21 June 2016

Crime of 1873

In the late 1800s, an ongoing battle between silver and gold for Legal Tender supremacy was being played out to conclusion. Silver was widely traded for routine transactions, gold for large transactions. In the bimetallic economy, the value ratio between silver and gold [historically 10:1 to 15:1 for millenniums] was a moving target determined by the Market. Law continuously tried to legislate and fix the value ratio to accommodate debt contracts. Since both gold and silver were Legal Tender, arbitragers could, and did, make plays on slight differences between the Market ratio and the Legal ratio that allowed debtors to pay off debts at the expense of the lender. Both forms of money could not coexist as Legal Tender if debt contracts were to function, one had to go.

The Crime of 1873 is best explained by Alexander del Mar [1836-1926] - a political economist, historian and author. He was born in New York City, 1836, and was educated as a Civil and Mining Engineer at Polytechnic. He became the Director of the Bureau of Statistics of the United States and Mining Commissioner to the United States Monetary Commission of 1876 and nominated for Secretary of Treasury.

In his book, History of Monetary Systems 1895, Alexander del Mar lists the Laws that were concurrently passed in the United States, Europe, Russia, Japan, India, and South America to undermine the Legal Tender status of silver. This is the Crime of 1873. Gold and Law combined to undermine Silver on an international scale, and gold became the singular form of Legal Tender throughout the world. Debt and taxes still had to be paid with Legal Tender, now gold only, no more arbitrage games. Silver took on a commodity status and was greatly devalued, no longer accepted as Legal Tender for debt and taxes. This was a truly spectacular collaborative conspiring effort. But alas, eventually, even gold had to drop out the Legal Tender race, not able to keep up with the exponential growth demands of Legal Tender.

Coinage Act of 1873 - Wikipedia – questionably slanted.

History of Monetary Systems by Alexander Del Mar, 1895, Excerpts

Crime of 1873 – The New Mint Code

There is no mistaking the identity of that golden thread which runs through the Latin Union Codes of 1867, the British Mint Code of 1870, the German Mint Code of 1871, the New Mint Code of the United States of 1873, and the Codes of numerous other countries. It is of precisely the same issue in all of them.

France and the Latin Union - A conference between the four states whose monetary system rests on a numeration by francs - France, Belgium, Switzerland and Italy - resulted in the Latin Monetary union of December 23rd, 1865. When the international delegates met again [June 17th, 1867], it discussed the entire monetary question, and carried a resolution in favor of what is called gold monometallism in the shape of a New Mint Code. In 1873, France and the Latin Union limited the coinage of silver.

Great Britain - By the Act of 1816, the mints were closed to the private coinage of silver, and all silver coins, whether light of heavy, were limited in tender. In 1870, a New Mint Code was enacted.

Germany - On December 4th, 1871, an Act stopped the further Private Coinage of full legal-tender silver and ordered a new coinage of gold pieces of full legal-tender. The German Act of 1873 suspended the Private Coinage of silver. All new silver coins were limited in tender.

Portugal and Brazil - Portugal in 1854 copied the British System of 1816, suspended the Private Coinage of silver, limited the legal-tender of silver.

Scandinavia - On September 20th, 1872, a monetary union was adopted by Sweden, Norway and Denmark, which was followed by a New Mint Code. Under this code the private coinage of silver was suspended, and the legal-tender of silver coins limited.

Japan - In 1872 this state adopted a New Mint Code, forbade the Private Coinage of silver, limited the legal-tender of silver and adopted what is known as "the gold standard." In 1878 after "the gold standard" had duly departed from the country, the full legal-tender of silver coins was restored and Private Coinage again permitted. In 1894 the Private Coinage of silver was again suspended.

Holland - The laws of May 21st, 1873, limited the legal-tender of silver coins.

Italy - Under a renewal of the Latin Monetary Union dated January 31st, 1874, and the law of July 17th, 1875, the Crown limited the legal-tender of silver coins.

Spain - The law of August 20th, 1876, suspended the Private Coinage of silver, except as to metal produced by the mines of Spain.

Russia - The law of November 13-15, 1876, adopted gold coins as sole full legal-tenders, and reduced the legal-tender of silver coins.

Austro-Hungary - The decree of March, 1879, suspended the Private Coinage of silver, but did not limit the legal-tender of silver coins.

Turkey - In 1882 full legal-tender was limited to gold coins.

British India - An order Council, dated 23rd June, 1893, suspended the Private Coinage of silver.

Argentine Republic - The law of September 29th, 1875, authorized the Private Coinage of gold, admitted certain foreign gold coins to full legal-tendership, limited the legal-tender of silver coins and forbade the Private Coinage of silver.

Chili - Law of November 26th, 1892, stopped the Private Coinage of silver, limited the legal-tender of silver.

United States of America - The New Mint Code of February 12th, 1873, destroyed the Private Coinage of silver by indirection, in omitting the word "dollar" from the empowering clause relating to silver coins. December 1st, 1873, the Code Commissioners made an unauthorized and unwarranted alteration of the law by limiting the legal-tender of "all" silver coins, including the outstanding silver dollars, which had been full legal-tenders since the foundation of the Republic. Both these Acts (of 1873) were passed during a suspension of coin payments, and without eliciting public attention. This surreptitious legislation was not discovered, nor did it attract public attention until 1875-6.

Mr. Carlisle, since Secretary of the Treasury, said in the House of Representatives, February 21st, 1878, "The conspiracy which seems to have been formed here and in Europe to destroy by legislation and otherwise from three-sevenths to one-half of the metallic money of the world, is the most gigantic crime of this or any other age. The consummation of such a scheme would ultimately entail more misery upon the human race than all the wars, pestilences and famines that ever occurred in the history of the world." Mr. John Jay Knox, one of the officials who in 1869-70 lent his assistance to the preparation of the American Mint Code, when the matter was brought home to him acknowledged his part in it, and boasted that he was "proud of his work."

From the foregoing recital it will be observed that the practical political outcome of the Gold Movement of 1865-73 has been to concentrate the gold coins in the world banks of four or five principal States.

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 the election, silver’s last hurrah. Eventually the growth of debt outstripped the growth capacity of gold, and Legal Tender had to disconnect itself from gold, no longer a commodity based money, to become Fiat Legal Tender: the perfect form of money for a debt based monetary system.  A severely flawed form of money.

20 June 2016

Constitution Series

This series draws primarily from two primary sources: An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States by Charles Beard, 1913, and The Anti-Federalists by Jackson Main, 1961.

Charles Austin Beard [1874-1948] is widely regarded as one of the most influential American historians of the early 20th century. He is most widely known for his radical re-evaluation of the Founding Fathers of the United States, whom he believed were more motivated by economics than by philosophical principles.

It is difficult to conceive of the Constitution as an economic document. It places no property qualifications on voters or offices; it gives no outward recognition of any economic groups in society; it mentions no special privileges to be conferred upon any class. The concept of the Constitution as a piece of abstract legislation reflecting no group interests and recognizing no economic antagonisms is entirely false. It was an economic document drawn with superb skill by men whose property interests were immediately at stake.

Jackson Main [1917-2003, Academic and Historian]:
I had chosen to tackle Beard’s Economic Interpretation with the notion that Beard erred, but discovered that the secondary literature supported him, at least in general if not in detail.

The Power of the Purse by E. James Ferguson, 1961, Excerpt
Beard’s major thesis that the Constitution was the handiwork of the classes of American society possessing status and property cannot be ascribed to him alone. What shocked Beard’s contemporaries and still provokes the most criticism was his purported demonstration that many of the founding fathers held securities and stood to profit from their work. Although his declared object was merely to identify the founders as members of an economic class, the implication was that they had a profit motive.

Howard Zinn:
When economic interest is seen behind the political clauses of the Constitution, then the document becomes not simply the work of wise men trying to establish a decent and orderly society, but the work of certain groups trying to maintain their privileges, while giving just enough rights and liberties to enough of the people to ensure popular support. The American system is the most ingenious system of control in world history.

Cornell Chronicle: Scholars explore Constitution's history in May 26 panel
21 Jun 2016
Klarman, Professor at Harvard Law School, in his forthcoming book, “The Framers’ Coup: The Making of the United States Constitution,” explains how and why the constitution that was ratified differs from what was expected. It gave the federal government almost unlimited taxing power and military power, along with the power to regulate commerce. The goal of the framers was to ensure that the federal government never fell under the sway of populist demands for debt relief laws.


1776: Declaration of Independence
1777: Continental Congress drafts Articles of Confederation
1781: Americans defeat British at Battle of Yorktown
1783: Treaty of Paris signed
1786 to 1787: Shays' Rebellion
1787 May: First meeting of Philadelphia Convention
1787 Sep: Proposed Constitution signed, ratification called.
1787 Oct: First Federalist Paper appears:
1789 Mar: First United States Congress is seated.
1789 Apr: George Washington is inaugurated as the first President of the United States.
1791 to 1794: The Whiskey Rebellion