07 December 2012

Cross of Gold

The election of 1896, between Williams Jennings Bryant and McKinley, was all about whether silver or gold was going to be the preferred form of Legal Tender. Bryant delivered his famous ‘Cross of Gold’ speech.

"You shall not press down upon the brow of labor a crown of thorns. You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold."

Gold won.

Goldfinger by Ian Fleming, 1959, Excerpt
‘Gold has extraordinary properties which are being put to new uses every day. It is brilliant, malleable, ductile, almost unalterable and more dense than any of the common metals except platinum. There’s no end to its uses. But it has two defects. It isn’t hard enough. It wears out quickly, leaves itself on the linings of our pockets and in the sweat of our skins. Every year, the world’s stocks is invisibly reduced by friction. The other and by far the major defect is that it is the talisman of fear. Fear, Mr. Bond, takes gold out of circulation and hoards it against the evil day. In a period of history when every tomorrow may be the evil day, it is fair enough to say that a fat proportion of the gold that is dug out of one corner of the earth is at once buried again in another corner.’

‘Mr. Bond, all my life I have been in love. I have been in love with gold. I love its color, its brilliance, its divine heaviness. I love the texture of gold, that soft sliminess that I have learnt to gauge so accurately by touch that I can estimate the fineness of a bar to within one carat. And I love the warm tang it exudes when I melt it down into a true golden syrup. But, above all, Mr. Bond, I love the power that gold alone gives to its owner – the magic of controlling energy, exacting labor, fulfilling one's every wish and whim and, when need be, purchasing bodies, minds, even souls. Yes, Mr. Bond I have worked all my life for gold and in return, gold has worked for me and for those enterprises that I have espoused. I ask you, is there any other substance on earth that so rewards its owner?'

‘But quantities of bullion or currency to that amount are to be found gathered together in only three depositories in the United States. They are the Federal Mint in Washington, the Federal Reserve Bank in New York City, and Fort Knox in Kentucky.’

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