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Phil Crane and Gold

Former US Representative Phil Crane passed away this weekend.  Readers of this blog should remember him as the author of the legislation to re-legalize monetary gold ownership in 1974.

Richard Viguerie's Conservative HQ writes:

In the 1960s and 70s Phil Crane, along with Bob Dornan, Dr. Ron Paul, John Ashbrook, senators Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond were among the leaders of the conservative movement who challenged not only the Democrats, but the Republican establishment as well. . .

Although his legislative record was one of principled conservatism – over his long career, he got a 99 percent rating from the American Conservative Union – and he authored the 1974 legislation permitting the private ownership of gold, these things are again, somewhat forgotten, but the Republican Study Committee he founded lives on to affect legislation and what happens on Capitol Hill every day.

David L. Ganz in his book "The Essential Guide to Investing in Precious Metals: How to begin, build and maintain a properly diversified portfolio" related the short history of how Rep. Crane was able to reverse the ban on gold and move us towards monetary freedom (p. 65):

Starting in the early 1970s, a group of "gold bugs" began to advocate private gold ownership rights and eventually, they found the ear of some congressmen and senators who bought into their fairness theory and the claimed illegality of the gold seizures and recalls of the 1930s.

In a truly bizarre episode, they tacked a resolution allowing for private gold ownership onto the foreign aid package that the Nixon Administration wanted.  Presidential vetoes were threatened and an alarmist attitude prevailed at the Main Treasury building.

The foreign aid bill with its non-germane gold ownership clause finally made it to a vote in which conservative members such as Rep. Phil Crane, R-Ill., and others voted with liberal Democrats.  Crane said to me later it was the only foreign aid bill that he voted for in his 35-year congressional career.

His rationale: it was more important to get private gold ownership than argue the vagaries of a single year's foreign aid package.

Congressman Ron Paul's Freedom Under Siege similarly credits Congressman Phil Crane and explains a bit more about the general context with Howard Segermark and Sen. Jesse Helms re-legalizing gold clause contracts.

Bruce Bartlett, like me a former staffer for Rep. Ron Paul, shares the story that Congressman Phil Crane shared with him about his visit to Ft. Knox and inspection of the gold there on his blog here.

Although not yet old enough to vote, I supported Congressman Crane in his 1980 presidential run (losing, of course, to Ronald Reagan) and was a big fan of his.  Soon after I started working as the monetary policy staffer of Congressman Paul in 1997, I met the chief of staff, I think it was, for Congressman Crane.  I told him I was a big fan and brought up the gold issue with him.  He told me that he and his boss still favored a return to a gold standard and lamented that so few were interested in these issues anymore.

I'm glad Phil Crane lived long enough to see a rebirth in interest in gold and monetary alternatives and a growing skepticism towards the Federal Reserve.