Congressional Globe

Author: Members of the U.S. House of Representatives  | Date: April 9 and May 27, 1872

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Demonetization of Silver (1872)


[April 9. Mr. HOOPER.] SECTION fourteen declares what the gold coins shall be, and their respective weights, and makes them a legal tender in all payments at their nominal value, when not below the standard weight and limit of tolerance prescribed, and at a valuation proportioned to their actual weight when below the standard weight and tolerance. Thus far the section is a reenactment of existing laws. In addition, it declares the gold dollar of twenty-five and eight tenths grains of standard gold to be the unit of value, gold practically having been in this country for many years the standard or measure of value, as it is legally in Great Britain and most of the European countries. The silver dollar, which by law is now the legally declared unit of value, does not bear a correct relative proportion to the gold dollar. . . .

. . . The committee, after careful consideration, concluded that twenty-five and eight tenths grains of standard gold constituting the gold dollar should be declared the money unit or metallic representative of the dollar of account. . . .

Section sixteen reënacts the provisions of existing laws defining the silver coins and their weights respectively, except in relation to the silver dollar, which is reduced in weight from four hundred and twelve and a half to three hundred and eighty-four grains; thus making it a subsidiary coin in harmony with the silver coins of less denomination, to secure its concurrent circulation with them. The silver dollar of four hundred and twelve and a half grains, by reason of its bullion or intrinsic value being greater than its nominal value, long since ceased to be a coin of circulation, and is melted by manufacturers of silverware. . . .

Section eighteen provides that no coins other than those prescribed in this act shall hereafter be issued. The effect of it is to discontinue the coinage of the one and two cent bronze coins. . . .

[Mr. STOUGHTON.] The gold coins provided for . . . are declared to be a legal tender for all sums at their denominational value. Aside from the three-dollar gold piece, which is a deviation from our metrical ratio, and therefore objectionable, the only change in the present law is in more clearly specifying the gold dollar as the unit of value. This was probably the intention, and perhaps the effect of the act of March 3, 1849, but it ought not to be left to inference or implication. The value of silver depends, in a great measure, upon the fluctuations of the market, and the supply and demand. Gold is practically the standard of value among all civilized nations, and the time has come in this country when the gold dollar should be distinctly declared to be the coin representative of the money unit. . . .

The silver coins provided for are the dollar, 384 grains troy, the half dollar, quarter dollar, and dime of the value and weight of one half, one quarter, and one tenth of the dollar respectively; and they are made a legal tender for all sums not exceeding five dollars at any one payment. . . .

[Mr. POTTER.] . . . this bill provides for the making of changes in the legal-tender coin of the country, and for substituting as legal-tender coin of only one metal instead as heretofore of two. I think myself this would be a wise provision, and that legal-tender coins, except subsidiary coin, should be of gold alone; but why should we legislate on this now when we are not using either of those metals as a circulating medium? . . .

[May 27.] Mr. HOOPER. . . . I desire to call up the bill (H. R. No. 1427) revising and amending the laws relative to mints, assay offices, and coinage of the United States. I do so for the purpose of offering an amendment to the bill in the nature of a substitute, one which has been very carefully prepared and which I have submitted to the different gentlemen in this House who have taken a special interest in the bill. . . .

The SPEAKER. Does the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. HOOPER) move that the reading of the bill be dispensed with?

Mr. HOOPER. . . . I will so frame my motion to suspend the rules that it will dispense with the reading of the bill. . . .

The question was put on suspending the rules and passing the bill without reading; and (two thirds not voting in favor thereof) the rules were not suspended. . . .

Mr. HOOPER. . . . I now move that the rules be suspended, and the substitute for the bill in relation to mints and coinage passed; and I ask that the substitute be read.

The Clerk began to read the substitute. . . .

The question being taken on the motion of Mr. HOOPER, of Massachusetts, to suspend the rules and pass the bill, it was agreed to; there being—ayes 110, noes 13.

, 42 Cong., 2 sess. (Rives and Bailey, Washington, 1872), 2305–3883 passim, April 9 and May 27, 1872.

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Chicago: Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressional Globe, ed. Rives and Bailey in American History Told by Contemporaries, ed. Albert Bushnell Hart (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1903), Original Sources, accessed July 24, 2024,

MLA: Members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Congressional Globe, edited by Rives and Bailey, in American History Told by Contemporaries, edited by Albert Bushnell Hart, Vol. 4, New York, The Macmillan Company, 1903, Original Sources. 24 Jul. 2024.

Harvard: Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressional Globe, ed. . cited in 1903, American History Told by Contemporaries, ed. , The Macmillan Company, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 24 July 2024, from