OF MAINE. (BORN 1830, DIED 1893.)
On the remonetization of silver,
United states senate, February 7, 1878.
The discussion on the question of remonetizing silver, Mr. President, has been prolonged, able, and exhaustive. I may not expect to add much to its value, but I promise not to add much to its length. I shall endeavor to consider facts rather than theories, to state conclusions rather than arguments:
First. I believe gold and silver coin to be the money of the Constitution—indeed, the money of the American people anterior to the Constitution, which that great organic law recognized as quite independent of its own existence. No power was conferred on Congress to declare that either metal should not be money. Congress has therefore, in my judgment, no power to demonetize silver any more than to demonetize gold; no power to demonetize either any more than to demonetize both. In this statement I am but repeating the weighty dictum of the first of constitutional lawyers. “I am certainly of 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 this standard.” Few persons can be found, I apprehend, who will maintain that Congress possesses the power to demonetize both gold and silver, or that Congress could be justified in prohibiting the coinage of both; and yet in logic and legal construction it would be difficult to show where and why the power of Congress over silver is greater than over gold—greater over either than over the two. If, therefore, silver has been demonetized, I am in favor of remonetizing it. If its coinage has been prohibited, I am in favor of ordering It to be resumed. If it has been restricted, I am in favor of having it enlarged.