• Last updated on November 10, 2022

Coin’s Financial School popularized the ideas of the Populist Party and the free silver movement. It formed the basis for presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan’s “Cross of Gold” speech in 1896.

The 175-page Coin’s Financial School, originally published by the Coin Publishing Company of Chicago, explains a technical financial issue in a manner that can be understood by average citizens. An organ of PopulismPopulism, the economic text is interspersed with dozens of political cartoons. It begins with the premise that silver was secretly demonetized in the Coinage Act of 1873Coinage Act of 1873. (President Ulysses S. Grant later claimed that he did not know such a provision was in the bill.)Coin’s Financial School (Harvey)[Coins Financial School]

The motive for abolishing the free coinage of silver was to force the U.S. Civil War debt to Great Britain to be paid in gold rather than silver. British bankers had cornered the gold market, so it was to their advantage to ensure that gold was the only legal tender. The law–which eliminated half of the U.S. money supply–was damaging both to American debtors and to the nation’s agricultural concerns.

Although the effects of the Coinage Act had been discussed during the period between 1873 and 1894, the depression brought on by the Panic of 1893 had increased tensions in the economy. Author William Hope Harvey, William HopeHarvey’s proposed solution was bimetallism: He argued that silver should be remonitized and valued at one-sixteenth the value of gold. He argued that reliance on gold as the only measure of value would result in a tight money supply. Free silver movementUnlimited coinage of silver, on the other hand, would result in higher farm prices and more jobs for miners.

Coin’s Financial School was one of the most successful books on economics ever published, selling one million copies in its first three years. It was said that the book was sold by newsboys on every train. Harvard University Press published a reprint of Harvey’s book in 1963 along with an eighty-page analysis by Richard Hofstadter.

American Bimetallic League national convention

Black Friday

“Cross of Gold” speech


Fort Knox

Gold standard

Klondike gold rush

Panic of 1893

Categories: History