Source: Editorial, "The Danger Just Ahead," Wealth Makers, December 13, 1894, p. 4.
Summary: In this editorial Gibson discusses the "dangers" of political fusion with the Democratic Party. While he asserts that the money question is "the greatest, most pressing question," he also argues that the People's Party will "assuredly go to pieces and deserves to if it allows itself to be tied down to the silver dollar." He urges fidelity to each of the planks of the Omaha Platform, and states that he anticipates a debate over the full implications of the money question. Gibson was similar to other "middle-of-the-road" Populists in that he opposed fusion with the Democrats, but his arguments (typically framed within biblical rhetoric) that currency reform was only one of many reforms that were needed reveal his strong connections with the ideology of the Social Gospel movement.
The Danger Just Ahead
We may as well come out and say it, we do not like the indications that some of our leaders (we do not know how many) are willing to let slip the cardinal principles of the People’s party and are planning to practically switch us off from our national platform at the undelegated conference called by our national chairman, Mr. Taubeneck, to meet the 28th at St. Louis. The way they think it can be done is to draw up recommendations at that meeting that in all our educational work between now and ’96 we give almost our whole attention to the money question, making that alone the issue. Say nothing about the transportation and telegraph monopolies to repel people who will not accept our platform utterances calling for the nationalization of these monopolies, drop out of sight everything except free silver and an indefinite demand for “government paper money to supply the rest of the currency needed.” This they call the money question.
It makes us heart sick to think of the folly of this plan. The money question indeed! The money question comprehensively understood is the greatest, most pressing question. The time is ripe for us as a party to propose currency reform legislation which shall be adequate and just. But our party will assuredly go to pieces and deserves to if it allows itself to be tied down to the silver dollar.
Henry G. Miller, of Chicago, just back from the Bimetallic Conference at St. Louis said of that meeting, as reported in the Chicago Times:
“Democrats, Republicans and Populists represented at the conference all were animated with the sentiment that the friends of silver should act in accord and as one party. To this end the Populists say they are ready to forego any declaration of policy other than the free and unlimited coinage of gold and silver in their present legal ration of 16 to 1, and the issue of all paper money by the government without the intervention of banks. This to be redeemable in coin.”
This may be an overstatement of what even the Populists he met are in favor of, and certainly no great number of Populists attended that conference. Those who did attend were naturally the men who magnify the importance of the silver question.
It is the testing time of the People’s party. The conference is a wise move, if allowed to be representative, if its originators, through the national chairman and secretary, do not by sending out special invitations to the narrow-minded silver men practically pack it with men who think the material of money more essential than government banks to keep it circulating, and that money issued—merely paid out by the government—will not only take care of itself, but of all the great monopolies. The reverse is true [sic]. The monopolies will take care of the money so issued, and drawing it out of the people’s banks they will continue to force us to pay them a vast amount of interest, with which they will go on buying up our natural resources.
We do not question the honesty of our men who, we have reason to believe, are trying to get the Populists to shelve the land and railroad questions, and the money question, also, in its vital part, that part which would, by a perfected system of government banks, provide the people loans and discounts at cost, loans at two per cent or less, and perfect security for their deposits. These leaders mean well, no doubt. They do not see that the scheme would break us up, instead of building us up. The Populist party was the child of the Farmers’ Alliance and organized labor, and the Ocala platform on which it was born and the Omaha platform on which it was christened cannot be taken from under it without scattering us.
The Nonconformist wants to go slow in its talk about “fanciful and emotional measures,” “chimerical experiments and visionary schemes,” or else tell us what it means when it refers to “the money question in its entirety.” The money question “in its entirety” is all right, but we are likely to have a lively fight over what “the money question in entirety” embraces.