No. 44.
Mr. Wilson to Mr. Evarts.

No. 8.]

Sir: I hasten to inform you that, in accordance with instructions contained in your dispatch dated the 14th March, and received at this legation yesterday morning, I sent immediately to the minister for foreign affairs a communication, the copy of which is herewith inclosed.

I hope to see him personally to-day, and shall then read to him the text of the act of Congress inclosed in your dispatch, and explain to him more fully the necessity of an early reply.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure in No. 8.]

Mr. Wilson to Count Aspremont Lynden.

Monsieur le Ministre: On the 28th of February last the Congress of the United States passed an act authorizing the coinage of silver dollars, and restoring this money to its legal tender at its nominal value for all debts and dues, public and private, except where otherwise stipulated by contract.

As this act was passed by very large majorities both in the Senate and House of Representatives, and as the President of the United States, in his annual message, expressed his opinion in favor of keeping up, as far as possible, the volume of the two precious metals as the legal-tender coinage of the country, the bi-metallic money policy of the United States may be considered as decided.

In view of the possible inconvenience that might be experienced in our commercial relations with foreign countries by the restoration of silver to the rank of a legal tender for all debts, public and private, the second section of the act above referred to provides for an international conference, to obviate, as far as possible, this contingency.

The desire of the people of the United States to see silver reinstated as a legal tender was expressed, both in popular assemblies and in instructions to their representatives in the national legislature, in a manner and with a unanimity rarely witnessed before in the agitation of any national subject. In obedience to the popular will thus expressed, and in accordance with the convictions of a large majority in the national [Page 55] legislature, the bill was passed with a full appreciation of the inconvenience that might result to international trade, but in the hope that the conference therein provided for might so adjust the bi-metallic money standard as to remove this apprehension.

In accordance, therefore, with the provisions of the second section of this act of Congress for such conference, I am, Monsieur le Ministre, requested to invite, in the name of the Government of the United States, the Government of His Majesty the King of Belgium to join the United States in a conference to adopt a common ratio between gold and silver, for the purpose of establishing, internationally, the use of bi-metallic money, and securing fixity of relative value between these metals; such conference to be held at such place in Europe or the United States at such time, within six months from the passage of this law, as may be mutually agreed upon by the executives of the governments joining in the same, whenever the governments so invited, or any three of them, shall have signified their willingness to unite in the same.

As an early adhesion of at least three of the European nations invited to join in this, project of a conference is of the first importance, in order that the President of the United States may appoint the commissioners provided for by law, I am requested to bring this subject to the notice of the Belgian Government with the least possible delay, in order that I may report to my government at as early a moment as possible the wishes and preferences of this government as to the time and place of the proposed conference, that a concurrence on these points may not be too long delayed.

It is scarcely necessary, Monsieur le Ministre, to assure you that the Government of the United States feels a lively interest in the measure herein proposed for conforming the coinage and proportions of the two precious metals to the common advantage of the World, nor need I assure you that, in case His Majesty’s Government shall signify a willingness to enter into this conference, the Government of the United States will not fail to appreciate this as another manifestation of that spirit of international confraternity for which Belgium is already so distinguished.

I pray you, &c.,


Monsieur Le Compte d’Aspremont Lynden,
Minister for Foreign Affairs.