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Wall St

Robert Green Ingersoll


                       WALL STREET SPEECH.

                              1880.

     FELLOW-CITIZENS of the Great City of New York: This is the
grandest audience I ever saw. This audience certifies that General
James A. Garfield is to be the next President of the United States.
This audience certifies that a Republican is to be the next mayor
of the city of New York. This audience certifies that the business
men of New York understand their interests, and that the business
men of New York are not going to let this country be controlled by
the rebel South and the rebel North. In 1860 the Democratic party
appealed to force; now it appeals to fraud. In 1860 the Democratic
party appealed to the sword; now it appeals to the pen. It was
treason then, it is forgery now, The Democratic party cannot be
trusted with the property or with the honor of the people of the
United States.

     The city of New York owes a great debt to the country. Every
man that has cleared a farm has helped to build New York; every man
that helped to build a railway helped to build up the palaces of
this city. Where I am now speaking are the termini of all the
railways in the United States. They all come here. New York has
been built up by the labor of the country, and New York owes it to
the country to protect the best interests of the country.

     The farmers of Illinois depend upon the merchants, the brokers
and the bankers, upon the gentlemen of New York, to beat the rabble
of New York. You owe to yourselves; you owe to the great Republic;
and this city that does the business of a hemisphere -- this city
that will in ten years be the financial center of this world --
owes it to itself, to be true to the great principles that have
allowed it to exist and flourish.

     The Republicans of New York ought to say that this shall
forever be a free country. The Republicans of New York ought to say
that free speech shall forever be held sacred in the United States.
The Republicans of New York ought to see that the party that
defended the Nation shall still remain in power. The Republicans of
New York should see that the flag is safely held by the hands that
defended it in war. The Republicans of New York know that the
prosperity of the country depends upon good government, and they
also know that good government means protection to the people --
rich and poor, black and white. The Republicans of New York know
that a black friend is better than a white enemy. They know that a
negro while fighting for the Government, is better than any white
man who will fight against it.

     The Republicans of New York know that the colored party in the
South which allows every man to vote as he pleases, is better than
any white man who is opposed to allowing a negro to cast his honest
vote. A black man in favor of liberty is better, than a white man
in favor of slavery. The Republicans of New York must be true to
their friends. This Government means to protect all its citizens,
at home and abroad, or it becomes a byword in the mouths of the
nations of the world.

     Now, what do we want to do? We are going to have an election
next Tuesday, and every Republican knows why he is going to vote

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                  Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201
                                3

                       WALL STREET SPEECH.

the Republican ticket; while every Democrat votes his without
knowing why. A Republican is a Republican because he loves
something; a Democrat is a Democrat because he hates something. A
Republican believes in progress; a Democrat in retrogression. A
Democrat is a "has been." He is a "used to be." The Republican
party lives on hope; the Democratic on memory. The Democrat keeps
his back to the sun and imagines himself a great man because he
casts a great shadow. Now, there are certain things. we want to
preserve -- that the business men of New York want to preserve --
and, in the first place, we want an honest ballot. And where the
Democratic party has power there never has been an honest ballot.
You take the worst ward in this city, and there is where you will
find the greatest Democratic majority. You know it, and so do I.
There is not a university in the North, East or West that has not
in it a Republican majority. There is not a penitentiary in the
United States that has not in it a Democratic majority -- and they
know it. Two years ago, about two hundred and eighty-three.
convicts were in the penitentiary of Maine. Out of that whole
number there was one Republican, and only one. [A voice -- "Who was
the man?"] Well, I do not know, but he broke out. He said that he
did not mind being in the penitentiary, but the company was a
little more than he could stand.

     You cannot rely upon that party for an honest ballot. Every
law that has been passed in this country in the last twenty years,
to throw a safe-guard around the ballot-box, has been passed by the
Republican party. Every law that has been defeated has been
defeated by the Democratic party. And you know it. Unless we have
an honest ballot the days of the Republic are numbered; and the
only way to get an honest ballot is to beat the Democratic party
forever. And that is what we are going to do. That party can never
carry its record; that party is loaded down with the infamies of
twenty years; yes, that party is loaded down with the infamies of
fifty years. It will never elect a President in this world. I give
notice to the Democratic party to-day that it will have to change
its name before the people of the United States will change the
administration. You will have to change your natures; you will have
to change your personnel, and you will have to get enough
Republicans to join you and tell you how to run a campaign. If you
want an honest ballot -- and every honest man does -- then you will
vote to keep the Republican party in power. What else do you want?
You want honest money, and I say to the merchants and to the
bankers and to the brokers, the only party that will give you
honest money is the party that resumed specie payments. The only
party that will give you honest money is the party that said a
greenback is a broken promise until it is redeemed with gold. You
can only trust the party that has been honest in disaster. From
1863 to 1879 -- sixteen long years -- the Republican party was the
party of honor and principle, and the Republican party saved the
honor of the United States. And you know it.

     During that time the Democratic party did what it could to
destroy our credit at home and abroad.

     We are not only in favor of free speech, and an honest ballot
and honest money, but we are for law and order. What part of this
country believes in free speech -- the South or the North? The

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                  Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201
                                4

                       WALL STREET SPEECH.

South would never give free speech to the country; there was no
free speech in the city of New York until the Republican party came
into power. The Democratic party has not intelligence enough to
know that free speech is the germ of this Republic. The Democratic
party cares little for free speech because it has no argument to
make -- no reasons to offer. Its entire argument is summed up and
ended in three words -- "Hurrah for Hancock!" The Republican party
believes in free speech because it has something to say; because it
believes in argument; because it believes in moral suasion; because
it believes in education. Any man that does not believe in free
speech is a barbarian. Any State that does not support it is not a
civilized State.

     I have a right to express my opinion, in common with every
other human being, and I am willing to give to every other human
being the right that I claim for myself. Republicanism means
justice in politics. Republicanism means progress in civilization.
Republicanism means that every man shall be an educated patriot and
a gentleman. I want to say to you to-day that it is an honor to
belong to the republican party. It is an honor to have belonged to
it for twenty years; it is an honor to belong to the party that
elected Abraham Lincoln President. And let me say to you that
Lincoln was the greatest, the best, the purest, the kindest man
that has ever sat in the presidential chair. It is an honor to
belong to the Republican party that gave four millions of men the
rights of freemen; it is an honor to belong to the party that broke
the shackles from four millions of men, women and children. It is
an honor to belong to the party that declared that bloodhounds were
not the missionaries of civilization. It is an honor to belong to
the party that said it was a crime to steal a babe from its
mother's breast. It is an honor to belong to the party that swore
that this is a Nation forever, one and indivisible. It is an honor
to belong to the party that elected U. S. Grant President of the
United States. It is an honor to belong to the party that issued
thousands and thousands of millions of dollars in promises -- that
issued promises until they became as thick as the withered leaves
of winter; an honor to belong to the party that issued them to put
down a rebellion an honor to belong to the party that put it down
an honor to belong to the party that had the moral courage and
honesty to make every one of the promises made in war, as good as
shining, glittering gold in peace. And I tell you that if there is
another life, and if there is a day of judgment, all you need say
upon that solemn occasion is, "I was in life and in my death a good
square Republican."

     I hate the doctrine of State Sovereignty because it fostered
State pride; because it fostered the idea that it is more to be a
citizen of a State than a citizen of this glorious country. I love
the whole country. I like New York because it is a part of the
country, and I like the country because it has New York in it. I am
not standing here to-day because the flag of New York floats over
my head, but because that flag, for which more heroic blood has
been shed than for any other flag that is kissed by the air of
heaven, waves forever over my head. That is the reason I am here.

     The doctrine of State Sovereignty was appealed to in defence
of the slave-trade; the next time in defence of the slave trade as

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                  Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201
                                5

                       WALL STREET SPEECH.

between the States; the next time in defence of the Fugitive Slave
Law; and if there is a Democrat in favor of the Fugitive Slave Law
he should be ashamed -- if not of himself -- of the ignorance of
the time in which he lived. That Fugitive Slave Law was a
compromise so that we might be friends of the South. They said in
1850-52: "If you catch the slave we will be your friend;" and they
tell us now "If you let us trample upon the rights of the black man
in the South, we will be your friend." I do not want their
friendship upon such terms. I am a friend of my friend, and an
enemy of my enemy. That is my doctrine. We might as well be honest
about it. Under that doctrine of State Rights, such men as I see
before me -- bankers, brokers, merchants, gentlemen -- were
expected to turn themselves into hounds and chase a poor fugitive
that had been lured by the love of liberty and guided by the
glittering North Star.

     The Democratic party wanted you to keep your trade with the
South, no matter to what depths of degradation you had to sink, and
the Democratic party to-day says if you want to sell your goods to
the Southern people, you must throw your honor and manhood into the
streets. The patronage of the splendid North is enough to support
the city of New York.

     There is another thing: Why is this city filled with palaces,
covered with wealth? Because American labor has been protected. I
am in favor of protection to American labor, everywhere. I am in
favor of protecting American brain and muscle; I am in favor of
giving scope to American ingenuity and American skill. We want a
market at home, and the only way to have it is to have mechanics at
home; and the only way to have mechanics is to have protection; and
the only way to have protection is to vote the Republican ticket.
You, business men of New York, know that General Garfield
understands the best interests not only of New York, but of the
entire country. And you want to stand by the men who will stand by
you. What does a simple soldier know about the wants of the city of
New York? What does he know about the wants of this great and
splendid country? If he does not know more about it than he knows
about the tariff he does not know much. I do not like to hit the
dead, My hatred stops with the grave, and I tell you we are going
to bury the Democratic party next Tuesday. The pulse is feeble now,
and if that party proposes to take advantage of the last hour, it
is time it should go into the repenting business. Nothing pleases
me better than to see the condition of that party to-day. What do
the Democrats know on the subject of the tariff? They are
frightened; they are rattled.

     They swear their plank and platform meant nothing. They say in
effect: "When we put that in we lied; and now having made that
confession we hope you will have perfect confidence in us from this
out." Hancock says that the object of the party is to get the
tariff out of politics. That is the reason, I suppose, why they put
that plank in the platform. I presume he regards the tariff as a
little local issue, but I tell you to-day that the great question
of protecting American labor never will be taken out of politics.
As long as men work, as long as the laboring man has a wife and
family to support, just so long will he vote for the man that will
protect his wages.

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                  Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201
                                6

                       WALL STREET SPEECH.

     And you can no more take it out of politics than you can take
the question of Government out of politics. I do not want any
question taken out of politics. I want the people to settle these
questions for themselves, and the people of this country are
capable of doing it. If you do not believe it, read the returns
from Ohio and Indiana. There are other persons who would take the
question of office out of politics. Well, when we get the tariff
and office both out of politics, then, I presume, we will see two
parties on the same side. It will not do.

     David A. Wells has come to the rescue of the Democratic party
on the tariff, and shed a few pathetic tears over scrap iron. But
it will not do. You cannot run this country on scraps.

     We believe in the tariff because it gives skilled labor good
pay. We believe in the tariff because it allows the laboring man to
have something to eat. We believe in the tariff because it keeps
the hands of the producer close to the mouth of the devourer. We
believe in the tariff because it developed American brain; because
it builds up our towns and cities; because it makes Americans self-
supporting; because it makes us an independent Nation. And we
believe in the tariff because the Democratic party does not.

     That plank in the Democratic party was intended for a dagger
to assassinate the prosperity of the North. The Northern people
have become aroused and that is the plank that is broken in the
Democratic platform; and that plank was wide enough when it broke
to let even Hancock through.

     Gentlemen, they are gone. They are gone -- honor bright. Look
at the desperate means that have been resorted to by the Democratic
party, driven to the madness of desperation. Not satisfied with
having worn the tongue of slander to the very tonsils, not
satisfied with attacking the private reputation of a splendid man,
not satisfied with that, they have appealed to a crime; a
deliberate and infamous forgery has been committed. That forgery
has been upheld by some of the leaders of the Democratic party;
that forgery has been defended by men calling themselves
respectable. Leaders of the Democratic party have stood by and said
that they were acquainted with the handwriting of James A.
Garfield; and that the handwriting in the forged letter was his,
when they knew that it was absolutely unlike his. They knew it, and
no man has certified that that was the writing of James A. Garfield
who did not know that in his throat of throats he told a falsehood.

     Every honest man in the city of New York ought to leave such
a party if he belongs to it. Every honest man ought to refuse to
belong to the party that did such an infamous crime.

     Senator Barnum, chairman of the Democratic Committee, has lost
control. He is gone, and I will tell you what he puts me in mind
of. There was an old fellow used to come into town every Saturday
and get drunk. He had a little yoke of oxen, and the boys out of
pity used to throw him into the wagon and start the oxen for home.
just before he got home they had to go down a long hill, and the
oxen, when they got to the brow of it, commenced to run. Now and
then the wagon struck a stone and gave the old fellow an awful

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                  Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201
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                       WALL STREET SPEECH.

jolt, and that would wake him up. After he had looked up and had
one glance at the cattle he would fall helplessly back to the
bottom, and always say, "Gee a little, if anything." And that is
the only order Barnum has been able to give for the last two weeks
-- "Gee a little, if anything." I tell you now that forgery makes
doubly sure the election of James A. Garfield. The people of the
North believe in honest dealing; the people of the North believe in
free speech and an honest ballot. The people of the North believe
that this is a Nation; the people of the North hate treason; the
people of the North hate forgery; the people of the North hate
slander. The people of the North have made up their minds to give
to General Garfield a vindication of which any American may be
forever proud.

     James A. Garfield is to-day a poor man, and you know that
there is not money enough in this magnificent street to buy the
honor and manhood of James A. Garfield. Money cannot make such a
man, and I will swear to you that money cannot buy him. James A.
Garfield to-day wears the glorious robe of honest poverty. He is a
poor man; I like to say it here in Wall Street; I like to say it
surrounded by the millions of America; I like to say it in the
midst of banks and bonds and stocks; I love to say it where gold is
piled -- that although a poor man, he is rich in honor; in
integrity he is wealthy, and in brain he is a millionaire. I know
him, and I like him. So do you all, gentlemen. Garfield was a poor
boy, he is a certificate of the splendid form of our Government.
Most of these magnificent buildings have been built by poor boys;
most of the success of New York began almost in poverty. You know
it. The kings of this street were once poor, and they may be poor
again; and if they are fools enough to vote for Hancock they ought
to be. Garfield is a certificate of the splendor of our Government,
that says to every poor boy, "All the avenues of honor are open to
you." I know him, and I like him. He is a scholar; he is a
statesman; he is a soldier; he is a patriot; and above all, he is
a magnificent man; and if every man in New York knew him as well as
I do, Garfield would not lose a hundred votes in this city.

     Compare him with Hancock, and then compare General Arthur with
William H. English. If there ever was a pure Republican in this
world, General Arthur is one.

     You know in Wall Street, there are some men always prophesying
disaster, there are some men always selling "short." That is what
the Democratic party is doing to-day. You know as well as I do that
if the Democratic party succeeds, every kind of property in the
United States will depreciate. You know it. There is not a man on
the street, who if he knew Hancock was to be elected would not sell
the stocks and bonds of every railroad in the United States
"short." I dare any broker here to deny it. There is not a man in
Wall or Broad Street, or in New York, but what knows the election
of Hancock will depreciate every share of railroad stock, every
railroad bond, every Government bond, in the United States of
America. And if you know that, I say it is a crime to vote for
Hancock and English.

     I belong to the party that is prosperous when the country is
prosperous. I belong to the party that believes in good crops; that

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                  Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201
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                       WALL STREET SPEECH.

is glad when a fellow finds a gold mine; that rejoices when there
are forty bushels of wheat to the acre; that laughs when every
railroad declares dividends, that claps both its hands when every
investment pays; when the rain falls for the farmer, when the dew
lies lovingly on the grass. I belong to the party that is happy
when the people are happy; when the laboring man gets three dollars
a day; when he has roast beef on his table; when he has a carpet on
the floor; when he has a picture of Garfield on the wall. I belong
to the party that is happy when everybody smiles, when we have
plenty of money, good horses, good carriages; when our wives are
happy and our children feel glad. I belong to the party whose
banner floats side by side with the great flag of the country; that
does not grow fat on defeat.

     The Democratic party is a party of famine; it is a good friend
of an early frost, it believes in the Colorado beetle and the
weevil. When the crops are bad the Democratic mouth opens from ear
to ear with smiles of joy; it is in partnership with bad luck; a
friend of empty pockets; rags help it. I am on the other side. The
Democratic party is the party of darkness. I believe in the party
of sunshine; and in the party that even in darkness believes that
the stars are shining and waiting for us.

     Now, gentlemen, I have endeavored to give you a few reasons
for voting the Republican ticket; and I have given enough to
satisfy any reasonable man. And you know it. Do not go with the
Democratic party, young man. You have a character to make. You
cannot make it, as the Democratic party does, by passing a
resolution.

     If your father voted the Democratic ticket, that is disgrace
enough for one family. Tell the old man you can stand it no longer.
Tell the old gentleman that you have made up your mind to stand
with the party of human progress; and if he asks you why you cannot
vote the Democratic ticket you tell him:

     Every man that tried to destroy the Government, every man that
shot at the holy flag in heaven, every man that starved our
soldiers, every keeper of Libby, Andersonville and Salisbury, every
man that wanted to burn the negro, every one that wanted to scatter
yellow fever in the North, every man that opposed human liberty,
that regarded the auction-block as an altar and the howling of the
bloodhound as the music of the Union, every man who wept over the
corpse of slavery, that thought lashes on the naked back were a
legal tender for labor performed, every one willing to rob a mother
of her child -- every solitary one was a Democrat."

     Tell him you cannot stand that party. Tell him you have to go
with the Republican party, and if he asks you why, tell him it
destroyed slavery, it preserved the Union, it paid the national
debt; it made our credit as good as that of any nation on the
earth. Tell him it makes every dollar in a four percent. bond worth
a dollar and ten cents; that it satisfies the demands of the
highest civilization. Tell the old man that the Republican party
preserved the honor of the Nation; that it believes in education;
that it looks upon the schoolhouse as a cathedral. Tell him that
the Republican party believes in absolute intellectual liberty; in

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                       WALL STREET SPEECH.

absolute religious freedom: in human rights, and that human rights
rise above States. Tell him that the Republican party believes in
humanity, justice, human equality, and that the Republican party
believes this is a Nation and will be forever and ever; that an
honest ballot is the breath of the Republic's life; that honest
money is the blood of the Republic; and that nationality is the
great throbbing beat of the heart of the Republic. Tell him that.
And tell him that you are going to stand by the flag that the
patriots of the North carried upon the battle-field of death. Tell
him you are going to be true to the martyred dead; that you are
going to vote exactly as Lincoln would have voted were he living.
Tell him that if every traitor dead were living now, there would
issue from his lips of dust, "Hurrah for Hancock!" that could every
patriot rise, he would cry for Garfield and liberty; for union and
for human progress everywhere. Tell him that the South seeks to
secure by the ballot what it lost by the bayonet; to whip by the
ballot those who fought it in the field. But we saved the country;
and we have the heart and brains to take care of it. I will tell
you what we are going to do. We are going to treat them, in the
South just as well as we treat the people in the North. Victors
cannot afford to have malice. The North is too magnanimous to have
hatred. We will treat the South precisely as we treat the North.
There are thousands of good people there. Let us give them money to
improve their rivers and harbors; I want to see the sails of their
commerce filled with the breezes of prosperity; their fences
rebuilt; their houses painted. I want to see their towns prosperous
want to see schoolhouses in every town want to see books in the
hands of every child, and papers and magazines in every house; I
want to see all the rays of light, of civilization of the
nineteenth century, enter every home of the South; and in a little
while you will see that country full of good Republicans. We can
afford to be kind; we cannot afford to be unkind.

     I will shake hands cordially with every believer in human
liberty; I will shake hands with every believer in Nationality; I
will shake hands with every man who is the friend of the human
race. That is my doctrine. I believe in the great Republic; in this
magnificent country of ours. I believe in the great people of the
United States. I believe in the muscle and brain of America, in the
prairies and forests. I believe in New York. I believe in the
brains of your city. I believe that you know enough to vote the
Republican ticket. I believe that you are grand enough to stand by
the country that has stood by you. But whatever you do, I never
shall cease to thank you for the great honor you have conferred
upon me this day.

     NOTE. -- This being a newspaper report it is necessarily
incomplete.

                               END

                           ****    ****

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