controlled all his appointees in this state and they worked faithfully for his ticket, but his ticket was really repudiated by the Democratic party. I am glad to know that Mr. Cleveland cannot control one-half his appointees in this state. They are not the kind of Democrats that can be marshaled into line with John Sherman, William McKinley, and Shelby M. Cullom under any kind of intimidation. Democrats know their duty and propose to stand by their convictions. We all regret that we cannot stand with the administration on this money question. We honor Mr. Cleveland for his great ability and power in leading the Democratic party in striking down unequal taxation, the force bill, and introducing strict economy in every branch of the service. I regard Mr. Cleveland also one of the greatest men that this country has ever produced, but his differences with the Democratic party and his principles upon this money question are so wide and deep that he must be considered an open and avowed enemy of the Democratic party.
With us principles are paramount to the conviction or policy of any one man, however exalted that man may be. In 1792 the Democratic party originated and
enacted the laws governing our first mint and the free coinage of gold and silver. That statute was faithfully observed and thoroughly tested by eighty-one years of experience. Silver was made the co-worker, side by side, with gold, and the history of our country fully attests its ability to meet every demand upon it as money, in peace as well as in war.
Contentment and satisfaction obtained in all our business exchanges, also in the commerce and trade of the whole country, as well as sustaining our credit abroad. No demand was ever made by the people for a change from gold and silver to gold alone from the beginning of our government to this hour. Gold and silver, being the money of the constitution, were the bed rock of hope in all our business. This happy condition would obtain to-day had our Republican legislators permitted the money laws made by the Democratic party to remain on the statute books. But they yielded to the demands of corporate wealth, avarice and greed, demonetized silver, and made gold alone the only measure of value. This scheme appreciated gold and depreciated silver, increasing the securities of the creditor class at the expense of the debtor class. Millions were thus gained by the creditor class without the investment of an additional dollar. This generation of people have seen and felt the effects of this partial legislation more than all its predecessors.
Labor being the first factor in human welfare, having produced more wealth than ever before, has received a smaller per cent of its rewards. The price of labor has been reduced, demoralization and suffering have been increased, the price of farm products has steadily declined, and the power of the few to control the wealth of the country has been greatly augmented, so that the government itself has become
the mere toy of capital. They can empty the treasury of its gold at pleasure; the Secretary of the Treasury is completely within their power; at their command he is compelled to go to their banking-houses in Wall Street and consult them when it becomes necessary to procure gold to run the government. They force the government to issue bonds and fix the rate of interest. We are completely within their power under this Republican law, as construed by this administration, that is, to pay nothing but gold upon our obligations. And what is so mortifying to every real Democrat in the United States is that, after thirty years of constant effort and fidelity to principle, when we thought that we had secured a Democratic administration by which we could repeal these Republican laws, we were mistaken. We have Mr. Cleveland now using all of his power to force the party which elected him to recognize the Republican doctrine of gold alone as the measure of value and continue the law of 1873 demonetizing silver. With few exceptions the Democratic party believes that Mr. Cleveland is solely and individually responsible for the demoralization in the party and the terrible defeats of 1893 and 1894.
Long experience has taught us the bitter lesson that the farther we go away from Democratic principles in the administration of this government the deeper we become involved in trouble. Upon this silver question the issues are clearly made up not only between the Democratic party and the Republican party, but with all those calling themselves Democrats who stand for gold alone. The administration has drawn the line so that no man can be deceived, the voter can take his choice. He can follow the principles laid down by Jefferson, Jackson, Douglas, and Hendricks, the great leaders of the Democratic party, for the double standard of gold and silver, or he can follow the authors of the law destroying silver, Thaddeus Stevens and Mr. Hooper
of Massachusetts, or John Sherman, Senator Cullom and President Cleveland for gold alone. There are a few Democrats hesitating as to the course they will pursue in this contest. We would be glad to have them stand with us for the re-establishment of silver and raise it to the place it occupied before the hand of Republican legislation was laid upon it; but if they think it is good Democracy to vote for and keep Republican laws in force and follow Mr. Cleveland instead of the Democratic party, this convention has no purpose or intention in dictating to you a political status. All you men who think Mr. Cleveland can lead you into a higher and purer Democracy than the conventions of the party, it is your duty to follow him. But I fear that you may be deceived. There cannot be two Democratic parties. If the Chicago platform is the doctrine and creed of the Democratic party, Mr. Cleveland's new departure and crusade against silver and for gold alone as the measure of value is not Democratic, and, upon the other hand, if Mr. Cleveland's proscription of silver and his refusal to pay it out upon the debts of the government is Democracy, then our traditions, principles and platform that we have adhered to for more than a hundred years are not Democratic. If Mr. Cleveland wants to start a new and different Democratic party, let him call a convention of his own and lay down his platform. Then we will be able to see where he stands and how many voters stand upon his platform. He can christen his new party according to his own tastes and go before the country. I am reminded that the first section of the new platform of this new party will be to stand by the laws of 1873 until we can get an international agreement, or, in other words, have England fix our financial system for us, but in the meantime retain the Republican legislation of 1873 for the gold standard.
I appeal to this convention and ask you the question: Did this government at any time secure any benefits under any international agreement when we met for the purpose of making one common money for the nation? We would be glad to have such a millennium come What sensible man can expect such a consummation? The people of this country would be delighted to know how an international agreement could be executed and carried out so that it would benefit us. I have no doubt some of these gold prophets could tell us. Such an agreement would not be a law that would bind any nation or individual. The different nations would have to call their law-making powers together. Then the question of confirmation would have to be settled. Who has the courage to believe that they would so legislate as to give the United States any advantage of them? All this dramatic talk about international agreement with foreign nations to secure some financial advantage to our own country is empty declamation, and only kept before the people as one of the schemes of deception for the sole purpose of procrastination. Who has any faith in the English people or in the creditor class? England has never been a very warm friend to the United States since the days of George Washington. Who can say that they will ever agree to bimetallism or any fair ratio that would enable the debtors of the United States to discharge their obligations to them according to the contract, in coin, using silver as well as gold. They have by maintaining the law of 1873 almost doubled their credits against the debtors of this country, and however strange it may seem to you we find Mr. Cleveland, Mr. Carlisle, the Republican party, and the English government all combined to maintain the gold standard. They claim that they are the friends of silver at the same time they stand inflexibly by the
law of 1873, which destroys silver. Mr. Cleveland and some of his appointees tell us that this government of ours can do nothing to relieve this country from gold monometallism without the affirmative action of the financiers of the English government. In any contingency we are to have no relief from the debauched condition of our finances unless England in her magnanimity and love for this country accords it to us. Our own administration asks us to confess that we are wholly impotent to furnish relief to our own people. What degeneracy do we behold! I ask you Democrats here to-day, was that the spirit and courage exhibited by our ancestors when they organized this splendid scheme of government of ours? Did they bow down to English dictation and English cupidity and ask them to furnish for this country a ready-made financial system? In 1792, when our fathers established the first mint in the United States and fixed by law the rules of coinage of both gold and silver and the unit of value, did our fathers then, when they had less than 3,000,000 of people, have the puerile excuse that is set up to-day by the present administration that we must consult England and other nations before we can establish a financial system for ourselves? Had our fathers, in the beginning of this government, such counselors as Cleveland, Carlisle, Sherman and McKinley, before they would have dared to establish laws for the free coinage of gold and silver they would have sent out for Lord Cornwallis, General Burgoyne and George III. and asked their cooperation and consent. Why not have the governor of the Bank of England write out our financial policy or go into partnership with the English government in the administration of our financial affairs? Or we might surrender all our constitutional rights as a people and let the boards of trade and the Eastern bankers form a trust with the English government and run the government on the joint stock plan.
No American citizen can read this proposed surrender of our financial system by Mr. Cleveland and his henchmen to the dictation of Great Britain without the deepest regret and humiliation. Here with 70,000,000 of free people we do not dare to do that which 3,000,000 did heroically and well. These old heroes had declared and established their independence and proposed to run this government themselves. They were not hunting about for monarchies, dynasties and despotisms to help them run this free and independent government of ours. These special champions of the gold standard and the advocates of the law of 1873 demonetizing silver are all self-appointed prophets. They imagine they are able to divine the future and tell the people what is to be. In the days of Christ, prophets of this kind were taken outside the city and stoned to death. But now they are made cabinet ministers and high officials of the government. They assume to be able to tell us to a perfect demonstration what effect the free coinage of silver will have on all future generations. They seem to have no doubt of having this heaven-born ability. They prophesy that to give silver an equal chance at the mint with gold will drive all the gold out of the country. That the United States is not strong enough to sustain such financial policy as the people demand
Secretary Carlisle, one of the itinerant prophets of this administration, says in his prophecy at Memphis that it is impossible for our government to adopt and sustain the free coinage of silver without the aid of foreign governments and that it will establish monometallism. Mr. Cleveland claims that it will fill the country with a dishonest money (forgetting, if a prophet forgets anything, that dishonest money is a product of dishonest law).
Notwithstanding eighty-one years of experience to the contrary, he is for the continuance in force of the dishonest law of 1873, which made silver a dishonest dollar. Sherman prophesies that it would destroy the present rate of interest of exchange; Morton prophesies that it would ruin the farmer by giving him a debased currency for his products; McKinley prophesies that it would disturb existing prices and create doubt in the minds of the people. These gentlemen, not caring to give us facts and reliable data, go on with their prophecies. Mr. Carlisle makes the startling announcement in speaking for the administration that we cannot have the free coinage of silver in this country unless Great Britain consents. I would say to Mr. Carlisle that we had the free coinage of silver for more than eighty years without the consent of England. That, under Democratic laws, every silver dollar for that time was at par and was an honest dollar, and I want to say further, in reply to this lame and impotent argument, that we had more need for international agreement at the beginning than we have to-day. We have forty times more power to-day under our flag to sustain our own financial system than we had in the beginning. This gold scheme is a part and parcel of the old doctrine of protection.
Mr. Chairman, the Democratic party stands to-day where it always stood on this money question, firmly for the coinage of both gold and silver on a perfect equality, insisting that it is the only money of ultimate redemption. These great truths were handed down to us as principles and incorporated into our platforms, and no man can be a good Democrat without standing upon the platform of his party. These air-walkers that go tramping around without any platform to place their feet upon remind me of those people spoken of by the Savior that are tossed about by every wind of doctrine. No man of any honor will contend that we can carry out the Chicago platform
while the law of 1873 remains in force. The Chicago platform was a plain, concise and forcible exposition of the principles of the Democratic party upon this money question. Let me read:
"We denounce the Republican legislation known as the Sherman act of 1890 as a cowardly makeshift fraught with possibilities of danger in the future, which should make all of its supporters as well as its author anxious for its speedy repeal. We hold to the use of both gold and silver as the standard money of the country and to the coinage of both gold and silver without discriminating against either metal or charge for mintage, but the dollar unit of coinage of both metals must be of equal intrinsic and exchangeable value or be adjusted through international agreement or by such safeguards of legislation as shall insure the maintenance of the parity of the two metals and the equal power of every dollar at all times in the markets and in the payment of debts; and we demand that all paper currency shall be kept at par with and redeemable in such coin. We insist on this policy as especially necessary for the protection of the farmers and laboring classes, the first and most defenseless victims of unstable money and a fluctuating currency."
How can we hold to the use of silver if we go with Mr. Cleveland and sustain the law of 1873, which demonetizes silver? How can we make silver a standard money of the country if we sustain a law that destroys it? I should be glad to know how Mr. Cleveland and his followers can be for the coinage of both gold and silver when the law of 1873 forbids silver coinage. At the same time they insist that present conditions must not be disturbed. The platform goes further and says that there shall be no discrimination against either metal or charge for
mintage. The law of 1873 does discriminate against silver and prevents the mintage of it. How can the unit of coinage of both be equal and of the same exchangeable value when gold is made money by law and silver is made a commodity? Is the declaration of the constitution which gives Congress the power to coin money and regulate its value a mere platitude, a meaningless phrase? Has Congress exercised its constitutional power? Is there power somewhere to overrule Congress and make void its decrees? Does the constitutional monetary standard consist of both gold and silver, and if so, is there any power anywhere to change or alter it? Shall we have a money of both gold and silver with the government currency redeemable in or interchangeable with either coin, or shall we have only gold coin and a corporation currency redeemable only in gold coin? Is it the humiliating duty of the United States to conform her financial legislation to suit the wishes and interests of England or any other foreign power? Mr. Cleveland is for the single gold standard and bank currency. I am in favor of both gold and silver and a paper currency furnished exclusively by the government redeemable in either gold or silver coin. I think the time to talk about the equality, parity and ratio is when the law of 1873 is repealed. And such legislation had, there will be no discrimination by law. This is what the Democratic party contends for and will continue to contend for until it secures that result. No man in his right mind believes that we can secure from Great Britain any agreement that would be mutual.
This is no ordinary contest. We not only have the Republican party arrayed in line to oppose all our efforts to restore silver, the subsidized press and the English government, but have the administration, with all of its power and machinery, confronting us. Mr. Carlisle, in his Bowling Green speech, states the intent and purpose of the administration:
"If this free coinage wave is to overwhelm the country, I can assure you that it shall be postponed for at least three years. If this Congress should pass a free coinage bill, of which there is no probability, it could not be put into effect while this administration is in power. You have first to elect a Congress that would pass a free coinage bill, and then elect a President who would sign it.
This threatening language sounds the gauge of battle to us and leaves no doubt as to the position of Mr. Cleveland. The man that we placed in power by Democratic votes, through his Secretary of the Treasury, breathes out his defiance and tells us that if we dare pass a free coinage bill we will have to elect a President that would sign it. Mr. Cleveland, no doubt, thinks by sending out his secretary to pronounce his threat that he will by that means intimidate the Democratic party. What answer to this have you people of Illinois to-day? Shall we cower at the feet of arrogant power or shall we stand for those great principles handed down to us by our fathers? Mr. Cleveland having been aroused by his failure to secure a majority of the Democratic members in the last Congress to carry out his gold policy, and having had to rely upon the Republican members and a few gold Democrats for the support of his peculiar financial legislation, he now, with his appointees, hopes to coerce the Democratic party and make them stand in line with the Republican party and his followers for the single gold standard. He knows that upon this question he has the Republican party at his back and the syndicate which controls the money of the country. With this triple alliance he expects to destroy the old Democratic party and upon its ruins erect a party of his own, demonetize silver, and establish the gold standard
alone. He expects the Democracy of the country to accept as true his and Mr. Carlisle's version that the money of the constitution established by our fathers is dishonest. No Democrat can accept the terms of party fealty tendered to him by this administration on the money question. It is not Democratic; it is not honest politics. The voice and command of the people is Democracy, and when the people speak they are for gold and silver as the standard money, and when the boards of trade, loan agents, and this administration speak they are for gold alone. Gentlemen of the convention, I plead to you to stand by Democratic principles, Democratic precedence, and Democratic traditions. We cannot hope to succeed by temporizing with expedients and following new departures. Men do change, principles never. Let us raise high the standard of every line and tenet of the party. Turn neither to the right nor to the left, but face the enemy from whatever quarter they may come.
Chapter XII. Governor Altgeld's Speech.
ARTHUR JAMES of Cook county moved that a committee be appointed to wait upon Governor Altgeld and request him to address the convention. The motion carried unanimously. Governor Altgeld appeared amid prolonged cheering. His remarks were freely applauded and tended to increase the enthusiasm of the delegates. There was even greater interest evinced in his speech than in those that preceded it, and as he progressed the enthusiasm increased. His allusions to "the man in the white house" were cheered, but when he spoke with sarcasm of that man as the "friend of the workingman" there was a storm of hisses for Cleveland. At the conclusion of the governor's speech there was the usual round of applause, with the addition of three cheers for Governor Altgeld.
Governor Altgeld spoke as follows
Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the convention:
There are so many Democrats here to-day who have discussed the principles of Democracy for so long a time and have maintained the principles of Democracy in sunshine and storm that I felt the time of this convention belonged to you and that it was the business of your servants in the capitol to keep quiet. But I know of no greater honor than to be asked
to appear before a convention of Democrats such as I see before me, and I thank you for the consideration you have shown me.
Now, gentlemen, why are you here? This is a busy time of the year. Why have you left your farm, your shop, your store, and come to the capital.
There is no election approaching; there are no offices
to get; there is no political campaign immediately before you in the sense in which we understand it. Why, then, have you assembled here.
It is because you have felt that the time has come when we must again make a declaration of principles. (Applause.) You felt that the time has come when the Democratic party must again stand for Democracy, and no longer for plutocracy. (Applause.) Just look over our great and glorious country. For years nature has yielded her harvest. Our people are sober and industrious. They are as energetic and representative as ever. Their brains are as active and their fingers are as skillful. And what do we see? Paralysis! Industries dead. Farmers in trouble. Mechanics idle. Business men in trouble and laborers begging bread. You have inquired as to the cause of this anomalous condition. You have asked why this is so. And you have found that for some reason there was a complete break-down of the American market, a complete destruction of the purchasing power of the great producing and toiling masses of this country. You have asked what caused this.
You dug down a little further and you found that a number of years ago nearly one-half of the money of the world was stricken down, not by any law of commerce, not by any law of business, but by the arbitrary arm of the government wielded and directed by the Shylocks and the plutocrats of the country.
It is a basic principle that when you increase the volume of money in the world you increase the selling price of commodities and products of the world. (A voice: "That is so.") The converse holds good also. When you reduce the volume of money in the world, then, instantly, of necessity, the selling price of commodities and of products has to go down. Now what followed this arbitrary act?
Mind you, the fixed charges were left, the mortgages were not reduced, the interest was not reduced, taxes were not reduced, and the one hundred and one fixed charges were not reduced. Consequently our great producing classes found that when they had paid their fixed charges they had nothing left. Prior to that time they could pay their interest, pay their taxes, pay their fixed charges and have a surplus, and with that surplus they purchased the one hundred and one things that go to make up the comforts of a modern family. What did that do? That gave business to the merchants, business to the railroads, business to the manufacturer. Now, by virtue of this pernicious legislation, there was found a condition of things in which it took everything that the producing classes could raise to pay the fixed charges, and it left them nothing with which to buy what they formerly did buy.
And what was the result?
The merchant could not sell. The railroad had little to carry. The manufacturer had to shut down. And what followed? The laborers in these factories were without work and very soon without bread. Their purchasing power was taken away and there was a complete paralysis around the circle. You found that out. You saw it years ago, and you commenced agitating for a change of those conditions. And what remedies were offered to you? What remedies have the self-appointed doctors given you in the last few years. The patient had been bled until it could not stand up. It was leaning up against the fence and these great financial doctors came along, felt his pulse, looked at his face and said:
"Well, the right thing to do is to take a little more blood out of him." (Laughter and applause.)
They have been doing that and as they proceeded the patient kept getting a little weaker and weaker
until finally you concluded that that line of treatment had been followed long enough and you demanded a change.
Now, how are we to get back to the condition that we formerly occupied.
Why, we must restore that purchasing power of the producing masses of our country. (A voice, "That is right.") Put them back where they stood when the government with its strong arm interfered, and this whole machinery of industry will start.
And, until that is done there is no possibility of a return of general prosperity. (Applause.) I have been told lately, "Why, times are getting better! Don't you see that we have got big iron mills hard at work and they have raised wages 10 per cent?"
"Well, how many men are they employing?"
"Fifteen hundred men."
"What did they get before they raised the wages lately?"
"They got $1 a day."
"What do they get now?"
"One dollar and ten cents a day."
"What did they get years ago under the former condition of affairs?"
"They got $2 and $2.50 a day." (A voice, "That is right.")
Now, gentlemen, this country is so exhausted that there must be some business now, there must be some manufacturing. But it is small, simply to meet the absolute necessity of the case, and on a basis of wages that leaves the laborer no purchasing power.
We are settling down on a basis of wages that is in harmony with the general fall of the selling price
of products, and that is a basis the same as those of European countries, which make it impossible for the men who toil to buy anything except the simplest necessities of life.
Now, that is the only way in which we can have a return of prosperity — to go back to where we stood years ago before the government interfered. That is what you are demanding. That is what honesty and justice demands, and it is right that you should do it. When the government interfered at that time it did a great wrong. Not only our government, but it joined hands with a number of governments of Europe. They did a great wrong to the debtor class. They made the debtor give twice as much of his sweat and toil to pay a debt as he otherwise would have had to give.
I say it is right for the Democratic party to take this in hand, because the Democratic party is the party of the masses, and therefore it devolves upon it to want that kind of a law. By that act they produced this paralysis of industry clear around the line, which bore hard upon the masses. The Democratic party, standing for the people, is under obligations to right that wrong. You have no business to look elsewhere.
The Republican party stands for different principles. They are followers of the doctrine of Hamilton. They believe in the doctrine that it is the business of government to help a few rich people and let those few rich people throw a few bones to the poor. (Laughter and applause.) That is the theory of the fundamental principle of the Republican party.
Now, the Democratic party stands just for the opposite. It stands for the principle that government is for the equal protection of all; that it has no right to interfere for the benefit of a few at the expense of the remainder.
The trouble with us has been that for several years now our Democratic leaders seem to have gone over into the Republican fold and to be trying to take the job away from the Republicans. (Laughter and applause.) They have got so far along with it that they do not even want to permit the Democrats of this state to have a word to say about it. (Great laughter and applause.) I have heard of a good many cases of giving a beggar a horse and he will ride, but this time the beggar has ridden further than I ever heard of a beggar riding before. (Laughter and applause.
Now you have determined that this wrong must be righted. You have heard the people talk about a silver craze — nice gentlemen with fine shirt fronts, fine clothes and fine gloves on. Men spending the money that somebody else earned will talk to you about the silver idiots, about the silver craze and silver lunatics. Now, gentlemen, I wish it were so. We would soon get over our craze and our country would be well again. (Applause.) But the trouble is that there is in this case a deep-seated wrong and this outburst of the people and uprising of the Democracy is simply the uprising of an indignant and a wronged people. They feel that this wrong has been committed and they have determined that so far as in them lies they will right it up for you gentlemen. This is no easy task you are entering upon. This fight is only beginning; it is not finished.
I want to congratulate you upon the effect that this short silver campaign has had upon the Democracy of Illinois. I never saw any body of men enthused so quickly, become electrified so quickly, to get up and be ready for business and ready for fight in so short a time as has the Democracy of Illinois
in the last six weeks. (Applause.) There were some gentlemen who you know talked about leaving the party. Oh, Lord, they could not associate with such people. But we have not heard of any of them leaving the party yet. I do not believe any of them will, but I say this to you: If every man of them who talked of leaving the party would take his bag and baggage and go into the Republican camp to-day, and we had a great election in this state to-morrow, we would poll 40 per cent more votes than we polled last fall. Why, gentlemen, it is not a matter of making converts; you don't need to make converts; you don't want to make them. All you want is to get the benefit of the sentiment that now exists in this country and you will sweep everything before you. (Cheers.) You have reached this point. You have spoken to the Democrats of Illinois. What are you going to do now? ("We are going to have 16 to 1," cried an enthusiastic delegate.) That is good, and will win, too, rejoined Governor Altgeld, amid laughter.
But you cannot legislate. There is another man in the White House for some time yet. (Yells and cries of "That's so.") I am told that he is the friend of the workingman. (Hisses from various parts of the hall.) He has written some beautiful letters, and in those letters he has told the workingman that his dollar will go further than it used to go, but I notice that neither he nor any other mortal has told the workingman where he can get that dollar just now. (Laughter and applause.) And I repea to you that the workingman will not get that dollar until there is again a market that will buy his products. I ask you what you are going to do. You cannot relieve the situation except by legislation. You have got to undo the crime that government did. You have got to have a President who
will be in sympathy with you — a President who will be willing to stand by the great people of America and not by the bondholders of Europe. (Cheers.) You have got to have congressmen who, when they go to Washington, will remember what their constituents in Illinois and other states want. (Cheers.) You have got to quit trifling with congressmen who, when they get to Washington, always look to New England for their inspiration.
Now, how are you going to accomplish this? It is a year before an election will be held, and I notice that when this agitation began there were gentlemen opposed to us, and what was their argument?
"Oh, for the Lord's sake, don't disturb things." Between the lines you could read this: "We are the people who represent the bondholders, the bankers and the very rich and the corporations, and we have got things in as nice a shape as we want them, and for God's sake don't disturb things; don't split the Democratic party."
What did that mean? That meant keep things quiet; don't get up any agitation; don't get anybody aroused. If a man feels in his heart there has been a deep wrong, smooth it over, and next spring we will elect delegates from the various states to the Democratic national convention that will do just what they did before. (Laughter and applause.)
They will straddle everything under the sun and they will put upon their platform a man for President who will not know that there is a country west of the Allegheny mountains. (Cheers.) Well, you don't see fit for some reason to heed the advice of those men and you have gone on. You have held a convention and I see you are very much alive. Now what do they say?
"Oh, stop now; don't carry it any further; you may split the Democratic party.
Have you ever stopped to notice how big a splinter would be split off? (Laughter.) Let us consider that a moment. You have the Democracy of this state somewhat aroused to their rights. They don't demand anything that is unjust. They don't seek legislation that will do injustice to capital. They believe in protecting all the great interests of this country, but they say that in the future they must have justice done.
I heard the other day that in our neighboring state, Missouri, the Democrats were very much aroused. They were determined to have a Democratic silver convention. I am told that nearly sixty counties held meetings and demanded that the state committee should call a convention. Finally a committee went to St. Louis. When they came to the town they stood eight in favor of a convention and seven against. When they got into town they were taken possession of by some gentlemen, who, for some unknown reason, called themselves honest money people, and those honest money people took these committeemen to the horse races, and then they went off and wined and dined them, and when they got through wining and dining, this committee stood ten against the convention and five for it. (Applause.) That is an illustration of what you may expect if you keep quiet now and be real nice and behave yourselves and travel in the refined society of the gold standard people. (Applause.)
But suppose we let that go. Suppose we move along the line of those people who have opposed the very step you have taken. It is simply a question
of being driven out of this position into that and so on. Suppose you act upon their suggestions and let everything be quiet again. What kind of delegation would come from the state of Missouri to the national convention next year? Would it be a delegation to represent the state of Missouri or the bondholders of the East? Mind you, there will be some gentlemen next year who will want to be candidates for the presidency, and they will have barrels of considerable size to roll over into this Mississippi valley. Take the other states and we find a similar condition of affairs, and we will simply have a national convention which will only repeat the follies of the past. We will have a platform that stands for nothing and we will have a candidate for president whom the Democrats of the state will not support, and the party will be nearer wiped out, body, boots and breeches, than ever before in this country. (Cheers.)
There is only one way to head this off. It is to get back of those people who are not willing to let the Democrats express their conviction on this subject. Get back of them; keep this agitation up. Call for a convention to meet late this fall. Notify the Democrats of all states of the Union to send representatives to it. Say to them that if the state committees or machinery is not willing to let them come, then let the Democrats of each county send delegates to this convention and in that way keep up the interest. Keep the people awake, keep them moving, and then when next spring comes you will find that no man from New York or Massachusetts, no man from the East or anywhere else who does not stand for the honest convictions of the Democrats, can succeed in capturing the convention. (Cheers.)
I repeat to you, gentlemen, that this fight is only
beginning. The powers that are against you are powers that never stop — they are everywhere, they are omnipresent. You will find consolidated wealth, you will find every man whose wealth controls him against you. You will find the fashionable drawing rooms against you, the great daily papers against you. The bankers mostly will be against you. You will find every man who makes a living off other people against you. Look at the crowd of men who have been fighting you — those honest money league fellows. Have you seen a man among them who goes to his home at night wet with the sweat of honest toil? (Cries of "No! No!") All are corporation officers, corporation lawyers, hangers-on to capital, hangers-on to rich men — people, all of them, which is not necessarily against them, who make a living in such a way and eat bread that honest toil bought.
That is all right enough, but the mere fact that they are fortunate who wear better clothes and occupy better positions, fortunate not to toil in the factory or on the farm, is no reason why they should not be willing to let the great masses of this country say what they want to say and try to get justice.
Gentlemen, the great danger you will have to confront is the danger of division. The subtle and seductive influences of the people who are against you will wedge you in here and will split you a little there until you hesitate. They will talk glibly enough and urge you to remember that you are Democrats. Such talk is not in your interest; it is the talk of the other side. You have the people with you and they know it. All you need to do is to hold fast and stand firmly together. Let it be understood that the men who are not with you are against you. Let it be understood that it is not a matter of getting offices; that there is something greater and nobler for men to do
in the world than to get offices; that it is a question of principle with you, a question of legislation for the great masses of the people. Stand shoulder to shoulder and there is not a power in America that can withstand your onward tread. (Loud cheers.)
Chapter XIII. Mr. Michaelis' Address.
AMONG the concluding speeches of the great convention was the address read of Richard Michaelis, editor of the Chicago Freie Presse. In introducing him the chairman said:
"It has been said the Germans are not with us, not any of them, and I take great pleasure in controverting that statement by introducing Richard Michaelis as a representative of the Germans." Mr. Michaelis addressed the convention as follows
Although at present not in my usual good health I have consented to become for the first time in my life a delegate to a Democratic convention, because I consider it a high duty, as well as a great honor, to follow the call of your glorious leaders.
Governor Altgeld, Mayor Hopkins, Judge McConnell, and Secretary of State Hinrichsen have been attacked by the organs of the dishonest money league for calling this convention, but these great leaders deserve unqualified praise for their manly action.
The Democratic national platform of 1892 demands bimetallism in unequivocal terms, but President Cleveland, Senator Palmer, and other prominent Democrats have repudiated the platform on which they were elected and have abused their influence to restrict the coinage of silver.
Their efforts had the purpose as well as the effect to enhance the value of gold, to make the primary money scarce and dearer, and we have therefore the right to call the organization advocating such a financial policy the dishonest money league, because the partially successful attempt to demonetize silver and thus to decrease the amount of standard money appears as a dishonest effort to force debtors to repay loans in an artificially enhanced money and to coerce the producing classes to pay to money lenders a higher rate of interest. The disastrous consequences of this policy, carried on by financial powers since 1873, are perceivable in the shrinkage of values of nearly all commodities and in the stagnation of business.
It became, therefore, the plain duty of every advocate of a fair and honest financial policy to rally in the interest of the people, and the leaders of the Democracy of Illinois did the right thing in calling this convention and in giving the voters a chance to express their purpose on this subject. Only such men can object against a popular expression on the money question who desire to place their own pleasure above the will of the people or to misrepresent the latter.
I am an old bimetallist. I consider the restitution of silver to its old rights as the most important task. I believe that the Democratic party alone can and will remonetize silver, and therefore I am a member of this convention.
This splendid gathering is a proof that the voters of Illinois and the people at large cannot be deceived by the false arguments of the dishonest money league. We all know that gold and silver have been standard money as long as humanity has a history until in and since 1873 the free coinage of silver has been prohibited in about a dozen of nations. We all know
that only two so-called arguments have been offered in defense of the demonetization of silver, viz.: (1) that an overproduction had caused a silver flood, and (2) that it had become impossible to maintain a ratio between gold and silver.
But the report of the director of the mint of the United States of April 20, 1895, shows that during the last 100 years the production of gold on earth exceeded the production of silver about $500,000,000. We had, therefore, not an overproduction of silver, but rather an overproduction of gold. And another official document of the United States destroys the other false argument of the dishonest money league.
Page 50 of the United States statistical abstract of 1882 shows that from 1687 until 1873 the ratio of value of unminted gold to unminted silver differed never more than 12 per cent — a fluctuation that cannot seriously influence the value of the money pieces coined in both metals at the rate of 1 to 16.
Now let me tell you of my experience with bimetallism among the Germans. Some years ago I visited Germany. Every newspaper that came into my hands advocated the gold standard. When I searched for bimetallists I found a small band of men carrying on a campaign of education with pamphlets and with a weekly paper. The campaign was successful. Some weeks ago the reichstag passed a resolution asking the imperial government to call a mint conference, and the chancellor, Prince Hohenlohe, declared he would do so. During the last fortnight the house of lords, as well as the lower house of the Prussian parliament, passed resolutions asking that the mint conference should be called for the stated purpose of re-enacting bimetallism. That is the result of a campaign of education among the Germans.
The reason for this almost miraculous-appearing
result is the fact that bimetallism demands only what is honest financial policy. And therefore I predict here to-day that victory will also perch on our banners in this great country if we all do our duty.
General McClernand of Springfield also addressed the convention, advocating the remonetization of silver, but was cut rather short by the announcement that the committee on resolutions was ready to report. He was enthusiastically cheered.
Chapter XIV. The Platform.
EX-CONGRESSMAN GEORGE W. FITHIAN, Chairman of the Committee on Resolutions, was announced by the chairman as ready to report a platform for the convention. The announcement was welcomed with cheers. Mr. Fithian read the following
Whereas, Silver and gold have been the principal money metals of the world for thousands of years, and silver money is recognized and used as honest money between individuals and between nations, notwithstanding the varying ratios between silver and gold; and
Whereas, The demonetization of silver has deprived the people of the free use and benefits of an invaluable and original money metal and has increased debts and added to the burdens of the people by lowering the value of labor and labor products; and
Whereas, The Constitution of the United States prohibits any State from using anything but gold and silver coin as the legal tender for the payment of debts, thereby recognizing that coin composed of silver or of gold is honest money and fit to be used as a legal tender; therefore, be it
Resolved, By the Democrats of Illinois in convention assembled, that we are in favor of the use of both gold and silver as the standard money of the United States, and demand the free and unlimited coinage of both metals at the ratio of 16 to 1 without waiting for the action of any other nation, and
such coin shall be legal tender for all debts, both public and private, and that all contracts hereafter executed for the payment of money, whether in gold, silver, or coin, may be discharged by any money which is by law legal tender.
Resolved, That we hereby indorse the action of the Democratic State Central committee in calling this convention, and we instruct the committee to carry out the will of this convention as expressed in its platform by inaugurating and carrying on a campaign of education in this State, and to thoroughly organize the Democracy of the State on the lines as laid down in the platform of this convention.
Resolved, That the Democratic members of Congress and members of the Senate from this State be and they are hereby instructed to use all honorable means to carry out the principle above enunciated.
Resolved, That we request the Democratic National Committee to call a Democratic national convention to consider the money question not later than August, 1895; then if the committee referred to refuses to call such a convention that we invite the Democratic State committees of other States to take concurrent action with the Democratic State committee of this state in calling such convention.
The resolutions were adopted unanimously. The committee had gone beyond the limits of its legitimate work, and presented resolutions endorsing the able, honest and economical administration of Governor Altgeld. To this was added, by Representative Alex. J. Jones, a resolution endorsing the good administration of Attorney-General M. T. Moloney. Both would have passed unanimously, but it was thought by some of the delegates that these endorsements would weaken the force of the platform adopted on the monetary question, with which alone the
142convention was called to deal. Chairman Hinrichsen of the state central committee was of this opinion, and, acting promptly at a most critical moment, he advanced to the front of the platform and said
I just want to ask this as a personal privilege of the convention. I suppose I must be said to as fairly represent the state administration as any one in the hall. I certainly know the feelings of Governor Altgeld and the other State officers on this question. I am sure there is not a member of this state administration that expected or desired that this convention would indorse him or indorse the administration as a whole. The convention was not called for that purpose. It would seem to me, gentlemen, if this resolution were adopted, it would be an error. I am opposed to indorsing any individual or any administration. (Cries, "That is right.") We came here to get expression of the people on this money question. And I will ask of this convention the privilege to withdraw those resolutions indorsing the administration of the governor and other State officers. I will ask the unanimous consent of this convention to have those withdrawn.
Unanimous consent was given and the resolutions were withdrawn. The resolutions indorsing the governor, and withdrawn, are as follows
We indorse the wise, economical and honest management of our State institutions by Governor John P. Altgeld. We indorse his course in vetoing the several monopoly bills which have been passed by the present legislature, and we believe the doctrine laid down in his veto message on house bill 618, in which he declares, "It is the business of the government to protect all interests alike and if any interest is to receive special attention it would be the weaker and not the more powerful," to be sound Democratic doctrine.
The further passage in that veto in which he states, "To pass these bills under existing conditions without any limitation would be to fasten a collar on the future and to levy tribute on generations yet to come, and all this simply to further enrich a few private individuals," we believe to be absolute truth. We indorse his bold, manly course in these matters, and renew our confidence in him as our highest executive.
The resolution indorsing Attorney-General Moloney, and withdrawn, is as follows
Resolved further, That this convention indorses the honesty and courage of action of Attorney-General Moloney in the unceasing warfare which he has waged upon the trusts and combinations in this state, which has stood in striking contrast with the administrations of all his Republican predecessors.
It should not for a moment be understood that the objections to the resolutions indorsing the governor and the attorney-general arose from enemies of those efficient officials and staunch Democrats. On the contrary, the opposition came from their best friends.
Mr. Bell of McGovern county, who moved that the resolutions indorsing the governor's administration be stricken out, said
I move that so much of the resolution reported by that state committee as indorses the action of Governor Altgeld in any respect be stricken from the report. Let me say that none of you more cordially admire and respect the governor of this great state than I. If this great convention is to sound the note throughout the length and breadth of this land that shall give to the Democracy of this nation a battle-cry that shall lead us on to victory hereafter, we should stand singly and alone upon the one money question.
Ex-Representative Merritt of Marion county, who spoke briefly on the question, said
As I understand this convention, it was called for the purpose of expressing our ideas by resolution on the silver question. (Cries of "right.") I am for the indorsement of the veto of the three bills which were vetoed by the governor. But, sir, our people did not understand that we were coming here for the purpose of indorsing by resolution any man. We came here to hold a convention on the question which is to-day the greatest question in America and Europe, the silver question.
Chapter XV. Governor Stone's Letter.
AN interesting feature of the convention proceedings was a letter read from Governor Stone of Missouri, in support of bimetallism. Governor Altgeld had invited that distinguished gentleman to attend the convention, and his reply which follows, was read by Secretary Bentley
DEAR GOVERNOR: I have your esteemed favor of recent date inviting me to attend the silver convention at Springfield on the 5th prox. and to become your guest. Some three years ago the main edifice of our state university was destroyed by fire, and since then we have been busily engaged, not only in building the main structure but also in a number of department buildings. This great work is now completed and it so happens that June 4 is the day set apart for dedicating the buildings to the uses for which they have been constructed.
In the programme of exercises I have a part, and as the occasion is one of the highest interest to all our people, my failure to attend would be regarded with displeasure. It would be impracticable for me to now withdraw from personal participation in the ceremonies arranged for it. I suppose I could not possibly spend the 4th at Columbia and then reach Springfield in time for the 5th. From the very beginning I have felt the keenest interest in the Illinois convention. It is the state of all others to take the lead in this great battle of the people against plutocracy.
The struggle upon which we are entering is to be the most momentous and important event, involving more to the American people than any which has occurred since the close of our civil war. The demand for the restoration of silver coinage comes from the common people. The people who ask this boon are the industrial masses of the country. Those who toil in the field and shop constitute the force behind the movement. I do not say that all who belong to that class favor the free coinage of silver, but I do assert without fear of sincere or intelligent contradiction that the demand for silver coinage is supported by those who labor for a livelihood, who are personally engaged in some field of industrial employment. It is the demand of the common people. I believe a large majority of the American citizens are on that side of the question. It would be strange, indeed, if they were not. Every consideration of interest and patriotism; every consideration affecting their personal happiness, the public welfare and the national honor; love of country and the instinct of self-preservation, all alike must make millions who by honest toil support their families and the government the special champions of this great cause.
On the other hand we find in gorgeous battle array the glittering host of plutocracy. I do not say, for it is not true, that every man who flashes his sword under the standard of gold is a plutocrat or that all such are indifferent to the honor or well-being of the country. But I do say that the aggregate and concentrated wealth of the country, the moneyed aristocracy (and, unhappily, we have such a class), dominates, directs and controls the forces arrayed against those who are fighting the battle of bimetallism. I
do not believe that the ascendency of that influence is calculated to promote the happiness of the people or the well-being of the country, for I have observed no evidences of reform in the character and disposition of the money changers since Christ scourged them from the temple. But the power of money is enormous. It exercises a stupendous influence. It is vigilant, alert, resourceful and unscrupulous. It can attract the brightest and the most influential men to its force. It can control the great metropolitan class, which is the most powerful political influence in the republic. It can dupe, contaminate and debauch the very sources of power — the people themselves. Money is king — a heartless, sordid, brutish king.
The people revolt at its suppressive and debasing rule, but subjugation is as probable as victory. The opposition is compact, confident and aggressive. There will be no dissension in its ranks. Every effort will be made to excite discord and dissension among us. Treason will blossom in our midst and trusted leaders will be benefited. Our greatest danger will be in the lack of cohesion and cooperation. The battle to be fought will be a struggle of giants, and it involves more of weal or woe, present and future, to the American people than any struggle which they have engaged in for a generation. In this tremendous combat it is fortunate that the great state of Illinois, on whose bosom sleep the ashes of Lincoln and Douglas, the great champions of the common people, shall take the lead. The note of cheer your gallant Democracy will send forth on the 5th of June will stir the hearts of our people with hope and courage and the fervor of patriotism. You deserve to be most heartily congratulated.
Thanking your excellency for your courtesy and kindness, I have the honor to subscribe myself, your most obedient servant,
WILLIAM J. STONE.
Chapter XVI. Summing It Up.
THE convention, having done the work assigned to it by the Democracy of the state, adjourned sine die, about 5 o'clock on Wednesday evening, amid cheers which seemed to foreshadow victory. The great task had been executed in a sober, earnest and businesslike manner. It had been accomplished, too, by a convention grandly representative of the Democracy of the state. Its enemies could not designate it by depreciating epithets of any kind. The personnel of the assemblage was above reproach. The delegates were all Democrats, staunch and recognized workers of the party, fully representative of the rank and file, so to speak, of the Democratic party of Illinois. This was not denied.
There were no missing counties at the roll call. There was no break in the column. There was no bolt from the call. The complete voice of the party was heard. The party, therefore, stood committed to the movement for the restoration of silver as fundamental money. Its declarations for the remonetization of the lost metal had been regularly made. The Democratic party of Illinois was for the free and unlimited coinage of silver at the ratio of 16 to 1.
But the more practical politicians went out of the
149convention under the impression that the campaign had only been begun, that the great struggle of the masses against the classes had but been inaugurated. They saw before them a hard and long battle to be fought. They did not underrate the strength of the enemy, either. They looked towards the White House at Washington with misgivings. They realized that the president, with his all-powerful arm of patronage, and the prestige of his high executive position, would be able to hold the voice of the people in check, by strangling many of their old-time leaders. They saw in Mr. Ceveland a man of great determination and vast power, thoroughly committed to the cause of the money class, and they must have felt unequal, in many respects, to the task before them. They saw, too, that the wealth of the country, and its holders, was for the most part arrayed against the cause of the people, and they must have felt impatient and outraged under the continued misrepresentations of their enemies.
Nor did they probably overlook the important and deplorable fact that their cause was without a daily newspaper advocate in Chicago, the great political center of the Northwest. Thus, with much odds against them, the founders of the silver restoration campaign could only turn to the people, and, appealing to the rectitude of their purpose, the sound Democracy of their platform, and the selfishness and dishonesty of their enemies, bid them muster for battle in a struggle for the rights of humanity.
The few single gold standard Democrats (I use the
150word "Democrats" out of courtesy) who had hung sullenly on the outskirts of the convention, powerless to fight back the flood of popular will, now seized their pens, or plied their ready tongues in interviews in feeble attempts to belittle or misrepresent the gathering. Postmaster Hesing of Chicago, whom Cleveland had foolishly credited, instead of Altgeld, with carrying the German vote for the Democratic party in 1892, was the first to speak. He made a frantic effort to vindicate his title to the
151President's confidence by misrepresenting the convention in the following editorial which he telegraphed to his paper, the Staats Zeitung:
The action of the convention to-day marks a distinctively new era in the political history of this country. For the first time, I believe, a regularly called convention has decided to go outside of the beaten track and has asked the national committee to call a convention for the consideration of a specific subject, for the laying down of a new declaration of principles. One cannot but admire the boldness of the managers of the Democratic party, however one may denounce the principle involved. It means, in my opinion, a willingness to abandon the old principles of Democracy and to start out on an entirely new and hitherto untried political course. It means the founding of a free silver party under the auspices of Democratic authority.
The feeling after the adjournment of the convention among the conservative men of the party was anything but comfortable, for it was felt that the party managers in their desperation had gone so far as to absolutely burn behind them all bridges. The non-office-holding and non-office-seeking members of the party must look to the national committee for relief. It is generally believed that the national committee will ignore the request of this convention to call a national convention. The result then will be, and I believe that is what the free silver combination in Illinois intends, to call a conference by states to consider the silver question and to launch at such a conference a new party.
As I have intimated in my former dispatches, there appears to be a perfect understanding between the advocates of free silver in both parties to further this movement, and I believe that the free silverites, who have hitherto been called the Populists or who belong to the school of Sibley or Weaver, will all
come together at this national conference and there proclaim the doctrine of the new political party.
This movement will undoubtedly lead to the readjustment of parties. It is the first step looking in the direction of drawing positively the lines between the advocates of honest money and the friends of free silver. Should, on the other hand, the national Democratic committee act upon the suggestion of the convention held to-day, and call a national convention to consider the financial question prior to Aug. 1, 1895, it will mean practically a declaration on the part of the national committee in favor of free coinage, and will, in my opinion, from that moment drive out of the Democratic ranks every friend of honest money. The same conditions would prevail in electing delegates to a state convention. The honest money advocates could not reasonably expect a fair show, and would, therefore, decline to be bound by the action of such convention. It is preposterous to think that the Democrats of this state would feel themselves bound by a convention called nearly twelve months in advance of the national convention, and in which they did not have any voice. The singular fact exists that the delegates to such a convention were elected this morning prior to the time that the state convention had voted to request the national committee to call a convention. When this state convention was called and had its meeting to-day, and until the resolutions requesting the national committee to call a national convention were read, nobody ever dreamed that delegates were to be elected to a national convention. This being the fact, it is very evident that the great mass of voters in the Democratic parly in this state will not be represented in such a convention, because they took no part in the election of such delegates.
Snap judgment of the worst kind was taken. The will of the people has been thwarted. The convention was called under false pretenses. Delegates elected are not representative, and true Democratic principles have been thrown to the wind to foster selfish ends, to subserve personal interests. The people have not in the least been taken into the confidence of the leaders. To what extent the rank and file of the Democratic party, as well as the old-time leaders, will stand such usurpation of power time alone will tell.
The dictatorial spirit manifested immediately prior to the convention was very much less in evidence when the convention met. The speeches in the main were temperate, and, barring the almost positive declaration on the part of Mr. Hinrichsen that he who did not believe in free coinage ought not to remain any longer with the party, were well received. Forced withdrawal of the resolutions commending the administration of Governor Altgeld was very significant. The temper of the convention when those resolutions were read was immediately evident, and forced itself to such an extent upon the managers of the convention that they were withdrawn without any debate. As a Democratic convention, the gathering to-day cannot be called a success. As a free silver convention it certainly was.
Every person who attended the convention, and every one who reads these pages, which present an official and truthful account of the proceedings of the gathering, will fully concur in the statement that the above article, from the pen of Mr. Hesing, is as replete with misstatements as it can well be made. But it is in keeping with the general expressions from gold monometallists towards the advocates
154of the restoration of the double standard monetary system.
Any statement that the convention was not made up of representative Democrats, and was not fully representative of the Democracy of the state, is manifestly false. Aside from the magnificent turnout from Chicago there were from the lower and middle sections of the state, such delegates as Fisise Downing, Congressman-elect from the sixteenth district; Judge Kane of Hillsboro, W. H. Neece of Macomb, ex-Congressman J. M. Riggs of Winchester, A. J. Sparks and Judge Worthington of Peoria, Owen Scott of Bloomington, John Barr of Decatur, Thomas Merritt of Salem, Judge Cummings of Fulton, General L. B. Parsons of Clay county, A. W. Wells of Quincy, Congressman Ed Lane of Hillsboro, J. S. Tricknor of Rockford, Major L. B. Deforrest of Henderson county, Attorney-General M. T. Moloney, W. K. Murphy of Cairo, J. N. Perrin of Belleville, Cam Hearn of Quincy, J. S. Bailey of Macomb, Jacob Chance of Mount Vernon, W. S. Cantrell, J. W. Yantis, and E. D. C. Pace of Ashley. Nearly every Democratic member of the Senate and the house was present as spectators or delegates.
There were others besides Mr. Hesing, calling themselves Democrats, who by interviews freely published the following day set the seal of their disapproval upon the convention. Among these were Senator John M. Palmer of Springfield, ex-Judge Adams A. Goodrich, and ex-Judge W A. Vincent of Chicago.
But the public saw only the command of President
155Cleveland in all this, and beyond regretting that the White House was no longer in sympathy with the common people of the nation, no attention was paid to it, except by the gold standard press.
Chapter XVII. The Issue Defined.
THE Illinois Currency Convention has served the excellent purpose of clearly defining the issue before the people, and stamping it officially as a Democratic principle. There is no dodging either side of the question.
The issue is not merely the free coinage of silver at the ratio of 16 to 1. It includes that, but goes much further. What, then, is the issue? It is this:
OF THE DOUBLE STANDARD
MONETARY SYSTEM AS
This will give to the country silver as primary money. It will restore the standard silver dollar to its place as a unit of value in fundamental money. This does not mean the free coinage of silver, the value of such coins to be, thereupon and thereafter, determined by the single gold standard. It does not mean a 50-cent dollar; it does not mean an unsafe currency; it does not mean unsound money; but it does mean safe and sound money.
It does not mean the abolition of gold money, but
157it does mean the discontinuance of gold monometallism, or the single gold standard. It does not mean silver monometallism, but it does mean the restoration of the silver dollar to a coordinate position with the gold dollar. It does not mean that the gold dollar shall be measured by the silver dollar, nor that the silver dollar shall be measured by the gold dollar, but it does mean that the two shall stand side by side, equal, as the respective units of value of primary money, coordinate in power, linked together in the bonds of equality, and common brotherhood. It means that they shall reign equally in the realm of fundamental or value-giving money, just as they did from 1792 to 1873.
All this means the bimetallism of the fathers, for the restoration of which we, the Democrats of 1895, propose to make the last half decade of the nineteenth century glorious by a struggle full of patriotic heroism.
The issue, as defined above, which will restore a parity between the legal and commercial values of gold and silver money, and between all primary money and commodities, will also give back to the nation,
OF BOTH SILVER AND GOLD, AT
THE RATIO OF 16 ozs. OF
SILVER TO ONE oz.
And this feature of bimetallism is as truly in harmony
158with historic Democracy as are the two units of value, or the double standard. We contend for it all, for the full and complete restoration of the double standard monetary system of the Democratic fathers. And we demand this, in the name of the masses,
WAITING FOR THE
PERMISSION OR AID OF ANY
Such is the issue. There can be no twisting its meaning into silver monometallism, or into any sort of repudiation of national or individual obligations. It will remonetize the silver already coined and open the way for millions more, until the People's Money will be fully restored, not only to an existence, but to the hands and pockets, and banks of the people themselves.
It will place primary money, once more, in circulation among the people. Such is not the case now. Gold coin is the only primary money in the United States. How many gold coins has the reader handled, or been permitted to look at within recent years? Few indeed. These are hid away in the vaults of the rich, while to-day the people have to content themselves with subsidiary and token money, and a very scanty supply of that.
Truly the issue is worth the struggle involved. But to reach the goal the weak must triumph over
159the strong; and yet, withal, it is a battle of the many against the few. Seventy-five per cent of the whole population, by birth and all other conditions, belongs to the majority side of the contest. Less than twenty-five per cent of the people, in countries even of the highest civilization, comes into this world inheriting the means of sustenance. The other seventy-five per cent must get money by labor or its products, or perish in life's struggle. The present wide divergence between the value of money and that of the products of labor, places the great majority of the people in a hopeless condition. Restore the honest monetary system of the fathers, and with it will be restored an equality between the value of money and that of the products of labor, and once more prosperity will be restored to all the people.
"The Money of the Fathers," is the battle cry.
Chapter XVIII. Looking Forward.
ONE must look forward to the future of the great campaign which the Illinois Currency Convention has inaugurated with mingled aspirations, hopes, fears and doubts. What will the morrow bring?
The nation is great and strong and able to stand the strain of a trying contest; but unfortunately most of that strength is among the enemies of the masses. It is in the money power, and that is turned against the people.
The people, for the most part, are crippled from a long period of misrule, with the greater portion of their manly aspirations crushed. They enter the contest bleeding from wounds which monopoly and money trusts have inflicted. In the background is the dark picture of Republican rule, extending over a quarter of a century producing such monsters as the "Demonetization of silver," "Commercial slavery to foreign nations," "White wage slavery," "English money rule," "The monster life insurance fraud," "Monopoly despotism," "Franchise robbery," "Poverty of the masses," "Marketless commodities." In the foreground, proud, mighty, equipped for battle, stands King Gold Monometallism, shining in his costly armor, and surrounded
161by almost every great financial, commercial, and industrial interest of the country, enlisted as an army, and powerless except to obey his commands.
The President of the United States, the ruler of 70,000,000 of souls, is bowing in homage to this god, and exerting every power in his great office to make the reign of the despot more complete. The Democratic party of the nation, in whose name, and by the suffrages of which that President was elected, feeling that it has been betrayed, is struggling to be heard, but its great leader, in the presence of opulence and plutocracy, heeds not the cry. He has turned his back towards the suffering population and is betraying them into the grasp of the Money King.
The imperial state of Illinois has spoken, and in trumpet tones has declared that the people must be heard. But this does not disturb Cleveland's devotion at the shrine of monopoly and wealth. The sovereign Democracy of Illinois calls for a national uprising of the party to consider the crisis, and, lest the swelling tide of the people's woes should awaken his master from his golden dream, the head of the party, who has also fallen under the power of the money king, sends throughout the land the following command in an attempt to hush the complaint of Democracy.
I do not expect or intend to call a meeting of the Democratic national committee until next winter, when it will meet for the purpose of fixing the time and place for holding the Democratic national convention of 1896, unless I shall be requested to do so by the requisite number of the Democratic national
committee. I do not believe there is any necessity for a convention at this time. On the contrary, I am of the opinion that to call one now would be harmful to the business interests of the country and prejudicial to the welfare of the Democratic party.
Thus spoke W. F. Harrity, chairman of the Democratic national convention, within twenty-four hours of the adjournment of the Illinois Convention. Following in his wake, Basil B. Gordon, national Democratic committeeman from Virginia, hastened to say:
From the best evidence before me, I don't believe that the Illinois convention fairly represents the sentiment of the Democratic party in that state. Even if it were so, however, the situation is changing daily in America and Europe, and the effort to pledge the party organization eighteen months before the election would be to put us on the defense a year sooner than our adversaries. I consider it unwise.
Josiah Quincy, of Boston, the Massachusetts national Democratic committeeman, also a worshiper at the shrine of the gold monopoly, hastened to add:
The proposal for the holding of a Democratic national convention at this time to consider the money question is not worth serious consideration. The holding of such a convention would be unprecedented and wholly uncalled for The platform of the Democratic party must remain the one adopted at Chicago in 1892 until the next national convention, held in 1896. No occasion exists for anticipating the declarations to be made by that convention, whether as to silver or any other subject.
John Sheridan, national Democratic committeeman, West Virginia, supported the single standard plea with the following, on the same day:
I object to calling a Democratic national convention to consider the money question. I oppose the free and unlimited coinage of silver and believe in the gold standard. I favor both metals, silver only as subsidiary until an international agreement can satisfactorily adjust the ratio between gold and silver.
O. T. Holt, of Texas, national Democratic committeeman, added his voice as follows
I am opposed to calling the committee together to consider the financial question, as I think it is not in the province of the committee to outline any policy for the party. It will be time enough when the convention meets next year to nominate candidates for the party and to define its attitude on the financial and any other question. I indorse the plank in the Chicago platform declaring for the coinage of silver by international agreement as to ratio. I am not opposed to more silver, but I am decidedly against the free and unlimited coinage of silver at a ratio of 16 to 1.
Mr. Holt is willing to have more silver under the single gold standard. Yes, a "gold-bug" will become even a silver fiatist in order to hold on to gold monometallism. But the tables were to be turned. On the 7th of June, two days after the Illinois convention, a voice came up from Florida, in thunder tones. It was the voice of Samuel Pasco; national Democratic committeeman of that state. He said
The Chicago platform pledged the Democratic party to the use of both gold and silver as standard money and to the coinage of both without discrimination. I am in sympathy with the Illinois Democrats in their effort to carry out this plank. If the ratio cannot be fixed by an international agreement it should be done by legislation, as proposed by the platform.
The obligation is upon us to act and the latter way is open. The main question is free coinage; the ratio is a secondary matter. I shall continue to support any ratio that is regarded safe and just by the majority in Congress. I have not considered the question of a convention.
Thus the line of controversy has been drawn in the national committee, but it is thought that the distribution of patronage by President Cleveland will prove powerful enough to prevent the requisite number of national committeemen from signing a call for even a meeting of the committee until the regular time, next January.
W. F. Sheehan, New York, national Democratic committeeman, has firmly declared against a national Democratic monetary convention, and H. Cummings, of Memphis, committeeman of Tennessee, on the 7th, two days after the Illinois convention, said
I fail to appreciate the need or advantage of a national convention to consider the silver question. We can have no national political campaign or election before the summer and fall of next year, and the national Democratic organization will do nothing toward formulating questions or polling the vote thereon before it is necessary. The face of affairs may change between now and then, and the axiom of not crossing bridges before we reach them applies in politics as well as other matters. The cry for free coinage of silver at the ratio of 16 to 1, regardless of all other considerations or what other people may do, will probably subside during the coming twelve months, and sober business thought resume its sway among our people. They may sometimes get wrong, but they will not remain so.
On the heels of this came the declaration of the
165Third Kentucky Congressional district Democratic convention on June 7, as follows
We indorse the declaration of principles of the national Democratic convention at Chicago in 1892 and the conservative course of the party on financial questions, which has at length restored confidence in the business future of our country.
We point with pride to that administration at whose head is our matchless President, Grover Cleveland, and in whose councils is the great and honored Kentuckian, John G. Carlisle, who has guided the government from the abyss of financial ruin to the threshold of a prosperous future.
Political history on the money question was made very rapidly during the few days following the Illinois Currency Convention. On the seventh the executive committee of the Alabama Democratic silver league, composed of M. A. Mason, chairman of the Democratic committee of Birmingham county; Oscar Underwood, congressman from the ninth district; Joseph F.Johnson, late candidate for governor; S W. John, member of the legislature, and others issued a call urging the immediate organization of Democratic silver leagues in every county in the state. The call reads
It is expected that when these leagues are organized a consultation will be had and state convention called to further the views entertained by Democrats who believe in free coinage. It is expected that these organizations will be so complete in the next thirty days that further action may, by conference and joint agreement, be had.
The proposed state convention will be composed
166exclusively of silver Democrats and will not be an effort to commit the Democratic organization to silver, but its purpose will be to organize and strengthen the silver forces preparatory to an onslaught upon the regular Democratic state convention next spring. The Democracy is already badly divided on the money question in Alabama, and as the movement progresses disruption is threatened.
But this was not all. On the seventh, the executive committee of the Democratic Editorial Association met at Indianapolis and arranged a programme for the midsummer reunion at Lake Maxinkuckee on the 27th and 28th. The programme was arranged with a determination of bringing out a full discussion on the currency question, and the association will be called upon to pass resolutions defining its position. The executive committee is largely made up of free silver men, and Democrats predict that the association will declare for the unlimited coinage of silver. The three principal addresses on the occasion of the reunion will be by Editor John G. Shanklin of Evansville, his theme "The Great Issue of 1896;" Editor Jacob P. Dunn, of Indianapolis, "What Can and Shall Be Done to Restore Silver to Its Full Monetary Function?" and Editor John B. Stoll, of South Bend, "The Path to Victory."
On the day following the Illinois convention the free silver Democrats of Iowa to the number of fifty met at Des Moines to devise ways and means to
167organize the free silver forces in that state. Ex-Lieut. Gov. S. L. Bestow presided. The Illinois Democrats were held up as models for Iowa. A working committee consisting of a state Chairman and one Vice-President from each Congressional district was appointed to direct the agitation until the meeting of the State convention and to send free silver delegates to the same. The committee is composed of J. J. Shea, Council Bluffs, President; First District, H. L. Throop, Mount Pleasant; Second, Hugh O'Hare, Iowa; Third, John Pier, Dubuque; Fourth, D. G. Griffith, Elkader; Fifth, W. I. Alexander, Grundy Center; Sixth, S. B. Evans, Ottumwa; Seventh, W. H. McHenry, Des Moines; Eighth, P. Q. Stuart, Clinton; Ninth, E. J. Sidie, Greenfield; Tenth, W. H. Brackett, Garner; Eleventh, Will Wells, Alton. The resolutions declared for the free and unlimited coinage of both gold and silver on terms of equality at a ratio of 16 to 1. In regard to the movement in Iowa, the Times-Herald of Chicago on the eighth of June announced
The free silver Democrats of Iowa have abandoned every other party principle in order to give free reign to their hobby. So far their activity has not been without result. It now looks as though they would have an easy matter in running the state convention, but if their present success and enterprise serves to arouse the sound money men the result may be different. Private letters from different parts of the state show that the latter element is awakening to the situation, and that the silver forces will not have the easy victory at Marshalltown they now anticipate.
Political feeling never ran higher in Iowa than it
does to-day. Especially in the Democratic party are there indications that the money question may result in a complete breaking up of the old party lines. At the free silver conference threats were freely made that the silver men would not vote the Democratic ticket on any but a silver platform. The sound money Democrats do not give voice to the contrary proposition in such blatant terms, but they are equally determined.
An important question now is, Will the movement for the restoration of silver be kept within the Democratic party, or will it, under attempts of that party to strangle it, rise triumphant among the masses as an independent political organization? The Democratic organizations of the states, as well as that of the nation, should weigh this proposition with great care. The silver question will not down. It would be as easy to quell the tides of the ocean. It represents a great throbbing of human want, and must live and grow and reach a vindication. It is not a question any longer as to whether the agitation for free silver will live. The point is only as to whether it will live in the Democratic household, or build a distinctive home of its own.
It will not take much now to start the current out on independent lines. The Democracy of Illinois has done its duty. The party in this state has opened wide its doors and welcomed the new issue to the place of honor at its fireside. What will other states do? There is much hope for Indiana and Iowa, and for the South, but how about the other northwestern states and the East? The West is already with the people.
An answer to these questions will determine the chances of the Democratic party in 1896, and settle the point as to a new political organization. The people are sovereign. They are greater than any political party, and when the machinery of their party organizations undertakes to suppress manifestly living issues, there is sure to be a breaking up of party lines, and a revolt from dishonest party discipline.
Nor can the Republican party ignore the silver question by repeating the straddling phrases of its former platforms. In pointing out "the only way to safety" in 1896, for his party, United States Senator Carter, of Montana, and chairman of the national Republican committee, only a few days ago said
In the States west of the Mississippi River over sixty electoral votes, which are materially Republican, will be doubtful until the national convention meets and adopts its platform, and if that platform is not satisfactory on the question of bimetallism the doubt will be resolved against the party
With the Western votes subtracted from the Republican column, where they properly belong, the party cannot hope for a majority in the electoral college for its candidates. It is not probable that the vote would be cast for a third party candidates, and as a consequence the choice would be thrown into the House of Representatives. In that body the vote for President would be cast by States, and it does not require a close analysis to reach the inevitable conclusion that the States in favor of the free and unlimited coinage of silver outnumber the States favorable to a gold standard.
It is useless to attempt to evade or conceal the
fact that the sentiment of the country at large in favor of the rehabilitation of silver has become irrepressible. The people of the West are as firmly devoted to honest money as the people of the East can possibly be. The difference between the contending elements arises from confused notions as to what constitutes an honest dollar. The West is constantly appreciating in purchasing power, whereas the borrower is anxious to maintain the conditions under which the coin or currency of the country will not appreciate between the increasing of the indebtedness and the date of the payment.
It may seem presumptuous in me to criticise, but I nevertheless feel constrained to suggest that the so-called money people cannot dispose of this question of bimetallism by the use of the word "crank," "inflationist," and other terms of opprobrium. The people have been in the habit of ruling their country, and they are likely to continue to do so in the future, and it so happens that the stand taken by the common people of the United States in favor of the restoration of silver is ably supported by many of the most enlightened statesmen of Germany, England, France, and, indeed, by every civilized country in Christendom.
I predict that Mr. Cleveland is the last President of the United States who will be permitted to use the power of that great office in favor of the money lenders and against the interests of the struggling masses.
Every friend of the restoration of silver will join him in the hope that those predictions in the last paragraph quoted may prove correct.
It is conspicuously evident that a vast majority of the Democrats of the United States are favorable to
171the restoration of silver as primary money. Probably three quarters of the voters of the country, irrespective of party, are bimetallists. A small percentage favor international bimetallism. This, however, is, for the greater part, a pretext for delaying the question.
Few have taken a stand for any other ratio than that of 16 to 1. There is not likely to be any division on the question of ratio.
Probably twenty-five per cent of the voters of the United States are gold monometallists. These include the representatives of the money power, who take part in politics only as corrupters of the ballot, and bribers of the people's representatives, with a view to perpetuating class interests. They are committed to the work of appreciating the value of single gold standard money, and depreciating the single gold standard value of all commodities. This propaganda is on the line of making the rich richer, and the poor poorer. Under it a majority of the people have already been reduced to a condition of want and poverty.
Sometimes one is at a loss to determine whether, after all, there are not more gold monometallists in the Democratic than in the Republican party. President Cleveland's attitude of repudiation of historic Democracy is breeding gold monometallism in the Democratic party with alarming rapidity. This is the more unfortunate when it is realized that monometallism was never a Democratic doctrine. On this question Grover Cleveland is not a Democrat. Abundant proof of this is found in the history of the party.
172It is possible, and even already probable, that President Cleveland may carry his adherence to the single gold standard so far as to disrupt the party. The Republican managers are lying in ambush, so to speak, ready to take advantage of the situation. Should the influence of the President and the corrupting tactics of the money power choke off the silver movement to the extent of straddling the monetary issue in the Democratic platform of 1896, the Republicans will be sure to declare unqualifiedly for the restoration of bimetallism at their national convention. Under these circumstances their party would carry every state in the Union.
There is a point of view from which, viewing the situation dispassionately, it looks as if the cause of the people would be safer in the hands of an independent political movement composed of a fusion of silver restorationists from all the other political parties, but the possibility of such a movement depends wholly upon the extent of treason within the party to historic doctrines of the Democracy.
Should a majority of the national Democratic committee finally attempt to stifle the cause of silver, and should Cleveland succeed in packing the national Democratic convention of 1896 with the hirelings of gold monometallism, the people will undoubtedly assert their sovereignty and leave the national Democratic party machinery without a following.
There is, therefore, great necessity of much work in the several states in the way of awakening the rank and file of the Democracy to the importance of political action before it is too late. Unless the voters
173rise to the defense of the cause of true Democracy the people will be defeated. The money power is alert. It is experienced in the work of corrupting leaders. There was never a time in the history of politics when voters should more carefully watch their leaders than at present.
Federal office-holders are unsafe guides, whether at the head of newspapers or as the organizers of so-called "sound money" clubs in their several districts. They are in the employ of the money monopoly, except here and there, where they place manhood above office.
The latest program of the so-called "Honest Money" league of Chicago is a demand upon the Democratic postmasters of the state to organize "honest money" clubs in their towns. Some are refusing to lend themselves to a work against the people, but many are bowing in obedience. On Sunday, June 9, the Chicago Times-Herald announced
Postmaster Harris, of Joliet, said that the free silver craze was rapidly abating in Will county, notwithstanding the efforts of the Altgeld appointees to keep it alive. Mr. Harris took home with him the necessary blanks and will at once organize an auxiliary honest money league in Joliet.
This very clearly sets forth the determination of the national Democratic administration to use the entire machinery of government to suppress, if possible, the cause of the people.
What Chicago needs now — what the Democracy of the Northwest needs in Chicago — is a great Democratic daily newspaper that shall be Democratic in spirit and voice as well as in name and pretense — a
174Democratic organ that will voice the cause of silver restoration in such terms of strength and ability as will command the respect of the people generally. The Chronicle fails to fill the bill. It is merely the mouth-piece of the Cleveland administration.
In view of all the facts set forth in this chapter one can easily see that the cause of silver, which at present is the true cause of Democracy and of the common people, is beset with many dangers. Its advocates should bestir themselves at once. There is no time to lose.
Chapter XIX. Representatives of the Press.
PROBABLY nothing sets forth the importance with which the convention was regarded by the people of Illinois more clearly than the interest taken in it by the newspaper press, not only of the state, but of the whole country. Even the great journals most bitterly opposed to the remonetization propaganda gave up whole pages to an account of the proceedings, portraits and character pictures of the leaders. The Chicago papers were almost wholly given up to the convention, and those of St. Louis rivaled Chicago in almost everything. Even the Eastern newspapers gave lengthy accounts, and the press all over the country devoted much space to the event for several days before and after its occurrence.
The press galleries of the convention were in charge of Col. Brand Whittock, of Springfield, one of the most popular young men in the Democratic ranks, himself an able and well known newspaper man. He was assisted by Thomas W. Flynn and W. J. Haurahan. These gentlemen had provided every comfort and facility which the large newspaper staff in attendance could desire.
The principal journals were represented at the convention by the following gentlemen, all well known,
176and recognized as at the head and front of Western journalism:
The Tribune, Chicago: John Corwin, Mac Glenn Henry Abels, and Daniel Defore.
Times-Herald, Chicago: Sam M. Burdett, Tom H. Cannon, H. M. Lowrie, James T. Bate, H. L. Spencer, James Higgins, Ray Brown and Horace Taylor.
The Chronicle, Chicago: John W. Postgate, G. Russell Leonard, Edward J. Hamilton, Charles Lederer and H. L. Jones.
Inter Ocean, Chicago: Thomas C. MacMillan, Frank Gilbert, Kate F. Miller.
Freie Presse, Chicago: W. R. Michaelis.
Evening Post, Chicago: H. D. Fargo.
Evening Journal, Chicago: James Conwell.
The Dispatch, Chicago: R. Christopher.
Globe-Democrat, St. Louis: Harry Mitchell.
The Record, Chicago: G. C. Sikes, Mr. Terbush.
Telegram, Springfield, Ill.: Mart. Bassett.
Herald, New York City: Geo. E. Anderson.
Bulletin, Bloomington, Ill.: James O'Donnell.
Republic, St. Louis: W. S. Snively and D. C. Fitzmaurice.
News, Springfield, Ill.: Wm. Briggs.
Star, Washington, D. C.: N. O. Messenger.
Journal, Springfield, Ill.: John Todd.
Enquirer, Virginia, Ill.: H. F. Downing.
Herald, Howard, Ill.: W. F. Walsh.
Daily Coin, Chicago: M. J. Sullivan.
Chronicle, St. Louis: Chas. Rogers.
News, Joliet, Ill.: H. E. Baldwin.
Associated Press: W. M. Glenn, J. McCann Davis, Victor M. Harding, Dwight Wilcox and Mr. Rose.
The Age, Chicago: S. P. V. Arnold.
Herald, Roodhouse, Ill.: W. F. Thompson.
Journal, Peoria, Ill.: A. W. Kellogg.
Monitor, Springfield, Ill.: Thos. W. S. Kidd.
United Press: Clarence H. Bradley and Timothy F. Beach.
State Register, Springfield, Ill.: Ex-Postmaster Clendenan and Representative E. L. Merritt.
Scores of newspaper correspondents who could not be accommodated in the regular press galleries found places in the great audience.