Select Statutes and Other Documents: Illustrative of the History of the United States, 1861-1898

By William MacDonald | Go to book overview

No. 96. Coinage Act
February 12, 1873

THE need of a revision of the laws relating to the mints, assay offices, and coinage was suggested as early as 1866, and April 25, 1870, a report on the subject, prepared by John Jay Knox, comptroller of the currency, was submitted to Congress, together with the draft of a bill. A bill in accordance with this report was reported in the Senate, December 19, 1870, by Sherman, and passed that body January 10, 1871. A substitute reported in the House February 25 was recommitted. A second bill to the same effect was introduced in the House, March 3, by William D. Kelley of Pennsylvania, and referred to the Committee on Coinage, Weights, and Measures. The bill was not reported until January 9, 1872, and the next day was recommitted. A bill with similar title was reported, February 9, by Hooper of Massachusetts, and also recommitted. The latter bill was taken up April 9, and May 27 a substitute offered by Hooper was passed under suspension of the rules. The Senate referred the bill to the Committee on Finance, and the session closed without further action. December 16 the bill was reported in the Senate, further amendments being reported January 7, 1873. The bill was taken up on the 17th, and passed with amendments the same day. The final form of the bill was the work of a conference committee. The omission of the standard silver dollar of 412 1/2 grains from the list of coins led later to the charge that the act aimed to demonetize silver, and caused the advocates of silver to refer to the act as the "crime of 1873." Only those sections of the act giving the list of coins are inserted here.

REFERENCES . -- Text in U.S. Statutes at Large, XVII, 424-436, passim. For the proceedings see the House and Senate Journals, 41st Cong., 3d Sess., and 42d Cong., and the Cong. Record; see also the Record, 53d Cong., 1st Sess., pp. 1219-1224. Knox report is Senate Misc. Doc. 132, 41st Cong., 2d Sess.; the correspondence connected with it is in House Exec. Doc. 307. On the act see Dewey, Financial History, 403-405, and references there given; Sherman, Recollections, II, 1063-1065; White, Money and Banking, 213-223.

An Act revising and amending the Laws relative to the Mints, Assay-offices, and Coinage of the United States.

SEC. 14. That the gold coins of the United States shall be a one-dollar piece, which, at the standard weight of twenty-five and eight-tenths grains, shall be the unit of value; a quarter-eagle, or two-and-a-half dollar piece; a three-dollar piece; a half-eagle,

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