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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/186

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174
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

product—measured in dollars of 4121/2 grains each—has been in excess of $1,250,000,000, and most of it has passed into circulation as coin, or lies piled up in national depositories awaiting any popular demand for its employment;[1] and the greater number of the daily transactions of trade continue to be settled by the use of silver, just as formerly. "If you take," says Mr. Robert Giffen, in his testimony before the British Gold and Silver Commission, 1886, "the fifteen years from 1870, and compare them with the fifteen years before, you will find that the practical diminution for the demand for silver in France, and I suppose it has been the same in other Latin countries, has not been sensible at all." The continually increasing importation of silver into India, China, Burmah, and Japan is conclusive also as to the absence of any restrictions on the use of this metal for coinage purposes in these countries.[2] In short, all that is now claimed by one of the most distinguished economists who inclines. to the view that the monetary use of silver has been artificially restricted, is that its employment for coinage might possibly have been greater if it had not been for the action of the Latin Convention countries.[3] But it is obvious that this opinion must be necessarily a matter of conjecture.

Again, the world has never made so great a progress in respect to all things material in any equal number of years as it has during those which have elapsed since silver began to decline in price in 1873. Never before in any corresponding period of time has labor been so productive; never has the volume of trade and commerce been greater; never has wealth more rapidly accumulated; never has there been so much abundance for distribution on so favorable terms to the masses; never, finally, would an ounce of silver exchange for so much of sugar, wheat, wool, iron, copper, coal, or of most other commodities, as at present. If the fall in the price of all desirable commodities has been an evil, as not a few seem to believe, it can not be conclusively proved, in respect to even one article, that any such

  1. The number of standard silver dollars in the United States in 1879, the year of the redemption of specie payments by the Federal Government, was reported at 85,801,000. The number coined between March, 1878, and August 31, 1887, was 270,200,117, of which 65,336,063 remained at the latter date in the Federal Treasury, after deducting the silver held for the redemption of silver certificates in circulation. The Mint estimate of the silver coin in circulation in the United States in 1886 (dollars and subsidiary) was $308,784,223.
  2. During the fifteen years from 1855 to 1870 the annual demand of India for silver was very nearly £10,000,000. This period embraced the cotton-famine. From 1872 to 1873, just before the drop in silver, the amount that India annually received was £3,000,000. From 1875 to 1880 it was £7,000,000; from 1880-'83, £6,000,000; and for 1885-'86, nearly £12,000,000.
  3. "The suspension of the free coinage of silver by the Latin Union operated not to diminish the actual employment for silver as compared with what had been in existence before 1872, but a possible employment which might have come into existence if the law had not changed."—(See testimony of Mr. Robert Giffen, British Gold and Silver Commission, First Report, p. 28)