If Not Silver, What? eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 96 pages of information about If Not Silver, What?.

On the other hand, three-fourths of the great inventions have been by men who did not work at the business they improved.  The world’s great financiers have not been bankers.  Alexander Hamilton was not a banker.  Neither was Albert Gallatin, nor Robert J. Walker, nor James Guthrie, nor Salmon P. Chase.  William Patterson, who founded the Bank of England, was a sailor and trader; and of the British Chancellors of the Exchequer whose names shine in history, scarcely one was a banker.  One of Christ’s disciples was a banker, and the end of his scientific financiering is reported in Acts i. 18.  John Law also, whose very name is a synonym for foolish financial schemes, was a banker, and a very successful one.  Where was there ever a crazier scheme than the so-called “Baltimore Plan,” exclusively the work of bankers?

=But as the bankers and great capitalists have no faith in it, the free coinage of silver would certainly precipitate a panic.=

The gold basis has already precipitated several panics.  Even in so conservative a country as England they have, since adopting monometallism, had a severe currency panic every four years, and a great industrial depression on an average once in seven years.  The only reason we have not done worse is that the rapid development of the natural resources of the country saves us from the consequences of our folly.  We draw on the future, and in no long time it honors our drafts.  Nevertheless, in the twenty-three years since silver was demonetized we have had two grand panics, several minor currency panics, hundreds of thousands of bankruptcies with liabilities of billions, and five labor wars in which 900 persons were killed and $230,000,000 worth of property destroyed.  Could a silver basis do worse?

=You admit, then, that the immediate adoption of free coinage would, for a while at least, drive gold abroad?=

And what then?  Why do the gold men always stop with that statement and so carefully avoid inquiry into what would follow?  Let us look into it.  We may have in this country $500,000,000 in gold, though no one can tell where it is.  Assuming that free coinage would send it all abroad, the inevitable result would be a gold inflation in Europe, which would cause a rise in prices.  I observe that of late the gold organs have been denying this—­denying, in fact, the quantitative principle in finance, something never denied before this discussion arose.  It is too true, as some philosopher has said, that if a property interest depended on it, there would soon be plenty of able men to deny the law of gravitation.  But as the men who deny it in one breath admit it in the next by assuring us that we shall soon have a great increase in the production of gold, and that prices will therefore rise, we may with confidence adhere to the established truth of political economy.

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If Not Silver, What? from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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