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The Crime of 1873

Milton Friedman

Journal of Political Economy, 1990, vol. 98, issue 6, 1159-94

Abstract: The U.S. Coinage Act of 1873 eliminated provision for the free coinage of silver. That act cast the die for a gold standard. The conventional view is that "the act of 1873 was a piece of good fortune." This paper indicates that it was the opposite--a mistake that had highly adverse consequences. This is a judgment about 1873, not 1896. By 1896, when William Jennings Bryan ran for president on a "free-silver ticket," it was too late to undo the damage. Bryan was trying to close the barn door after the horse had been stolen. Copyright 1990 by University of Chicago Press.

Date: 1990
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