Advertisement for Coin’s Financial
, 1894. The book’s circulation reportedly was exceeded only by the Bible.


Harvey was a prolific writer; a second
book, A Tale of Two Nations, also was published in 1894. This book was reprinted by Harvey after he came to Arkansas.

When Harvey arrived in Chicago in 1893, the nation was in the midst of a serious depression. Harvey and other western business leaders became convinced that prosperity could be restored by returning to the free coinage of silver, which had been stopped in 1873. Many farmers, especially in the South and West, agreed. Farmers organized the Farmer’s Alliance to work for change. Soon the members of the Alliance decided that a new political party was needed, and the Populist Party was born. One of its key demands was the unlimited coinage of silver at a ratio of 16 to 1 (that is to say, 16 ounces of silver would have the same value as one ounce of gold). Most supporters of Free Silver also called for regulation of railroad rates, breaking up of monopolies, and other reforms to benefit farmers and workers.

It was against this backdrop that William Harvey became a spokesman for reform. Soon he became nationally known for his financial theories. His 1894 book Coin’s Financial School brought him fame and his nickname. Sale of this and other books also brought Harvey wealth. By 1895 Harvey was so associated with the Free Silver movement that he was selected to champion the cause in several debates. This increased his influence even further. As the election of 1896 neared, leaders in the movement discussed how the friends of Free Silver in the Democratic, Republican, and Populist Parties could all be united.

William Jennings Bryan, about 1902.
Courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints
and Photographs Division



Some proposed creating yet another new party. But Harvey suggested instead that silver supporters unite around a Democratic candidate who would select a Populist running mate and promise Cabinet seats to Populists and silver Republicans. That candidate was William Jennings Bryan, who won the nomination after his stirring “Cross of Gold” speech. Harvey became an enthusiastic supporter of Bryan, and it has even been suggested that he was the ghost writer for that famous speech.



More Info

To view an excerpt from Coin’s Financial School, click here.
Part I.   (856kb pdf)
Part II.  (914kb pdf)
Part III. (1722kb pdf)
Part IV. (1920kb pdf)
Part V.  (1045kb pdf)

To view an excerpt from A Tale of Two Nations, click here.
Part I.   (892kb pdf)
Part II.  (940kb pdf)
Part III. (1953kb pdf)

For gold standard advocate James L. Laughlin’s reply to Harvey in their 1895 debate, click here.

For the text and audio of Bryan’s “Cross of Gold” speech, click here.

For an analysis of the election of 1896, click here.

For a complete list of Harvey’s writings, click here  (15kb pdf)

Introduction | Early Life | Adventures Out West | The Free Silver Crusade | Retreat to Monte Ne
Monte Ne Heyday | The Ozark Trails Association | Gloom and Doom | A Run for the Presidency | Monte Ne Today