American Eloquence, Volume 4 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 282 pages of information about American Eloquence, Volume 4.

J. A. W.




—­United states senate, January 28, 1878.

Mr. President, the bill now before the Senate provides for the resuscitation of the obsolete dollar of 412 and 1/2 grains of silver, which Congress entombed in 1834 by an Act which diminished the weight of gold coins to the extent of 6.6 per cent., and thus bade a long farewell to silver.  It is to be a dollar made of metal worth now fifty-three and five-eighths pence per ounce, or ten cents less in value than a gold dollar, and on January 23d, awkwardly enough, worth eight and three-fourths cents less than a dollar in greenbacks, gold being only If per cent. premium, but, nevertheless, to be a legal tender for all debts, public and private, except where otherwise provided by contract.  The words seem to be aptly chosen to override and annul whatever now may be otherwise provided by law.  Beyond this, as the bill came from the House, the holders of silver bullion—­not the Government or the whole people—­were to have all the profits of coinage and the Government all of the expense.  This, but for the amendment proposed by the Committee on Finance, would have furnished the power to the enterprising operators in silver, either at home or abroad, to inflate the currency without limit; and, even as amended, inflation will be secured to the full extent of all the silver which may be issued, for there is no provision for redeeming or retiring a single dollar of paper currency.  Labor is threatened with a continuation of the unequal struggle against a depreciated and fluctuating standard of money.

The bill, if it becomes a law, must at the very threshold arrest the resumption of specie payments, for, were the holders of United States notes suddenly willing to exchange them for much less than their present value, payment even in silver is to be postponed indefinitely.  For years United States notes have been slowly climbing upward, but now they are to have a sudden plunge downward, and in every incompleted contract, great and small, the robbery of Peter to pay Paul is to be fore-ordained.  The whole measure looks to me like a fearful assault upon the public credit.  The losses it will inflict upon the holders of paper money and many others will be large, and if the bill, without further radical amendments, obtains the approval of the Senate, it will give the death-blow to the cardinal policy of the country, which now seeks a large reduction of the rate of interest upon our national debt.  Even that portion now held abroad will come back in a stampede to be exchanged for gold at any sacrifice.  The ultimate result would be, when the supply for customs shall have been coined and the first effervescence has passed away, the emission of silver far below the

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American Eloquence, Volume 4 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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