The New York Times/Mr. Schurz's Reckless Letter
|←Carl Schurz to Mr. Gage||Mr. Schurz's Reckless Letter||Mr. Gage Replies to Carl Schurz's Letter→|
|From The New York Times of September 5, 1900.|
MR. SCHURZ'S RECKLESS LETTER.
Mr. Shepard thought panic and great financial disasters not too high a price to pay for the defeat of McKinley and imperialism.
Mr. Schurz makes it plain that the destruction of the country's business and the ruin of its credit is the price he is willing to pay to prove that the Republican Party was guilty of hypocrisy and false pretenses when it enacted the gold standard law.
Mr. Schurz's letter to Secretary Gage will give pain to every honest reader of it who wishes to respect its author. What strange perversity is it that possesses that once clear mind? What has warped and twisted its reasoning power and confused its moral sense to the point of failure to perceive that the proved existence of intentional defects in the Republican gold standard law is not exactly a reason why we should vote for Bryan, who would at once take advantage of them.
Mr. Schurz does not deny that Bryan would take advantage of them, and if he could not deny that it had been better for his reputation had he not written the letter to Secretary Gage. The Secretary of the Treasury has declared that “there is no doubt that Mr. Bryan (if elected President) could order his Secretary of the Treasury to make payment in silver of all the public debt payable in coin, and for all current disbursements of the Government as well, which amount to $1,500,000 to $1,750,000 per day; and that he would give such an order, too, is very certain, if he is in the same mind that he was in 1896.” Of course he would give such an order. Mr. Schurz does not deny that he would give it. He denies merely that the danger depicted by Secretary Gage exists “unless the Republican Party in control of the Government in both its legislative and executive branches proves itself utterly dishonest in its professed purpose to maintain the gold standard.” And he goes on to make two perfectly impotent and futile declarations, which constitute the whole body of his contention. The first of these is that if the Executive possesses the discretion of paying the coin obligations and current expenses of the Government in silver, “it is owing to a flaw in the currency law passed at the last session of Congress — a law which, as the spokesman of the Republican Party promised, was to put the gold standard upon an impregnable basis”; and Mr. Schurz alludes to a report that this defect was intentional, the gold standard having been purposely left open to assault in order that the Republicans might be able to say that the election of a Republican President was essential to its protection. The second futile declaration is that Secretary Gage's warning is a false alarm because, whoever may be elected President, a Congress Republican in both branches will be in session from the first Monday in December until March 4, and it can stop the loopholes in the law and buttress the gold standard about with new and sure defenses so that not even Mr. Bryan could successfully assail it.
And Mr. Carl Schurz, who says that he has “taken a deep and somewhat active interest in the establishment of a sound monetary system in the United States,” would commit the ventured millions of capital and the hard-earned savings of labor to that frail security! “Go to the polls boldly and vote for Bryan,” says this perilous adviser of the American people. “He may bring upon you economic disaster and destruction of credit by paying the coin obligations and current expenses of the Government in silver. I do not say he could not, I do not say he would not. But if he does destroy your prosperity, wreck your great industries, and shatter your matchless National credit, you will have the precious consolation of knowing that the Republican Party put into his hands the weapon with which he struck you down.”
Will Mr. Schurz by that assurance persuade any doubting voter to cast his ballot for Bryan? Does fixing the blame for disaster repair the ruin it has wrought, bring back the lost millions, and heal wounded honor?
We have not a blind confidence in the Republican Party. It may have bedeviled the gold standard law, as Mr. Schurz intimates, for campaign purposes. We have known both parties to go to infamous lengths for partisan gain. It is not only possible, but almost absolutely certain, that if Bryan is elected the Republican Congress will not pass an amending bill putting it out of his power to make payments in silver except at the option of the creditor. Does Mr. Schurz suppose that such an appalling revolution as the election of Bryan can be accomplished without giving the country a dreadful lurch toward his doctrines and his principles, without powerfully fortifying the cause of free silver, insomuch that it would be impossible to pass any gold-standard bill whatever in Congress?
It was not worth while for Mr. Schurz to write a letter to Secretary Gage merely to point out that his party may have been unscrupulously partisan in the past and may be neglectful of duty in the future. Mr. Gage said that Mr. Bryan could and probably would do this Nation incalculable harm by ordering his Secretary of the Treasury to pay the coin obligations of the Government in silver. Mr. Schurz does not deny it. He dare not deny it. Yet his denial of that assertion was the only thing he could have put into his letter that would interest the public, or contribute to the justification of his own support of Bryan.
Secretary Gage may regard with entire complacency an opponent who attempts by such arguments as these to controvert his statements. But the public will see occasion for concern in the deplorable attitude taken by some of those who in the past have industriously essayed to shape its judgments and guide its action.
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