Referring to a specific section of the Constitution, explain what Father Coughlin means by "Congress has the right to regulate the value of money."In his Address to Townsendites

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larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Father Coughlin, the "radio priest" of the Great Depression, frequently attacked New Deal programs which he considered to be un-American. Coughlin's remarks, often anti-Semitic, railed against Congressional programs with considerable hyperbole, and often relied on a conflated interpretation of the Constitution. He often praised Adolf Hitler and Mussolini, and decried American assistance to "Jewish bankers" in Europe. In this particular speech, he rails against loans made by Congress to foreign countries, This he sees as the death of capitalism and the American system. He also sharply criticized New Deal programs which assisted those out of work, which he considered unnecessary. His remarks bear strange resemblance to the present day Tea Party. The following excerpts from the speech are indicative:

Oh, capitalism shall never again flourish as once it did. Capitalism has been almost taxed out of existence in an effort to meet the coupons and the bonds, in an effort to meet the dole system that is absolutely unnecessary in a country of our wealth.

Somebody must be blamed, of course. But those in power always forget to blame themselves. They always forget to read the Constitution of the United States of America that says, “Congress has the power to issue and regulate the value of money.” And blinding their eyes to that as they protect the private issuance of money and the private fixation of money, we are going merrily on our way.

Despite the advice of Washington of no foreign entanglements, despite the passage of the Jansen Act, [Johnson Debt Default Act] which forbids us to lend money to those who already have borrowed it and who have not returned their loans, perhaps despite those things, some way, some miraculous way shall be found to project America into the next maelstrom. And democracy once more, thinking that it has power within its soul, shall rise up to clap and applaud, because the youth of the land is going abroad to make the world safe for what? Safe for dictatorship? Safe against communism abroad when we have communism at home? Safe from socialism in France when we have socialism in America? Or safe, safe for the international bankers?

Incidentally, his remarks were made in a radio broadcast; they were not a speech to the Townsend Club.



pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The right of Congress to regulate the value of money (as well as to coin it, which Father Coughlin mentions in his speech) is stated explicitly in the Constitution.  It is in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution.  Article I is the article that lays out the powers that Congress has.  Section 8 says, among other things, that Congress has the power  "To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof."

What Coughlin is saying in this speech is that only Congress should have this power.  He feels that the Congress has abdicated this power and that the Federal Reserve has taken the power for itself, thus helping (he says) to cause the economic problems the country was undergoing at the time.