Silver Coinage

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  • “Silver,” said the 1892 Populist Party platform, “has been accepted as coin since the dawn of history.” Silver's value was high enough to handle trade yet low enough to be widely circulated, especially after Spanish discoveries of silver in the New World. Gold, which is more valuable, accounted for the transfer of larger sums. Gold also had a weight advantage. At that time, $1,000 U.S. weighed 3 pounds, 8 ounces in gold, compared to 58 pounds, 11 ounces in silver. Great Britain had effectively gone on the gold standard back in 1717.

    With its first coinage law in 1792, the United States adopted bimetallism at an exchange ratio of 15:1. In 1834, the United States adjusted the price of gold relative to silver to a 16:1 ...

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