Bimetallism, a term invented by Henry Cernuschi and currently used to denote a double monetary standard of value. A Bimetallic Congress was held at Brussels in April, 1896, representatives from Great Britain, France, the United States, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Denmark, Holland, Rumania, and Russia being present. Ultimately the members constituted themselves a permanent committee, and expressed their opinion that a preliminary and immediate agreement might result from the re-establishment of bimetallism by the United States, the opening of the Indian mints for the coinage of silver, the turning into silver of part of the metallic reserve of the Bank of England, and the absorption of a sufficient amount of silver by the various European States. The currency question in the United States influenced very materially the canvass for the Presidency in 1896. It appeared, as the year wore on, that free silver doctrines had captured a majority of the Democratic party, and at the Chicago Convention (July 7th) this majority adopted a platform demanding "the immediate restoration of the free and unlimited coinage of gold and silver at the present legal ratio of 16 to 1, without waiting for the aid or consent of any other nation," and that "the standard silver dollar shall be full legal tender equally with gold for all debts, public and private." WILLIAM JENNINGS BRYAN was nominated for the Presidency, but was decisively beaten by WILLIAM MCKINLEY, the Republican candidate, who favored a single gold standard, though he pledged himself to promote action by international agreement. To this end he sent commissioners to France, Great Britain, and Germany, in 1897, and they, together with the French Ambassador, laid various proposals before the British Government, the chief of which were that the Indian mints should be reopened, and that Great Britain should annually purchase $50,000,000 of silver. The Indian Government, however, declined to agree to the first suggestion, and no action resulted.

Entry from Everybody's Cyclopedia, 1912.

Bi*met"al*lism (?), n. [F. bimétalisme.]

The legalized use of two metals (as gold and silver) in the currency of a country, at a fixed relative value; -- in opposition to monometallism.

⇒ The words bimétallisme and monométallisme are due to M. Cernuschi [1869]. Littré.


© Webster 1913.

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