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vast and increasing business of the commercial world upon the monetary use of gold alone, still doubted the expediency, under the existing circumstances, of restoring the double standard with the unlimited coinage of both metals.
These persons saw that a coinage of silver about equal to the production of our own mines would help to keep up the gold price of silver, and thereby sustain a meritorious home industry of great importance to the development of our Western States and Territories. They saw that it would tend to check so much of the movement in other parts of the world to demonetize silver as arose from an apprehension that it was menaced with a grave degree of depreciation. They saw that by adding to our metallic money it would aid in reviving our depressed trade and industries, and would facilitate the resumption of specie payments. These persons believed, furthermore, that it would be many years before the proposed rate of coinage could result in any disparity of market value between gold and silver coins, even if the old ratio of market value between gold and silver bullion was not restored.
On the 17th of February, 1878, when the silver-coinage bill was pending in this Chamber, the following was proposed as an amendment of that part of the bill which provides for the monthly purchase for coinage of not less than $2,000,000 nor more than $4,000,000 worth of silver bullion :
One hundred millions of such dollars should be coined during three years from this date, and if the average monthly price of such silver bullion during the last twelve months thereof shall be less than ninety-seven one-hundredths of a gold dollar, the Secretary of the Treasury may suspend such coinage until further action by Congress.
This proposed amendment did not require but merely authorized a suspension of silver coinage if there should still remain, after a coinage of one hundred millions, a difference as great as 3 per cent between the value of gold and silver bullion. But, although put in that mild form, the amendment was lost by a decisive vote, (yeas 25, nays 40, ) which is a clear proof that in the opinion of the Senate at that time there was no occasion to arrest the coinage of silver at the point of one hundred millions, whatever might be
the market relation of value between gold and silver bullion when that point should be reached.
It is now proposed not merely to authorize a suspension of the silver coinage, but absolutely to suspend it when the amount coined has as yet reached only about one hundred and sixteen millions. I do not believe, Mr. President, that there has been any change in this country since 1878 in favor of further restricting the coinage of silver. In fact I believe the country is in favor of a more liberal policy in respect to the coinage of this metal.
That there are benefits derived from continuing the coinage of silver is plain and incontrovertible. Nobody will deny that it assists to sustain the price of silver, and that it is only this sustained price of silver which gives activity to the mining of that metal and to all the industries dependent upon or connected with it—such as the furnishing of supplies and machinery and the construction of railroads through our vast argentiferous territories. Nobody will deny that the rapid development of the population and commerce of the country, East as well as West, requires all the sound money we are likely to obtain from any source.
It is not the silver-producing States alone that have been benefited by this industry. As an illustration of this, Colorado is now sustaining a population of about 250,000 people. To a very large extent this population is supported by silver mining, the product of which last year was about $23,000,000. The statistics of the railroads show that there were transported to Colorado from the States lying east of her, last year, 308,343 tons of merchandise. The estimated value of this merchandise is over $20,000,000. In other words, as one of the results of this industry, $20,000,000 have been sent to the States which produce no silver in payment for the product of their soil and labor.
But there is a higher and more important principle involved in the question of the benefits derived from the coinage of silver. It is that of retaining silver as one of the money metals of the world; it is that of protecting the debtor class of our people. It is this class which produces the wealth of the nation. A vast proportion of the industries of the world is carried on with borrowed capital. Any contraction in the volume of money injures the borrowing classes-a contraction sufficient to put all the business of the world on a gold basis means their ruin.
What injury has resulted or is likely to result from continuing the coinage? There is no depreciation relatively to gold or greenbacks of the silver dollars, or of the Treasury certificates representing such dollars. Our gold and silver dollars maintain an absolute parity of value in the market. There is no premium on the gold dollar, and there is no discount on the silver dollar. They circulate side by side, and are as equal in purchasing power as they are in the power to pay debts. No evil consequence of any kind has so far resulted or is even alleged to have resulted from the coinage of silver dollars.
There are two conspicuous facts which establish, beyond the possibility of dispute, the present market parity of our fulltender silver and gold coins and of the Treasury certificates which represent them. The first is the character of the money paid for tariff duties at the New York custom-house, where the great bulk of that part of the public revenue is collected. In round numbers the average weekly amount of these payments is about two and one-half millions of dollars, and they are made in about the proportion of four-fifths gold to onefifth silver, nearly the whole of the silver being paid in the form of certificates.
The persons who make the payments have the right to offer either gold, silver, or greenbacks. If there were a discount so small as even one-sixteenth of one per cent. upon either of these three descriptions of money, the entire receipts of the New York custom-house would consist of the particular money
which was obtainable at a discount. Nothing is more rtain than that men will not pay in a dearer money cheaper one will answer the same purpose, and
especially will they not do it when the dearer money is more cumbersome to
handle. The men who now carry about five tons of gold weekly to the New York custom-house in bags, or who have it carried there by porters and on drays, would certainly carry silver certificates by preference, if such certificates were procurable at the same cost. If they were procurable at a less cost, not a single ounce of gold would reach the New York customhouse.
The second fact which establishes the market parity of gold and silver coins is found in the history of what occurred under the order of the Secretary of the Treasury, dated September 18, 1880, permitting the owners of gold coin to deposit it at the New York assistant treasurer's office, and receive silver certificates therefor:
TREASURY DEPARTMENT, SECRETARY'S OFFICE,
Washington, D. C., September 18, 1880. Until further notice, the United States assistant treasurer at New York will pay out at his counter standard silver dollars or silver certificates in sums of $10, or any multiples thereof, in exchange for like amounts of gold coin or gold bullion deposited with him.
Upon the receipt by the Treasury of the United States, in this city of an original certificate of deposit issued by the United States assistant treasurer of New York, stating that there has been deposited with him gold coin or gold bullion in the sum of $10, or any multiple thereof, payment of a like amount in standard silver dollars or silver certificates at the counter of any United States assistant treasurer designated by the depositor will be ordered.
JOHN SHERMAN, Secretary. Under this order the voluntary exchanges of gold for silver certificates at the office of the New York assistant United States treasurer were so numerous and so completely drained that office of certificates that on the 1st day of November, 1881, a succeeding Secretary of the Treasury conceived it to be his duty to issue the following new order, suspending until further notice the right of individuals to make such exchanges:
TREASURY DEPARTMENT, SECRETARY'S OFFICE,
Washington, D.C., November 1, 1881. Until further notice, the exchange of silver certificates for gold coin deposited at the office of the United States assistant treasurer at New York will be suspended, and Department's Circular No. 75, of September 18, 1880, is hereby modified accordingly.
H. F. FRENCH, Acting Secretary.
It thus turned out that so many persons in New York merchants, bankers, and others were eager to obtain silver certificates and to pay gold for them, dollar for dollar, that the Treasury officials felt obliged to decline to grant them that accommodation.
Notwithstanding the constant parade by certain financial journals of a fluctuating difference in market value between the bullion of which a silver dollar is made and the bullion of which a gold dollar is made, it is not seriously claimed by any one that any difference has yet shown itself between the market value of those coins.
But the important problem, and the one which most concerns us now, is the effect which the continued coinage of silver will have upon the relative value of gold and silver money. How much silver coin can we add to our circulation without disturbing the parity of value which now exists between these two kinds of money?
A late Secretary of the Treasury, now the honorable Senator from Ohio, believed that the danger was imminent, that a difference in their market value would show itself if the coinage of silver dollars was allowed to exceed fifty millions. In his annual report of December, 1878, he said:
It would seem to be the best policy, for the present, to limit the aggregate issue of our silver dollar, based on the ratio of 16 to 1, to such sums as can clearly be maintained at par with gold. The Secretary respectfully recommends that he be authorized to discontinue the coinage of the silver dollar when the amount outstanding shall exceed $50,000,000.
The Congress to which this recommendation was made, and the succeeding Congress, both declined to fix the limit of fifty millions, or any other limit, upon the coinage of silver dollars, but it has turned out that even with a coinage of one hundred and sixteen millions, no disparity of value between gold and silver dollars has shown itself. How the Secretary of the Treasury arrived at the conclusion that silver dollars might, and probably would, depreciate if coined in excess of fifty millions has never been explained by him, and is not known. His opinions have certainly not been justified by the