Commentary :: Economy and Trade : Legislation

Old Left Radicalism on The Money Issue

During the 'teens, twenties and 'thirties of the past century, radical political formations in America called for the nationalization of the Federal Reserve System and of Credit.
Old Left Party Platforms Regarding The Federal Reserve System and Banking and Currency Reform

The Progressive Party Platform


6. We favor ... the reconstruction of the Federal Reserve and Federal Farm loan Systems, so as to eliminate control by usurers, speculators and international financiers, and to make the credit of the nation available upon fair terms to all and without discrimination to business men, farmers, and home-builders ...

Progressive Political Action Platform, 1924:

(5) Reconstruction of the Federal Reserve and Federal Farm Loan systems to provide for direct public control of the nation's money and credit on fair terms to all, and national and state legislation to permit and promote Co-operative banking.

Socialist Party Platform, 1932


1. Socialization of our credit and currency system and the establishment of a unified banking system, beginning with the complete government acquisition of the Federal Reserve Banks and the extension of the services of postal savings banks to cover all departments of the banking business and the transference of this department of the post office to a Government-owned banking corporation.

The Farmer-Labor Party Platform, 1932


The fifth clause of Section 8 of Article I of the United States Constitution provides:

"The Congress shall have power to coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures."

"To coin money,” means to print money for the use of the Nation, States, counties, townships, cities, towns, villages, school districts, and for the people, at cost of printing and service.

"To regulate the value thereof,” means the Congress gives by an act, authority and debt-paying power to foreign coin (money) coming into the United States, the same as that which it authorizes to be coined or printed.

The United States Supreme Court decided:

"Congress authorized to establish a national currency either in coin or in paper and to make that currency lawful money for all purposes as regards the National government of private individuals."

Organized Banking and Currency System

(a) We demand legislation to abolish the Federal Reserve Banking System (Fiscal Agent of the United States), private ownership of the United States Banking and Currency System, by repealing the present unconstitutional banking laws on that Subject, and then placing them in the hands of the Communities, i.e., the Federal, State, and local governmental bodies, so that the profits, if any, shall accrue to the People's Governments, thereby preventing panics, depressions, and crises, and private control of money.

Postal Savings Banks

(b) As a step to that goal, we demand a law to authorize Postal Savings Banks in each post-office to accept deposits and permit checking accounts without limit in amount, make loans at uniform interest rate of 2 per cent per annum.

Currency and Free Coinage of Silver

(c) We demand laws providing for the issuance of sound money, full legal tender currency, by the Federal government. And we favor the opening of the mints to the free coinage of silver produced in the United States at its present weight and fineness, but only as coordinate money with that sound money currency, and not as redeemable money. All such money to be redeemable in service rendered by the government, and said money and credit based on same to be properly regulated as to volume in circulation.

Refinancing of Mortgages

(e) (2) For the benefit of farmers and other reai estate owners, we favor the immediate enactment of a law based on the principles of the Bill S.F. 1197, now before Congress, the title of which is A bill to liquidate and refinance agricultural indebtedness, and to encourage and promote agriculture, commerce, and industry, by establishing an efficient credit system, through which unjust and unequal burdens placed upon agriculture, during the period of price fixing and deflation may be lightened by providing for the liquidation and refinancing of farm mortgages,...and creating a Board of Agriculture to supervise same.

(f) We demand Federal and State government guarantees to the laborers of an opportunity to work at a living wage, or failing, which they shall be paid unemployment insurance benefits by a Federal and State Unemployment Insurance Plan.

Limit Speculation

(g) We favor effective legislation to prohibit gambling in securities or commodities.

Redemption of Bonds

(i) Liberty bonds and all other Federal government bond issues to be redeemed by the Federal government legal tender currency within a period of five years in equal annual proportions and further Federal bond issues to be prohibited by law.


National Party Platforms
Volume 1, 1840-1956
Compiled by Donald Bruce Johnson
Urbana, Illinois

Farmer-Labor Party Platform


The Farmer-Labor Party of Minnesota recognizes that the United States has the most wonderful resources, great factories, machinery of production, steam power and millions of capable workers and farmers ready and able to produce food, clothing, and shelter in great abundance for us all.

At this time when all of us could live in prosperity and happiness we find that there are millions of working men and women in poverty, want and degradation and that there are also hundreds of thousands of farmers, business and professional people who have become poverty-stricken and bankrupt and millions of people in all walks of life are compelled to eat the bread of charity.

Palliative measures will continue to fail. Only a complete reorganization of our social structure into a Co-operative Commonwealth will bring economic security and prevent a prolonged period of acute suffering among the people.

We, therefore, declare that Capitalism has failed and immediate steps must be taken by the people to abolish Capitalism in a careful and lawful manner, and that a new sane and just society must be established; a system where all the natural resources, machinery of production, transportation and communication shall be owned by the government and operated democratically for the benefit of all and not for the benefit of the few.

In order to bring about this Co-operative Commonwealth and also for the purpose of adopting legislation for the immediate good of the people, the farmer-labor party adopts as its platform the following proposals :

INDUSTRIAL PROGRAM — To protect our citizens from exploitation through industrial profits, we demand public ownership of all mines, water, power, transportation and communication, banks, packing plants, factories and all public utilities. Provided that this shall not apply to bona fide co-operatively owned and operated enterprises.

TAX EXEMPT SECURITIES — We oppose the issuance of tax-exempt securities.

CONSUMERS CO-OPERATIVES — The powers of government to allow consumers to freely organize on a co-operative basis, unrestricted by discriminatory laws.

MONEY AND BANKING — Nationalization of banking with government monopoly of money and credit operated without profit...

The issue of money is a governmental function and all money should be issued directly by the government and made a legal tender in payment of all debts.

All money permitted by law to be issued against the gold now in the United States treasury should be put into circulation by the payment of all government bonds due, or soon to become due, and for all public works constructed.

We declare our opposition to issuance of interest-bearing bonds by the government...

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-- Mark Twain
Source: "Glances at History" (suppressed)

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