Thomas Edison, Thomas Jefferson on monetary reform

This is my paper for The Center of Process Studies’ conference, Money-Creation in a Finite World (free and open to the public, April 10-12, 2012; Claremont Colleges, CA):

Money and credit as public services for full-employment, optimal infrastructure, ending debt slavery:Epic proponents, related history of US government and corporate media, partnership for Occupy victory

It’s divided into these 11 parts for articles (links added with each new section):

Monetary and credit reform: full-employment, end of debt slavery

Thomas Edison, Thomas Jefferson on monetary reform

President Andrew Jackson, Peter Cooper on monetary reform

NYC Mayor John Hylan, House Banking Committee Chairs on monetary reform

Benjamin Franklin, William Jennings Bryan on monetary reform

Charles Lindbergh Sr., 86% of Great Depression economists on monetary reform

What should the average citizen know about US War Crimes?

What should the average citizen know about US war history?

What is the leverage point for Occupy’s victory?

What does monetary and credit freedom look like?

My personal history of the 1% choosing to kill a million children each month


Monetary and credit reform is a policy objective to end transfer of trillions of the “99%’s wealth to an oligarchic “1%.” The US banking collusion only and always co-exists within a larger oligarchy with government for legal protection, and media for public propaganda. This paper presents histories in monetary reform and US government crimes in war suppressed by today’s US corporate media’s history texts and news journalism. When the oligarchy’s voice is professionally exposed as obviously and egregiously lying in omission and commission in claims of central importance of the past and present, government and corporate media loses credibility in an “emperor has no clothes” transformation. Refutation of the oligarchy’s voice with objective and independently verifiable facts, especially in light of current War Crimes and Constitutional destruction, supports our policy goal for monetary and credit reform because the public will seek alternative voices to build a brighter future. To support our goal of upgraded economic policies, we should be open to synergy with ecological and resource-based economic models, and network with Occupy.


Who in American history have argued for monetary reform?

“Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  – George Santayana, The Life of Reason, Vol. 1.

Monetary reform has been an American topic of interest since Benjamin Franklin wrote how it allows a government to operate nearly tax-free. Monetary reform has been a central topic for third party politics since the Greenback Party.

US corporate media, the Federal Reserve, and US government do not communicate the facts of an alternative to a debt-based system, despite this history. Given facts of increasing and unpayable federal and private debt, this is a lie of omission. Because this lie violates a fiduciary responsibility, costs the 99% trillions of their dollars, this becomes criminal conspiracy for financial fraud.

As near as I can tell, J.P. Morgan purchased corporate media in 1917 in order to propagandize the 99%’s support for the Federal Reserve and to enter WW1: [25]

Congressman Oscar Callaway lost his Congressional election for opposing US entry into WW 1. Before he left office, he demanded investigation into JP Morgan & Co for purchasing control over America’s leading 25 newspapers in order to propagandize US public opinion in favor of his corporate and banking interests, including profits from US participation in the war. Mr. Callaway alleged he had the evidence to prove Morgan associates were working as editors to select and edit articles, with the press receiving monthly payments for their allegiance to Morgan.

One of the leading papers, The New York Times, printed the story [26] of Congressman Callaway’s call for investigation from Washington, D.C., but the editor chose a curious obfuscating headline:


Moore Asks Inquiry Into Charges

on Preparedness Campaign.

And you should know [27] that professional US economics journals have half their editorial boards as current Federal Reserve employees, with most of the rest being past Federal Reserve employees. This control makes editorial choices to omit research critical of the Federal Reserve and fractional reserve lending much easier.

Following is my “top ten” list [28] of historical Americans who understood the mechanics of money and debt; with excerpts of what each communicated. I’ve chosen these excerpts for their power when each is considered, their overall teaching application to demonstrate credibility of this idea, and, well, the 99% seem to like “top ten” things.

Again, the length of this section is my choice to provide multiple credible sources to one convenient place.

“At first blush, a man is not capable of reporting truth; he must be drenched and saturated with it first.”  – Henry David Thoreau, I to myself: an annotated selection from the journal of Henry D. Thoreau, 1837.

Thomas Edison (1847-1931) held over 1,000 US patents for his inventions and is considered among the most brilliant minds in American history. Edison understood the engineering of our monetary system and actively spoke for monetary reform. These seven paragraphs are from an interview with the New York Times in 1921 [29] from a publicity tour Edison took with his friend and fellow inventor Henry Ford to discuss monetary reform:

“That is to say, under the old way any time we wish to add to the national wealth we are compelled to add to the national debt. Now, that is what Henry Ford wants to prevent. He thinks it is stupid, and so do I, that for the loan of $30,000,000 of their own money the people of the United States should be compelled to pay $66,000,000 — that is what it amounts to, with interest. People who will not turn a shovelful of dirt nor contribute a pound of material will collect more money from the United States than will the people who supply the material and do the work. That is the terrible thing about interest. In all our great bond issues the interest is always greater than the principal. All of the great public works cost more than twice the actual cost, on that account. Under the present system of doing business we simply add 120 to 150 per cent, to the stated cost.

But here is the point: If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill. The element that makes the bond good makes the bill good. The difference between the bond and the bill is that the bond lets the money brokers collect twice the amount of the bond and an additional 20 per cent, whereas the currency pays nobody but those who directly contribute to Muscle Shoals in some useful way.

… if the Government issues currency, it provides itself with enough money to increase the national wealth at Muscles Shoals without disturbing the business of the rest of the country. And in doing this it increases its income without adding a penny to its debt.

It is absurd to say that our country can issue $30,000,000 in bonds and not $30,000,000 in currency. Both are promises to pay; but one promise fattens the usurer, and the other helps the people. If the currency issued by the Government were no good, then the bonds issued would be no good either. It is a terrible situation when the Government, to increase the national wealth, must go into debt and submit to ruinous interest charges at the hands of men who control the fictitious values of gold.

Look at it another way. If the Government issues bonds, the brokers will sell them. The bonds will be negotiable; they will be considered as gilt edged paper. Why? Because the government is behind them, but who is behind the Government? The people. Therefore it is the people who constitute the basis of Government credit. Why then cannot the people have the benefit of their own gilt-edged credit by receiving non-interest bearing currency on Muscle Shoals, instead of the bankers receiving the benefit of the people’s credit in interest-bearing bonds?

Certainly there is a complete set of misleading slogans kept on hand for just such outbreaks of common sense among the people. The people are so ignorant of what they think are the intricacies of the money system that they are easily impressed by big words. There would be new shrieks of ‘fiat money,’ and ‘paper money’ and ‘green-backism,’ and all the rest of it – the same old cries with which the people have been shouted down from the beginning.

But maybe we have passed beyond the time when the thoughtful 2 per cent – you know, I gather from my questionnaire that only 2 per cent of the people think,” and Mr. Edison smiled broadly. “Maybe they can’t shout down American thinkers any longer. The only dynamite that works in this country is the dynamite of a sound idea. I think we are getting a sound idea on the money question. The people have an instinct which tells them that something is wrong, and that the wrong somehow centers in money. They have an instinct, also, which tells them when a proposal is made in their interests or against them.”

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, a foundation of American ideals. [30] He was a scholar of the Enlightenment, including religious tolerance and freedom. He communicates strong understanding of banks creating credit that cause inflation to devalue everyone’s currency, the gambling of created credit such as we see today in credit default swaps and exotic derivative trading:

Note: ME, FE = Memorial Edition, Ford Edition from the University of Virginia archives

“All the perplexities, confusions, and distresses in America arise, not from defects in their constitution or confederation, not from a want of honor or virtue, so much as from downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit, and circulation.” – John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson (178708-25), The Works of John Adams (I’ve included the only quote I have from Adams here, since it was directed to TJ)

“This institution (privately-owned central banks) is one of the most deadly hostility against the principles of our Constitution…suppose a series of untoward events should occur…an institution like this…in a critical moment might upset (overthrow) the government.” – Thomas Jefferson,December 1803 letter to Treasury Secretary, Albert Gallatin.

“The art and mystery of banks… is established on the principle that ‘private debts are a public blessing.’ That the evidences of those private debts, called bank notes, become active capital, and aliment the whole commerce, manufactures, and agriculture of the United States. Here are a set of people, for instance, who have bestowed on us the great blessing of running in our debt about two hundred millions of dollars, without our knowing who they are, where they are, or what property they have to pay this debt when called on; nay, who have made us so sensible of the blessings of letting them run in our debt, that we have exempted them by law from the repayment of these debts beyond a give proportion (generally estimated at one-third). And to fill up the measure of blessing, instead of paying, they receive an interest on what they owe from those to whom they owe; for all the notes, or evidences of what they owe, which we see in circulation, have been lent to somebody on an interest which is levied again on us through the medium of commerce. And they are so ready still to deal out their liberalities to us, that they are now willing to let themselves run in our debt ninety millions more, on our paying them the same premium of six or eight per cent interest, and on the same legal exemption from the repayment of more than thirty millions of the debt, when it shall be called for.” –Thomas Jefferson to John W. Eppes, 1813. ME 13:420

“Everything predicted by the enemies of banks, in the beginning, is now coming to pass. We are to be ruined now by the deluge of bank paper. It is cruel that such revolutions in private fortunes should be at the mercy of avaricious adventurers, who, instead of employing their capital, if any they have, in manufactures, commerce, and other useful pursuits, make it an instrument to burden all the interchanges of property with their swindling profits, profits which are the price of no useful industry of theirs.” –Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Cooper, 1814. ME 14:61

The treasury, lacking confidence in the country, delivered itself bound hand and foot to bold and bankrupt adventurers and bankers pretender to be money-holders, whom it could have crushed at any moment. Even the last half-bold, half-timid threat of the treasury, showed at once that these jugglers were at the feet of government. For it never was, and is not, any confidence in their frothy bubbles, but the lack of all other medium (money), which induced…people to take their paper…We are now without any common measure of value of property, and private fortunes are up or down at the will of the worst of our citizens. Yet there is no hope of relief from the legislators who have immediate control over this subject. As little seems to be known of the principles of political economy as if nothing had ever been written or practiced on the subject, or as was known in old times, when the (bankers) had their rulers under the hammer. It is an evil, therefore, which we must make up our minds to meet and to endure as those of hurricanes, earthquakes and other casualties: let us turn over therefore another leaf.” – Thomas Jefferson, October 16, 1815 letter to Gallatin. Letters and Addresses, edit. William Parker, (New York: 1905).

“The system of banking [I] have… ever reprobated. I contemplate it as a blot left in all our Constitutions, which, if not covered, will end in their destruction, which is already hit by the gamblers in corruption, and is sweeping away in its progress the fortunes and morals of our citizens.” –Thomas Jefferson to John Taylor, 1816. ME 15:18

“I sincerely believe… that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies, and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity under the name of funding is but swindling futurity on a large scale.” –Thomas Jefferson to John Taylor, 1816. ME 15:23

“I sincerely believe… that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity under the name of funding is but swindling futurity on a large scale.” –Thomas Jefferson to John Taylor, 1816. ME 15:23

“Certainly no nation ever before abandoned to the avarice and jugglings of private individuals to regulate according to their own interests, the quantum of circulating medium for the nation — to inflate, by deluges of paper, the nominal prices of property, and then to buy up that property at 1s. in the pound, having first withdrawn the floating medium which might endanger a competition in purchase. Yet this is what has been done, and will be done, unless stayed by the protecting hand of the legislature. The evil has been produced by the error of their sanction of this ruinous machinery of banks; and justice, wisdom, duty, all require that they should interpose and arrest it before the schemes of plunder and spoilation desolate the country.” –Thomas Jefferson to William C. Rives, 1819. ME 15:232


25 Herman, C. 1917: J.P. Morgan bought US corporate media to be 1’s lying sack of spin? Jan. 28, 2012

26 published Feb. 14, 1917

27 Herman, C. “Mainstream” media censors economic solutions, Federal Reserve controls economic journals. Nov. 30, 2009

28 Herman, C. If government created money instead of debt: America’s brightest historical minds speak. July 13, 2011

29 New York Times. Ford sees wealth in Muscle Shoals. Dec. 5, 1921

30 to consider the ideals Americans value, and has attracted people around the world: Herman, C. Core American values in the Declaration of Independence: compare to what we really have. Sept. 8, 2009

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  • 789

    Why not Adams’ whole paragraph to Jefferson:
    “The French debt, and all the domestic debt of the United States, might
    be transferred to Holland, if it were judged necessary or profitable,
    and the congress or convention would take two or three preparatory
    steps. All the perplexities, confusions, and
    distresses in America arise, not from defects in their constitution or
    confederation, not from a want of honor or virtue, so much as from
    downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit, and circulation.
    While an annual interest of twenty, thirty, and even fifty per cent. can
    be made, and a hope of augmenting capitals in a proportion of five
    hundred per cent. is opened by speculations in the stocks, commerce will
    not thrive. Such a state of things would annihilate the commerce, and
    overturn the government, too, in any nation in Europe.”

    Thomas Jefferson considered gold and silver money by nature, and the money of the constitution. He recommended that for war-financing purposes the government should issue non-legal-tender treasury notes, bottomed on taxes, and removed from circulation after the war. He never suggested that treasury notes should be a permanent fixture. He was opposed to the credit system; he wrote that banks, if they exist at all, should discount for coin alone.