A History of the Latin Union
Journal of Political Economy
THE world of letters in Europe has not allowed the work of the American universities to pass unnoticed; and rightly so for nowhere else has progress in recent years been so rapid. The University of Chicago particularly commends itself to the attention of economists both by its courses of instruction and by its publications, which reflect the work of the University. The latest of these publications has peculiar interest for us, since the subject of which it treats is essentially European-the
... ly European-the Latin Monetary Union.2 Many are the authors who have described, discussed, lauded, or criticised it, but one may say it still awaited its historian. That he has been found not in France nor in Italy, neither in Belgium nor in Switzerland, but in the United States is no occasion for regret on our part. It has only resulted in making the enquiry more impartial and not at all in making it less complete, for Mr. Willis has neithier been ignorant of, nor neglected any of the sources which might be of service to him. I myself took great pleasure, while I was director of the French Mint, in opening to him its archives. I could testify, were not the book in itself sufficient witness, to the conscientiousness and the patience which he showed in mastering the original sources. He has read or examined everything, the official texts, the proce's verlaux, the discussions, and even the articles in the reviews and the newspapers. Some of the chapters are models of analysis and synthesis. Such are those in which he has successively initiated the reader into the genesis, the progress, and the effects of this monetary syndicate which, inaugurated by the convention of December 23, I865, has continued, despite all vicissitudes to the present time. A foreigner has need of great clearness of vision to distinguish in the causes of that international agreement between the influence of economic, and of political considerations. Mr. Willis has made manifest the practical difficulties which compelled us, thirty-six years ago, to reduce the standard of our fractional silver in order to check its exportation. The same necessity had been felt in Italy, in Belgium, and in Switzerland. The independent action of these states brought about certain differences of which speculation sought to take advantage at the expense of the circulating medium.