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Ratification Speech

Robert Green Ingersoll

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          Contents of this file                            page

     RATIFICATION SPEECH.                                    1
     BANGOR SPEECH.                                         15

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                The Works of ROBERT G. INGERSOLL

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                      RATIFICATION SPEECH.

                              1888.

     FELLOW-CITIZENS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN -- The speaker who is
perfectly candid, who tells his honest thought, not only honors
himself, but compliments his audience. It is only to the candid
that man can afford to absolutely open his heart. Most people,
whenever a man is nominated for the presidency, claim that they
were for him from the very start -- as a rule, claim that they
discovered him. They are so anxious to be with the procession, so
afraid of being left, that they insist that they got exactly the
man they wanted.

     I will be frank enough with you to say that the convention did
not nominate my choice. I was for the nomination of General
Gresham, believing that, all things considered, he was the best and
most available man a just judge, a soldier, a statesman. But there
is something in the American blood that bows to the will of the
majority. There is that splendid fealty and loyalty to the great
principle upon which our Government rests; so that when the
convention reached its conclusion, every Republican was for the
nominee. There were good men from which to select this ticket. I
made my selection, and did the best I could to induce the
convention to make the same. Some people think, or say they think,
that I made a mistake in telling the name of the man whom I was
for. But I always know whom I am for, I always know what I am for,
and I know the reasons why I am for the thing or for the man.

     And it never once occurred to me that we could get a man
nominated, or elected, and keep his name a secret. When I am for a
man I like to stand by him, even while others leave, no matter if
at last I stand alone. I believe in doing things above board, in
the light, in the wide air. No snake ever yet had a skin brilliant
enough, no snake ever crawled through the grass secretly enough,
silently or cunningly enough, to excite my admiration. My
admiration is for the eagle, the monarch of the empyrean, who,
poised on outstretched pinions, challenges the gaze of all the

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                    1888 RATIFICATION SPEECH.

world. Take your position in the sunlight; tell your neighbors and
your friends what you are for, and give your reasons for your
position; and if that is a mistake, I expect to live making only
mistakes. I do not like the secret way, but the plain, open way;
and I was for one man, not because I had anything against the
others, who were all noble, splendid men, worthy to be Presidents
of the United States.

     Now, then, leaving that subject, two parties again confront
each other. With parties as with persons goes what we call
character. They have built up in the nation in which they live
reputation, and the reputation of a party should be taken into
consideration as well as the reputation of a man. What is this
party? What has it done? What has it endeavored to do? What are the
ideas in its brain? What are the hopes, the emotions and the loves
in its heart? Does it wish to make the world grander and better and
freer? Has it a high ideal? Does it believe in sunrise, or does it
keep its back to the sacred east of eternal progress? These are the
questions that every American should ask. Every man should take
pride in this great Nation -- America, with a star of glory in her
forehead! -- and every man should say, "I hope when I lie down in
death I shall leave a greater and grander country than when I was
born."

     This is the country of humanity. This is the Government of the
poor. This is where man has an even chance with his fellow-man. In
this country the poorest man holds in his hand at the day of
election the same unit, the same amount, of political power as the
owner of a hundred millions. That is the glory of the United
States.

     A few days ago our party met in convention. Now, let us see
who we are. Let us see what the Republican party is. Let us see
what is the spirit that animates this great and splendid
organization.

     And I want you to think one moment, just one moment: What was
this country when the first Republican President was elected? Under
the law then, every Northern man was a bloodhound, pledged to catch
human beings, who, led by the light of the Northern Star, were
escaping to free soil. Remember that. And remember, too, that when
our first President was elected we found a treasury empty, the
United States without credit, the great Republic unable to borrow
money from day to day to pay its current expenses. Remember that.
Think of the glory and grandeur of the Republican party that took
the country with an empty exchequer, and then think of what the
Democratic party says to-day of the pain and anguish it has
suffered administering the Government with a surplus!

     We must remember what the Republican party has done -- what it
has accomplished for nationality, for liberty, for education and
for the civilization of our race. We must remember its courage in
war, its honesty in peace, Civil war tests to a certain degree the
strength, the stability and the patriotism of a country. After the
war comes a greater strain. it is a great thing to die for a cause,
but it is a greater thing to live for it. We must remember that the
Republican party not only put down a rebellion, not only created a

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debt of thousands and thousands of millions, but that it had the
industry and the intelligence to pay that debt, and to give to the
United States the best financial standing of any nation.

     When this great party came together, in Chicago what was the
first thing the convention did? What was the first idea in its
mind? It was to honor the memory of the greatest and grandest men
the Republic has produced. The first name that trembled upon the
lips of the convention was that of Abraham Lincoln -- Abraham
Lincoln, one of the greatest and grandest men who ever lived, and,
in my judgment, the greatest man that ever sat in the presidential
chair. And why the greatest? Because the kindest, because he had
more mercy and love in his heart than were in the heart of any
other President. And so the convention paid its tribute to the
great soldier, to the man who led, in company with others, the
great army of freedom to victory, until the old flag floated over
every inch of American soil and every foot of that territory was
dedicated to the eternal freedom of mankind.

     And what next did this convention do? The next thing was to
send fraternal greetings to the Americans of Brazil. Why? Because
Brazil had freed every slave, and because that act left the New
World, this hemisphere, without a slave -- left two continents
dedicated to the freedom of man -- so that with that act of Brazil
the New World, discovered only a few years ago, takes the lead in
the great march of human progress and liberty. That is the second
thing the convention did. Only a little while ago the minister to
this country from Brazil, acting under instructions from his
government, notified the President of the United States that this
sublime act had been accomplished. -- notified him that from the
bodies of millions of men the chains of slavery had fallen -- an
act great enough to make the dull sky of half the world glow as
though another morning had risen upon another day.

     And what did our President say? Was he filled with enthusiasm?
Did his heart beat quicker? Did the blood rush to his cheek? He
simply said, as it is reported, "that he hoped time would justify
the wisdom of the measure." It is precisely the same as though a
man should quit a life of crime, as though some gentleman in the
burglar business should finally announce to his friends I have made
up my mind never to break into another house," and the friend
should reply: "I hope that time will justify the propriety of that
resolution."

     That was the first thing, with regard to the condition of the
world, that came into the mind of the Republican convention. And
why was that? Because the Republican party has fought for liberty
from the day of its birth to the present moment.

     And what was the next? The next resolution passed by the
convention was, "that we earnestly hope we shall soon congratulate
our fellow-citizens of Irish birth upon the peaceful recovery of
home rule in Ireland."

     Wherever a human being wears a chain, there you will find the
sympathy of the Republican party. Wherever one languishes in a
dungeon for having raised the standard of revolt in favor of human

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freedom, there you will find the sympathy of the Republican party.
I believe in liberty for Ireland, not because it is Ireland, but
because they are human beings, and I am for liberty, not as a
prejudice, but as a principle.

     The man rightfully in jail who wants to get out is a believer
in liberty as a prejudice; but when a man out of jail sees a man
wrongfully in jail and is willing to risk his life to give liberty
to the man who ought to have it, that is being in favor of liberty
as a principle. So I am in favor of liberty everywhere, all over
the world, and wherever one man tries to govern another simply
because he has been born a lord or a duke or a king, or wherever
one governs another simply by brute force, I say that that is
oppression, and it is the business of Americans to do all they can
to give liberty to the oppressed everywhere.

     Ireland should govern herself. Those who till the soil should
own the soil, or have an opportunity at least of becoming the
owners. A few landlords should not live in extravagance and luxury
while those who toil live on the leavings, on parings, on crumbs
and crusts. The treatment of Ireland by England has been one
continuous crime. There is no meaner page in history,

     What is the next thing in this platform? And if there is
anything in it that anybody can object to, we will find it out
to-night. The next thing is the supremacy of the Nation. Why, even
the Democrats now believe in that, and in their own platform are
willing to commence that word with a capital N. They tell us that
they are in favor of an indissoluble Union -- just as I presume
they always have been. But they now believe in a Union. So does the
Republican party. What else? The Republican party believes, not in
State Sovereignty, but in the preservation of all the rights
reserved to the States by the Constitution.

     Let me show you the difference: For instance, you make a
contract with your neighbor who lives next door -- equal partners
-- and at the bottom of the contract you put the following
addition: "If there is any dispute as to the meaning of this
contract, my neighbor shall settle it, and any settlement he shall
make shall be final." Is there any use of talking about being equal
partners any longer? Any use of your talking about being a
sovereign partner? So, the Constitution of the United States says:
"If any question arises between any State and the Federal
Government it shall be decided by a Federal Court." That is the end
of what they call State Sovereignty.

     Think of a sovereign State that can make no treaty, that
cannot levy war, that cannot coin money. But we believe in
maintaining the rights of the States absolutely in their integrity,
because we believe in local self-government. We deny, however, that
a State has any right to deprive a citizen of his vote. We deny
that the State has any right to violate the Federal law, and we go
further and we say that it is the duty of the General Government to
see to it that every citizen in every State shall have the right to
exercise all of his privileges as a citizen of the United States --
"the right of every lawful citizen," says our platform, "native or
foreign, white or black, to cast a free ballot."

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     Let me say one word about that.

     The ballot is the king, the emperor, the ruler of America it
is the only rightful sovereign of the Republic; and whoever refuses
to count an honest vote, or whoever casts a dishonest vote, is a
traitor to the great principle upon which our Government is
founded. The man poisons, or endeavors to poison, the springs of
authority, the fountains of justice, of rightful dominion and
power; and until every citizen can cast his vote everywhere in this
land and have that vote counted, we are not a republican people, we
are not a civilized nation. The Republican party will not have
finished its mission until this country is civilized. That is its
business. It was born of a protest against barbarism.

     The Republican party was the organized conscience of the
United States. It had the courage to stand by what it believed to
be right. There is something better even than success in this
world; or in other words, there is only one kind of success, and
that is to be for the right. Then whatever happens, you have
succeeded.

     Now, comes the next question. The Republican party not only
wants to protect every citizen in his liberty, in his right to
vote, but it wants to have that vote counted. And what else?

     The next thing in this platform is protection for American
labor.

     I am going to tell you in a very brief way why I am in favor
of protection. First, I want this Republic substantially
independent of the rest of the world. You must remember that while
people are civilized -- some of them -- so that when they have a
quarrel they leave it to the courts to decide, nations still occupy
the position of savages toward each other. There is no national
court to decide a question, consequently the question is decided by
the nations themselves, and you know what selfishness and greed and
power and the ideas of false glory will do and have done. So that
this Nation is not safe one moment from war. I want the Republic so
that it can live although at war with all the world.

     We have every kind of climate that is worth having. Our
country embraces the marriage of the pine and palm; we have all
there is of worth; it is the finest soil in the world and the most
ingenious people that ever contrived to make the forces of nature
do their work. I want this Nation substantially independent, so
that if every port were blockaded we would be covered with
prosperity as with a mantle. Then, too, the Nation that cannot take
care of itself in war is always at a disadvantage in peace. That is
one reason. Let me give you the next.

     The next reason is that whoever raises raw material and sells
it will be eternally poor. There is no State in this Union where
the farmer raises wheat and sells it, that the farmer is not poor.
Why? He only makes one profit, and, as a rule, that is a loss. The
farmer that raises corn does better, because he can sell, not corn,
but pork and beef and horses. In other words, he can make the
second or third profit, and those farmers get rich. There is a vast
difference between the labor necessary to raise raw material and

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the labor necessary to make the fabrics used by civilized men.
Remember that; and if you are confined simply to raw material your
labor will be unskilled; unskilled labor will be cheap, the raw
material will be cheap, and the result is that your country will
grow poorer and poorer, while the country that buys your raw
material, makes it into fabrics and sells it back to you, will grow
intelligent and rich. I want you to remember this, because it lies
at the foundation of this whole subject. Most people who talk on
this point bring forward column after column of figures, and a man
to understand it would have to be a walking table of logarithms. I
do not care to discuss it that way. I want to get at the foundation
principles, so that you can give a reason as well as myself why you
are in favor of protection.

     Let us take another step. We will take a locomotive -- a
wonderful thing -- that horse of progress, with its flesh of iron
and steel and breath of flame -- a wonderful thing. Let us see how
it is made. Did you ever think of the deft and cunning hands, of
the wonderfully accurate brains, that can make a thing like that?
Did you ever think about it? How much do you suppose the raw
material lying in the earth was worth that was changed into that
locomotive? A locomotive that is worth, we will say, twelve
thousand dollars; how much was the raw material worth lying in the
earth, deposited there millions of years ago? Not as much as one
dollar. Let us, just for the sake of argument, say five dollars.
What, then, has labor added to the twelve thousand dollar
locomotive? Eleven thousand nine hundred and ninety-five dollars.
Now, why? Because, just to the extent that thought is mingled with
labor, wages increase; just to the extent you mix mind with muscle,
you give value to labor; just to the extent that the labor is
skilled, deft, apt, just to that extent or in that proportion, is
the product valuable. Think about it. Raw material! There is a
piece of canvas five feet one way, three the other. Raw material
would be to get a man to whitewash it; that is raw material. Let a
man of genius paint a picture upon it; let him put in that picture
the emotions of his heart, the landscapes that have made poetry in
his brain, the recollection of the ones he loves, the prattle of
children, a mother's tear, the sunshine of her smile, and all the
sweet and sacred memories of his life, and it is worth five
thousand dollars -- ten thousand dollars.

     Noise is raw material, but the great opera of "Tristan and
Isolde" is the result of skilled labor. There is the same
difference between simple brute strength and skilled labor that
there is between noise and the symphonies of Beethoven. I want you
to get this in your minds.

     Now, then, whoever sells raw material gives away the great
profit. You raise cotton and sell it; and just as long as the South
does it and does nothing more the South will be poor, the South
will be ignorant, and it will be solidly Democratic.

     Now, do not imagine that I am saying anything against the
Democratic party. I believe the Democratic party is doing the best
it can under the circumstances. You know my philosophy makes me
very charitable. You find out all about a man, all about his
ancestors, and you can account for his vote always. Why? Because

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there are causes and effects in nature. There are sometimes
antecedents and subsequents that have no relation to each other,
but at the same time, all through the web and woof of events, you
find these causes and effects, and if you only look far enough, you
will know why a man does as he does.

     I have nothing to say against the Democratic party. I want to
talk against ideas, not against people. I do not care anything
about their candidates, whether they are good, bad or indifferent.
What, gentlemen, are your ideas? What do you propose to do? What is
your policy? That is what I want to know, and I am willing to meet
them upon the field of intellectual combat. They are in possession;
they are in the rifle pits of office; we are in the open field, but
we will plant our standard, the flag that we love, without a stain,
and under that banner, upon which so many dying men have looked in
the last hour when they thought of home and country -- under that
flag we will carry the Democratic fortifications.

     Another thing; we want to get at this business so that we will
understand what we are doing. I do not believe in protecting
American industry for the sake of the capitalist, or for the sake
of any class, but for the sake of the whole Nation. And if I did
not believe that it was for the best interests of the whole Nation
I should be opposed to it.

     Let us take this next step. Everybody, of course, cannot be a
farmer. Everybody cannot be a mechanic. All the people in the world
cannot go at one business. We must have a diversity of industry. I
say, the greater that diversity, the greater the development of
brain in the country. We then have what you might call a mental
exchange; men are then pursuing every possible direction in which
the mind can go, and the brain is being developed upon all sides;
whereas, if you all simply cultivated the soil, you would finally
become stupid. If you all did only one business you would become
ignorant; but by pursuing all possible avocations that call for
taste, genius, calculation, discovery, ingenuity, invention -- by
having all these industries open to the American people, we will be
able to raise great men and great women; and I am for protection,
because it will enable us to raise greater men and greater women.
Not only because it will make more money in less time, but because
I would rather have greater folks and less money.

     One man of genius makes a continent sublime. Take all the men
of wealth from Scotland -- who would know it? Wipe their names from
the pages of history, and who would miss them? Nobody. Blot out one
name, Robert Burns, and how dim and dark would be the star of
Scotland. The great thing is to raise great folks. That is what we
want to do, and we want to diversify all the industries and protect
them all. How much? Simply enough to prevent the foreign article
from destroying the domestic. But they say, then the manufacturers
will form a trust and put the prices up. If we depend upon the
foreign manufacturers will they not form trusts? We can depend on
competition. What do the Democrats want to do? They want to do away
with the tariff, so as to do away with the surplus. They want to
put down the tariff to do away with the surplus. If you put down
the tariff a small per cent. so that the foreign article comes to
America, instead of decreasing, you will increase the surplus.

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Where you get a dollar now, you will get five then. If you want to
stop getting anything from imports, you want to put the tariff
higher, my friend.

     Let every Democrat understand this, and let him also
understand that I feel and know that he has the same interest in
this great country that I have, and let me be frank enough and
candid enough and honest enough to say that I believe the
Democratic party advocates the policy it does because it believes
it will be the best for the country. But we differ upon a question
of policy, and the only way to argue it is to keep cool. If a man
simply shouts for his side, or gets mad, he is a long way from any
intellectual improvement.

     If I am wrong in this, I want to be set right. If it is not to
the interest of America that the shuttle shall keep flying, that
wheels shall keep turning, that cloth shall be woven, that the
forges shall flame and that the smoke shall rise from the
numberless chimneys -- if that is not to the interest of America,
I want to know it. But I believe that upon the great cloud of smoke
rising from the chimneys of the manufactories of this country,
every man who will think can see the bow of national promise.

     "Oh, but," they say, "you put the prices so high." Let me give
you two or three facts: Only a few years ago I know that we paid
one hundred and twenty-five dollars a ton for Bessemer steel. At
that time the tariff was twenty-eight dollars a ton, I believe. I
am not much on figures. I generally let them add it up, and I pay
it and go on about my business. With the tariff at twenty-eight
dollars a ton, that being a sufficient protection against Great
Britain, the ingenuity of America went to work. Capital had the
courage to try the experiment, and the result was that, instead of
buying thousands and thousands and thousands and tens of thousands
and hundreds of thousands and millions of tons of steel from Great
Britain, we made it here in our own country, and it went down as
low as thirty dollars a ton. Under this "rascally protection" it
went down to one-fourth of what free trade England was selling it
to us for.

     And so I might go on all night with a thousand other articles;
all I want to show you is that we want these industries here, and
we want them protected just as long as they need protection. We
want to rock the cradle just as long as there is a child in it.
When the child gets to be seven or eight feet high, and wears
number twelve boots, we will say: "Now you will have to shift for
yourself." What we want is not simply for the capitalist, not
simply for the workingmen, but for the whole country.

     If there is any object worthy the attention of this or any
other government, it is the condition of the, workingmen. What do
they do? They do all that is done. They are the Atlases upon whose
mighty shoulders rests the fabric of American civilization. The men
of leisure are simply the vines that run round this great sturdy
oak of labor. If there is anything noble enough, and splendid
enough to claim the attention of a nation, it is this question, and
I hope the time will come when labor will receive far more than it
does to-day. I want you all to think of it -- how little, after
all, the laboring man, even in America, receives.

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     [A voice: "Under protection."]

     Yes, sir, even under protection. Take away that protection,
and he is instantly on a level with the European serf. And let me
ask that good, honest gentleman one question. If the laborer is
better off in other countries, why does not the American. laborer
emirate to Europe?

     There is no place in the wide world where, in my judgment,
labor reaps its true reward. There never has been. But I hope the
time will come when the American laborer will not only make a
living for himself, for his wife and children, but lay aside
something to keep the roof above his head when the winter of age
may come. My sympathies are all with them, and I would rather see
thousands of palaces of millionaires unroofed than to see
desolation in the cabins of the poor. I know that this world has
been made beautiful by those who have labored and those who have
suffered. I know that we owe to them the conveniences of life, and
I have more conveniences, I live a more luxurious life, than any
monarch ever lived one hundred years ago, I have more conveniences
than any emperor could have purchased with the revenue of his
empire one hundred years ago. It is worth something to live in this
age of the world.

     And what has made us such a great and splendid and progressive
and sensible people? [A voice: "Free thought."]

     Free thought, of course. Back of every invention is
freethought. Why does a man invent? Slavery never invents; freedom
invents. A slave working for his master tries to do the least work
in the longest space of time, but a free man, working for wife and
children, tries to do the most work in the shortest possible time.
He is in love with what he is doing, consequently his head and his
hands go in partnership; muscle and brain unite, and the result is
that the head invents something to help the hands, and out of the
brain leaps an invention that makes a slave of the forces of nature
-- those forces that have no backs to be whipped, those forces that
shed no tears, those forces that are destined to work forever for
the happiness of the human race.

     Consequently I am for the protection of American labor,
American genius, American thought. I do not want to put our
workingmen on a level with the citizens of despotisms. Why do not
the Democrats and others want the Chinese to come here? Are they in
favor of being protected? Why is it that the Democrats and others
object to penitentiary labor? I will tell you. They say that a man
in the penitentiary can produce cheaper. He has no family to
support, he has no children to look after; and they say, it is
hardly fair to make the father of a family and an honest man
compete with a criminal within the walls of a penitentiary. So they
ask to be protected.

     What is the difference whether a man is in the penitentiary,
or whether he is in the despotism of some European state? "Ah,
but," they say, "you let the laborer of Europe come here himself."
Yes, and I am in favor of it always. Why? This world belongs to the
human race. And when they come here, in a little while they have

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                    1888 RATIFICATION SPEECH.

our wants, and if they do not their children do, and you will find
the second generation of Irishmen or Germans or of any other
nationality just as patriotic as the tenth generation from the
first immigrant. I want them to come. Then they get our habits.

     Who wants free trade? Only those who want us for their
customers, who would like to sell us everything that we use --
England, Germany, all those countries. And why? Because one
American will buy more than one thousand, yes, five thousand
Asiatics. America consumes more to-day than China and India, more
than ten billion would of semi-civilized and barbarous peoples.
What do they buy -- what does England sell? A little powder, a
little whiskey, cheap calico, some blankets -- a few things of that
kind. What does the American purchase? Everything that civilized
man uses or that civilized man can want.

     England wants this market. Give her free trade, and she will
become the most powerful, the richest nation that ever had her
territories marked upon the map of the world. And what do we
become? Nobodies. Poor. Invention will be lost, our minds will grow
clumsy, the wondrous, deft hand of the mechanic paralyzed -- a
great raw material producing country -- ignorant, poor, barbaric.
I want the cotton that is raised in this country to be spun here,
to be woven into cloth. I want everything that we use to be made by
Americans. We can make the cloth, we can raise the food to feed and
to clothe this Nation, and the Nation is now only in its infancy.

     Somehow people do not understand this. They really think we
are getting filled up. Look at the map of this country. See the
valley of the Mississippi. Put your hand on it. Trace the rivers
coming from the Rocky Mountains and the Alleganies, and sweeping
down to the Gulf, and know that in the valley of the Mississippi,
with its wondrous tributaries, there can live and there can be
civilized and educated five hundred millions of human beings.

     Let us have some sense. I want to show you how far this goes
beyond the intellectual horizon of some people who hold office. For
instance: We have a tariff on lead, and by virtue of that tariff on
lead nearly every silver mine is worked in this country. Take the
tariff from lead and there would remain in the clutch of the rocks,
of the quartz misers, for all time, millions and millions of
silver; but when that is put with lead, and lead runs with silver,
they can make enough on lead and silver to pay for the mining, and
the result is that millions and millions are added every year to
the wealth of the United States.

     Let me tell you another thing: There is not a State in the
Union but has something it wants protected. And Louisiana -- a
Democratic State, and will be just as long as Democrats count the
votes -- Louisiana has the impudence to talk about free trade and
yet it wants its sugar protected. Kentucky says free trade, except
hemp; and if anything needs protection it is hemp. Missouri says
hemp and lead. Colorado, lead and wool; and so you can make the
tour of the States and every one is for free trade with an
exception -- that exception being to the advantage of that State,
and when you put the exceptions together you have protected the
industries of all the States.

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                    1888 RATIFICATION SPEECH.

     Now, if the Democratic party is in favor of anything, it is in
favor of free trade. If President Cleveland's message means
anything it means free trade. And why? Because it says to every man
that gets protection: If you will look about you, you will find
that you pay for something else that is protected more than you
receive in benefits for what is protected of yours; consequently
the logic of that is free trade. They believe in it I have no
doubt. When the whole world is civilized, when men are everywhere
free, when they all have something like the same tastes and
ambitions, when they love their families and their children, when
they want the same kind of food and roofs above them -- if that day
shall ever come -- the world can afford to have its trade free, but
do not put the labor of America on a par with the labor of the Old
World.

     Now, about taxes -- internal revenue. That was resorted to in
time of war. The Democratic party made it necessary. We had to tax
everything to beat back the Democratic hosts, North and South. Now,
understand me. I know that thousands and hundreds of thousands of
individual Democrats were for this country, and were as pure
patriots as ever marched beneath the flag. I know that -- hundreds
of thousands of them. I am speaking of the party organization that
staid at home and passed resolutions that every time the Union
forces won a victory the Constitution had been violated. I
understand that. Those taxes were put on in time of war, because it
was necessary. Direct taxation is always odious. A government
dislikes to be represented among all the people by a tax gatherer,
by an official who visits homes carrying consternation and grief
wherever he goes. Everybody, from the most ancient times of which
I have ever read, until the present moment, dislikes a tax
gatherer. I have never yet seen in any cemetery a monument with
this inscription: "Sacred to the memory of the man who loved to pay
his taxes." It is far better if we can collect the needed revenue
of this Government indirectly. But, they say, you must not take the
taxes off tobacco; you must not take the taxes off alcohol or
spirits or whiskey. Why? Because it is immoral to take off the
taxes. Do you believe that there was, on the average, any more
drunkenness in this country before the tax was put on than there is
now? I do not. I believe there is as much liquor drank to-day, per
capita, as there ever was in the United States. I will not blame
the Democratic party. I do not care what they drink. What they
think is what I have to do with. I will be plain with them, because
I know lots of fellows in the Democratic party and that is the only
bad thing about them -- splendid fellows. And I know a good many
Republicans, and I am willing to take my oath that that is the only
good thing about them. So, let us all be fair.

     I want the taxes taken from tobacco and whiskey and why?
Because it is a war measure that should not be carried on in peace;
and in the second place, I do not want that system inaugurated in
this country, unless there is an absolute necessity for it, and the
moment the necessity is gone, stop it.

     The moral side of this question? Only a couple of years ago,
I think it was, the Prohibitionists said that they wanted this tax
taken from alcohol. Why? Because as long as the Government
licensed, as long as the Government taxed and received sixty

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                    1888 RATIFICATION SPEECH.

millions of dollars in revenue, just so long the Government would
make this business respectable, just so long the Government would
be in partnership with this liquor crime. That is what they said
then. Now we say take the tax off, and they say it is immoral. Now,
I have a little philosophy about this. I may be entirely wrong, but
I am going to give it to you. You never can make great men and
great women, by keeping them out of the way of temptation. You have
to educate them to withstand temptation. It is all nonsense to tie
a man's hands behind him and then praise him for not picking
pockets. I believe that temperance walks hand in hand with liberty.
Just as life becomes valuable, people take care of it. Just as life
is great, and splendid and noble, as long as the future is a kind
of gallery filled with the ideal, just so long will we take care of
ourselves and avoid dissipation of every kind. Do you know, I
believe, as much as I believe that I am living, that if the
Mississippi itself were pure whiskey and its banks loaf sugar, and
all the flats covered with mint, and all the bushes grew teaspoons
and tumblers, there would not be any more drunkenness than there is
now!

     As long as you say to your neighbor "you must not" there is
something in that neighbor that says, "Well I will determine that
for myself, and you just say that again and I will take a drink if
it kills me." There is no moral question involved in it, except
this: Let the burden of government rest as lightly as possible upon
the shoulders of the people, and let it cause as little irritation
as possible. Give liberty to the people. I am willing that the
women who wear silks, satins and diamonds; that the gentlemen who
smoke Havana cigars and drink champagne and Chateau Yquem; I am
perfectly willing that they shall pay my taxes and support this
Government, and I am willing, that the man who does not do that,
but is willing to take the domestic article, should go tax free.

     Temperance walks hand in hand with liberty. You recollect that
little old story about a couple of men who were having a discussion
on this prohibition question, and the man on the other side said to
the Prohibitionist: "How would you like to live in a community
where every body attended to his own business, where every body
went to bed regularly at night, got up regularly in the morning;
where every man, woman and child was usefully employed during the
day; no backbiting, no drinking of whiskey, no cigars, and where
they all attended divine services on Sunday, and where no profane
language was used?" "Why," said he, "such a place would be a
paradise, or heaven; but there is no such place." "Oh," said the
other man, "every well regulated penitentiary is that way." So much
for the moral side of the question.

     Another point that the Republican party calls the attention of
the country to is the use that has been made of the public land.
Oh, say the Democratic party, see what States, what empires have
been given away by the Republican party -- and see what the
Republican party did with it. Road after road built to the great
Pacific. Our country unified -- the two oceans, for all practical
purposes, washing one shore. That is what it did, and what else? It
has given homes to millions of people in a civilized land, where
they can get all the conveniences of civilization. And what else?
Fifty million acres have been taken back by the Government. How was

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                    1888 RATIFICATION SPEECH.

this done? It was by virtue of the provisions put in the original
grants by the Republican party.

     There is another thing to which the Republican party has
called the attention of the country, and that is the admission of
new States where there are people enough to form a State. Now, with
a solid South, with the assistance of a few Democrats from the
North, comes a State, North Dakota, with plenty of population, a
magnificent State, filled with intelligence and prosperity. It
knocks at the door for admission, and what is the question asked by
this administration? Not "Have you the land, have you the wealth,
have you the men and women?" but "Are you Democratic or Republican?
"And being intelligent people, they answer: "We are Republicans."
And the solid South, assisted by the Democrats of the North, says
to that people: "The door is shut; we will not have you." Why?
"Because you would add two to the Republican majority in the
Senate." Is that the spirit in which a nation like this should be
governed? When a State asks for admission, no matter what the
politics of its people may be, I say, admit that State; put a star
on the flag that will glitter for her.

     The next thing the Republican party says is, gold and silver
shall both be money. You cannot make everything payable in gold --
that would be unfair to the poor man. You shall not make every
thing payable in silver -- that would be unfair to the capitalist;
but it shall be payable in gold and silver. And why ought we to be
in favor of silver? Because we are the greatest silver producing
nation in the world; and the value of a thing, other things being
equal, depends on its uses, and being used as money adds to the
value of silver. And why should we depreciate one of our own
products by saying that we will not take it as money? I believe in
bimetallism, gold and silver, and you cannot have too much of
either or both. No nation ever died of a surplus, and in all the
national cemeteries of the earth you will find no monument erected
to a nation that died from having too much silver. Give me all the
silver I want and I am happy.

     The Republican party has always been sound on finance. It
always knew you could not pay a promise with a promise. The
Republican party always had sense enough to know that money could
not be created by word of mouth, that you could not make it by a
statute, or by passing resolutions in a convention. It always knew
that you had to dig it out of the ground by good, honest work. The
Republican party always knew that money is a commodity,
exchangeable for all other commodities, but a commodity just as
much as wheat or corn, and you can no more make money by law than
you can make wheat or corn by law. You can by law, make a promise
that will to a certain extent take the place of money until the
promise is paid. It seems to me that any man who can even
understand the meaning of the word democratic can understand that
theory of money.

     Another thing right in this platform. Free schools for the
education of all the children in the land. The Republican party
believes in looking out for the children. It knows that the a, b,
c's are the breastworks of human liberty. They know that every
schoolhouse is an arsenal, a fort, where missiles are made to hurl

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                    1888 RATIFICATION SPEECH.

against the ignorance and prejudice of mankind; so they are for
free school.

     And what else? They are for reducing the postage one-half.
Why? Simply for the diffusion of intelligence. What effect will
that have? It will make us more and more one people. The oftener we
communicate with each other the more homogeneous we become. The
more we study the same books and read the same papers the more we
swap ideas, the more we become true Americans, with the same spirit
in favor of liberty, progress and the happiness of the human race.

     What next? The Republican party says, let us build ships for
America -- for American sailors. Let our fleets cover the seas, and
let our men-of-war protect the commerce of the Republic -- not that
we can wrong some weak nation, but so that we can keep the world
from doing wrong to us. This is all. I have infinite contempt for
civilized people who have guns carrying balls weighing several
hundred pounds, who go and fight poor, naked savages that can only
throw boomerangs and stones. I hold such a nation in infinite
contempt.

     What else is in this platform? You have no idea of the number
of things in it till you look them over. It wants to cultivate
friendly feelings with all the governments in North, Central and
South America, so that the great continents can be one --
instigated, moved, pervaded, inspired by the same great thoughts.
In other words, we want to civilize this continent and the
continent of South America. And what else? This great platform is
in favor of paying -- not giving, but paying -- pensions to every
man who suffered in the great war. What would we have said at the
time? What, if the North could have spoken, would it have said to
the heroes of Gettysburg on the third day? "Stand firm! We will
empty the treasures of the Nation at your feet." They had the
courage and the heroism to keep the hosts of rebellion back without
that promise, and is there an American to-day that can find it in
his heart to begrudge one solitary dollar that has found its way
into the pocket of a maimed soldier, or into the hands of his widow
or his orphan?

     What would we have offered to the sailors under Farragut on
condition that they would pass Forts St. Phillip and Jackson? What
would we have offered to the soldiers under Grant in the
Wilderness? What to the followers of Sherman and Sheridan? Do you
know, I can hardly conceive of a spirit contemptible enough -- and
I am not now alluding to the President of the United States -- I
can hardly conceive of a spirit contemptible enough to really
desire to keep a maimed soldier from the bounty of this Nation. It
would be a disgrace and a dishonor if we allowed them to die in
poorhouses, to drop by life's highway and to see their children
mourning over their poor bodies, glorious with scars, maimed into
immortality. I may do a great many bad things before I die, but I
give you my word that so long as I live I will never vote for any
President that vetoed a pension bill unless upon its face it was
clear that the man was not a wounded soldier.

     What next in this platform? For the protection of American
homes. I am a believer in the home. I have said, -- and I say again

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                    1888 RATIFICATION SPEECH.

-- the hearthstone is the foundation of the great temple; the
fireside is the altar where the true American worships. I believe
that the home, the family, is the unit of good government, and I
want to see the aegis of the great Republic over millions of happy
homes.

     That is all there is in this world worth living for. Honor,
place, fame, glory, riches -- they are ashes, smoke, dust,
disappointment, unless there is somebody in the world you love,
somebody who loves you; unless there is some place that you can
call home, some place where you can feel the arms of children
around your neck, some place that is made absolutely sacred by the
love of others.

     So I am for this platform. I am for the election of Harrison
and Morton, and although I did nothing toward having that ticket
nominated, because, I tell you, I was for Gresham, yet I will do as
much toward electing the candidates, within my power, as any man
who did vote on the winning side.

     We have a good ticket, a noble, gallant soldier at the head;
that is enough for me. He is in favor of liberty and progress. And
you have for Vice-President a man that you all know better than I
do, but a good, square, intelligent, generous man. That is enough
for me. And these men are standing on the best platform that was
ever adopted by the Republican party -- a platform that stands for
education, liberty, the free ballot, American industry; for the
American policy that has made us the richest and greatest Nation of
the globe.

                               END

Bank of Wisdom

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