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Among the more important questions now agitating the public mind, and receiving the consideration of Congress, are those relating to the Postal Telegraph and the Silver Coinage. During the service in the Senate of the Hon. N. P. HILL, he was regarded as an authority on both of these subjects.
His speech on the Postal Telegraph was the first comprehensive presentation of this subject in the Senate, and since then it has been a national question. As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Post Offices and Post Roads, he carefully investigated the facts relating to the Postal Telegraph, and made a report containing the most valuable data on this subject now available.
But his advocacy of the silver question has generally been considered his most important work in the Senate. While his first speech was delivered a little more than four years after the passage of the act of 1878 remonetizing silver and when barely one hundred millions of dollars had been coined, yet his arguments are as pertinent and strong to-day, when our coinage is approaching four hundred millions, as they were then. His speeches were marked by originality of thought, great freshness in the selection and use of statistics, and a breadth and fairness of argument which were refreshing at the time. Of course the statistics have not been brought down to the present time, but express the condition of affairs at the time the speeches were delivered. But it is a significant fact that the inferences drawn at the time these speeches were delivered are abundantly vindicated to-day, with the larger range of facts and experience at our command.
The discussion of these subjects during the last few months has caused great inquiry for these speeches among those who wish to study these subjects more carefully. To meet this demand we have published this volume, which includes all of his speeches delivered in the Senate, together with some contributions to Reviews, and also his addresses delivered since he left the Senate which bear on similar questions.
before the Y.M.C. A., on Thursday evening, April 12, 1888, 265
Speech delivered in the Senate of the United States, June 20, 1882, the Senate having under consideration the bill to enable national banking associations to extend their corporate existence.
MR. PRESIDENT: I desire to submit some remarks on the general subject of the coinage of silver, in answer to what was said yesterday by the Senator from Ohio, [MR. SHERMAN.] In doing so it will be necessary to briefly review the monetary position of silver for the past few years.
There can be no doubt that the great majority of the supporters of silver remonetization in the United States, in 1876– '77-'78, were in favor of its unlimited coinage on the same footing as gold. This is shown by the facts that the House of Representatives passed bills by overwhelming majorities in 1876 and 1877, providing for the unlimited coinage, and agreed with great reluctance, in 1878, to the limitation upon that coinage which is embodied in the act of February 28 of that year. In 1880 the same body passed a bill removing that limitation, by a majority which was not large, but which included nearly if not quite all the members who did not favor a single gold standard. The limitation, which originated in this Chamber, was opposed by a large portion of the supporters of silver money, and it is doubtful if it would have been agreed to except under the coercion of a supposed necessity of obtaining a two-thirds vote to carry the measure over the veto of the President.
At the same time it is well known that independently of the importance of so framing the silver bill as to procure its passage over a veto, which had been preannounced and was inevitable, there were many persons in this Chamber and elsewhere who, while they desired to take a step in the direction of the double standard, and were profoundly impressed with the mischiefs and hazards of attempting to base the