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Oresme, Copernicus, and Others. 129
of his time in favor of a monometallic standard, because of the difficulty of fixing and maintaining a just ratio, distinctly state that the standard must be silver. It is astonishing that many gold monometallists quote Locke without mentioning this. Locke wrote: "Silver therefore and silver alone is the measure of commerce . . . The fittest for this use of all others is silver; all other metals, gold as well as lead, are but commodities." And that gold is "not the money of the world nor fit to be so." What I have called jointmetallism was not then invented. But if Locke were living now, it may fairly be presumed from his writings that he would welcome my plan. Before him Oresme, Copernicus, and Bacon, and after him Newton and many other great authorities acknowledged the importance of trying to maintain the coinage of both metals at the market ratio, but they did not hit upon the plan of joint-metallism. Although bimetallism was in general use throughout the civilized world until 1873
(the mint of France being open to both metals), it is still necessary, in popular discussion, to reiterate some oft repeated historical statements and well established monetary principles.
"The fall of the Roman Empire . . . was in reality brought about by the decline in the gold and silver mines of Spain and Greece. . . . And as if Providence had intended to reveal in the clearest manner the influence of this agent in human affairs, the resurrection of mankind from ruin which these causes had produced was owing to the directly opposite set of agencies being put in motion. Columbus led the way in the career of renovation ; when he spread his sails across the Atlantic, he bore mankind and its fortunes in his bark. The mines of Mexico and Peru were opened to European enterprise."—Alison's History.
"The value of money, other things being the same, varies inversely as its quantity."—John Stuart Mill.
"Money has to serve not merely as a medium of exchange, but also as a fair and permanent record of obligations exHon. A. J. Balfour.
tending over long periods of time. In this great and fundamental requirement our existing currency totally and lamentably fails."—A. J. Balfour.
"Credit cannot permanently supplant money."
All honest and permanent money must have an adequate metallic basis, as is shown by history.
Freight on gold and silver coin and on bullion is by value, not by weight.
Index number tables show how commodities have generally declined since the decline in silver.
Since the discovery of America the world's total production of gold and silver has been in weight about 5 per cent, gold and 95 per cent, silver.
Gold is somewhat more durable than silver.
A single year's production of gold or silver has little effect on the market values of the world's stocks, which are the accumulation of thousands of years.
The coinage ratio of 15^ to 1 having been fixed by France, April 6, 1803, for seventy years thereafter the relative market values of the two precious metals in London did not vary therefrom more than
3 per cent, for any year (excepting 1808 and 1812, when the variation was less than
4 per cent., and 1813, when it was less than 5 per cent.1), although the relative production of the two metals varied enormously, being some years, in value, three times as much silver as gold, and some years only about one fourth as much silver as gold.
France long stood alone, but some other countries afterwards adopted her ratio in their mints, and in 1865 Belgium, Italy, and Switzerland joined her in forming the "Latin Union," which was joined by Greece in 1867, and continued free coinage at the ratio of 151 to 1 until 1873.2
1 Napoleon's wars, and the cost and risk of transportation, and the suspension of specie payments in England account for most of this variation.
* The Final Report of the Royal Commission on Gold and Silver, 1888, shows that all the twelve commissioners, the monometallists as well as the bimetallists, agreed in the following statement: "Sec. 193. Nor does it appear to us a priori unreasonable to suppose that the existence in the ' Latin Union' of a bimetallic system, with a ratio of 15J to 1 fixed Some Powerful Interests. 133
By this time improvements in metallurgy, etc., had so greatly reduced the cost of producing silver that the "Latin Union" coinage ratio of 15^ to 1 could not be maintained. There was very great difference of opinion as to the proper ratio, and some powerful interests hoped to benefit by the appreciation of gold which would result from demonetizing silver.
As the proper ratio could not be determined except by open competition between the metals in the market, and with a mint open to both metals, on the basis of their relative market values, and as no plan for this had been provided, the mints were closed to silver, and general disaster has resulted.
Joint-metallism would obviate such disastrous results, and would always act as an automatic regulator and as a safety valve.
between the two metals, should have been capable of keeping the market price of silver steady at approximately that ratio.
The view that it could only affect the market price to the extent to which there was a demand for it for currency purposes in the ' Latin Union,' or to which it was actually taken to the mints of those countries, is, we think, fallacious. . . ."