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A Farmer On Finance

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The following paper was reíd by J. W. Wing before the Webster Farmers' Dlnb, April 11, 1896: Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen af the Webster Farmers' Club : In presenting this litfle paper for your consideration, I am not vain euough to íuppose that it will met with the approbation of all present, and to such I would say all we ask is that you extend the same couitsey to ns that we most cheerfully extend to you and to pour ojinious. That our country at the present time is in a condition of fiuauoial embarrassment is almost universally acknowledged, with the exceptiou, perhaps, of bankers, holders of United States seourities, and our salaried offlcers. They seem to be hnving a good time aud so they are well satisfied with the present oondition cf thiugs, and with all the rewards of labor, both food and clothing so exceedingly cheap, perhaps some of us can uuderstand why the situation is so satisfactory. In regard to the cause and cure of this state of thiugs, there is not so much equaniruity about. Some think it is because their f avorite policy of free trade has not been carried out as they expected. Others think it is because their pursuit has not been suitably protected by tarifï. Aud there is stijl another and quite a numerous class who think thair onr finauces have been too much tampered with for the good of the people. Aud the objeot of this little paper is to take a brief retrospective view of our financial history for the last thirty years aud see if we can discover auything tbat would naturally lead to the present condition in weich we find ourselves placed. The first two canses I shall spend very little tirne on tor we havo had several carapaigns run upon those issues with various results and the people are presumed to know something about them. The democratie party seerued to think before eleotiou that they could run the governmeut .with f ree trade, bat as soon as congress assernbled they found they must have levenue and to obtaiu that they must have tarifï. And so they fixed np a tarifï in which the farmer had no part or lot, even wool was made free, while the goods that were ruanufactured from it got very handsome protection. In fact, suooess in obtaining tariff protection seerned to depend upon the iufluenoe of the lobby members and the amonnt of mouey they had to spend. One thing is oertain, there is no protection uuder the present tarifï worth mentiooing for the farmers aud, with the exception of wool, very little in forrner tariffs, while uearly everything that we have to parchase is protected by tariff. Our presidents aud well-paid members of cougress seem to forget that there is such a class of pëople as farmers except about electiou time, tben they seem to havo a most lively perception of their great usefuiues and importauce. Aud now, ladies and gentlemeu, we will take up the tbird reasou for our present financia! embarrassment, before which I think all others siuk into insiguificance, viz. : That onr finauces have been too much tampered with by congress for the good ofjthe people. Something more than tbirty years ago we had a fearful rebellion, planned aud proseouted in the interest of human slavery, to break up the uuion of these States and to destroy the goverument. The governmeut was left by the preceding administration in a state of great embarrassment. Our treasury was empty, many of our f ortifications had been seized or destroyed, and the former vice president of the United States took a rebel sword iu his haud and fooght the country for four long, dreadful years, that he had sworu to cherish and protect. The situation was clearly very discouraging. Gold anti silver had uearly all left the country as it always does wheu most needed. But we had a good man at the helm and he and bis able advisers arrauged a substitute for it, the greeuback, which carried na through four years of dreadful war and thirty years of peace, and I have never heard a word said against it nntil the present administration began to draw out of the one bundred million of gold placed in the treasury as their security. But the rebellion soon began to assurne snch gigantic proportions that it was evident other meaos must be resorted to to supply the government with meaus to suppress it, and then the United States bond was oreated. These greeubacks were lawful mouey of the United States and a legal tender for all dues and demands except interest on our public debt, and dnties on irnports theu were to be paid in coiu - not gold, bot coin. And the supreme court of the Uuited States has since decided tbat the governineut had a perfect right to ïnakn such legal tender money either in i war or peace. The boDds were purchnsed by individuals and corporations, largely bv uational banking corporations, and paid for largely in greenbaoks. To make sales for the bonds, the goverriinent ruade couoessious to purchasers, chief among whioh was to every uatioual bank oorporation who should purohase f50,000 of government bouds and deposit them in the tieasmy of the United States as seonrity they would uot only pay the interest on the bonds semi-ammally in coin, but they would issue to theru uational bank notes or bilis for 45,000 more, and when they were sigued by the officers of the bank they becauie national bauk currency and the bank conld loau theru as other money. And so a natioual bank with ouly 50,000 capital could draw interest on 95,000 or in other words they could get interest 'on what they owed as well as on what they had. These bonds at first were made payable at the option of the governmeut, theu iu five years, then teu years, then twenty years and soruetimes longer. The holders of these bonds soou found they were a very nice thing to have, as the interest was paid every sis rnouths and paid in ooin which was worth twice as much as the money they had paid for the bond dollar for dollar. Theu commenoed the sohemiug of the mcmey power to estend tbe time of paynient of these bonds as they feil due. Bncouraged by the favors shown the natioual banks by congress, they made bold to say to congress that it would greatly strengtheu the public credit to pay these bonds in coin instead of the curreney they ware bonght with. This they were more anxious to accomplish as it would estend the time for the payment of the bonds as there was no coin in the country with which to pay them, but there was a plenty of rency of the kiud we had borrowed and the kiud we had agreed to pay. But actiug upon the suggestion of the bondholders, after some discussion, congress passed aa act on. Marob 18, 1869, entitled "Ad Act to Strengthen the Publio Credit," but it ought to have been entitled "An Act to Weaken I the Public Credit, to abuse public 1 dence aad corapel ns to pay two dollars ; for oue on all our bouded ! ness. " The object of the boudholder now seemed to be two-fold. First, to ' uate the bond by prevention of payrnent, and second, to increase the value of the mouey in which paymeuts were to be made. John Sherman said on Jan. 27, 1869, just before the so-called act to strengthen the public oredit and speakiug of the prospective legislation in the senate: "Sir, it is not possible to take this voyage without sore distress to every person except the capitalist ont of debt or the salaried officer. It is a period of loss, danger, prostration of trade, fall of vvages, suspension of enterprise, bankruptcy and disaster. It means the ruin of dealers whose debts are twice their capital though one-third less tb au their property. It rueans the fall of all agricultural prodnctious without ïunch reduction in taxation. " Tbere was not the least possible occasion for this act for the war was over and our bonds were in good demand, but by it the capitalist secured two poiuts. First, he extended the time of the payment of bonda, and sec-„ oud, made it payable iu ruoney twice as valuable as he had paid for it. It did seem as if these two acts of congress would satisfy the greed and avarice of every capitalist in the land aud that there would be no further extortion of the people. But did it? Oh no. Tbey now turn their attentiou to closing the mints of the United States to the coiuage of silver. Snob a tbing had never been heard of in this country. It had carried us for nearly a huudred years through peace and war and durCoutinued ou Eiglith Page. AFABIMNiCE Contluued from First Pae. ing these years we bad been perhaps the most prcsperous and happy nation oa the face cf the earth, beloved and respected by all lands except snch as were jealous of our unexampled prosperity and growing greatness. We developed our country 's resources and especially onr mines, coined our own money, both gold and silver. Although silver was the standard of value, gold was just as good,but no better and nothing like as couvenieut for the ordinary trausaction of business. All well informed persons know tbat silver bullion was at a small premiarn over gold bullion the day it was demonetized in 1873, and I have uo doubt it would be today if congress had sein fit to let it remaiu ss it had teen rhrough all these years, a niouey metal instead of making it iuto a commodity to be bought and sold by the pound as you would a pig or a puppy. There was no possible reasou wby cougress should demonetize silver wben it did. No persou wanted it done but the bond holders and they wanted it because tbey knew if oue-half of the prirnary money was taken away it would reduce the price of all commodities to that extent that it would be iinpossible for them to pay the bonds and thus it would beoome a perpetual interest bearing debt against the people. Many of our statesmen disclairn knowing at the time this act was passed that it did demonetize, sil ver. Notably among them was James G. Blaine and U. S. Grant, but it makes uo difference whether they knew it or not, it was done and all the evil consequences have falleu upon the people. Let us sea what Abraham Lincoln says about this kind of legislado. Abraham Lincoin said if a government contiaoted a debt with a certain amount of money in circulation and then contracted tbe money volume before the debt is paid, it is the most heinous crime a government could commit agaiust its people. Kow that is just exactly what I think about it. It is not our debts that we complain of; they were a necessity. But it was the unuecessary and unexampled contraction of our finances by the demonetization of silver that has disqualified us to pay them. Sinoe the passage of this act in 1873 our population has increased about 20 milions, or nearly one-third, and the money volume sbould have been inoreased to correspond with it. Instead of that it has been contracted by the demouetization of silver to an alarming extent - so much so that nearly all our üojuuiudities barely bring half price (our omes included). Silver has not gone down more than everythiug else and when I hear a man talking about a fiftji -cent silver dollar, it reminds me of the nian tbat multilated and ured his best friend and rhen to!d him he was not fit to appear in public. And the same man nsually bolds up and extols the little gold dollar that we could hardly find in the bottom of our pnrse (when there was one there to fiud). Yes, iny friends, that little gold dollar that fixes the price npoa eveiything we possess and fixes it at about half the cost of production, stands today enthroned upon the pedestal of public favor, pre-eminent over all, and looks down upon all its surroundings and especially upon its faithful compauion for so many years. I believe it will not be long before the people will be obliged to see and remove this great hindrance to their prosperity. I believe it to be the immediate duty of congress to restore silver to its former place as standard of money value and open our mints to its free noinage. To pass a wise and judicious tariff to protect our industries againsc the pauper labor of the old world and make a revenue sufflcient to run our government, I would place it as far as possible upon thoss articles that demnralize and degrade the people. This is no experiment. We not only have the example of our own former prosperity but we have the example of a sister republic. Tweuty-five years ago Mexico was a poor nation but since that time, under the guidance of two wise presidents, they have made very rapid advancemont. And they have done it by pursuing exactly the opposite course from what our government has. Their whoie national debt is less than what our bonds have issued for in the last three years - years of perfoot peace and great plenty. They have expanded instead of contracted their finances, developed their resources and especially their mines, ooined their own money, encouraged in every possible way all her industries and, although her people are nothing like as enterprisiDg and as iudustrious as our people, they have unexampled prosperity. I often hear men say, "O, I am a bi-nietalist but we cannot restore silver to its former place without the co-operation of the nations of Europe - Eugland, France, Germany, etc. Now this is only another phase of the scheming of the holders of our securities. It is simply an echo of the money power. For, although Frauce and Germany are favorable to the restoration of silver, England is determined it shall never be done. And why? Simply beoause Englaud is the credit iiation and it is for her interest to make money as dear aud hard to obtain as possible. Euglish capitalists were largely responsible for the deruonetization of silver by congress. And still another reasou I have heard given why it would be unwise'to restore silver to its former place, that Europe would send all her silvei over here to be coined and flood our country with silver money. I do not think tbere would be the least possiblfi dauger of that, for our silver dollar requires more silver to maks it than theirs and is worth no more in their couutry tban their own smaller dollar, so it would be very bad finauoieriug to seud it here for coinage. But sappose tbey did seud it hera for coinage Tbey would probabJy not take it back, a a suiallei dollar would be wortta just as much iu gold as our larger one and so iu all probability tbey would lay it out heie and take back in its place our wbeat, flour, pork, beef, etc, and that would bave a tendency to send up tbe price of these articles that now hardly pay tbe cost of production.


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