Page:The Republican Party (1920).djvu/53

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Constructive Legislation

other lands. The American standard of wages and the American standard of living among wage-earners were placed and kept far higher than in any other country. American industrialists were protected against unfair competition of the poorly-paid labor of Europe, a fact which soon induced multitudes of European working-men to migrate to the United States in quest of better wages and better conditions of labor and of life. In this way the Republican government at once supplied the revenue needed for paying the extraordinary expenses of the war and enormously stimulated and expanded the profitable industries of the nation.

Another need was that of an improved banking and currency system. Hitherto, because of Democratic hostility to a national bank, state and local banks had flourished and had issued their notes as currency. Some of these were of course sound and trustworthy institutions. Others were of the speculative and "fly-by-night" order. If such a bank failed its notes were worthless. The result was that bank notes as currency were worth not their face value but a varying sum, determined by the standing of the bank of issue and the distance from it at which the notes were offered. Commercial journals printed daily or weekly lists of the banks and the current value of their notes. The traveler setting out with a pocketful of bills worth a hundred cents on the dollar found their negotiable value diminishing as he proceeded on his journey until perhaps in some distant state they were at a discount of twenty-five or fifty per cent or a notice of failure left him completely stranded.

The Republican party determined to reform all this, partly because the exigencies of the war required it and