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The metal that backed paper currency was an important issue in the 1896 presidential campaign because after the Panic of 1893, the government's supply of gold had worn thin. Without enough gold backing the paper money, the value of the US dollar would drop and it caused people to panic, Wall Street stock prices to plunge; an economic crisis like the Great Depression and now. So the main issue of the campaign was whether to stick to the gold standard, backing dollars with just gold(Republicans), and bimetallism, backing the dollar with gold and silver(Democrats) like we do today.

Paper money was seen as completely useless if you couldn't trade it in for gold or silver, and since there was an abundance of silver backing the dollar with both would decrease the value of a single dollar but increase the amount of paper money in circulation. By sticking to the gold standard, currency would be more stable but more expensive and supporters of bimetallism hoped that this method would help stimulate the stagnant economy.

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Jesco Wilm

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3y ago
"bimetallism, backing the dollar with gold and silver(Democrats) like we do today."  Our paper money isn't backed by precious metal today. It's only backed by a promise of the US Government. In other words, it's worth nothing.

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Q: Why was the metal that backed paper currency such an important issue in the 1896 presidential campaign?
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