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About The independent. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1902-1907 | View Entire Issue (June 25, 1903)
JUNE 25, 19 03.
THE NEBRASKA INDEPENDENT
WHAT IS POPULISM
(Written for The Independent)
With all the usefulness of the Ne
braska Independent, I think it has
been doing great harm in some re
spects, though unintentionally I pre
sume, and I respectfully ask for a
fair hearing in the paper to explain
I insist that the Omaha platform of
July 4, 1892, must be the populis t
kuide. That platform declares - that
"we demand that the circulating me
dium be speedily increased to not
less, than $50 per capita."
Although that platform was for
mally reaffirmed by our state conven
tion last year, yet the Nebraska Inde
pendent of July 3, 1902, assumed to
speak for itself and all the other pop
ulist papers of the state, and said:
"If there had been a newspaper
man on the platform committee, he
would have been a little more care
ful with his language and have
written: We reaffirm the 'prin
ciples' of the Omaha platform, as
was done the last time. -However,
many of the conditions then exist
ing still exist. The demoralization
"of the people now is even greater
than then, the press is still subsi
dized, public opinion silenced. -1
bribery and corruption have grown
with the years. The increase in
the volume of money then demand
ed by the populists has been accom
plished by the coinage of silver in
larger amounts than ever before
known and the increase in the out
put of gold which made the change
in the situation that all acknowl
edge." When I -read that editorial, I was
filled with amazement, horror and
indignation that populism should be
thus thrown away in the-house of its
professed friends. But I voted the
ticket all the same. That is a fine
spun distinction between a platform
and its principles. The principles of
a platform are fixed by the platform
itself and when the ' platform is
thrown away its principles are gone.
"The increase in the volume of
money then demanded by the popul
ists has been accomplished," says ths
editorial. If that be so, the. republi
can party must have the credit for It,
for that party has had the power and
has done whatever it .pleased " And
the credit thus due the republican par
ty is very great, for that increase to
$50 per capita is a great leading pop
ulist measure, and if the republican
party has. done it that goes a Ion 5
way to diminish the necessity for a
populist party at all.
And again, according to the state
ment of the editorial, notwithstanding
the increase of circulation demanded
by the populists has been accom
plished, yet the evils before existing
have grown worse. See how they ara
set out in the editorial. And there
are others not mentioned in the edi
torial. The monopolies, 'trusts and
labor oppressions, labor strikes and
foreign ownership in our ra'lroads
and other property, never before pre
sented such hideous proportions as
now. When, in fact, the increase In
the volume of money demanded by
the Omaha platform is accomplished,
as the editorial says it is, if these
great evils do not disappear, I shall
say populism is a great failure. And
this is the common sense .view, nat
ural to be taken by everybody. So,
that the position taken by the editor
ial i3 most damaging in its effect to
the cause of populism.
But let us see if it be true as stated
bj the editorial, that the increase in
the volume of money demanded by
the Omaha platform has been accom
plished. Circular No. 143, issued by
the United States treasury depart'
ment, in the year 1897, is a pamphlet
of 71 pages. On the 5Cth page of this
pamphle i3 a table purporting to
show, among other things, the
tsmount of money circulation per
capita in the United States on ths
last day of June of. each year from
1860 lo 1897. According to this, ta
ble, on the last day of June, 1902, Just
five days before the Omaha platform
was adopted, , the per capita monej;
circulation of the United States was
$24.44. And according to the regular
monthly, report of the treasury depart
ment on the first day of July, 1902,
just three days before the date of
The Independent containing that edi
torial, , the per ca;ita money circula
tion was $28.40, showing a per capi
ta increase of only $3.96 in the ten
years since the Opiaha- platform was
adopted. This, does not look like a
speedy increase to $50 per capita.
And . this small increase of $3.96 k'
ten years has been several times off
set and overcome by the increasing
necessity for more money on account
of the increase of labor saving ma
chinery and the more rapid increase
of property thereby. Money Is a me
dium of -exchange of property. And
the more property there is the more
money is required for its exchange.
So that it is the scarcity of money
that has been on the increase since
the Omaha platform was adopted and
rot the money Itself.
But the editorial claims to tell us
how the great increase of money was
accomplished. It says it was by th?
coinage of silver in larger amounts
'than ever before was known and the
increase in the output of gold. Let us
see how this is about the coinage of
silver in amounts never before known.
According to the records of the
mint there was coined under the Bland
law from the time of its passage.
February 28, 1878, to the time of its
repeal, July 14, 1890, twelve years
and four and one-half months, silver
dollars to the amount of $378,166,793,
being an average annual coinage of
$30,66,200. Since then in the nearly
twelve years down to July 1. 1902.
only two days before the date of that
editorial, including the ten years
since the Omaha platform was adopt
ed, according to the mint record, as
per letter that I have from the di
rector, silver dollars have been coined
in the United States to amount of
only $158,952,000, being an average
annual increase of only $13,246,050
From all of which it is plain that be
fore the adoption of the Omaha plat
form, both the total amount and the
average annual amount of silver dol
lar coinage was much more than twice
as great as it has been since the adop
tion of that platform."
That clause in the. Omaha platform
demanding a speedy increase of the
roney circulation to at least $50 per
capita, is the one great central power
of. populism, for upon it mainly de
perda the possibility of making the
ether reforms sought to be made by
populism, including the destruction of
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pressions, the bringing about ot gov
ernment ownership of the railroads,
and universal prosperity of all th"
-rppople. There is no way to do these
things but by increasing the money
circulation to at least $50 per capita
and then as much more as we find
necessary. I have a multitude of his
toric facts covering the past for hun
dreds of years to prove this. I accept
no man's mere theories, not my own
even. Here I wilt cite a few perti
nent facts. Sir Archibald Allison's
History of Modern Europe says:
"The suspension of specie payments
by the Bank of England in 1797 led
to the issue of an enormous amount of
irredeemable paper money. The next
eighteen years of the war, from 1797
to 1815, were, as all th world know?,
the most gloricus and ta! en as a
whole the most prosperous which
Great Britain had ever known. Ush
ered in by , a combination of circum
stances the most calamitous, , both
with reference to external security
and Internal industry, it terminated
in a blaze of glory and flood of pros
perity which never-since the begin
ning of the world descended upon any
nation. Prosperity universal and un
heard of pervaded every part of the
empire. - '
"But the act of redemption of specie
payments of 1819 the change of the
financial system from legal tender pa
per money to metal money, was ruin
ous to all the industries of England
The distress becam3 insufferable and
in Manchester 60.000 men. women
and children assembled demanding
blood or bread, and many of the peo
ple were killed and many wounded
by the British troops."
Anu here below are some thing
said about this English' prosperity
and adversity, and about our own
arising much later from a simila.
cause, by Wendell Phillips in his let
ter to the New York-l egal Tender
club, dated August 23. 1875. He said:
"History' is repeating, itself. Eng
land never knew. . more prosperous
years than from 1800 to 1820. All
that time she extended and contracted
her, currency without any, regard
whatever to. gold. Her enormous trade
andexpenditures were all paper. We
had similar prosperity during the war
and after on the same terms. In ..18W
England, listening to theorists... trfd
to put this new wine into old bottles
and bankruptcy, the very history of
which makes the blood cold today,
blighted the empire. .
"We entered the same .vallev of the
shadow of death when in 1805 Mc
Cullough began contraction. Woe to
the political party which the nation
shall finally , pronounce, resnoisihle
for this fatal mistake. Jts leaders will
he buried in curses as i men whom
neither history, nor thHr own ; ex
perience could make wise."
f Jhe. foregoing are great, undisputed
English and American historic facts,
ir the Heht .of .which the Omaha plat
form, of July 4, 1892, was framed and
adopted, declaring among other things
for the speedy increase of the cir
culating medium. to nqt less thn
per capita,. In 18G5 when, .as Wendell
Phillips said. we . had great pro.peritv
before McCullough began . contraption,
our money circulation, was $57.65 per
capita, all irredeemable paper money,
as I can easily prove., although great
nalni has been taken by high govern
mental authorities to conceal from
the people a knowledge of the amount
of our money circulation af that time.
If there is anything at all to be
learned by the uniform experience of
the past, it is, that if we pre to hav
a government here that shall be of
the people, by the people and for the
people, Instead of a government of
the few, by the few and for the few,
we must have constantly in circula
tiou two or three times per capita
more money than has usually been al
lowed us by the ruling plutocracy.
A competition that ii caused by a
scrimpy money circulation is a com
petition among wage-earners and pro
ductive laborers generally that works
their destitution and misery. A pow
erful competition that is caused by
an abundant money circulation is a
competition among capitalists that is
the one natural destroyer of monop-.
oly, by which prosperity and happi
ness is imparted to all productive la
borers. " The increasing demoralization and
corruption' that The Independent edi
torial speaks of, as also the ruling
monopolies and trusts the labor op
pression, the labor strikes, the total
loss of our merchant marine, the
large ownerships of foreigners in our
railroads and other property, the im
mense, indebtedness of our people to
foreigners and the yearly tribute paid
by our people to foreigners, all of .
which I can prove, are' but a contin
uation and enlargement of that val
ley of the shadow of death into which
Wendell Phillips said we entered in
18G5 . when McCullough began con
traction. And Uiis valley" of the sha
dow of death is still growing, and wiil
continue to grow unless done away
by a money circulation such as re
quired by the Omaha platform. This
is the effectual remedy, and the only
remedy there is for it.
What has been heretofore, can bo
again and all the time, -by the same
means. If populists will only be un
ited upon the essential parts of their
own Omaha platform, they can safely
proHrise the people that if elected to
full power in the national government
they will give the cc atry the sam
universal, prosperity that the English
people had as stated In the foregoing
quotation and as we had on the same :
terms before McCullough began con
traction in 1865 as stated by Wendell
Phillips, and as I recollect the fact
was. .-' " "" " ,
Being thus united and established
immovable upon the letter and spirit
cf the Omaha , platform the partv
cannot only promise these grand re
sults; if advanced to the government,
but we can prove by an immense
amount of " historic facts other than
those herein presented, that our faith,
truthfulness and integrity "are well
founded, and by that means the par
ty will be promoted to the governing
Populists will think we cannot do
this. We are weak as a party, they
eay, and have been, growing , weaker
for years. But we can do it sure. We
have truth, justice and grandeur of
purpose on our side as no other party
has 'or will have. : Let every populist
editor and voter henceforth quit tak
ing side with any other party or fac
tion in its contention' with another
end use all his talent and powers in
putting forth in the utmost possible
prominence our own superior doc
trines. Then the party will make
healthy growth with a rapidity that
will astonish our ' adversaries and
charm ourselves. ;
But beware. Take notice, irre
deemability of the paper money was
a necessary qualification of it in the
two English and American examples
of great prosperity aforesaid. But for
this non-redeemability of , the paper
money inrcoin,-net; half enough of it
could ever be floated jn circulation to
accomplish any, great beneficial pur
pose. But "with the two qualifications
of non-redeemability . and. sufficient
quantity, "paper ,money . la the .most
powerful "human ; Instrumentality
flmoag;;tnen.!; .Goldand. silver are" lav
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