Thus ended the scheme to drive gold out of circulation and base the business of the world upon one metal, and that the dearer metal, silver. But suppose the scheme had succeeded; suppose France had been less firm; what a wonderful flood of wisdom on the virtues of silver we should have had from the monometallists! How arrogantly they would have denounced us—who should, I trust, in that case have been laboring to restore gold to free coinage—how arrogantly they would have denounced us as the advocates of cheap money, dishonest tricksters, repudiators! How they would have rung the changes on “dishonest money,” “fifty-cent gold dollars!” What long, long columns of figures should we have had to prove the stability of silver, the fluctuating nature of gold! What denunciations, what sneers, what gibes, what slurs would have filled the New York city papers in regard to those Western fellows who want to degrade the standard! How glib would have been the tongues of their orators in denouncing all who advocated the remonetization of gold as cranks, socialists, populists, anarchists, ne’er-do-wells, and Adullamites, kickers, visionaries, and frauds! Is there any practical doubt that we should have witnessed all this? None whatever; in fact, something of the same sort was heard in Europe at the time of the demonetization of gold. It all goes to show that self-interest blinds the intellects of the best of men so that they readily believe that which is to their interest is honest, but that the farmer who seeks to raise the price of what he has to sell thereby throws himself down as dishonest. Of course, the successful demonetization of gold would have brought about an enormous appreciation of the value of silver, since it would have thrown the whole burden of maintaining the business of the world upon one metal, and equally, of course, we should have had the same attacks upon the owners of gold mines that we now have upon the owners of silver mines. As the withdrawal of silver from its place as primary money and its reduction to the level of token money has thrown the burden of sustaining prices upon gold, so unquestionably would the reverse process have occurred had gold been reduced to token money in place of silver. All this we know would have taken place from what actually did take place, and this makes important the history of the demonetization of gold.
Among the many plausible pleas of the monometallists, the most plausible, perhaps, is the plea that the great divergence between the metals since 1873 has been due entirely to the increased production of silver. A very brief examination, I think, will show its falsity, and that it is equally false in fact and fallacious in logic; for, first, there has been no great “depreciation” in silver, that metal having almost the same power to command commodities, excepting gold, that it had in 1873; and, second, the claim that the increased production of ten or twenty years would alone greatly cheapen silver is flatly contradicted by all previous experience. Of many statements of the fallacy, I take a recent one from the New York Times as the most terse and catchy for popular reading, and likewise most ludicrously absurd: