In a truly dictatorial and un-American act Franklin Roosevelt outlawed gold, an element! He then stole 40% of the value of gold. If Americans were caught with gold coins they were put in prison. Yes this did happen. How does this square with the American concept of the Rule of Law? We should not forget that this happened.
One example: The Uebersee Finanz-Korporation, a Swiss banking company, had $1,250,000 in gold coins for business use. The Uebersee Finanz-Korporation entrusted the gold to an American firm for safekeeping. The Swiss were shocked to find that their gold was confiscated. The Swiss made appeals, but those appeals were denied. The Swiss were entitled to paper money – but not their gold. Of course, after the gold was seized, there was a 1934 overnight increase of the price of gold from $20.67 per ounce to $35 per ounce. The Swiss company lost 40% of their gold’s value.
The stated reason for the order was that hard times had caused “hoarding” of gold, stalling economic growth and making the depression worse. The New York Times, on April 6, 1933, p. 16, wrote under the headline “Hoarding of Gold”, “The Executive Order issued by the President yesterday amplifies and particularizes his earlier warnings against hoarding. On March 6, taking advantage of a wartime statute that had not been repealed, he issued Presidential Proclamation 2039 that forbade the hoarding ‘of gold or silver coin or bullion or currency,’ under penalty of $10,000 and/or up to five to ten years imprisonment.”
The main rationale behind the order was actually to remove the constraint on the Federal Reserve which prevented it from increasing the money supply during the depression; the Federal Reserve Act required 40% gold backing of Federal Reserve Notes issued. By the late 1920s, the Federal Reserve had almost hit the limit of allowable credit (in the form of Federal Reserve demand notes) that could be backed by the gold in its possession (see Great Depression). If gold can’t be legally owned, then it can’t be legally redeemed. If it can’t be legally redeemed, then it can’t constrain the central bank.
Effect of the order
Executive Order 6102 required all persons to deliver on or before May 1, 1933, all but a small amount of gold coin, gold bullion, and gold certificates owned by them to the Federal Reserve, in exchange for $20.67 (equivalent to $376.58 today) per troy ounce. Under the Trading With the Enemy Act of 1917, as amended by the recently passed Emergency Banking Act of March 9, 1933, violation of the order was punishable by fine up to $10,000 (equivalent to $182,185 today) or up to ten years in prison, or both.
Order 6102 specifically exempted “customary use in industry, profession or art”—a provision that covered artists, jewellers, dentists, and sign makers among others. The order further permitted any person to own up to $100 in gold coins (a face value equivalent to 5 troy ounces (160 g) of gold valued at about $6,655 in 2014). The same paragraph also exempted “gold coins having recognized special value to collectors of rare and unusual coins.” This protected recognized gold coin collections from legal seizure and likely melting.
The price of gold from the Treasury for international transactions was thereafter raised to $35 an ounce ($587 in 2010 dollars). The resulting profit that the government realized funded the Exchange Stabilization Fundestablished by the Gold Reserve Act in 1934.
The regulations prescribed within Executive Order 6102 were modified by Executive Order 6111 of April 20, 1933, both of which were ultimately revoked and superseded by Executive Orders 6260 and 6261 of August 28 and 29, 1933, respectively.
Executive Order 6102 also led to the ultra-rarity of the 1933 Double Eagle gold coin. The order caused all gold coin production to cease and all 1933 minted coins to be destroyed. About 20 illegal coins were stolen, leading to a standing United States Secret Service warrant for arrest and confiscation of the coin. A legalized coin sold for over 7.5 million dollars, making it one of the most valuable coins in the world.
Numerous individuals and companies were prosecuted related to President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 6102. The prosecutions took place under subsequent Executive Orders 6111, 6260, 6261 and the Gold Reserve Act of 1934.
There was a need to strengthen Executive Order 6102, as the one prosecution under the order was ruled invalid by federal judge John M. Woolsey, on the grounds that the order was signed by the President, not the Secretary of the Treasury as required.
The circumstances of the case were that a New York attorney, Frederick Barber Campbell, had on deposit at Chase National over 5,000 troy ounces (160 kg) of gold. When Campbell attempted to withdraw the gold Chase refused and Campbell sued Chase. A federal prosecutor then indicted Campbell on the following day (September 27, 1933) for failing to surrender his gold. Ultimately, the prosecution of Campbell failed, but the authority of the federal government to seize gold was upheld, and Campbell’s gold was confiscated.
The case was cause for the Roosevelt administration to issue a new order under the signature of the Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., which was in force for a few months until the passage of the Gold Reserve Act on January 30, 1934.
President Roosevelt issued new Executive Orders 6260, 6261 related to the seizure of gold and the prosecution of gold hoarders: also the Congress passed the Gold Reserve Act of 1934. Prosecutions of U.S. citizens and non citizens followed the new orders.
Gus Farber, a diamond and jewelry merchant from San Francisco, was prosecuted for the sale of thirteen $20 gold coins without a license. Secret Service agents discovered the sale with the help of the buyer. Farber, his father, and 12 others were also arrested in four American cities after a sting conducted by the United States Secret Service. The arrests took place simultaneously in New York and three California cities, San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland. Morris Anolik was arrested in New York with $5000 in U.S. and foreign gold coins. Dan Levin and Edward Friedman of San Jose were arrested with $15,000 in gold. Sam Nankin was arrested in Oakland. In San Francisco, nine men were arrested on charges of hoarding gold. In all, $24,000 in gold was seized by Secret Service Agents.
David Baraban and his son Jacob Baraban owned a refining company. The Barabans’ license to deal in unmelted scrap gold was revoked, so the Barabans operated their refining business under a license issued to a Minnie Sarch. The Barabans admitted that Minnie Sarch had nothing to do with the business, and that she had obtained the license so that the Barabans could continue to deal in gold. The Barabans had a cigar box full of gold-filled scrap jewelry visible in one of the showcases. Government agents raided the Barabans’ business and found another hidden box of U.S. and foreign gold coins. The coins were seized and Baraban was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States.
In 1934, Congress passed the Gold Reserve Act of 1934 which ratified President Roosevelt’s orders. A new set of Treasury regulations was issued providing civil penalties of confiscation of all gold and imposition of fines equal to double the value of the gold seized. Louis Ruffino was one individual who was indicted on three counts purporting to charge violations of the Trading With The Enemy Act. Eventually, Ruffino appealed the conviction to the Circuit Court of Appeals 9th District in 1940; however, the judgment of the lower courts was upheld based on the President’s executive orders and the Gold Reserve Act of 1934. Ruffino, a resident of Sutter Creek in California-gold country, was convicted of possessing 78 ounces of gold and was sentenced to 6 months in jail, paid a $500 fine, and had his gold seized.
Foreigners also had gold confiscated, and were forced to accept paper money for their gold. The Uebersee Finanz-Korporation, a Swiss banking company, had $1,250,000 in gold coins for business use. The Uebersee Finanz-Korporation entrusted the gold to an American firm for safekeeping. The Swiss were shocked to find that their gold was confiscated. The Swiss made appeals, but those appeals were denied. The Swiss were entitled to paper money – but not their gold. Of course, after the gold was seized, there was a 1934 overnight increase of the price of gold from $20.67 per ounce to $35 per ounce. The Swiss company lost 40% of their gold’s value. Read More: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_Order_6102