Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

dollar during the period the bond had to run. If it has the coin of the standard of 1870, and tenders it to him in payment, at the maturity of each coupon and at the maturity of each bond he gets the full measure of his rights in law, equity, and justice, and he has no right to demand or receive anything more. And the Government can give hiin no more without flagrant injustice to its tax-payers.

The Secretary of the Treasury says the Government is able to pay the bonds in gold. That is true. The people of this country are able to pay, within a reasonable time, the bonds in gold, with 50 per cent. added. They are able to make a present to each bondholder of 50 per cent. on the amount of his bond. But upon what principle of equity, justice, or common honesty can he demand it? I protest against all such gratuities to the bondholders and injustice to the people.

Having thus frankly stated my position on this question, I must be per. mitted further to express my regrets that the Secretary of the Treasury, in his annual report, and the President, in his message, bave thought proper to recommend still further restriction on the coinage of silver and the withdrawal of the silver certificates from circulation. To contract still further, or to discontinue for months or years, as the Secretary recommends, the coipage of silver, the production of our own mines, seems to me to be great injustice to one of the inportant industries of this country. But this is not the worst. It is an act of gross injustice to all the laboring masses, no matter in what branch of industry they may be engaged. It amounts to a contraction of the currency of the country, a destruction of part of the circulating medium, which must result in the depreciation of the value of the property of the people, the stagnation of business, the obstruction of enterprise, the reduction of the price of labor, and the sacrifice of the property of the debtor class to satisfy the claims of the creditor at a price far below its value when the indebtedness was created. And all for what? In plain English, that the rich may be made richer and the poor poorer.

What is the circulation it is proposed to retire? It is $66,000,000 of silver certificates. What are these certificates ? Each is in substance a certificate that there is in the Treasury of the United States the number of legal-tender silver dollars mentioned on its face, which belong to the bearer. It is no inflated paper currency. Each dollar of it is predicated upon a dollar of the legal coin of the United States, held by the Government, payable to the owner on demand.

One of the chief objections made to silver coin by it opponents was that it is bulky, heavy, and inconvenient to handle, transport, or count in making payments. So is gold coin in a less degree. But this difficulıy is met and overcome at once, in case of both metals, by the use of the silver or gold certificate. Instead of transporting the coin from place to place, to be used in settlements or other transactions, the gold and silver coiu is deposited in a vault in the Treasury, that is perfectly burglar-proof, in charge of the proper officers and under the necessary guard; and, instead of sending out ten silver dollars or ten gold dollars, the Treasurer issues a certificate which represents the ten dollars in either coin, which contains the pledge of the faith of the Government that the ten dollars in coin which the certificate represents is in the Treasury, payable to the bearer on demand. This certificate, in the shape of a Treasury note, is transported and used in payment with all the ease and facility of a bank bill. The same rule which applies in case of the ten dollars applies equally to ten millions or a billion of dollars ; the coin lies in the Treasury, and the certificates which represent it go into circulation as money in its place. Not a dollar of certificate is issued with out a dollar in specie in the Treasury which it represents.

а

a

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

а

This, in my opinion, is the soundest and most reliable currency that can be used by the Government. It is not subject to any of the objections which apply to the old hanking system, where the bank was authorized to issue three dollars in bills for each dollar in specie. The Government issues its certificates dollar for dollar with the coin in the Treasury.. What better currency could any people desire? What sounder currency did any people ever possess? It meets fully the objection made to coin on account of its being inconvenient to handle, and substitutes in the place of coin its representative in paper, which is convenient to handle. The representative is only equal in amount to the coin represented. The depreciation of the representative is inpossible, because a dollar in legal-tender coin lies in the Treasury ever ready to meet the demand of the holder.

There is a large wear, and consequent loss, in the handling of the coin, whether gold or silver, while it passes from place to place, and from band to hand in payment. But if it is laid up securely in the vault of the Treasury, and its representative in paper passes from place to place and from band to hand in its stead, there is no wear of the coin, and no loss or depreciation on that score.

It is true the silver certificate, or the gold certificate, issued may be lost upon the ocean, or burnt in a house, or otherwise destroyed, so ihat the holder loses it just as he loses a bank bill. But he takes this risk for the convenience of the circulation, just as he takes it in case of the bills of a bank. In the case of the lost certificate, the Government, representing the whole people of the United States, holds the coin represented by the lost certificate as the money of the people, when the certificate cannot be identified and established. In case of a bank bill the owner loses the amount just as he would lose it in case of the gold or silver certificate. In every view of it, therefore, the silver certificate and the gold certificate would be a better cur. rency for the people of the United States than the currency now in use in the shape of bank bills.

I refer in this connection to the bills of banks, because the President and the Secretary of the Treasury, in recommending the withdrawal of the silver certificates, propose that the banks issue their bills to take the place of the certiticates in the circulation of the country. Why should we withdraw the silver certificates to make room for bank bills ? When withdrawn. if the bankers, who are generally large capitalists, should determine that it is their interest to contract the currency, and not issue other bills in lieu of the silver certificates withdrawn from circulation, they would have the power to make a contraction of fifty millions or more in the present volume of the currency, and there is no law to control it. It is not proposed, as I understand it, to compel the banks to issue other bills to take the place of the silver certificates withdrawn, but it is proposed to leave them under our banking laws with the privilege of issuing their bills in lieu of certificates. In other words, if the policy of the President and the Secretary of the Treasury is carried out, we exchange a better currency for a worse one in this, that the silver certificate is always redeemable promptly on delivery at the Treasury, in legal-tender dollars, while the bank bill, in case of a failure of the bank, though secure, is not so promptly redeemed. True, the Government in the end provides for the redemption of national-bauk bills. But why have this cumbrous machinery? Why prefer to authorize the banks to issue bills for the payment of which they give the Government security, rather than authorize the issue by the Governinent of its certificates, which represent gold or silver lying in the vault of the Treasury ?

I say nothing in reference to our banking system. That is a question I do not purpose at present to consider. But I do say I would never cousent to the withdrawal of the silver certificates or gold certificates, of the kind above mentioned, to make room for the circulation of bank bills. I would never do the people the injustice to take from them the legitimate profits of such a circulation that I might give those profits to corporations, capitalists, or organized monopolists. And why risk the contraction of the currency by withdrawing gold and silver from circulation by their legitimate representa tives, leaving it in the hands of the bankers to expand or contract at their will or as their interest may dictate ?

Such a policy may serve the iuterest of the few who have large wealth and enable them greatly to increase their accumulations, but it can never benefit the laboring masses of our people, the hardy sons of toil, who earn their bread by the sweat of the brow; and after all, whether in the field of production, the harvest-field, or the field of battle, they are the bone and sinew and muscle and nerve of society.

The middle classes and laboring men of our country are always most prosperous when every branch of industry is flourishing. When trade is active our villages, towns, and cities are building up. When the products of our factories and mines are in active demand; when new railroads are being con. structed, new boats put upon our rivers, and new lines of steamers upon the ocean; when our machine-shops are kept busy to make and repair motive power and other means of transportation, then the engineer, the machinist, the mechanic, and the artisan find ready demand for their labor at good prices, and the farmer and planter remunerative and liberal prices for their productions. This state of things can never exist while the capitalists of the country, backed by the Government, pursue the policy of contracting the currency founded upon a specie basis, which contraction drives new enterprises from the field, destroys the demand for labor, reduces the value of property, and produces distrust, depression and bankruptcy.

SPEECH OF Hox. Joseph E. BROWN, OF GEORGIA. ON THE MORMON QUES.

tiox, DELIVERED IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES, ON THE 1011 DAY OF FEBRUARY, 1882.

On the bill (S. No. 353) to amend section 5352 of the Revised Statutes of the United

States, in reference to bigamy, and for other purposes. Mr. Brown said:

Mr. President: I am very well aware that there is great popular clamor for the passage of this bill or some very rigorous and severe bill for the suppression of Mormonism. I do not wish my position to be misunderstood in reference to that institution. I am no advocate of polygamy. I deprecate and denounce it as one of the greatest of social evils. I do not believe it should be practiced anywhere. I am ready to unite in imposing such penalties as we can constitutionally impose within the United States upon those who do practice it, because of its immorality. And yet I am obliged to admit, and we are all obliged to admit, that it is practiced, and popular sentiment sustains it among three-fourths of the whole population of the globe.

England has had this same question to deal with. When she assumed the dominion of India she found polygamy there, and it has been there from time iinmemorial. They did not do what popular sentiment seeks to compel us now to do. The English people did not attempt to crush it out by law, but the British Parliament and the British courts recognized it in India on assuming control and recognize it to-day. Indeed they dare not do otherwise. They can enforce no law in India that proposes to exterminate polygamy.

On that subject I propose to read a paragraph from Allen's India, a book which I now hold in my hand. On page 551 I find this language :

“ Polygamy is practiced in India among the Hindus, the Mohammedang, the Zoroastrians and the Jews. It is allowed and recognized by the institutes of Menu, by the Koran, by the Zendavesta, and the Jews believe by their Scriptures—the Old Testament. It is recognized by all the courts in India-native and English. The laws of the British Parliament recognize polygamy among all these classes, when the marriage convection has been formed according to the principles of their religion and to their established laws and usages:

The marriage of a Hindu or a Mohammedan with his second or his third wife is just as valid, and as legally binding on all parties, as his marriage with his first wife; just as valid as the marriage of any Christian in the Church of England.”

Mr. Edmunds. May I ask the senator if the same book contains a statement of the laws of Thibet, where one woman may lawfully marry several husbands, and all of them be bound to the marital relation ?

Mr. Brown. I am not able to answer that, for I have not read all the book. A senator handed it to me this morning, but I have not had the opportunity to peruse it except sufficiently for my purpose on the point above mentioned. I will say to the senator from Verinont, however, that the Eng. Jish Government has recognized polygamy in India by her courts and by her Parliament, and she recognizes it to-day. I say I deprecate the institution, and I am ready to do everything I can constitutionally and legally do to exterminate it where we have the power; but we cannot shut our eyes to the fact that it exists, as already stated, among the greater portion of the population of the whole globe.

Not only do the British Parliament and the British courts recognize it, but the missionaries of all Christian churches in India recognize it, and do not attempt to overthrow it where the marriage has already been solemnized. I will read from the same book, Allen's India, page 601 :

“ The Calcutta missionary conference, consisting of the missionaries of the different societies which have missionaries in that city and its vicinity, after frequent consultations and much consideration on the subject of polygamy as it exists in India, were unanimous in the following opinions:

“1. It is in accordance with the spirit of the Bible and the practice of the Protestant church to consider the state as the proper fountain of legislation in all civil questions affecting marriage and divorce.

“2. The Bible being the true standard of morals, ought to be consulted in everything which it contains on the subject of marriage and divorce, and nothing determined contrary to its general principles.

“3. Married persons, being both Christians, should not be divorced for any other cause than adultery. But if one of the parties be an unbeliever, and though not an adulterer, wilfully depart from and desert the other, a divorce may be properly sued for. They were of the opinion, however, that such liberty is allowable only in extreme cases, and where all known means of reconciliation after a trial of not less than one year have failed.

“4. Heathen and Mohammedan marriages and divorces, recognized by the laws of the country, are to be held valid. But it is strongly recommended that if either party before conversion have put away the other on slight ground, the divorced party should in all practicable and desirable cases be taken back again.

“5. If a convert before becoming a Christian has married more wives than one, in accordance with the practice of the Jewish and primitive Christian churches, he shall be permitted to keep them all; but such a person is not eligible to any office in the chi rch. no other case is polygamy to be tolerated among Christians.”

Thus it appears that the conference of the missionaries of the Christian churches in Calcutta recognizes this institution. They do not permit their members in the future, or after their conversion and their connection with the church, to marry more than one wife; but they do not attemịt to dissolve marriages in existence at the time of the conversion, but they hold that a man who becomes a Christian, who has more than one wife at ihe time, is to continue to cohabit with his wives. I presume this arises ont of the very necessity of the case, as polygamy is so firmly established in those countries that it would be impossible to plant Christianity there without recognizing the existing institutions of the country, at least so far as the family relations of the convert are concerned at the time of his union with the church.

Again, it cannot be denied that polygamy was tolerated by the Old Testament, and many persons believe it is not prohibited by the New, except in case of a bishop, or a deacon, who it is said shall be the husband of one wife. Some reason subtly on that by saying that we should apply to it the Latin inaxim, expressio unius est exclusio ulterius, and they say the fact that the expression that the deacon or the bishop shall be the husband of one wise only. carries with it the implication that others may have more than one. I think this is a very far-fetched and strained construction; I do not agree with it. for the whole teachings of the New Testament, it seems to me, are very clear and positive that the husband shall have but one wise. I remember no justance where husband and wife are mentioned in the New Testament where any. thing is said about more than one wise, and while there is no positive inhi. bition, except in the instance mentioned of officers of the churches, it is very clearly to be inferred that polygamy was not intended from the fact that there is no instance of more than one wife mentioned as connected with any one man, or that any man is justified in having more than one. But there are those, I say, who entertain a different opinion on this subject, and they must have their opivion. I have no right to fly in their teeth about it.

But, Mr. President, there are those in the Mormon territory who believe that there is a divine revelation later than the New Testament which author. izes a member or the Mormon Church to have more wives than one. They believe in the revelation, as they term it, made by God himself to their prophet, Joseph Smith. I do not believe in it, but they religiously helieve it. Many of them are as earnest and honest in their faith as I am in the Baptist faith, or as other senators are in the Methodist or Preshyterian faiih. I think they are greatly in error; but I have no more right, if they do not practice it, to disfranchise them on account of that belief than I have to disfranchise any senator in this chamber or any man out of it who believes that the New Testament does not forbid polygamy.

Mr. Edmunds. May I suggest to the senator that there is nothing what. ever in this bill that disfranchises any man or woman on account of any opinion or belief he or she may have?

Mr. Brown. Mr. President, I assert that there is. I take issue squarely with the senator from Vermont.

Mr. Edmunds. Will the senator kindly point it out?.
Mr. Brown. I will. I find in section seven of this bill this language:

“That no polygamist, bigamist, or any person cohabiting with more than one woman, and no woman cohabiting with any of the persons described as aforesaid in this section, in any Territory or other place over which the United States have exclusive jurisdiction, shall be entitled to vote at any election held in any such Territory or other place, or be eligible for election or appoint

« ÎnapoiContinuă »