Bland, Richard Parks, 1835-99, American statesman, b. near Hartford, Ky. He taught in rural schools in Kentucky and Missouri before he went to the gold fields of California in 1855. He was a prospector, miner, lawyer, and local official in mining towns of California, Colorado, and Nevada, and after 10 years he returned to Missouri and small-town law practice. In 1872 he was elected to the House of Representatives, where he served (except for 1895-97) until his death. A champion of Western interests and particularly of the free coinage of silver, he was the author of the original bill that, after major modifications by William B. Allison, became the Bland-Allison Act of 1878. Bland was not satisfied with this or the succeeding compromise, the Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890. He was a leader of the Western radicals who took over the Democratic national convention at Chicago in 1896, and was a leading candidate for the presidential nomination on the first three ballots. In the election he worked hard but futilely for the victory of William Jennings Bryan.

See W. V. Byars, An American Commoner (1900).

The Bland-Allison Act was a 1878 law passed over the veto of President Rutherford B. Hayes requiring the U.S. treasury to buy a certain amount of silver and put it into circulation as silver dollars. The goal was to subsidize the silver industry in the Mountain states and inflate prices. The law was replaced in 1890 by the similar Sherman Silver Purchase Act, which in turn was repealed by Congress in 1893.


U.S. Treasury would purchase quantities of bullion valued between $2 million and $4 million per month.

  1. The silver would be purchased at market prices, not at a predetermined ratio tied to the value of gold.
  2. The silver would be used to make coins at ratio of 16:1 to gold. In other words, 16 ounces of silver would be equivalent to one ounce of gold, regardless of the metals' respective market values.


This was part of something of the silver, bimetal- groups, and the forces who tried to bet it altogether. Rutherford B. Hayes, who was shown by banking and banking interests, opposed this act because he did not agree with the deflation that it would cause. Congress went against the veto.

However, the Hayes administration blunted the impact of the law. The Treasury Department never actually bought more than the $2 million minimum amount and never circulated the silver dollars. The Bland-Allison Act was replaced in 1890 by the Sherman Silver Purchase Act.

Gold remained the larger feature between both legislations. The term "limping bimetallism" has been used to describe this program.

The five-year depression following the panic of 1873 caused cheap-money advocates (led by Representative R. P. Bland of Missouri) to join with silver-producing interests in urging a return to Bimetallism, the use of both silver and gold as a monetary standard. The controversial mint reform act of 1873 eliminated the coinage of silver at a time when increased supplies from newly discovered Western mines were lowering prices. Silver advocates, decrying the so-called Crime of '73, demanded restoration of free coinage of silver at a ratio to gold of 16 to 1, approximately $1.29 an ounce.

Free coinage, as the symbol of justice for the poor, was seized upon by others determined to prevent resumption of specie payments (the redemption, in metallic coin, of U.S. paper money by banks or the Treasury) and desirous of plentiful inflationary currency. Bland's bill for free coinage, passed by the House on 5 November 1877, jeopardized Secretary of the Treasury John Sherman's plans for resuming specie payments. Sherman, through a Senate amendment sponsored by Senator W. B. Allison of Iowa, was able to substitute less inflationary limited purchases for free coinage. Silver producers accepted the arrangement as likely to restore silver to $1.29.

The law, passed 28 February 1878 over President Rutherford B. Hayes's veto, required government purchases, at market prices, of $2 million to $4 million worth of silver bullion monthly, and coinage into legal tender 16-to-1 dollars, exchangeable for $10 silver certificates. The president was directed to arrange an international bimetallic conference to meet within six months. These provisions signified victory for producers over inflationists.

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