The Bland–Allison Act was an 1878 act of Congress requiring the U.S. Treasury to buy a certain amount of silver and put it into circulation as silver dollars. Though the bill was vetoed by President Rutherford B. Hayes, the Congress overrode Hayes' veto on February 28, 1878 to enact the law.
Background and Results
The five-year depression following the Panic of 1873 caused cheap-money advocates (led by Representative Richard P. Bland, a Democrat of Missouri), to join with silver-producing interests in urging a return to bimetallism, the use of both silver and gold as a monetary standard.
The controversial Coinage Act of 1873 (also called the Fourth Coinage Act or Mint Act) embraced the gold standard and de-monetized silver. Silver advocates, decrying the so-called "Crime of '73," demanded restoration of free coinage actually bought more than the $2 million minimum amount and never circulated the silver dollars. The law was replaced in 1890 by the similar Sherman Silver Purchase Act, which in turn was repealed by Congress in 1893.
After the crisis of 1873, in 1877, Congressman Richard P. Bland and Senator William B. Allison proposed the Act of Bland-Allison, in which they wanted to return to silver coinage. This caused various reactions: some claimed that there should be a free silver coinage, but conservatives wanted to tie monetary politics to the gold standard. Major banks and companies pressured the president, Rutherford B. Hayes, against the Act, and he vetoed it, but Congress overrode the veto.
This Act reintroduced the bimetallic monetary policy of the U.S., but it led to greater disruption in the economy. The price of gold was more stable than that of silver, largely due to silver discoveries in Nevada and other places in the West, and the price of silver to gold declined from 16-to-1 in 1873 to nearly 30-to-1 by 1893. The term limping bimetallism describes this problem.
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- Ari Arthur Hoogenboom, Rutherford B. Hayes: Warrior and President (1995) pp 96-98
- Irwin Unger, The Greenback Era: A Social and Political History of American Finance, 1865-1879 (1964) pp 356-65
- Walton, Gary M. and Rockoff, Hugh, History of the American Economy (2010) - Page 347
- Paul Studenski and Herman Edward Krooss, Financial History of the United States (2003) - Page 216
- op. cit., Walton and Rockoff, p 350
- Cynthia Northrup, ed. The American economy: a historical encyclopedia (2003) p. 28