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To the Public:
Referring to my previous letters on Joint-Metallism and to the newspaper criticisms thereon and the suggestions that such discussion of the silver question is injurious at this time, I desire to say, that the danger of the situation does not come from discussion but from the facts and from the want of more thorough, impartial and general discussion.
A Scotch Highland minister, preaching from the text " Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or a leopard his spots?" explained that an Ethiopian was a black man and that a leopard was a spotted man suffering from leprosy.
After the service an English clergyman tried to kindly explain to the Highlander that he had confused the words leopard and leper.
The reply was: "Avoid criticism. It will lead you into all kinds of infidelity."
Some dangers of tlie present situation}
The national debts of the world are now so enormous and increasing so rapidly that if they continue to be extended payable in gold alone, the base will be found insufficient to support the superstructure.
Another danger is the enormous amount of railway bonds2 coming due about the beginning of the next century, while one fifth of the total mileage of railways in this country is already being run by receivers under directions of courts which are looking to the interests of the communities and the laborers and refuse to allow wages and some other expenses to be reduced on bankrupt roads.
Another danger, and one that shows the need of promptly settling the currency
1 See ]>age 141. s And other bonds.
Dangers of Present Situation. 67
on a just and permanent basis, is found in the last legal-tender opinion of the United States Supreme Court, 1884.
"Under the power to coin money and regulate its value, Congress may issue coins of the same denomination as those already current by law, but of less intrinsic value than those (as in 1834) by reason of containing a less weight of the precious metals, and thus enable debtors to discharge their debts by the payment of coins of the less real value."
It is admitted by monometallists that if the Secretary of the Treasury had made a different use of his discretion as to paying out gold and silver, or if the President had made a different use of his veto power, we would now be on a silver basis or rapidly approaching it; and the newspapers daily refer to the great difficulty which the Secretary of the Treasury now experiences in his efforts to maintain even the very small gold reserve of $100,000,000.
Single capitalists or either one of the largest insurance companies in the city of New York have more assets than all the gold in the United States Treasury.
It would be easy for speculators to draw all the gold out of the Treasury. A combination to lock up gold might cause serious trouble.
As to the claim of monometallists in every country that gold can always be got from abroad, the statistics show that there is not nearly enough gold on any sound banking basis for any time of general liquidation in several great countries at once.
In some parts of Ireland a small piece of pork used to be suspended by a string from the roof of the hut and the poor peasants sitting around in a circle on the earth floor would eat their potatoes and point at the pork, so that a whole family were supposed to derive satisfaction from a piece of pork sufficient for one individual.
The fact that the business of the world is done now so largely by checks and credits is an element of danger making it more necessary that there should be no