The Currency Bill


The Currency Bill


Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924




1913 August 7


Woodrow Wilson speaks to a delegation of bankers about the currency bill.


Wilson Papers, Library of Congress, Library of Congress, Washington, District of Columbia


Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924--Correspondence


The President,
before a delegation of bankers,
at the White House,
August 7, 1913.

I have been told by Mr. McAdoo that you expect me to say a few words, and having had the practice of a great many campaigns, perhaps it will be possible for me to do so on such short notice, particularly since my mind is very full of the matter upon which you have come to Washington. I believe I can say that almost for the first time, if not literally for the first time, the Government of the United States has thought that perhaps the rank and file of the bankers of the United States were entitled to the use of the people’s money, rather than a special group who had subsequently doled it out to them on their own terms. You see, I am speaking with perfect freedom, because I am speaking only within the walls of this room.
I feel that a new era is going to come to American business because the vitality of the business of the country is now going to come from all quarters, instead of from one quarter. What we are trying to do in the currency bill, we are trying to do in every way. In the currency bill we want to mobilize the financial resources of the country. I want to mobilize the energies of the country. I want to see those energies originate, as they can so abundantly originate, from every quarter of this country, so that every fibre of the body politic and of the body mercantile and the body industrial shall be quick with life. It is for that reason that I welcome this opportunity of saying a word or two to you. I have never been sure in past years when I heard and when I did not hear the business of the country speak. Because we have not heard the business of the country; the business of the country has not been vocal. It has not spoken out. There have been times when some of the big business men of this country have spoken to me about the real conditions behhind their hands and have been obviously nervous lest I should quote them somewhere. They did not say where. An absolutely abnormal condition of affairs!. The business of this country thrives by the energy and initiative of men throughout the whole nation who undertake its enterprises. And so the financial situation of this country is so full of vitality in proportion as it proceeds from the brains and initiative of the bankers, rank and file, from one end of the country to the other.
I bespeak your support in this sense. I believe that action such as we are now taking will enable you to understand the temper of the present adminstration, and having once caught our object we will have the sympathy of your minds and the sympathy of your energies. What we are seeking to do in this currency bill is to disperse the energy of the United States. It should be dispersed; it is not energy until it is dispersed, ––until it thrills at the very tips of the country. So that we are seeking your counsel; we are seeking your support––your intellectual support––; and we are seeking to draw you into connection and partnership with those of us who have no other function, as I understand it, than to serve the people of the United States. That is the simple message I have for you tihis afternoon, and I beg that you will regard it as my confidential utterances in your own ears, to sink, I hope, so deep that you will henceforth have no reason to question what the object of the Government of the United States is, whether we have the wisdom to accomplish that object or not.


Original Format




Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924, “The Currency Bill,” 1913 August 7, WWP17917, First Year Wilson Papers, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.