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BOSTON UNIVERF.1TY LliRASi^ 



y 



Shall We 



Debase Our 

Currency ? 




By HENRY A. MILLER, 
Author of ^* Money and Bimetallism*' 



PRESS OF 

E F. Anderson Co. Ltd. 

PITTSBURGH. 



Money and Bimetallism. 



A Study of the Uses and Operations of Money 

and Credit, with a Critical Analysis of the 

Theories of Bimetallism and a Study 

of Symmetallism, and of the 

Tabular Standard of Value. 



By HENRY A. MILLKR. 



293 F»ages, 12mo. 

PRICE, $1.25. 



G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS, 

NEW YORK AND LONDON. 



SHALL WE DEBASE OUR 
CURRENCY? 



t* Imperalism is not^ but Bimetallism is, the paramount 
issue of the present Presidential Campaign. 

While the Democratic platform asserts on its face that 
Imperalism is the paramount issue of the present Presi- 
dential Campaign, yet one needs but read a little between 
the lines of the instrument in order to be satisfied that 
the cry of Imperalism is not sincere, and that the party 
itself does not apprehend the dangers so glaringly de- 
picted in the platform. If they had faith in their asser- 
tions, a simple declaration of the principle maintained 
would have been sufficient. It was not necessar}' to in- 
ject a stump speech into their platform. The thing is so 
manifestly overdone that one is forced to the conclusion 
that there was some ulterior purpose in resorting to dec- 
lamation and strong phrases upon a subject, which they 
could not help but know could not, in the very nature of 
things, be of any serious consequence to the people or 
their liberties. Undoubtedly, this ulterior purpose is to 
divert the attention of the people from the real issue of 
the campaign. That issue is the financial question. No 
later than in the last month (June), Mr. Bryan, who 
seems to be deemed not only the leader of the party, but 
the party itself, in an article published in the North 
American Revieiv, puts the financial question first among 
the Issues of the Presidential Campaign, and he, evi- 



dently, regards this question as the paramount one. But 
the opposition in the ranks of their own party induced 
the Democrats to assert, in the platform, that Imperalism 
is the paramount issue, in the hope, and with the expec- 
tation, that man}?- members of their own party, who 
would not support free silver, might have their attention 
diverted from the free silver plank, and be induced to vote 
the ticket on Imperalism. 

One or two observations will, the writer thinks, satisfy 
even the most skeptical that there is no sincerity in any 
one of the planks — Imperialism, Militarism, Trusts, &c. 
— in the platform, except the plank advocating bimetal- 
lism at 1 6 to I. In order to present some plausible 
grounds for objections to the policy pursued with regard, to 
the Philippine Islands, appeal is made to the Declaration 
of Independence, ' ' that all governments instituted among 
men derive their just pov/ers from the governed; that anj^ 
government not based upon the consent of the governed 
is a tyranny," &c. , and, upon its authority, demand that 
the Filipinos be given a stable form of government, inde- 
pendence and protection from outside interference. By 
virtue of the precepts of the Declaration of Independence 
we are to declare the Filipinos independent. Strange doc- 
trine to be promulgated at this late day by a part)^ which 
annexed hundreds of thousands of square miles of terri- 
tory to the United States without the consent of the in- 
habitants of the annexed territory. The fact that the 
territory annexed was adjacent to territory of our own 
can make no difference. To sa}^ that the propinquit}^ of 
annexed territory makes a difference in this regard is to 
say that the principles of the Declaration do not appl}' to 
the people of contiguous territory, and that we have the 
right to annex such territory without the consent of its 



inhabitants; but, in the case of islands distant in the 
Pacific Ocean, the principles of the Declaration do apply, 
and we have no right to annex these without the consent 
of their inhabitants, therefore, we must declare these 
islands independent. An excuse is attempted for the dis- 
tinction made between the Filipinos and other peoples 
annexed by us. It is asserted that the Filipinos cannot 
be citizens without endangering our civilization. The 
inference from this is that, if they could be citizens, we 
should not give them up — declare them independent. 
We hold Porto Rico by the same right and title as we do 
the Philippine Islands. We no more have the consent of 
the people of Porto Rico to annexation than we have the 
consent of the people of the Philippine Islands, and yet 
does the Democratic party propose that Porto Rico be 
given up ? Not a bit of it. On the contrary, it demands 
a territorial form of government for Porto Rico, and it 
proposes to give the people of that island a territorial 
form of government, whether they consent or not, which 
is equivalent to saying that Porto Rico is to be retained. 
Doubtless, it will be argued that the Porto Ricans are 
capable of being citizens, while the Philipinos are not. 
This, however, is again inconsistent, for the onlj^ infer- 
ence to be drawn from it is that, where the people of 
newly acquired territory are capable of citizenship, then 
we should annex them with or without their consent, but 
if the people annexed or proposed to be annexed should 
be incapable of being citizens, then we have no right or 
power to annex their territory, pr to hold it even after we 
have annexed it. But Mr. Bryan, in the article above 
referred to, asserts and argues that the Filipinos are cap- 
able of self government, and, if they are, then they can 
be citizens without endangering our civilization. Thus 



contradictions, inconsistencies and insincerity appear on 
every hand. A closer and fuller examination of the 
whole platform would disclose many more and as great 
inconsistencies, and would make these inconsistencies 
and this insincerity appear more glaring ; but space for- 
bids entering into this phase of the platform more at 
length now. Sufficient has been adduced to show that 
the paramount issue is not Imperalism. Imperalism is 
not the real issue at all. It is but a decoy issue. Equally 
inconsistent and insincere will the platform be found to be 
on every other question, except the financial one. The 
authors of this platform could not have been guilty of all 
these obvious inconsistencies, had they been sincere in the 
declaration that Imperalism is the paramount issue, and 
hence they did not intend that either Imperalism or any of 
the other issues, except the financial issue, should be the 
really paramount issue of this campaign, and to show 
this has been the only object of the foregoing remarks ; 
for the subject of this paper is the bimetallic plank in the 
platform of the Democratic Party. It is idle for the 
Democratic leaders to claim that the bimetallic plank is 
but a minor issue. The adoption of this plank was 
hotly contested in the committee, and was passed by but 
a bare — a trifling — majority, and would have been as 
hotly contested in the convention itself had not Mr. 
Bryan's own personal and powerful influence been ex- 
erted to suppress all opposition. Politicians, or states- 
men, if the latter word is preferred, are not apt to, and 
do not, waste time and dispute so long — long enough to 
prevent Mr. Bryan's nomination on the glorious Fourth, 
much to his disappointment — and so hotly over a dead, 
or only a minor, issue. The bimetallic issue is the only 
one upon which the party is consistent and sincere. It 



is, therefore, plain that the bimetallic issue is the para- 
mount issue of the campaign. 

2» What is Demanded. 

Four years ago the air of this country was heavy with 
groans and lamentations. Such lamentations were never 
before heard in anj^ country, not even during the days of 
Jeremiah. The bimetallist was abroad in the land, and 
he, like a bird of ill omen, prophesied that all the calam- 
ities which ever have, or which ever could or can, befall 
a people, would surely be the lot of the people of this 
country, if it adhered to the gold standard and refused 
to adopt his favorite panacea — national bimetallism. But, 
notwithstanding all these lamentations and threatened 
calamities, the people repudiated national bimetallism ; 
whereupon the country, under a Republican administra- 
tion, enj03^ed an unexampled period of prosperit)^ such 
prosperity as was never enjoyed before. Every prophecy 
made by the bimetallist has been falsified ; neither his 
judgment nor his reasoning has been vindicated in the 
slightest particular. Not a single one of his predictions 
has been fulfilled. He has proved to be a very false 
prophet indeed, and yet, notwithstanding the falsity of 
all his predictions and the positive evidence of experience 
against all his arguments and reasoning, on the da}^ fol- 
lowing the last anniversar}" of our independence, the 
Apostle of national bimetallism trips gaily up to the 
footlights, and, in tones of thunder, proclaims the mystic 
numbers, i6 to i ; whereupon the assembled hosts of 
Democrac}^ fall prostrate before their fetish, and obedi- 
entl}^ and reverentially repeat after him , " 1 6 to i . " ' 'We 
reaffirm and indorse the principles of the National Demo- 



cratic platform adopted at Chicago in i8g6, and we re- 
iterate the demand of that platform for an American 
financial system, made by the American people for them- 
selves, which shall restore and maintain a bimetallic 
price level and, as a part of such a system, the immedi- 
ate restoration of the free and unlimited coinage of silver 
and gold at the present legal ratio of i6 to i, without 
waiting for the aid or consent of any other nation." 

What is it that is here demanded? The demands are: 

First. For an American financial S3^stem, made by the 
American people for themselves. 

Second. That this American financial system shall 
restore and maintain a bimetallic price level. 

Third. That, as a part of such a system, the immedi- 
ate restoration of the free and unlimited coinage of silver 
and gold at the present legal ratio of i6 to i, without 
waiting for the aid or consent of any other nation, is 
demanded. 

In addition to these demands, the platform of 1896, 
which, by its reafiirmation, is made a part of the plat- 
form of 1900 demanded. 

Fourth. That the standard silver dollar shall be a full 
legal tender, equally with gold, for all debts, public and 
private. 

Fifth. That there be such legislation as will prevent, 
for the future, the demonetization of any kind of legal- 
tender money by private contract. 

These are weighty and startling demands. More im- 
portant, and fraught with far more danger, than any 
demands heretofore made by any party on any financial 
question. The platform of 1900 is even more dangerous 
than the one of 1896. The importance of these demands 
requires that they be investigated, probed and tested in 



every particular. Certainly, before we accede to the de- 
mands, we ought to be fully instructed as to what they 
really mean, and whither they will lead us ; so the first 
thing we should do is to thoroughly investigate these 
demands, in order to arrive at a correct understanding of 
just what they mean. We will then be in a position to 
consider the demands upon their merits. 

{a.) An American financial system is demanded, but 
we are not told what an American financial system is. 
Of course, any financial system made for Americans must 
be made by Americans. There is no other authority 
which can make it. But all this does not explain what 
this American financial system is to be. The only thing 
one can make out from the context is that we are to have 
a financial system, a monetary standard, and a monetary 
system, different from that of anj- other nation. We are 
to construct a Chinese financial wall around us, to ex- 
clude the experience of all other peoples ; refuse to learn 
anything from them, or to adopt an}^ part of the financial 
or currency S3'stem of ^ny other nation (no matter how 
successful it may have been) except, perhaps, of Mexico 
and China. This may be very American,' but it is pos- 
sible that we might become more intensely American 
than would be good for our well-being. A countrv^, as 
well as an individual, is in danger whenever it thinks 
that it can learn nothing from other peoples. 

{b. ) It is demanded that this American financial sys- 
tem shall restore and maintain a bimetallic price level. 
The phrase, "bimetallic price level," requires elucida- 
tion at some length. It is an amended version of the old 
quantit}'' theory, which Tooke, in the early part of the 
century, exposed, and the falsity of which he demon- 
strated. This theory has, also, been condemned by the 



best thx)ught of Germany, and, generally, by the strong- 
est economists of the continent of Europe. It is, how- 
ever, still adhered to by many economists in England, 
and it is to be presumed that the Democratic party so 
generall}^ adhere to it in this countr)^ because it is so 
very English, and the party does this, although it affects 
to be dreadfully shocked because we do not have a quar- 
rel of some kind with Great Britain, instead of being on 
friendly terms with her. Much as they affect to hate 
England, English institutions and everything that comes 
from England, they are ver}^ glad to adopt this quantity 
theory even though it is intensely English. The onl}^ 
plausible account which can be given of their conduct in 
this regard is that the3^ adopted this intenseh^ English 
theory because it is wrong, for that party seems to have 
a marvelous capacity for adopting and advocating theories 
and principles which are wrong. But to return to this 
quantity theory. Brief!}' stated, this theory is that the 
prices of commodities are fixed by some proportion which 
all the commodities offered for sale bear to the value of 
all the money and all other purchasing power, such as 
credits in the shape of U. S. and Treasury notes, bank 
notes, bills, bank deposits, checks, clearing house, &c., 
&c., and, then, that any increase in the volume of money 
and all other purchasing power, the quantity of com- 
modities remaining the same, will proportionately in- 
crease the prices of commodities, and any decrease in the 
volume of money and other purchasing power, the quan- 
tity of goods remaining the same, will proportionately 
reduce the prices of commodities ; that is, if the volume 
of money and all other purchasing power were doubled, 
and the quantity of commodities remained constant, the 
prices of commodities would be doubled. The value of 



the double amount of money and other purchasing power 
would be of no greater value than one-half the amount 
had been before the increase. It is to be observed that 
the theor}^ is that the prices are fixed by some proportion 
which all the commodities bear to the value of all the 
money and purchasing power, but what this proportion 
is, or how it is to be arrived at, is not given, nor has it 
ever been explained. However, the prices assumed to 
be fixed by this unknown and this unascertained and 
undefined and unascertainable proportion are what is 
called by the advocates of this quantity theor}^ the "gen- 
eral level of prices." It is impossible, in a paper of this 
kind, to enter into any lengthy discussion of this theory. 
The writer, however, thinks that one observ^ation will be 
suficient to prove that it is wholly untenable. It has 
already been remarked that the proportion is made no 
more definite than some proportion which the value of all 
the money, credits and other purchasing power bears to 
all the commodities offered for sale. Now, suppose all 
the commodities, inchiding all the uncoined gold and 
silver, offered for sale were ranged upon the one side, and 
upon the other side were ranged all the money, credits 
and other purchasing power ; and then imagine some 
economist, or a committee of scientists, endeavoring to 
ascertain what ratio of proportion the value of all the 
money and other purchasing power bore to all the com- 
modities, in order to arrive at a general level of prices for 
all of the thousands upon thousands of different articles 
of the commodities. This never has been done, and 
never can be done. It is simpl}^ impossible. It is even 
unthinkable. Value is relative. There is no such thing 
as intrinsic value in anything. The only wa}^ to ascer- 
tain and fix the value of a commodity is b}^ relation and 



comparison with some other commodity. This holds 
good as to gold and silver, which are nothing more than 
commodities. Price is nothing more than a different 
name for the value of commodities, and purchasing 
power is but another name for the value of money. The 
way in which we arrive at the price of any commodity is 
to compare, or measure, it with money — gold — that is, 
we ascertain that a given commodity is worth, or is of 
the value, or that the price of that commodit}^ is so 
many grains of gold called one dollar, and then, by the 
same process, we find that the value or purchasing power 
of this given number of grains of gold in this commodity 
is the quantity of the commodity given for the price. 
Thus the gold measures the price of the commodity, and 
the commodity measures the value of the gold or money. 
Now, let us go back to the imaginar>^ ranging of the 
commodities on the one side, and all the money, credits 
and other purchasing power on the other side. These 
commodities are said to bear some proportion to the value 
of the money, credits and other purchasing power. Where 
or how would any one begin to do this? He knows neither 
the value of the one nor of the other. If one of the 
terms of the equation were fixed, as, for instance, if the 
value of the money, credits and other purchasing power 
were fixed, he might possibly make a beginning. But 
the only way in which he can ascertain the value of the 
money, in commodities, is by the higgling of the market, 
which, however, only fixes the price or prices of each 
separate commodity: that is, the price of each separate 
article of goods offered for sale and sold is fixed by com- 
parison or by measurement with money. This is the 
only way by which prices can be fixed; but, in this wa}^ 
the money measures the value of the goods, and the 



10 



goods measure the value of the money. Even granting 
that the price of each kind of the mass of goods has 
thus been fixed by the higgling of the market, still it 
would be quite impossible from this to figure out a gen- 
eral level of prices for all commodities, which is to be 
fixed and determined by some unknown proportion which 
all the commodities are supposed to bear to all the money, 
&c. An unascertained and unascertainable price level is 
to be obtained by means of an unascertained and unas- 
certainable proportion. It is entirely safe to conclude 
that there is not, and never was, any such thing as a 
general price level; the theory that there is such a thing 
is but an idle dream. 

It is not denied that the quantity of gold bears a rela- 
tion to prices. The value of gold, like the value of all 
other commodities, is determined by its own conditions 
of supply and demand, that is, if the supply of gold in- 
creases beyond the demand, the value of gold will fall, 
and, if the demand exceeds the suppl}', then the value of 
gold must rise. As gold, under our system, is the stand- 
ard of value, it follows that, when the value of gold rises, 
prices fall, and when the value of gold falls, prices rise. 
But the quantity theory means something quite different 
from this. It asserts that the prices will increase propor- 
tionately with every increase of the volume of money, 
credits and other purchasing power, and that prices propor- 
tionately decrease with every decrease in the volume of 
money, credits and other purchasing power. Under the 
former theory of standard of value, the value of gold is 
determined by its own conditions of supply and demand, 
and not by any fancied proportion which it and all other 
money, credits and other purchasing power may bear to 
all the commodities. Prices are determined as compared 



11 



or measured with gold; while, under the quantity theory, 
the prices are determined by some proportion which the 
value of all the gold, monc}- , credits and other purchas- 
ing power bears to all the commodities. Money, and by 
mone}^ is now meant what the bimetallists formerly called 
redernption mone}^ or automatic mone}', or, latterly, more 
commonly, basic money, that is, money of which the 
metal contained in a coin is of the same market value as 
that of a piece of the same metal of the same weight and 
fineness uncoined, or in the state of bullion, such as our 
gold money is at present. When, hereafter, this kind of 
money is spoken of, it will be called automatic money. 
Now, as above stated, this kind of mone}^ performs the 
functions of a standard or measure of value, and, also, of 
a medium of exchange; by which is meant its function 
as a purchasing power, of payment of debts and other 
liabilities. As already mentioned, the relation which 
gold, as a standard of value, bears to prices is one thing. 
But the quantit}^ theor}^ is quite a different thing. Prices 
are, under this theory, determined b}^ some proportion 
which is supposed to exist between the value of all the 
money, &c., &c., and the quantit}^ of all the goods 
offered for sale, that is, a proportion between value and 
quantity. Under this theory money only performs the 
function of a medium of exchange or of a purchasing 
power, and it performs this function with the whole mass 
of other monej^, credits, banking deposits, checks, clear- 
ing houses, etc. , etc. In the one case, gold performs its 
function as a standard or measure of value. In the other 
case, it performs its functions as a medium of exchange 
or as purchasing power. The distinction is material. It 
has been necessar^^ to go into this quantity theory some- 
what at length, because a correct understanding of it is 



12 



essential to a correct understanding of the part this theory 
plays in the bimetallic scheme. 

This quantity theory has been one of the main sup- 
ports of bimetallism . From it the bimetallist has argued, 
and has attempted to prove, that the demonetization of 
silver caused a reduction of one-half of the circulating 
medium, or of the media of exchange or purchasing 
power, which has caused prices to fall in the same pro- 
portion, and that, if, through bimetallism, silver should 
be again restored to its place as basic or automatic money, 
the quantity of money, or media of exchange, or pur- 
chasing power, would be doubled, and, consequently, 
prices would be doubled. The bimetallist was, however, 
squarely met and vanquished in this argument, for it was 
incontestably shown that ninety-five per cent, of all 
business transactions, sales and purchases of commodities 
were transacted and carried out by means of credits in 
the shape of notes, bills, bank deposits, checks and 
clearing houses, etc., without a single dollar of gold or 
other coined money being used for the purpose; and 
that, this being so, the mere doubling of the automatic 
money could not affect prices, since ninety-five per cent, 
of all business would still be transacted by means of 
credits, and that doubling the media of exchange for but 
five per cent, of the business done could not, in the 
nature of things, raise the prices of all commodities; and, 
further, that all the addition to the volume of metallic 
money which could possibly be made by means of 
bimetallism would be so infinitesimally small as compared 
with the vast mass of credits:; that all the addition to the 
metallic money would not add any perceptible quantity 
to the purchasing power already existing, and, hence, 
could have no perceptible effect upon prices. 



13 



Being routed out of this position, the bimetallist ex- 
ercised his ingenuity to find a way out of his difficulty, 
and, finally, after floundering around for a long time, he 
invented a new version of the quantit}^ theory, which 
theory, by the way, was imported into this country after 
the campaign of 1896 from that hateful country, 
England, which, according to our bimetallists, is always 
plotting our ruin, financialh^ and in every other way. 
This new version of the quantity theory is that it is not 
the proportion which the value of all the gold and other 
mone}^ and credits and other purchasing power bears to 
all the commodities, which fixes the prices; but that it is 
the proportion which the value of all the basic or auto- 
matic money alone bears to all the commodities, which 
fixes the prices; and, as, at present, gold coin is our only 
automatic money, it is alleged that it is the proportion 
which the value of this gold money bears to all the com- 
modities which fixes the prices. These, the latter day 
bimetallists call the gold price level. The demand now 
is that, through bimetallism, silver be restored as basic 
or automatic money, and it is claimed that this will 
double the quantit}^ of the automatic money, and that 
this increase of automatic money will, correspondingly, 
increase prices; it being the proportion which the value 
of all this automatic money — both silver and gold — bears 
to all the commodities which fixes the prices. These 
prices the bimetallist calls the bimetallic level of prices. 
We now know what is meant by the expression ' ' bi- 
metallic price level." It may be added that this late 
version of the quantity theory is, in addition to being 
subject to all the vices of the original quantity theory, 
subject to the further vice, which is fundamental, that it 
confounds the function of money as a medium of ex- 

14 



change with its function as a standard of value, and 
loses sight of all distinction between them. As a theory, 
it is even more unsound than the original quantity theory 
is. After this long explanation, we must return to the 
other demands. 

(<f.) The immediate restoration of the free and un- 
limited coinage of silver and gold, at the present legal 
ratio of i6 to i, without waiting for the aid or consent of 
any other nation, is demanded. By this, it is demanded 
that Congress, b}- legislation, fix the relative values of 
two different commodities — silver and gold — each of 
which, in the absence of such legislation, is subject to 
its own separate and independent conditions of supph', 
and to its own separate and independent conditions of 
demand. If some visionary dreamer were to demand 
that Congress should, by legislation, declare and enact 
that sixteen pounds of bread should always be worth 
and exchange for one' pound of meat, or that sixteen 
pounds of butter should always be worth and exchange 
for one pound of coffee, or that sixteen eggs should al- 
ways be worth and exchange for one pound of tea, and 
so on through the whole list of commodities, we should 
certainly insist upon being instructed as to how, or in 
what manner, and by what plan, these relative values of 
these different commodities were to be maintained. But 
it is more than probable that we would dismiss the whole 
scheme as unworthy of an}' consideration whatever, and 
yet, this scheme of fixing the relative values of the differ- 
ent commodities does not, essentially, differ, in its 
nature, from the demands of the Democrat in this plat- 
form . 

{d.) It is further demanded that the standard silver 
dollar shall be a full legal tender equally with gold, for 



15 



all debts, public and private. All contracts now in ex- 
istence for the payment of mone}* have been made on a 
gold standard basis. The debtor received gold for them, 
and the creditor is entitled to be repaid in gold, or its 
equivalent, and this, according to all rules of natural 
justice, and in all fairness and decency. Yet this de- 
mand is that the debtor may pa}^ and the creditor be 
compelled to accept, silver dollars, which may not be of 
one-half the value of the gold dollar which the debtor 
received from the creditor, and to which the latter was 
entitled under the contract, still the creditor is to be com- 
pelled to receive this silver in full pa3anent and discharge 
of the debt. Thus, this demand proposes to directly 
violate the sanctity of private contract. The injustice of 
such a demand is obvious. 

(<?. ) It is further demanded that there be such legisla- 
tion as will prevent, for the future, the demonetization of 
any kind of legal tender money b}^ private contract. 
The meaning and object of this demand are obvious. It 
is to prevent persons from contracting themselves out of 
bimetallism, that is, they must accept it and its money 
whether they want to or not, and whether or not tlie}^ 
may have contracted for payment in some other com- 
modity. The primary object of this is to nullif}^ all con- 
tracts made pa5'able in gold, and to compel the creditor 
to accept silver in payment against the express terms of 
the contract. But, if this will be the effect of this de- 
mand, if it is enacted as a law, then a person could not 
contract to make payment in any commodit}^ whether it 
was gold, horses, cattle, wheat or what not. A grosser 
violation of the constitutional right of private contract 
cannot well be imagined. 



16 



3, Where the Burden of Proof Rests* 

We have now been under the gold standard, practically, 
from the early part of this century, and legally since 1873. 
During this time we have prospered as no other nation 
ever has prOvSpered. We have grown powerful and 
wealthy far beyond the dreams of the most enthusiastic 
American. We have grown so rich, so says the bimetal- 
list (bimetallist and Democrat are s\monymous), that we 
can absorb all the silver of the whole earth, and still 
maintain its parity with gold at the ratio of 16 to i, and 
yet, with most singular inconsistency, he claims that, 
during all this time, we have been rushing headlong to 
financial ruin, and that, unless his particular fad is 
ad.opted, the whole land will speedily be converted into 
a desolate waste. In short, the bimetallist demands a 
change, and insists upon a distinctly American financial 
system, and upon the adoption of bimetallism, the free 
and unlimited coinage of silver and gold — at the ratio 
of 16 to I. But, when the bimetallist demands these 
weight}' changes, we are entitled to require of him very 
positive proof that the particular changes which he de- 
mands are both feasible and desirable. The burden of 
proof is upon him. It is not enough for him to state a 
plausible theory, or to pick holes in an opponent's argu- 
ment. He is bound to prove his own case, and it is not 
till he has done this that we are bound to show cause 
against him. He is bound not only to prove that our 
existing standard of value is a bad standard, but that 
the double standard, at the ratio of 16 to i, by which he 
proposes to replace the present standard, is a better stand- 
ard than the gold standard; that his double standard can 
be maintained, that is, that the proposed ratio can be 



maintained; and that the adoption of his double stand- 
ard will promote the well-being of the people better than 
does the gold standard. We will now consider whether 
he can do what he demands, or whether it will be best 
for us if he does do it. 



4. On the American Financial System. 

But little more need be said upon this point than has 
already been said. Why should we have a distinctly 
American financial sj^stem different from that of every 
other nation in every particular. A different standard, 
different money, made out of different substances, etc., 
etc.? Surely, if there is any good in any of the financial 
S3^stems of other countries, we should be at liberty to, 
and we should, adopt it. If the experience of other 
countries shows that gold or an\' other substance is a 
good standard of value, why will it not be a good stand- 
ard here, and whj^ should w^e not adopt and maintain it? 
Certainl}^ it must be the duty of every government to 
facilitate trade, both domestic and foreign, bj^ a sound 
and secure currency, a medium of exchange that will 
readily be accepted by all the nations with whom its 
people trade. Our trade with the other civilized nations, 
both in imports and in exports, has grown to colossal 
proportions, and it is constantly increasing. Is it wise 
or prudent to interfere with and clog this ever-increasing 
trade by having a monetary standard different from that 
of every other nation? Why unnecessarily increase the 
difficulties of exchange, thus throwing increased profits 
into the hands of bankers, money-changers and bullion 
dealers? It is a truism that the closer the civilized 
nations are drawn together into one family of nations, 

18 



the better it is and will be for all. Further-more, it is not 
to be doubted that the more trade and communication are 
facilitated between them, the better it will be for all. It 
is, also, self-evident that the surest way of aiding such 
trade and intercourse between these nations is the sim- 
ilarity^, in all of the nations, of the standard of value. 
During the last centur}^ and the present, the prevailing 
tendency has been in the direction of gold as a standard 
of value. England has practically been a gold country 
for over a century. The great English Colonies are gold 
countries. Our own countrj^ has practically been under 
a gold standard since the earl}^ part of this centur^^ and 
became legally so in 1873. Germany adopted the gold 
standard in 1871, and Scandinavia, Holland and Aus- 
tria have followed her example. France, the home of 
bimetallism, put an end to the bimetallic system, and is 
now a gold standard country. The nations of the Latin 
Union, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland and Greece, have 
followed France. And, finallj^ Japan and India and 
other countries have also adopted the gold standard. 
There can be no mistake as to this great current. It is 
all in one direction. The bimetallist is fighting against 
the current of events when he insists upon changing the 
standard in this countr>^ and establishing a bimetallic 
standard in its stead. No good reason is given for an 
independent financial system in this country in this 
regard. It is not shown that it will be better for us to 
change either our standard of value or our present finan- 
cial system. Then why make an}- change? All this 
declamation about an America^i financial system ma}^ 
have some strength as an appeal to our national pride 
and vanity, but, as an appeal to our common sense, it is 
weaker and flatter than diluted dishwater. 



19 



5* Can the Proposed Ratio be Maintained? 

As a part of this American financial system, the free 
and unlimited coinage of silver, at the ratio of i6 to i, 
is demanded. It has above been shown that the attempt 
to establish such a ratio by legislation is to attempt to fix 
the relative values of two different commodities, that is, 
fix the price of a commodity by law. The attempt has 
been made over and over again to fix prices by law, but 
never was any attempt successful, and that the law can 
do anything of the kind is contrary to all experience, 
and any such legislation must fail, because it is contrary 
to all natural and economic laws. Consider, for a mo- 
ment, what it is that the bimetallist proposes to do by 
law. He proposes by a law to raise the value of a piece 
of silver which is now worth about forty-eight cents, to 
the value of a gold dollar, worth one hundred cents. If 
this can be done by law, then the bimetallist is altogether 
too modest. Why not take a piece of copper, or of any 
other of the baser metals, of the same weight, and by a 
law make this copper piece worth as much as a gold 
dollar. The one can be done as well and as easily as the 
other. If fort3^-eight cents worth of silver can, by law, 
be increased to the same value as the value of a gold 
dollar, then a piece of metal, worth but one cent, can be 
increased in value in the same way. But the bimetallist 
argues that the adoption of the ratio b}^ law will put an 
economic force in motion, which will maintain the values 
of silver and gold at the ratio fixed, and this economic 
force is the law of supply and demand. He says that, 
under bimetallism, if the value of one of the metals 
should fall, or should be below the ratio, the bimetallic 
demand for this cheaper metal, for money uses, will cause 
the value of this metal to rise, and the correspondingly 

20 



diminished demand for the dearer metal, for money uses, 
will cause the value of this dearer metal to fall, and that 
this process will go on until the values of both metals 
reach the established ratio. If this economic force or 
this law of supply and demand can hold the values of 
the two metals at the ratio of i6 to i, then, again, is the 
bimetallist far too modest in his demands; for, if this 
economic force or this law of supply and demand can 
hold the values of the metals at the ratio of t6 to i, it 
can just as easil}^ hold the values up to any other ratio 
established by law. and the ratio might better have been 
established at i to i , because that would have increased 
the stock of metallic money sixteen times, and, as the 
whole object of bimetallism is to increase the volume of 
metallic money, the bimetallist has been guilt}^ of a great 
oversight in not insisting upon a ratio of i to i. Accord- 
ing to his reasoning, a ratio of i to i can be as easily 
maintained as a ratio of i6 to i. But to return to this 
economic force or law of supply and demand. It will be 
observed that this whole theor}^ of holding the values of 
the two metals at the established ratio is based upon the 
assumption that the use of silver and gold as money has 
an effect upon the value of the metals, and, consequently, 
where less of the metal is used as money, the value of 
the metal falls, and, where the quantity of the metal 
used as money is increased, the value of the metal is 
increased. But this theor}^ is an entire mistake. Using 
a metal as money does not take it out of commerce or out 
of the market. As a coined metal, it still remains and is 
the same metal it was before coining, and, after being 
coined, the metal is and remains in the market for sale or 
exchange in the same manner as while it was uncoined. 
Of course, automatic money is here spoken of. As long 

21 



as the coin remain.s in circulation, it is always on the 
market, and is continuously, no matter through how 
mau}^ hands it may pass, being offered for sale or ex- 
change. Since then, the coined money remains in com- 
merce and upon the market in the same manner as the 
uncoined metal or bullion remains upon the market, it 
follows that the use of a precious metal as money has no 
effect upon the market value of that metal \ for the 



Note 1. — When the writer advanced this principle in his work, "Money and 
Bimetallism," it was entirely original with him. At the time of writing the 
work, "Money and Bimetallism" (see pp. 84-108), he had not found any author- 
ity to support the principle announced, but he is more than gratified to be able 
to state that since writing his book he has found several highly respectable 
authorities who do support him. Tooke, in "History of Prices, 1839 to 1847," p. 
224, quotes from Senior as follows: "Mr. Senior, in one of his lectures on the 
value of money, observes, 'The value of the precious metals must depend ulti- 
mately on their vaUie as materials of jewelry and plate; since, if they were not 
used as commodities, they could not circulate as money,' and he makes a 
remark to the same effect in an article in the Edinburgh Review for July, 1843, 
on 'Free Trade and Retaliation,' * * * "Of the truth of these propositions 
there can be no doubt." The writer has been unable to secure the original 
lecture by Senior. Mr. Henry V. Poor, in a work entitled, "Money, Its Laws 
and History," at pp. 82, 8^3, after quoting from John I,aw as follows: "It is 
reasonable to think that silver was bartered as it was valued for its uses as a 
metal, and was given as money according to its value in barter. The additional 
use of money silver was applied to would add to its value, because as money it 
remedied the disadvantages and inconveniences of barter, and, consequently, 
the demand for silver increasing, it received an additional value equal to the 
greatest demand its use as money occasioned" says. "I<aw was entirely right 
in assuming that the value of silver was its value in barter. He was mistaken, 
however, in asserting that it derives a value from its use as money, unless by 
its use as money he meant its use as reserves. The value of the precious metals 
in barter is made up of their value in the arts and their value as reserves. 
* * * It is not their use as a medium of exchange that constitutes their 
value; it is their value in the arts, and their capacity' to serve as reserves that 
gives them their value in exchange. They are simply used as money from 
their value for other purposes. To say that they are valuable because they are 
used as money is only saying that they are valuable in barter because they are 
used in barter." The quotation from I,aw can be found in "Money and Trade 
Considered," chap. 1, pp. 15 andl6. So far as the writer has been able to dis- 
cover, Law seems to have been the originator of the idea that the use of the 
precious metal increased the market or exchange value of the metal. The 
writer agrees with Mr. Poor on every point except that the use of a precious 
metal as reserves. He thinks Mr. Poor mistaken in this. It is unnecessary to 

22 



utility of a commodity can have no effect upon its ex- 
change value, if it has none on the amount which pur- 
chasers take off the market^ This is the clearest ex- 
pression of the principle which has yet come to the 
writer's notice, and a little reflection must satisfy all that 
it is really the only correct conclusion to be drawn from 
the law of supply and demand. How can any use of 
an}^ commodity have any effect upon the exchange value 
or price of that commodity if the use does not cause 
some quantity of that commodit}^ to be taken off the 
market? It does not reduce the quantity in supply, and, 
if the supply remains unaffected, how is the value or 
price to be affected? If the use of a precious metal as 
money has no effect upon the market value of the metal, 
it follows that the increased use of the one metal for 
monetary purposes cannot increase the value of the 
metal, and that a diminished use of the metal for mone- 
tary purposes will not diminish the value of the metal. 
The whole of the bimetallist's fine spun theory falls to 
the ground, and his ability to maintain the fixed ratio 
falls with it. It is a plausible theory, and very apt to 
trap the unwary, but it is wholly and radicall}^ unsound. 
It must, therefore, be conceded that the fixed ratio de- 
manded could not be maintained even if it were estab- 



enter into the question here, because it is sufficient to have established that the 
use of a precious metal as money — medium of exchange — does not increase the 
market value of the metal. 

Note 2.— See Professor Alfred Marshall's note "On Ricardo's Theory of 
Value" in his work, Pyinciples of Economics, Third Edition, page 562, speaking 
of Ricardo and Mill he says: "For while they regarded the natural laws of 
variation of utility as too obvious to require detailed explanation, and while 
they admitted that cost of production could have no effect upon exchange 
value if it could have none upon the amount which producers brought forward 
for sale; their doctrines imply that what is true of supply, is true mutatis 
mutayidis of demand, and that the utility of a commodity could have no effect 
upon its exchange value if it could have none on the amount which purchasers 
took oflf the market." 

23 



lished by law; and if the ratio cannot be maintained 
bimetallism itself cannot be maintained. 

History furnishes no authentic instance where the use, 
or the increased use, of a metal as money increased the 
market value of the metal, or where a cessation of the 
use of a metal, or a diminution of the quantity of a 
metal used, as money, has diminished the market value 
of the metal. 

During the period of 1 789-1 796 the French Govern- 
ment issued large quantities of paper money based on the 
public lands. All the specie was driven out of circula- 
tion, not a silver franc was used as money, but silver 
which had been the principal metallic money did not fall 
in value, although an immense amount of it, on account 
of the action of the government, ceased to be UvSed as 
money. On the contrar}- , silver rose in value. 

In 1797, the Parliament of England passed an act 
practicall}' forcing a suspension of specie payments. A 
vast amount of gold and silver was thus forced out of cir- 
culation, and, consequently, ceased to be used as money, 
3^et neither gold nor silver declined in their market values. 

Between 1820 and 1850 gold was practicall}^ driven out 
of the circulation in France. Very little, if any, of that 
metal being used there as money. Gold, notwithstand- 
ing this decreased demand for it for monetary purposes, 
did not depreciate in value. Again, on account of the 
immense increase in the production of gold in California 
and Australia during the period 1 851-1866, and by the 
operation of her bimetallic system, silver was almost, if 
not whoU}^, driven out of circulation in France. Little, 
if any, of it was then used as money. Silver did not 
fall in its market value in consequence of this diminution 
of its use as money. 

24 



Every American of middle age or over will remember 
that specie payments were suspended in this country in 
the year 1861. At the time of this suspension there 
were over $200,000,000 of gold in circulation, a very 
large amount in proportion to our population at that 
time. The suspension took place in December, 1861, 
and at once every dollar of gold disappeared from circu- 
lation and gold was not again used as money until re- 
sumption in 1879. According to the bimetallic theory 
this vast amount of gold was thrown upon the markets 
of other countries, and it should, consequently, have 
caused a diminution of the value of gold, but there was 
no such diminution of value. 

Other like instances can be cited. And so it appears 
that histor}' not only does not prove that the use, or the 
disuse, of a precious metal as money affects its market 
value, but that it does most emphatically prove that such 
use or disuse does not have any effect upon the market 
value of the metal. Thus, both reason and history 
unite in disproving the bimetallic theory that the use of 
a precious metal as money increases the market value of 
the metal. 

In passing it ma}' be well enough to call the attention 
of the owners of silver, and the producers of silver, to 
this point. The mass of silver dollars in circulation and 
the silver represented by silver certificates which are, also, 
in circulation in this country, must be in the neighbor- 
hood of $500,000,000 or over. At present it is token 
money and is out of the market, for the reason that no 
one would pay $1.00 for 48 cents worth of silver for use 
in the arts. If bimetallism at the ratio of 16 to i is in- 
troduced, then, all this mass of silver will at once become 
automatic money, and, of course, will thus be thrown 

25 



upon the market. In addition to this, all the silver in 
France and Germany (except, perhaps, the fractional 
currency), which is now, also, token money, will be 
thrown into this country for coinage, and, when coined, 
it too, will be put into circulation as automatic money, 
and will, consequently, be on the market. It is not at 
all diflScult to determine what effect the throwing of these 
immense masses of silver on the market will have upon 
the market value of silver. The silver producer had 
best pause, and consider the effect upon the value of his 
product before advocating the adoption of bimetallism. 
If he does advocate bimetallism, then he allows himself 
to be misled to his own injury. 

6* What Good will Bimetallism do, if it is Established ? 

The bimetallist claims that the introduction of bimetal- 
lism at the ratio demanded will, by throwing the mints 
open to the free coinage of silver, and by making it auto- 
matic money, equal with gold, double the amount of our 
automatic money. That this increase of automatic 
money, under the quantity theory, which has been above 
explained, will, correspondingly, increase, that is, double, 
the prices of all commodities, and it is positively asserted 
that this doubling of prices will stimulate business, 
generally promote our well-being, and, particularly, will 
enable a debtor to pay a debt with much more ease, and 
with much less sacrifice of capital; or, in plain English, 
the debtor can scale down his debt, repudiating over 
half of it. 

What this quantity theory is has been above explained 
somewhat at length, and the explanation of it has dem- 
onstrated its unsoundness. Still one or two observations 

26 



upon this theory, at this time, in addition to what has 
already been said, ma}^ not be amiss. History and ex- 
perience corroborate all that is here urged against the 
quantity theory. A reference to one or two instances 
will be sufficient, and must be regarded as conclusive. 
From 1878 to 1893 the money of this country was almost 
doubled in amount by the coinage of silver dollars and 
the issue of silver certificates and Treasury notes of 1890, 
and 3'et, much to the surprise and chagrin of the advo- 
cates of this theory, prices did not rise. On the contrary, 
the bimetailist has always insisted that prices continued 
to decline. At the last session of Congress, the so-called 
financial bill was passed. The effect of this legislation 
with other causes has greatly increased the volume of 
our currency, and it is still constantly increasing. Prices 
have not risen in response to this increase of currency. 
In fact, no instance in history can be shown where an in- 
crease of money increased prices, except where the money 
IV as depreciated. 

Since the bimetailist claims that all the good and all 
the benefits which are to rCvSult from the introduction of 
bimetallism are to be brought about under and by virtue 
of this quantity theor}^, it follows that, w^hen this theory 
is shown to be false in principle and untrue in fact, as it 
has been shown to be, bimetallism itself must be without 
any merit and whoUj' unable to accomplish any good or 
to, in any manner, promote our well-being. 

The everlasting and unceasing complaint is that there 
is a scarcitjT- of gold, and that, in consequence thereof, 
the rich are oppressing the poor-, and we are suffering all 
manner of hardships and impositions. Onl}- a bimetal- 
list can adequately depict the horrors of our condition. 
Considering the enormous increase in the production of 



27 



gold of late j'^ears, these complaints and imaginary wrongs 
of the bimetallist cannot appear otherwise than as ridicu- 
lous. The annual production of gold is now more than 
the enormous sum of $300,000,000, and there is far more 
danger of plethora than there is of a scarcity of gold. 

Prices have risen, and the country is enjoying greater 
prosperity than ever before, and all this has come about 
without the aid of bimetallism. Even while the bimetal- 
list was shrieking the loudest about the certaint}^ that 
prices must fall still lower, prices were rising, and con- 
tinued to rise, and he now has more trouble to explain 
why the present high prices are not a good thing than he 
has heretofore had in proving that high prices would be 
a good thing. It certainly cannot be pretended or claimed 
that bimetallism could have given us any greater pros- 
perity^ than we have enjoyed and than we are still enjoy- 
ing. Had we not, therefore, better apply that old say- 
ing, which never becomes trite, ''Let well eyiough alone.'' 

7. The Inconsistency of the Bimetallic Theory* 

It will be remembered that the bimetallist demands 
that both silver and gold be made automatic money, that 
is, money wherein the value of the metal in the coin shall 
alwa^'s be equal in value to a piece of the same metal of 
the same w^eight and fineness. In other words, that the 
metal in the shape of coin shall remain the same as it 
was in the state of bullion. 

It will, also, be remembered that the bimetallist, in 
order to prove that the ratio, as established by law be- 
tween gold and silver, can be maintained, appeals to the 
theory that the use or disuse of a precious metal as money 
will affect the market value of the metal, and, of course, 

28 



will have this influence upon the market value, whether 
the metal be in a state of coin, or in a state of bullion, 
and that, if the quantity of either metal used or coined 
as money is increased, the market value of the metal will 
be increased; and, if the quantity of either metal used or 
coined as money be diminished, the market value of the 
metal will fall. The bimetellist then insists that, under 
this principle — he calls it an economic force — an estab- 
lished ratio between silver and gold can be maintained, 
because, if either metal falls in value, or if either metal 
rises in value, then there will be an increased demand 
for the cheaper metal for coinage or as money, which will 
cause a rise in its value; and that there will be a de- 
creased demand for the dearer metal for coinage or as 
money, which will cause a decrease in the value of this 
metal; and that this process will continue until both 
metals approach the legal ratio. Observe that, under 
this theory, the more the quantity of the metal coined 
and used as money is increased, the more will the metal 
coined and uncoined increase in value; and the more the 
quantity of the metal coined and used as money is 
diminished, the more will the metal, coined and uncoined, 
decrease in value. 

The reader will, also, remember that, when the 
bimetallist attempts to prove that good and our well- 
being will be promoted by the adoption of bimetallism, 
he appeals to the quantity theory. He insists that, on 
account of the scarcity of gold, which is now our only 
automatic money, prices have fallen, and he further in- 
sists that, by the introduction of bimetallism, the quan- 
tity of automatic money, by the addition of silver auto- 
matic money, will be doubled, and, consequently, that 
prices will be doubled; his argument being, of course, 

29 



that the more the quantity of automatic money is in- 
creased, the greater will be the fall in the value of the 
mone}^ and the greater will be the rise in the prices of 
commodities; that is, the bimetallist insists that the more 
the quantity of the metal coined and used as money is 
increased, the more will the metal coined and uncoined 
decrease in value; and the more that the quantity of the 
metal coined and used as mone}'- is diminished, the more 
will the metal, coined and uncoined, increase in value. 

Briefly stated, the propositions of the bimetallist are 
these : 

1. That, under the theor}'- which is to maintain the 
ratio, if the quantity of the metal coined and used as 
money be increased, then the value of the metal coined 
and uncoined will be increased^ but, under the quantity 
theory, by means of which the benefits of bimetallism 
are to be accomplished, the value will be decreased. 

2. That, under the theor}^ which is to maintain the 
ratio, if the quantity of metal coined and used as money 
be diminished, then the value of the metal coined and 
uncoined will be decreased^ but, under the quantity 
theory, the value will be iiicreased. 

It is plain that these two propositions are entirely in- 
consistent and contradictory; if either one is right, the 
other must be wrong. 

It is plain that if bimetallism is to be successfully 
maintained, one and the same act — increase of the vol- 
ume of money — mu.st have two different and diametric- 
ally opposite effects, for it must both increase and de- 
crease the value of the money; and the one act of de- 
creasing the volume of money must, at the same time, 
have both the effect of decreasing the value of the money 
and of increasing the value of the money. 

30 



The bimetallist is, therefore, in this dilemma: if he 
can maintain his ratio, he must know that bimetallism 
will do no good if it is adopted; if he cannot maintain 
his ratio, he cannot maintain bimetallism, and he cannot, 
of course, reap an}^ of the supposed benefits of his S3^s- 
tem. In short, either he cannot maintain bimetallism, 
or, if he can, it is impossible for it to do any good even 
from his own standpoint. 

8* Bimetallisnn, even thougfh it can do no goodf can 
do a gffeat deal of harm* 

Although bimetallism can do no good, it by no means 
follows that it can do no harm, for it can, and certainly 
will, if adopted, do a ver}^ great deal of harm. 

It is a foregone conclusion that the mere prospect of 
the adoption of bimetallism will precipitate a financial 
panic of such magnitude as this country has never seen; 
all values wnll be disturbed, ruin and destruction of busi- 
ness and business enterprise wall become the prevailing 
condition. The bimetallist hastens to assure us that the 
introduction of bimetallism and the increase in volume of 
automatic money wnll be so gradual that there will be no 
disturbance either of values or of business. But the in- 
troduction of bimetallism cannot be gradual. When 
adopted, it is introduced and at once goes into full force 
and effect. Neither can the increase in volume of auto- 
matic money be gradual, for, by the adoption of bimetal- 
lism, all the silver in the world and all hereafter produced 
becomes potential automatic money, and since all our 
mints would be drafted into service for the coinage of 
silver dollars, how long would it be before there would 
not be only millions but billions of silver dollars ? How- 
si 



ever, it is not so much a question of the volume of auto- 
matic money as it is a question of standards. Bimetal- 
lism will at once put us under a silver standard, and our 
dollar will be w^orth only 48 cents instead of 100 cents, 
as it now is. Does an}^ one pretend to say that reducing 
the value of our dollar from 100 cents to 48 cents will 
not precipitate a panic, will not disturb all values and 
paral3^ze all business? As silver is to be greatly over- 
valued, it follows, even according to the bimetallic prin- 
ciple — the economic force — that ail gold wall forthwith 
be withdrawn from our circulation, and we must become 
silver monemetallic. We will not have a double standard, 
but we will have, as we have now, a single standard, 
with this difference that we now have the gold standard, 
and, under bimetallism, we would have the silver stand- 
ard. But, as already stated, this would certainly cause 
a financial panic, the paralysis of business, the disturb- 
ance of all values, the violation of all contracts, the pay- 
ment of debts in a depreciated currency, and the destruc- 
tion of all confidence, without which business cannot 
exist. These are not imaginary evils. They are noth- 
ine more than the evils which must naturalh^ result 
from, or be the effect of, the adoption of bimetallism. 
They are not mere disadvantages; they are positive in- 
juries, and will be serious calamities. 

The issue is up to the American people. It is for them 
to decide ivhether they prefer the present well settled, sound 
and ho7iest finaricial sy stein, or whether they prefer, by the 
adoption of bi7netallism , to involve the country in the throes 
of a financial panic, ruiri and paralyze all business, cheat 
all holiest creditors, violate all contracts, and, finally, to 
ruin and destroy our inagnificent credit, to create which has 
required years of paiiiful effort and honest dealing. 

32 



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