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Preface to the Second Edition. xvii
more general and scientific study of it in our colleges, newspapers, and legislatures, among those who are called upon to lead public opinion. I am sure I will not disoblige these by expressing my humble judgment that the best and most important foundation for this study is Oresme's treatise on the “Origin, Nature, Law, and Mutations of Money.” Professor Roscher well says of this great work: “In order to rightly comprehend the present state of all science and from this to grasp its future, it is indispensable to know the past, so when we come to climb higher near the unseen sources of some truth, we experience a satisfaction, etc.” His expression loses something in my feeble translation. In Part III., in this edition, I give some account of Oresme and his work written about 1366, and some notice of the treatise on money written by Copernicus in 1526. The opening sentence of this latter work I beg permission to translate here : “However innumerable are the ills which lead to the fall of kingdoms, principalities, and republics, these four, in my judgment, are the most formidable : discord, mortality, sterility of land, and badness of money. For the first three, the evidence is so apparent that no one can be ignorant of it. But the fourth, concerning money, excepting some men of great ability, very few persons consider or understand it, because it is not by a single blow, but little by little, in an occult manner, that it overthrows the state.” Our country does not suffer from the first three of the above named causes. We are a united people, our death rate is comparatively low, and our land fertile, but we are in danger of bad money. Of all bad money fiat paper money is the worst. In our legislation we have forgotten the maxims of our Constitution, which made gold and silver the legal tender. We have forgotten the teachings of Oresme, Copernicus, Bacon, Locke, Newton, and a host of other philosophers, that the only honest measure of the value of money is Preface to the Second Edition. xix
the value of the bullion in the coin. We have forgotten that all experience has shown that the only way to keep our government currency always safe and good is to permit none to be issued that does not have an equal amount of coin behind it, and that this coin must be always convertible into bullion at a trifling cost. In the old times the bad money was usually money fraudulently alloyed, because that was the easiest way to take advantage of the popular ignorance of the hidden effects of the money-stamping power. But at times when the governments had large sums to receive, they would cheat by suddenly increasing the amount of silver in the coins, and insisting on being paid in the new coinage. As Macleod expresses it : “When they had debts to pay they cried the coin up. When they had debts to receive they cried the coin down.” The mint rates in France were often changed more than a dozen times in a year. In our times it has been found easier and more profitable to take advantage of this popular ignorance by reducing the
total metallic basis of the currency.
Both these schemes produce bad and dangerous money and cause great injustice and loss to the people.
Five-cent cotton, fifty-cent wheat, low and diminishing gold reserve, the issuing of Government bonds in time of peace, falling wages and decreased employment, these things are making the people think on the currency question. Now is the time for enlightened discussion to find the principles upon which monetary science is bottomed, and to establish our currency on the best and most solid, safe, honest, and permanent basis.
Believing that joint-metallism conveniently provides this basis, I ask for it the candid consideration of competent critics.
PREFACE TO FIRST EDITION,
The first of the following Letters on Joint-Metallism appeared in the New York Times February 18, 1894. It was printed also in the AVew York Tribune on the following day, and in the New York World February 24, 1894.
The second Letter on Joint-Metallism appeared in the New York Times March 26, 1894, and in the New York Tribune April 17, 1894.
Editorial articles in the AWew York Evening Post March 30th and April 5th caused the third and fourth Letters on Joint-Metallism to be addressed to that paper.
Extracts from these Letters, not always fairly representing them, have appeared in various parts of the country, where among the typographical errors may be noted the word “vetoes” being printed “votes,” “ratio” printed “ration,” “economic” printed “economical,” etc.