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at St. Louis, Missouri, on July 22, 1896. It was the purpose of those who attended the conference to give the Republican and Democratic parties an opportunity to declare for the restoration of bimetallism and to provide for the nomination of a silver ticket, in case both failed to do so. The date of the Silver Convention was made to correspond with the date of the Populist Convention.
It will be seen that the object of these silver organizations was to bring the money question before the American people as the paramount issue. They were not only instrumental in doing this but also aided materially in bringing about co-operation between the silver forces in the late campaign.
Space will not permit a reference to all of the literature circulated in the various localities, I shall mention three documents, however, which were widely read, and which exerted very considerable influence. The first was the speech made by Mr. Carlisle, in the House of Representatives, February 21, 1878. The following extracts were the portions most used:
I am opposed to the free coinage of either gold or silver, but in favor of the unlimited coinage of both metals upon terms of exact equality.
If the execution of this measure could be intrusted to a public officer whose opinions upon the subject were in accord with those of the great majority of the American people and whose sympathies were with the struggling masses who produce the wealth and pay the taxes of the country, rather than with the idle holders of idle capital, the provisions alluded to would be of little consequence, because he would coin the maximum (four millions per month) instead of the minimum (two millions per month) allowed by the amendment.
Instead of constant and relentless contraction; instead of a constant appreciation of money and depreciation of property, we will have expansion to the extent of at least two million dollars per month, and, under its influence, the exchangeable value of commodities, including labor, will soon begin to rise, thus inviting investment, infusing life into the dead industries of the country and quickening the pulsations of trade in all its departments.
I know that the world's stock of precious metals is none too large, and I see no reason to apprehend that it will ever be so. Mankind will be fortunate indeed if the annual production of gold and silver coin shall keep pace with the annual increase of population, and industry. According to my views of the subject the conspiracy which seems to have been formed here and in Europe to destroy by legislation and otherwise from three-sevenths to one-half the metallic money of the world is the most gigantic crime of this or any other age. The consummation of such a scheme would ultimately entail more misery upon the human race than all the wars, pestilences, and famines that ever occurred in the history of the world.
The absolute and instantaneous destruction of half the entire movable property of the world, including houses, ships, railroads, and other appliances for carrying on commerce, while it would be felt more sensibly at the moment, would not produce anything like the prolonged distress and disorganization of society that must inevitably result from the permanent annihilation of one-half of the metallic money of the world.
The struggle now going on cannot cease and ought not to cease until all the industrial interests of the country are fully and finally emancipated from the heartless domination of the syndicates, stock exchanges, and other great combinations of money grabbers in this country and Europe.
Let us, if we can do no better, pass bill after bill, embodying in each one substantial provision for relief and send them to the Executive for his approval. If he withholds his signature and we are unable to secure the necessary vote, here or elsewhere, to enact them into laws, notwithstanding his veto, let us as a last resort, suspend the rules, and put them into the general appropriation bills, with the distinct understanding that if the people can get no relief the Government can get no money.
The second, was a letter written by Mr. Sherman in 1878. The following is a copy:
Treasury Department, July 15, 1878. Dear Sir: To that part of your letter of the 12th inst., in which you ask my views of the matter confided in the monetary commission, I have some delicacy in replying very fully. During the monetary conference in Paris, when silver in our country was excluded from circulation by being undervalued, I was strongly in favor of the single standard of gold, and wrote a letter which you will find in the proceedings of that conference, stating briefly my view. At that time the wisest of us did not anticipate the sudden fall of silver or the rise of gold that has occurred. This uncertainty of the relation between the two metals is one of the chief arguments in favor of a monometallic system, but other arguments, showing the dangerous effect upon industry by dropping one of the precious metals from the standard of value, outweigh in my mind all theoretical objections to the bimetallic system. I am thoroughly convinced that if it were possible for the leading commercial nations to fix by agreement an arbitrary relation between silver and gold, even though the market value might vary somewhat from time to time, it would be a measure of the greatest good to all nations. My earnest desire is that you may succeed in doing this.
You are so well informed upon this subject that it is not worth while for me to enlarge upon it. The statements and documents sent you by the director of the mint will give in authentic form most of the material facts which bear upon the question, and your own investigation on the silver commission will, I am quite sure, supply any deficiency. Very truly yours, John Sherman, Secretary.
W. S. Grosbeck, Esq., Cincinnati, O.
The third, was a petition signed by the officers of the various labor organizations, and presented to Congress early in 1895. I give below the abstract of it circulated by the Populist committee:
In view of the general distress now prevailing throughout our country, which has existed for so many years, and which will continue until remedial legislation is enacted—and all this occurring, too, at a time when our granaries are full to repletion, and when, in the natural order of things, our producers and toilers should be enjoying to the full the fruits of their hard and conscientious labors-it seems to us that the time has come for united action on the part of those who create the wealth of the country.
The respective demands and platforms of principles of our several organizations set forth our opinions as to the causes that have brought about this condition of things. Inasmuch as the leading representatives and friends of all our organizations have placed one of the causes of the tribulations of our beloved Republic to the departure of our Government from the wise bimetallic policy of Washington, Jefferson, and Hamilton, and the substitution therefor of the present monometallic policy recommended by European money owners, and advocated by their American allies, we, the undersigned officers of industrial, agricultural, and commercial organizations, have thought it best, at this particular time, to submit for your careful consideration a synopsis of the legislation, respecting the precious metals, enacted in this country since the foundation of this Government, that you may judge for yourselves as to what portion of such legislation was enacted in the interest of the producing and what in the interest of the non-producing classes, and as to whether or not the shrewd manipulators of our finances foresaw that the result of their work would be to largely help in the subjugation of the people.
Was such legislation just? Was it honest? Does it not necessarily follow that demoralization of the food-producing sections of the country, through failure to procure reasonable prices for their products, causes the manufacturing sections to accumulate excessive stocks, and that, in consequence of a poor market, hundreds of thousands of operatives are thrown out of employment, thus robbing them of the power, even at the low prices, to purchase the necessaries of life?
Again, is it not obvious to every one that the striking down of one-half the world's volume of money makes the remaining half a comparatively easy matter for capitalists to control and manipulate, and that toilers, to obtain money for the purchase of their food supplies, are placed entirely at the mercy of the foreign and American money-sharks, who, by contracting the currency, can force a panic or famine in money at their supreme will?
Would they be guilty of such a crime? We only say in reply, look at our present helpless condition. Does it not seem to you, in the light of the fact here given, that, where in the midst of plenty there is wide-spread suffering and unhappiness, there is considerable meat in the refrain from Wall street: "Dig on, ye toilers, dig; the legislative button that we press will do the rest!"
Now, the question is: What do the tens of millions of victims in this country, to the diabolical gold standard policy of Lombard and Wall streets, propose doing about it? Submit to subjugation, or demand in no uncertain tones the immediate restoration of silver as standard money? No! they will no longer submit to such injustice! And therefore we earnestly recommend the adoption of the following resolution:
"We demand of the present Congress the immediate return to the money of the Constitution as established by our fathers, by restoring the free and unlimited coinage of both gold and silver at the present ratio of 16 to 1, the coins of both metals to be equally full legal tender for all debts, public and private, as before the fraudulent demonetization of silver in 1873.
"We also condemn the increase of the national debt in time of peace, and the use of interest bearing bonds at any time." Signed:
J. R. Sovereign,
General Master Workman, Knights of Labor.
General Secretary and Treasurer, Knights of Labor.
President of the American Federation of Labor.
President of the National Farmers' Alliance and Industrial Union.
H. H. Trenor,
Gen'l President, United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. P. J. McGuire,
Gen'l Secretary, United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America.
P. M. Arthur,
Grand Chief of the United Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers.
President of the Farmers' Mutual Benefit Association.
Grand Master of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen.
F. W. Arnold,
Grand Secretary and Treasurer of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen.
President of the United Mine Workers of America.
THE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION.
'HE Republican National Committee fixed July 16, 1896, as the day for the National Convention. The contest over the money question was largely lost sight of in the contest over the Presidential nomination. Except in a few Western States the State Conventions adopted platforms which, in varying language, declared against the free coinage of silver. In a few cases they reaffirmed the Republican platform of 1892. Several of the Eastern States were quite pronounced for gold; the New York Convention made its platform to fit New York's presidential candidate, Governor Morton, and, besides speaking for gold, suggested that the people would prefer a business administration conducted by business men in behalf of the business interests of the country. In several States the conventions not only denounced. free coinage, but condemned the agitation of the question. Some time before the convention convened it became evident that Mr. McKinley would have a majority on the first ballot, and the convention was, therefore, not as exciting as it might have been with a more even contest between the leading candidates.
When the convention met, Hon. Charles W. Fairbanks of Indiana was made temporary chairman, and Senator Thurston of Nebraska. permanent chairman.
The exact phraseology of the money plank of the platform was the only important matter in dispute. The Eastern Republicans wanted the platform to read as strongly as possible for gold; the Western Republicans were anxious to secure a free-coinage plank, and some of the Republicans in the Central States preferred a platform which would mean gold without using the word. One western delegate explained the position of the neutrals by saying that the people had an unreasonable prejudice against the word gold, and that it should be left out and some word substituted which had the same meaning but did not sound so harsh.
Senator Henry M. Teller of Colorado led the fight for free coinage and was ably seconded by Senators Fred T. Dubois of Idaho, R. F. Pettigrew of South Dakota, Frank Cannon of Utah and Lee Mantle