Mr. Ruggles to Mr. Seward

Sir: In the communication of the 30th May last which the undersigned had the honor to make to the Department of State, the proceedings of the “international committee organized by the French imperial commission of the Universal Exposition,” to consider the subject of an uniform system of weights, measures, and coins, were brought down to that date. The association with the undersigned on that committee of United States Commissioners Smith, Barnard, and Kennedy was also stated, with the assignment of the undersigned and Commissioner Kennedy to the sub-commission on coins, and of Commissioners Smith and Barnard to the sub-committee on weights and measures.

A copy of the letter to the undersigned from the honorable John Sherman, (senator of the United States from Ohio,) favoring the reduction in weight, and value of the live-franc coin of France, was also furnished. Full particulars were also given of the audiences on the subject had by the undersigned, successively, with the vice-president and president of the “conseil d’état,” and with the Emperor of France, and especially in relation to the proposed coinage by France of a gold piece of twenty-five francs, to take its place throughout the world by the side of the “half-eagle” of the United States and the sovereign and pound sterling of Great Britain, when reduced in weight and value to twenty-five francs.

A copy of the written proposition to that effect submitted by the undersigned, with the concurrence of his colleague, Commissioner Kennedy, for the adoption of the international committee, that the government of France be requested to issue a gold coin of twenty-five francs, and that the government of the United States be requested to reduce its gold dollar in weight and value to five francs, and its other gold coins in like proportion, was also communicated to the Department of State.

The undersigned is gratified to learn, by the communication from the Department of State of the 21st of June last, that the steps thus taken for securing the uniformity of money are approved by his government; that he “is warranted in encouraging the expectation that the United States may give its adhesion to a conventional arrangement which may be susceptible of termination within a period to be specified in such arrangement,” and that “the views so ably set forth” in the letter of Mr. Sherman “will be so far approved by the public sentiment, the Congress, and the Executive of the United States, as to secure a concurrence of the government in any reasonable plan for producing the desired reform.”

Previously to the 23d of March last, the day when the undersigned arrived at Paris, the international committee had taken no steps to discuss the subject of uniform weights, measures and coins, their attention up to that time having been mainly given to the erection and arrangement of the pavilion in the interior garden of the Exposition for the actual exhibition and comparison of the weights, measures and coins of the respective, nations represented in this universal concourse.

The subject of a uniform coin did not actually come into discussion, either in the international committee or the sub-commission on coins, until early in the month of May.

On the 17th of May the undersigned presented to the international committee the letter of Senator Sherman in a French translation, which was received with lively interest, and forthwith ordered, with the approbation of the imperial commission, to be published both in French and English. It is but due to the history of the unification of money to state that the earnest and active agitation of the subject in a practical form, on the part of the United States, [Page 346]exerted its full share of influence in leading the government of France to adopt the decisive measure of inviting in diplomatic form an authoritative “conference” of delegates, duly accredited, from all the nations of the European and American world practically accessible, to meet at Paris on the 17th of June, not merely for an exchange of views or a discussion of general principles, but “practically to seek for the basis of ulterior negotiation” between the nations.

The importance of this step had become evident at an early day to the French authorities, and especially to Monsieur Esquirou de Parieu, first vice-president of the “conseil d’état,” pre-eminently distinguished by his long and well-directed labors in the cause of monetary unification, adorned by his learned and eloquent writings, replete alike with accurate knowledge and classic taste. He was one of the delegates on the part of France who successfully negotiated the quadripartite monetary treaty of the 23d of December, 1865, between France, Belgium, Switzerland, and Italy, the beneficent effects of which enlightened measure are now illuminating continental western Europe from the German ocean to the Mediterranean, carrying, in his own graphic language, “a common coin of equal value from Antwerp, across the mountains of the Oberland, to the classic coast of Brundusium.”

As early as the 21st of April last the undersigned had urged upon M. de Parieu the importance which would be attached by the United States of America to the coinage by France of the gold piece of twenty-five francs, and the consequent necessity of modifying that portion of the quadripartite treaty which would prevent the issue of a coin of that denomination. The far higher importance of modifying and amplifying that treaty so as to rescue not only this emancipated portion of Europe, but all the American and European nations in both hemisphere’s, from the evils of their present discordant coinages, and embrace them all in one common monetary civilization, were earnestly dwelt upon. These views were repeated and re-enforced in several succeeding interviews.

On the 7th of May M. de Parieu, by note of that date, requested the undersigned to “formulate” in writing a proposition on the part of the United States to reduce its gold dollar in weight and value to the French gold piece of five francs, on condition that France should coin a gold piece of twenty-five francs, the gold coins of the two nations to be reciprocally receivable at their public treasuries; adding the expression of his personal opinion that such a combination would be a most fortunate enlargement “un tres heureux developpement” of the treaty of December 23, 1865.

The undersigned, having no diplomatic authority on the 9th of May, was obliged to answer that such a step, in advance of the discussions in the international committee, would seem to fall, if not wholy beyond his powers, at least within the range of the permanent duties of General Dix, the regular diplomatic representative of the United States; but that on due consultation with him the note of M. de Parieu would be answered more at large. Copies of the note and of its answer are herewith furnished, (Nos. 1 and 2.)

On the 31st of May the undersigned was informed by M. de Parieu that diplomatic invitations had been issued by direction of the Marquis de Moustier, the French minister of foreign affairs, to most if not all of the nations represented in the international committee, requesting them respectively to appoint special delegates to an international monetary conference, to assemble at Paris on the 17th of June, at the “hotel” of the Ministère des Affaires Etrangères, and probably under the presidency of M. de Parieu.

On the 17th of June the invited nations (nineteen in number) responded to the call by delegates duly accredited. The credentials of the undersigned from the Department of State reached him at Paris on the 14th of June.

It was evident that such a conference, for all practical purposes, would take the place of the international committee so far as a uniform coin was concerned. [Page 347]It was thought, however, by that committee, embracing many members of experience and eminently scientific attainments, that their examinations and discussions of the subject had so far advanced that it was advisable to complete them, and to report the result as a preliminary study, to aid in the performance of the more practical duties of the conference, and more especially as several of the delegates in the conference were also members of the international committee.

The examination of the subject, mainly confined to general principles in the international committee, and dealing but little with the various existing systems of coinage, was completed by the 17th of June. The result of their deliberations appears in a series of propositions mainly of a general nature, but embracing a specific recommendation of the five-franc piece as a common point of contact for the coinages of the different nations. They were reduced to form, after the subject had been partially discussed, by Commissioner Kennedy, whose well-considered action on the committee has been eminently serviceable and creditable to the United States. With several amendments and modifications they were finally adopted by the sub-commission, and subsequently by the whole international committee. A copy of the propositions, as perfected, is herewith furnished, (No. 3.) They will also be found divided in heads, or portions, in the extended and able report prepared and submitted after their adoption. by the Baron de Hock, an eminent financial writer, one of the delegates from Austria in the international committee, and the sole representative of that power in the international monetary conference. A copy of his report is herewith transmitted, (No. 4.)

These documents possess a permanent historical interest in showing that the intelligent labors of the international committee, especially in establishing general principles, had anticipated several of the important results which were subsequently reached by the international monetary conference.

It will be seen that the general propositions adopted by the international committee do not include the special and specific proposition submitted by the undersigned on the 30th of May for the coinage by France of the 25-franc gold piece, it having been regarded as more proper for a separate negotiation with France, or a special clause in a general monetary treaty. It is, however, generally and fully understood that the French government will be ready at once to add that piece to its gold coinage whenever the United States shall reduce the weight and value of their gold dollar to that of the gold five francs, and their other coins in like proportion. The matter can be readily and fully secured and settled in ulterior negotiations, or, if necessary, by concurrent legislation.

For the purpose of showing the magnitude of the monetary interests and consequences, present and future, involved in the proposed unification, it became necessary to accurately exhibit in statistical form the comparative coinage, past and present, of the three principal coining nations, France, Great Britain, and the United States, with a general reference to the world-wide saving by the proposed reform, in needless recoinage, brokerage, and exchange.

It will be seen that the written argument, (here called a “Note” ) a copy of which is now transmitted to the Department of State, in which the undersigned sought in behalf of the United States to present these cardinal facts, commences with a brief explanation which became necessary to meet an arithmetical and metrical objection which had been interposed by one of the international committee, (somewhat extreme in his devotion to the metric system,) that the proposed coin of 25 francs would not contain an even or round number of metric grams, and would therefore conflict with the metric system. Strange to say, some of the most distinguished economists in France are found to concur in this merely theoretical objection. The answer was, however, readily found, not only in the fact that none of the existing coins of gold in France, some of them as old as the century, contain an even or round number of grams, but more [Page 348]conclusively in its absolute necessity in the arithmetical relation between the legal value of gold and of silver fixed by the French law of 7 Germinal, An xí, (1803,) at 15 ½ to 1. That ratio not being even or decimal, but uneven and fractional, is wholly at variance, and must forever remain in conflict with the decimal features of the metric system.

A silver franc contains five even metric grams; but a gram of gold being as one to fifteen and a half of silver, can only be arithmetically represented in francs by the uneven and imperfect decimal, 0.32258. That decimal multiplied by fifteen and a half will practically produce the five even grams of the silver franc The multiplier itself being fractional, must be doubled to gain the even number 31, which sum multiplying the fractional gold decimal 0.32258, will produce the even number of ten grams of gold. No even multiplier smaller than 31 will produce an even number of gold grams. Any number of francs less than 31 will represent a fractional number of grams, and any number of grams less than 10 will represent a fractional number of francs.

It therefore follows, that if the extravagant requirement of exact metric coincidence of francs and grams should prevail, no monetary gold unit could be found smaller than 31 francs, equivalent in the gold currency of the United States, when unified, to six dollars and twenty cents, ($6 20.)

Such a unit, so inconvenient and incongruous, the legitimate offspring of the fractional rates of 15 ½ to 1, is, moreover, wholly incapable of division into even parte exceeding a single franc, and consequently has no even multiples short of 62, 93, 124, and so on in succession.

Being widely at variance with all existing denominations of coin, its adoption would necessitate the calling in and recoinage of all the gold in France, shown by official tables in the note above mentioned to be 6,561,104,070 francs, or in round numbers 81,312,000,000, (less the portions recoined, exported, used in the arts, or lost,) not to mention the wide-spread revolution it would cause in the coinage of all the other nations. It is safe to predict, that whatever may be urged by enthusiastic theorists, no such unit will ever be adopted by any. well-governed nation in Europe or America; but, on the contrary, that France, now numbering with her adjacent confederated states more than seventy millions of people, will rest fully content with the gold unit of five francs as now existing, with its necessarily fractional but well-known weight of 1,612.2 milligrammes, destined at no distant day to become the common centre around which will revolve the united monetary systems of the civilized world.

The proceedings and discussions of the international committee in respect to a uniform coin were much increased in interest by their issuing numerous invitations to the leading friends, both in France and England, of a uniform system of weights, measures, and coins, to assist at a “reunion,” commencing on the 17th of June and continuing for several days, for open public examination and criticism of the reports and conclusions of the committee, including their report on uniform weights and measures.

At an adjourned meeting, held at the Palais de V Industrie in the Champs Ely sees, and over which the Prince Napoleon (Jerome) presided by desire of the Emperor, and with eminent ability, delegations from commercial bodies and international monetary associations in London and Liverpool were in attendance. On this occasion the very important question of abolishing the double standard of money, retaining only gold, was elaborately discussed, and with singular ability and ingenuity, by distinguished French economists holding opposite opinions. On putting the question to the vote of the numerous and intelligent audience, the single standard of gold was adopted by a large majority.

The question of the gold unit then coming up, the English delegates earnestly opposed the proposition of the international committee, adopting as the unit the gold five francs, and urged the substitution of ten francs in its stead, [Page 349]expressing their belief that the government of Great Britain would consent to issue for the purpose a gold coin of that amount, to be denominated a “ducat.” This substitution was opposed by the undersigned in behalf of the United States, on the ground that their half-eagle, when reduced to twenty-five francs, would be an even multiple of the five-franc unit, but not of the ten; that the dollar, whenever made precisely equivalent and equiponderant to the five francs, would become practically if not nominally the monetary unit, and the actual denomination in which money contracts embracing different countries or distant quarters of the globe would or might be payable; that the more important and higher issue soon would be, not between the five francs and the ten francs as the unit, but between the dollar, decimally and easily divided, and the sovereign, ¡or pound sterling.) not decimally but most inconveniently divided in shillings, pence and farthings, but which, by that very peculiarity, had hitherto maintained an undue predominance in the money payments of the world. The debate was closed by the Prince president submitting the question to the vote of the meeting, which resulted nearly unanimously in favor of the unit of five francs.

It is proper to add that the government of Great Britain was not represented, as such, at this reunion, nor in any discussion at any previous meeting of the international committee, but duly appeared by accredited delegates at the international monetary conference.

The advocates of a uniform coin cherish the belief that the government of the United States is not to be discouraged or discomposed by the temporary delay or hesitation of any government in Europe to participate in the widespread work of monetary unification, destined, sooner or later, to become the crowning civic achievement of modern times.

In the earlier agitation of this subject at the international statistical congress, at Berlin, in 1863, the delegate from the United States found a large and influential delegation from Great Britain zealously engaged in the great endeavor to unify the money of the world. In the present effort of the assembled nations, “not for a day but all time,” the clear good sense and sterling liberality of the English people will not allow their government to lag or linger much behind. The fire but recently kindled is rapidly diffusing its light throughout the world. The far-sighted negotiators of the quadripartite monetary treaty of 1865, though seriously embarrassed by the fallacy of a double standard, now generally discarded, succeeded in establishing a uniform system, not only of gold but of silver, over a large and populous portion of Europe, since increased by the adhesion of the Pontifical States and of Greece; thus including, by a singular felicity, in this newly enlightened region of the globe, the two great seats of ancient civilization. With this wide-spread area, extending off from the British channel across Europe to the Mediterranean, and along its classic coast far into the east, the great reform may be greatly advanced by the transatlantic co-operation of the American Union—by God’s great providence, undivided and indivisible. Wisely limited by its own organic law to one common coinage between the two great oceans, the world needs only the assent of our own continental republic to give to the gold dollar and its multiples a free, unchallenged circulation, meeting no money changer or other impediment through the whole breadth of Christendom. The United States may alone complete the golden chain binding in one common monetary civilization the outspread lands and waters of America and of Europe, stretching from the “Golden Gate” of the Pacific over the auriferous “Oberlands” of our wide interior, and across Christian Europe to the western bounds of the Ottoman empire. To widen and extend still further this majestic belt, to embrace in the same great measure of civilization the residue of Europe with the wide extent of Asiatic Russia, has been among the leading aims of the international monetary conference.

A detailed statement of the proceedings and conclusions of that assemblage, [Page 350]and also of the action of the international committee in respect to uniform weights and measures, will be furnished in further and separate communications from the undersigned to the Department of State.

With high regard, your obedient servant,

SAMUEL B. RUGGLES, United Slates Commissioner and Delegate, &c., &c., &c.

Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, &c., &c., &c.,

No. 1]
[Translation.]

M. de Parieu, vice-president of the council of state, to Mr. Ruggles

Sir: I have been considering what you did me the honor to mention to me the day before yesterday, namely: your opinion that the United States of America might bring their gold dollar to the shape, weight, and alloyage of our five-franc coin, on the condition on our part that we would coin twenty-five franc pieces which would be current in your public offices, banking institutions and monetary transactions, and considered as five-dollar pieces, while, in return, the American dollars and their multiples would be current at the rate of five francs for the dollar in the public offices of France and its monetary confederates.

I, personally, look upon this combination as being a very happy development of the monetary convention I had the honor to sign, by authority of the Emperor, on the 23d of December, 1865.

If you would have the kindness to shape in writing the propositions you might intend to submit personally in this sense to the government of Washington, I would make use of your letter to induce the action that might be in my power with respect to fixing the opening and the course of the announced international conference.

It might even be possible that I should have the opportunity to mention the matter to the Emperor, whose views I have gathered on this point some two months since, and which were very favorable to an arrangement similar to the one of which you have given me an outline.

In case you should go to America and it should please you to deliver to Mr. McCulloch some of our publications on the subject, I would very gladly hand them to you before your departure.

Accept the assurances of my most distinguished consideration.

E. DE PARIEU, Vice-President of the Conseil d’Etat, member, of the Institute,

Samuel B. Ruggles, Vice-President of the Commission of the United States of America to the Universal Exhibition, Paris.

No. 2.

Mr. Ruggles to M. de Parieu

Monsieur: I beg respectfully to acknowledge the receipt of your important note of the 7th instant in relation to a proposition to be transmitted to the government at Washington for a unit of money common to France and the United States.

Such a step, in advance of the conference of the special committee or commission appointed soon to meet on the subject in question, would seem to fall, if not beyond my present powers, at least within the range of the permanent duties of the diplomatic representative of the United States.

After proper consultation with General Dix I shall hasten to answer your note at more length.

Tendering you the assurances of my highest consideration, I remain, very respectfully,

SAMUEL B. RUGGLES, Vice-President and Commissioner to the Paris Exhibition, specially charged with the subject of weights, measures, and coins.

Monsieur De Parieu, Vice-President du Conseil d’Etat, &c., &c., &c.

[Page 351]
No. 3.]

Universal exposition of 1867.–Committee of Weights and Measures and Coins.

The committee, considering that the adoption of a uniform system of coins presents advantages of convenience and economy in the regulation of international exchanges so evident, that it commends itself to every enlightened government; considering, furthermore, that such a measure cannot be realized without the sacrifice by many peoples of their old and custom ary instruments of trade, and their interest requires this change should be gradual and continuous, and therefore that the first steps of the transformation should be as simple as possible and disembarrassed of all incidental complication, therefore submits the following propositions:

1 st. The first condition to be fulfilled is the adoption of an identical unity in the issue of their gold coins by the different governments interested in the question.

2d. It is desirable that such coins should everywhere be struck at the standard of nice-tenths.

3d. It is desirable that every government should introduce among its gold coins at least one piece of the same value as a piece in use among other interested governments, so that there may be a point of common contact in all the systems, and therefore each nation should endeavor gradually to assimilate its monetary system with that which may be chosen as a uniform basis.

4th. The series of gold coins now used in France having been adopted by a large portion of the people in Europe, it is recommended as a basis of the uniform system desired.

5th. Considering that the most important of the monetary units, by a fortunate and accidental circumstance, can be adapted to the French gold piece of five francs, by slight changes, that piece would be most suitable as a basis for a monetary system; and coins struck upon that basis would become the multiples of that unity as soon as the convenience of interested nations would permit.

6th. It is desirable that the different governments determine that the coins struck by each nation, in conformity with the uniform system proposed and agreed upon, should pass as legal tenders in all those countries.

7th. It is very desirable that the system of two different monetary standards should be ‘ abolished wherever it still exists.

8th. It is very desirable that the system of decimal numeration should be universally adopted, and that the coins of all nations should be of the same standard and form.

9th. It is desirable that governments should agree to adopt common measures of control, so as to secure the integrity of coins in their issue and in their circulation.

No. 4.

Report of Baron de Hock.

UNIVERSAL EXPOSITION OF 1867.—COMMITTEE ON WEIGHTS AND MEASURES AND ON COINAGE.

The unification of coinage.

The inconveniences which result from the diversity of monetary systems exceed even those growing out of the diversity of the systems of weights and measures. These are confined to the trouble and loss of time occasioned by the tedious calculations required to pass from one system to the other; still, the objects which are weighed or measured continue the same, and may be made use of anywhere. In the case of coin, on the contrary, ‘besides similar calculations of allowance which are necessary, the objects themselves—that is, the coin—lose a portion of their value in passing from one country to another.

The causes which render the diversity of coin more troublesome than that of weights and measures have as a consequence that it is more difficult to effect a unification of the former than of the latter because it is required to change not only the measure of the different coins but also the coins themselves; so that the change will involve a far more considerable expense and is likely to affect much more the habits and prejudices of the different people.

For the reasons just stated, the efforts for the unification of money were commenced at a later hour and have progressed with less vigor than those made for the unification of weights and measures. And yet the various assemblies—the different statistical conventions, international associations, the commissioners and jurors of universal expositions—have all pursued the double purpose, and they have made very satisfactory progress, considering the great difficulties which they had to overcome.

On the 23d December, 1865, France, Italy, Belgium, and Switzerland signed a treaty for a monetary convention for the entire extent of their different territories. Negotiations have [Page 352]already been opened by the Papal States and Greece to join the convention. Austria, as well as Spain, Portugal, Roumania, and even the United States of America, are on the point of doing likewise; and, at the moment of writing this report, an international monetary commission, convened by the initiative of the imperial government, and presided over by his imperial highness the Prince Napoleon, who has also deigned to accept the presidency over our informal conferences, has terminated its labors for establishing the basis upon which is to be achieved a unification of the different coins.

The committee on the unification of weights and measures and of the coinage, appointed by the imperial commission of the Universal Exposition, had been for a long time engaged in its labors, and had concluded them by a resolution also in favor of unification, when the international monetary conference first commenced its deliberations. These two bodies acted in entire independence of each other; with the exception of three or four persons, they were each composed of different members, and yet they both arrived at the same conclusions, with a simple difference of phraseology. This circumstance certainly bears most eloquent testimony to the truth and force of the ideas advanced, and to the influence which they have already exercised over the men of science, finance, and administration of all nations.

It cannot be doubted that the universal unification of coins, by creating a common medium of circulation, constitutes one of the most effective means for the development of general commerce. Such a medium adopted by every state and individual, saves the loss of time and the trouble caused by the computation to which it is constantly necessary to resort to ascertain the precise value of the different coins; it reduces to a minimum the rate of exchange, that painful burden to commerce; it obviates the losses from exchange of money, to which the arts and manufactures and not less travellers are subject; it increases the utility of money, and thereby even its value; it diminishes the needs of circulation, and tends finally to an immediate and radical cure of the crises which spring up in commerce by the accumulation of money at one point and its absence at another.

The idea of a unification of the coins is so elevated and the purpose so useful that, whenever a favorable situation renders its adoption possible, no progressive people, desirous of entering upon the great and fruitful road of universal commerce, can remain indifferent or reject it, unless from motives of the last importance.

With a view to the unification of coins, the committee has drawn up nine propositions, which have been submitted to the discussion of the informal conferences. The following draught was almost unanimously agreed upon by the members present at the conferences:

The committee, considering that the adoption of a uniform money system presents advantages so evident, as well in point of convenience as of economy in the regulation of international exchanges; that it recommends itself to all enlightened governments; considering, further, that this measure cannot be realized unless a great number of people sacrifice their former and deeply-rooted mediums of traffic; that it is necessary to their interest that the change should be made gradually and in a continuing degree, and that, therefore, the first bases for it ought to be as simple as possible and disembarrassed of all unnecessary complication, offers the following propositions:

1. The first necessary condition is the adoption, by the different governments interested in this question, of a unity in the issue of their gold coins.

2. It is desirable that these coins should be everywhere struck at the standard of nine-tenths.

3. It is desirable that each government should introduce among its gold coin at least one piece of an equal value to that of some one piece in use by the other governments interested, in order that there be between the different systems one point of common contact, from which each nation may labor toward a gradual assimilation of its system of coinage to that which might be chosen as a uniform basis.

4. The series of gold coins now in use in France, having been adopted by a large part of the population of Europe, recommends itself as a basis for the uniform system sought after.

5. Considering that, by an accidental and fortunate conjuncture, the, more important of monetary units can adapt themselves to the French 5-franc gold piece, with the necessity of but slight alteration, that piece would be the most expedient as a basis for the monetary system, and the coins struck upon that basis would, as soon as the convenience of the interested nations might permit it, become the multiples of that unity.

6. It is desirable that the different governments determine that the coins struck by each nation, conformably to the uniform system proposed and agreed upon, should pass as legal tenders in their respective countries.

7. It is extremely desirable that the system of two different monetary standards should be discontinued wherever it still exists.

8. It is extremely desirable that the decimal scale of numeration be universally adopted, and that the coins of the different nations have the same standard and form.

9. It is desirable that the governments agree to adopt a common regulation for stamping, in order to preserve the integrity of the coins, as well in their making as during their currency.

We take the liberty to add to these propositions some explanations:

Propositions 1, 2, and 3.—There are different methods by which a unification of the coins may be effected, all, however, not having the same merit, especially when considered with a view to their practical value. For instance, the efforts might h& limited to creating every-where [Page 353]a coin of the same intrinsic value—that is to say, of a similar weight of fine gold or silver, without regard to a unity of the weight to be employed, to the standard of the piece, or to its form. In this manner a theoretical uniformity would doubtless be achieved, but by no mean’s a practical one. It is by reason of weight and form that coin is received or declined in circulation. It were almost impossible to insure the reception, at the same value, of coins differing entirely in weight and form;. moreover, if the coins were to have neither the same unity of weight nor the same standard, there would always exist a difference between them, especially on account of the irrational analogy between the diverse unicíes of gross weight. These differences would be small, no doubt, but always sufficiently considerable to prevent the limits of allowance appointed for the reception of coins which have not the full weight or standard from continuing the same, and, therefore, coins still good in one country would incur the danger of not being so in another, a circumstance which would to a certainty hinder the international circulation of coins.

Another system would consist in creating in the countries which should adhere to the monetary union, some coins based upon the same unit of weight and standard, yet wholly different in value; for instance, five, ten, and twenty-franc pieces in one country, and pieces of four, eight, and sixteen francs in another.

Of course the international circulation would then be easier than it is to-day, but the unification would not yet exist; besides the labor and the expense of recoinage remaining the same, if a more perfect coincidence or similarity is to be attained, there is no doubt that it would be preferable to obtain it at once.

Finally, an absolute unification can be admitted—that is, the identity of all coins, whether current or fractional. But no one can dispute the fact that this unification is impossible at present. The interests, customs, and prejudices of nations are too much opposed to it. The principal object of the unification of moneys is to facilitate and to increase international commerce, which requires non-fractional medium. It is from these coins that the prices of merchandise and the rates of exchange are regulated, while fractional moneys have really but a local utility.

The neighboring countries alone are interested in having identical coins of sub divisionary money, but then that identity can easily be effected by special conventions, without the participation of the universal unification. Thus, if the different nations have the same standard of fineness and weight for their money, and thereby facilitate the comparison of one coin with another, it will suffice to have but one or two identical coins between the two countries. The perfect assimilation of the systems may be reserved for the future. Such is the meaning of the three first propositions.

Propositions 4 and 5.—Gold coin alone can serve as international money. Gold being in fact more portable than silver, and the loss in exchange very small, it is owing to these advantages that it is better adapted than silver for business transactions, and transmission from one country to another, securing protection on that account against a monetary crisis, and permitting the reduction of exchange to a minimum. Among the gold coins of the different nations, those only of France will be taken as a basis for the desired system; inasmuch as having been already adopted by 70,000,000 of persons, and perhaps in the present year will be accepted by 100,000,000, as much on account of their decimal standard as for the relation, though a little complicated, existing between them and the metrical units, (there being actually 155 pieces of 20 francs in a kilogram.) They also correspond to the system of weights and measures recommended for universal adoption by so many authorities.

In the committee, as well as in the informal conferences, there have been some persons, it is true, who proposed to adopt a monetary system entirely new, re-establishing for the gold coins the simple and immediate relation to the metrical units established by organic laws for silver coins. It is their idea that a gold coin of five grams weight, and of nine-tenths fineness, should be the monetary unit.

Without overlooking the scientific merits, in some respects, of such a system, the com mittee and the conference have not hesitated for an instant to decline giving it their adhesion. Only a system already adopted by a great majority could have any chance of being generally received. The proof of this can be seen in the monetary convention of December 23, 1865, in the recent adhesions to that convention, and in the vote of the international monetary conference.

An entirely new system could not be accepted by nations already possessing the French system, with greater chance than the present fur adoption by other nations.

Moreover, the present having small units, such as five and ten francs, could easily be substituted for those of other nations, as, for instance, the English sovereign, the American dollar, the Austrian florin, &c, which differ but little from one or the other of these French units. That advantage would not exist with the proposed coin of five gold grams of nine-tenths fineness. That coin really would have a value of 15 francs 50 centimes, which has no analogy whatever with the values of present coins, and which would be a common factor too great to arrive at an equation.

The same reason has also induced the committee and the conference to select as a common factor the five-franc piece, thus intimating that all the contracting governments will coin no other gold pieces than those of five francs or its multiples. To avoid misunderstandings, it [Page 354]must be added that the committee never desired to require the coinage by the governments of pieces of five francs rather than of ten francs or any other multiple of five francs.

The committee thinks that these observations will serve as an explanation to the propositions 4 and 5.

Proposition 6.—Should the preceding propositions be universally adopted, there nevertheless would not be a complete community of moneys among the different nations. In order. to reach this end of unification, it would still be necessary that the coins struck by any nation according to the uniform system should be a legal tender among all the other nations of the union. This requirement is set forth in proposition 6. Perhaps it would not be judicious in the beginning to recognize as common coins all which are struck by the different nations, but only some of them; perhaps, also, it will be sufficient to accept their admission in the depositories of public moneys, without imposing the legal and compulsory tender.

The committee, however, has deemed it proper to propose what would be most favorable to the development of international commerce.

Proposition 7.—The community and identity which the committee endeavors to establish are limited to coins of gold. From this the conclusion might be drawn that from the opinion of the committee the states in the union would have the right to maintain silver coins by the side of those of gold, and equally a legal tender; in other words, that they will be able to preserve or introduce the double standard. The seventh proposition is intended to avoid that inference.

The object of the monetary union is not only to induce the different nations to strike identical coins, but it is also necessary that these should enter into universal circulation, and that their intrinsic value should be scrupulously preserved. This could not occur under the system of the double standard of gold and silver—that is to say, in giving the same unlimited right of tender to coins both of gold and silver.

These two standards can be admitted without difficulty when one of these two kinds of coins is the principal and the only one having a legal and unlimited currency, while the other is simply fractional, (chauge money,) having alegai currency only for small payments, or when it is optional or accepted by the agreement of the party, and at the price fixed by the rate of the money market. In that case the two kinds of money are not in opposition; on the contrary, they may exist at the same time, and even benefit the circulation.

By giving legal currency both to gold and silver coins there would be constant fear of displacing one or the other. What is still less admissible is to establish a permanent and invariable ratio between gold and silver, as has taken place in France, in the United States, and in some of the South American republics.

The relative value of gold to that of silver fluctuates and varies from one market to the other in accordance with the demand and supply. Sometimes one, sometimes the other, of these two metals—that of which the market value is higher than the legal rate—will necessarily disappear from the circulation, to be exported or recoined, and thus the coins of the depreciated metal alone remain. It moreover follows that the coins of the better alloy and Of the greater intrinsic value first disappear, and the others which are below the standard or the legal weight remain in circulation.

These are not idle or theoretical fears: the experience of France and in all the countries having the double standard has demonstrated their reality. Before the discovery of the rich mines in California, in Australia, in the northwest of the United States, and in the British North American possessions, gold having a higher market price than the legal rate, the coins of that metal disappeared from circulation, and could only be obtained at a premium.

After these discoveries, on the contrary, gold having depreciated below the legal rate, it was then the turn of silver to disappear. All the masses of silver which the Bank of France had sought to accumulate at a great expense to obviate that result were soon exhausted. The retail business suffered very much, and finally no other remedy was found but that of coining gold pieces of five francs, and silver change of.835 fine.

In the South American republics, which had retained the double standard of the Spanish system, the uneasiness occasioned by the influx of gold was still greater. Silver rapidly disappeared, and was replaced only with coins more alloyed or by a depreciated paper currency.

The monetary union would be only apparent if every nation were able to replace at any time the coins of the union by others, or to diminish the weight agreed upon by the union, and that would certainly happen under the system of the double standard.

Moreover, speculations in coins, which the unification seeks forever to prevent, would never cease, and would increase in proportion to the extent of the union. Therefore the proposition seven declares that the monetary system of the double standard must be abandoned where it exists.

Proposition 8.—The proposition eight requests anew that the coins of every nation should have the same standard, but it adds that they must also have the same form. The form is given by the dimensions and by the stamp. As all the actual coins are round, and as from the preceding propositions the coins of the same value must be of the same weight, the identity of the dimension is given by that of the diameter.

As for the stamp, the various governments will always be at liberty to issue their coins with the effigies,’ emblems, and denominations they most prefer; but it would be useful to [Page 355]add upon the piece the relation existing between its value and the five-franc piece accepted as the basis of the system. Perhaps the appellation of “money (or coin) of the union” might be engraved upon it.

The proposition eight recommends also the decimal enumeration for the same reasons which induced its adoption for weights and measures.

Proposition 9.—Nevertheless, the monetary union would not prove to be a benefit, but rather a misfortune, if by any vicious or careless process in the coining or in the issue, coins having neither the exact weight nor fineness should be introduced into commerce. An active speculation in the coins, and a corruption of the whole system, would inevitably follow. To prevent such a misfortune, the governments must agree upon some common mea-‘ - sures of control and precaution to guarantee the integrity of the coins. It is that object which the ninth and last proposition of the committee seeks to establish.

If the committee has not entered into more detail in respect to these measures of control, it is owing to its desire carefully to abstain from interfering with matters of mere regulation between the governments which may adhere to the monetary union.

The committee, in perfect accord with the conference to which the propositions were submitted, thinks that it has proved sufficiently the utility and the necessity of the universal monetary union, and established the principles upon which it should be founded.

L. MATHIEU, President of the Committee, Member of the French Institute, and of the Bureau of Longitudes,

CH. BARON DE HOCK, President of the Sub-Commission on Coins, Reporter, Private Councillor to his Majesty the Emperor of Austria and Member of the House of Lords,