The history of confiscation of precious metals is well documented, with literally tons of gold and silver ripped from the hands of ordinary Americans during the financially tumultuous years of the Great Depression. However, history books and academic research rarely shine light into the confiscation of silver and rather focus on gold, even though both were made illegal for a total of 40 years.
Though silver bullion was also made illegal to own during the 40-year ban, this is often little discussed, as silver coins were still a large part of the money supply up until 1964. Almost all pre-1964 coinage was 90% silver, and the coins were not illegal to own during this time, as it was a mainstay of the monetary economy. Silver bars, on the other hand, were illegal, as they represented wealth outside the monetary system and were systematically "purchased" from their owners at a price well below market value.
The Future of Confiscation
Confiscation is just as possible today as it was nearly 70 years ago. In a war-time act drafted during World War I known as the "Trading with the Enemy Act," the U.S. Treasury still has the power to seize all assets, including gold and silver, of anyone suspected of being in cahoots with a foreign government. Unfortunately, the wording is so incredibly loose that lawyers worry it could be construed to seize the assets of Americans involved in any foreign trade or investment.
The act is also empowered by the 1977 International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which extends the "Trading with the Enemy Act" to include all conflict, whether declared as a war or not.
More recently, in January 2010, the SEC approved a new regulation on money markets, which would allow for the suspension of redemptions, practically freezing investor's assets for any duration the SEC sees fit.
Could Gold and Silver Be Confiscated Again?
Source: Commodity Online, Jeffrey Lewis (2/10/10)
". . .in January 2010, the SEC approved a new regulation on money markets"