Chicago Speech (1876)
Robert Green Ingersoll
Col. Robert G. Ingersoll spoke last night at the Exposition Building to the largest audience ever drawn by one man in Chicago. From 6:30 o’clock the sidewalks fronting along the building were jammed. At every entrance there were hundreds, and half-an-hour later thousands were clamoring for admittance. So great was the pressure the doors were finally closed, and the entrances at either end cautiously opened to admit the select who knew enough to apply in those directions. Occasionally a rush was made for the main door, and as the crowd came up against the huge barricade they were swept back only for another effort. Wabash Avenue, Monroe, Adams, Jackson, and Van Buren Streets were jammed with ladies and gentlemen who swept into Michigan Avenue and swelled the sea that surged around the building.
At 7:30 the doors were flung open and the people rushed in. Seating accommodations supposed to be adequate to all demands, had been provided, but in an instant they were filled, the aisles were jammed and around the sides of the building poured a steady stream of humanity, intent only upon some coign of vantage, some place, where they could see and where they could hear. From the fountain, beyond which the building lay in shadow to the northern end, was a swaying, surging mass of people.
Such another attendance of ladies has never been known at a political meeting in Chicago. They came by the hundreds, and the speaker looked down from his perch upon thousands of fair upturned faces, stamped with the most intense interest in his remarks.
The galleries were packed. The frame of the huge elevator creaked, groaned, and swayed with the crowd roosting upon it. The trusses bore their living weight. The gallery railings bent and creaked. The roof was crowded, and the sky lights teemed with heads. Here and there an adventurous youth crept out on the girders and braces. Towards the northers end of the building, on the west side, is a small gallery, dark, and not particularly strong- looking. It was fairly packed — packed like a sardine-box — with men and boys. Up in the organ-loft around the sides of the organ, everywhere that a human being could sit, stand or hang, was pre- empted and filled.
It was a magnificent outpouring, at least 50,000 in number, a compliment alike to the principle it represented, and the orator.
Chicago Tribune, October 21, 1876.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: — Democrats and Republicans have a common interest in the United States. We have a common interest in the preservation of good order. We have a common interest in the preservation of a common country. And I appeal to all, Democrats and Republicans, to endeavor to make a conscientious choice; to endeavor to select as President and Vice-President of the United States the men and the parties, which, in your judgment, will best preserve this nation, and preserve all that is dear to us either as Republicans or Democrats.
The Democratic party comes before you and asks that you will give this Government into its hands; and you have a right to investigate as to the reputation and character of the Democratic organization. The Democratic party says, "Let bygones be bygones." I never knew a man who did a decent action that wanted it forgotten. I never knew a man who did some great and shining act of self-sacrifice and heroic devotion who did not wish that act remembered. Not only so, but he expected his loving children would chisel the remembrance of it upon the marble that marked his last resting place. But wherever a man does an infamous thing; whenever a man commits some crime; whenever a man does that which mantles the cheeks of his children with shame; he is the man that says, "Let bygones be bygones." The Democratic party admits that it has a record, but it says that any man that will look into it, any man that will tell it, is not a gentleman. I do not know whether, according to the Democratic standard, I am a gentleman or not; but I do say that in a certain sense I am one of the historians of the Democratic party.
I do not know that it is true that a man cannot give this record and be a gentleman, but I admit that a gentleman hates to read this record; a gentleman hates to give this record to the world; but I do it, not because I like to do it, but because I believe the best interests of this country demand that there shall be a history given of the Democratic party.
In the first place, I claim that the Democratic party embraces within its filthy arms the worst elements in American society. I claim that every enemy that this Government has had for twenty years has been and is a Democrat; every man in the Dominion of Canada that hates the great Republic, would like to see Tilden and Hendricks successful. Every titled thief in Great Britain would like to see Tilden and Hendricks the next President and Vice- President of the United States.
I say more; every State that seceded from this Union was a Democratic State. Every man who hated to see bloodhounds cease to be the instrumentalities of a free government — every one was a Democrat. In short, every enemy that this Government has had for twenty years, every, enemy that liberty and progress has had in the United States for twenty years, every hater of our flag, every despiser of our Nation, every man who has been a disgrace to the great Republic for twenty years, has been a Democrat. I do not say that they are all that way; but nearly all who are that way are Democrats.
The Democratic party is a political tramp with a yellow passport. This political tramp begs food and he carries in his pocket old dirty scraps of paper as a kind of certificate of character. On one of these papers he will show you the ordinance of 1789; on another one of those papers he will have a part of the Fugitive Slave Law; on another one some of the black laws that used to disgrace Illinois; on another Governor Tilden’s Letter to Kent; on another a certificate signed by Lyman Trumbull that the Republican party is not fit to associate with — that certificate will be endorsed by Governor John M. Palmer and my friend Judge Doolittle. He will also have in his pocket an old wood-cut, somewhat torn, representing Abraham Lincoln falling upon the neck of S. Corning Judd, and thanking him for saving the Union as Commander-in-Chief of the Sons of Liberty. This political tramp will also have a letter dated Boston, Mass., saying: "I hereby certify that for fifty years I have regarded the bearer as a thief and robber, but I now look upon him as a reformer. Signed, Charles Francis Adams." Following this tramp will be a bloodhound; and when he asks for food, the bloodhound will crouch for employment on his haunches, and the drool of anticipation will run from his loose and hanging lips. study the expression of that dog.
Translate it into English and it means "Oh! I want to bite a nigger!" And when the dog has that expression he bears a striking likeness to his master. The question is, Shall that tramp and that dog gain possession of the White House?
The Democratic party learns nothing; the Democratic party forgets nothing. The Democratic party does not know that the world has advanced a solitary inch since 1860. Time is a Democratic dumb watch. It has not given a tick for sixteen years. The Democratic party does not know that we, upon the great glittering highway of progress, have passed a single mile-stone for twenty years. The Democratic party is incapable of learning. The Democratic party is incapable of anything but prejudice and hatred. Every man that is a Democrat is a Democrat because he hates something; every man that is a Republican is a Republican because he loves something.
The Democratic party is incapable of advancement; the only stock that it has in trade to-day is the old infamous doctrine of Democratic State Rights. There never was a more infamous doctrine advanced on this earth, than the Democratic idea of State Rights. What is it? It has its foundation in the idea that this is not a Nation; it has its foundation in the idea that this is simply a confederacy, that this great Government is simply a bargain, that this great splendid people have simply made a trade, that the people of any one of the States are sovereign to the extent that they have the right to trample upon the rights of their fellow- citizens, and that the General Government cannot interfere. The great Democratic heart is fired to-day, the Democratic bosom is bloated with indignation because of an order made by General Grant sending troops into the Southern States to defend the rights of American citizens! Who objects to a soldier going? Nobody except a Man who wants to carry an election by fraud, by violence, by intimidation, by assassination, and by murder.
The Democratic party is willing to-day that Tilden and Hendricks should be elected by violence; they are willing to-day to go into partnership with assassination and murder; they are willing to-day that every man in the Southern States, who is a friend of this Union, and who fought for our flag — that the rights of every one of these men should be trampled in the dust, provided that Tilden and Hancocks be elected President and Vice-President of this country. They tell us that a State line is sacred; that you never can cross it unless you want to do a mean thing; that if you want to catch a fugitive slave you have the right to cross it; but if you wish to defend the rights of men, then it is a sacred line, and you cannot cross it. Such is the infamous doctrine of the Democratic party. Who, I say, will be injured by sending soldiers into the Southern States? No one in the world except the man who wants to prevent an honest citizen from casting a legal vote for the Government of his choice. For my part, I think more of the colored Union men of the South than I do of the white disunion men of the South. For my part, I think more of a black friend than I do of a white enemy. For my part, I think more of a friend black outside, and white in, than I do of a man who is white outside and black inside. For my part, I think more of black justice, black charity, and of black patriotism, than I do of white cruelty, than I do of white treachery and treason. As a matter of fact, all that is done in the South to-day, of use, is done by the colored man. The colored man raises everything that is raised in the South, except hell. And I say here to-night that I think one hundred times more of the good honest industrious black man of the South than I do of all the white men together that do not love this Government, and I think more of the black man of the South than I do of the white man of the North who sympathizes with the white wretch that wishes to trample upon the rights of that black man.
I believe that this is a Government, first not only of power, but that it is the right of this Government to march all the soldiers in the United States into any sovereign State of this Union to defend the rights of every American citizen in that State. If it is the duty of the Government to defend you in time of war, when you were compelled to go into the army, how much more is it the duty of the Government to defend in time of peace the man who, in time of war, voluntarily and gladly rushed to the rescue and defence of his country; and yet the Democratic doctrine is that you are to answer the call of the Nation, but the Nation will be deaf to your cry, unless the Governor of your State makes request of your Government. Suppose the Governors and every man trample upon your rights, is the Nation then to let you be trampled upon? Will the Nation hear only the cry of the oppressor, or will it heed the cry of the oppressed? I believe we should have a Government that can hear the faintest wail, the faintest cry for justice from the lips of the humblest citizen beneath the flag. But the Democratic doctrine is that this Government can protect its citizens only when they are away from home. This may account for so many Democrats going to Canada during the war. I believe that the Government must protect you, not only abroad but must protect you at home; and that is the greatest question before the American people to-day.
I had thought that human impudence had reached its limit ages and ages ago. I had believed that some time in the history of the world impudence had reached its height, and so believed until I read the congratulatory address of Abram S. Hewitt, Chairman of the National Executive Democratic Committee, wherein he congratulates the negroes of the South on what he calls a Democratic victory in the State of Indiana. If human impudence can go beyond this, all I have to say is, it never has. What does he say to the Southern people, to the colored people? He says to them in substance: "The reason the white people trample upon you is because the white people are weak. Give the white people more strength, put the white people in authority, and, although they murder you now when they are weak, when they are strong they will let you alone. Yes; the only trouble with our Southern white brethren is that they are in the minority, and they kill you now, and the only way to save your lives is to put your enemy in the majority." That is the doctrine of Abram S. Hewitt, and he congratulates the colored people of the South upon the Democratic victory in Indiana. There is going to be a great crop of hawks next season — let us congratulate the doves. That is it. The burglars have whipped the police — let us congratulate the bank. That is it. The wolves have killed off almost all the shepherds — let us congratulate the sheep.
In my judgment, the black people have suffered enough. They have been slaves for two hundred years, and more than all, they have been compelled to keep the company of the men that owned them. Think of that! Think of being compelled to keep the society of the man who is stealing from you! Think of being compelled to live with the man that sold your wife! Think of being compelled to live with the man that stole your child from the cradle before your very eyes! Think of being compelled to live with the thief of your life, and spend your days with the white robber, and be under his control! The black people have suffered enough. For two hundred years they were owned and bought and sold and branded like cattle. For two hundred years every human tie was rent and torn asunder by the bloody, brutal hands of avarice and might. They have suffered enough. During the war the black people were our friends not only, but whenever they were entrusted with the family, with the wives and children of their masters, they were true to them. They stayed at home and protected the wife and child of the master while he went into the field and fought for the right to sell the wife and the right to whip and steal the child of the very black man that was protecting him. The black people, I say, have suffered enough, and for that reason I am in favor of the Government protecting them in every Southern State, if it takes another war to do it. We can never compromise with the South at the expense of our friends. We can never be friends with the men that starved and shot our brothers. We can never be friends with the men that waged the most cruel war in the world; not for liberty, but for the right to deprive other men of their liberty. We never can be their friends until they are the friends of our friends, until they treat the black man justly; until they treat the white Union man respectfully; until Republicanism ceases to be a crime; until to vote the Republican ticket ceases to make you a political and social outcast. We want no friendship with the enemies of our country. The next question is, who shall have possession of this country — the men that saved it, — or the men that sought to destroy it? The Southern people lit the fires of civil war. They who set the conflagration must be satisfied with the ashes left. The men that saved this country must rule it. The men that saved the flag must carry it. This Government is not far from destruction when it crowns with its highest honor in time of peace, the man that was false to it in time of war. This Nation is not far from the precipice of annihilation and destruction when it gives its. highest honor to a man false, false to the country when everything we held dear trembled in the balance of war, when everything was left to the arbitrament of the sword.
The next question prominently before the people — though I think the great question is, whether citizens shall be protected at home — the next question I say, is the financial question. With that there is no trouble. We had to borrow money, and we have to pay it. That is all there is of that, and we are going to pay it just as soon as we make the money to pay it with, and we are going to make the money out of prosperity.
We have to dig it out of the earth. You cannot make a dollar by law. You cannot redeem a cent by statute. You cannot pay one solitary forthing by all the resolutions, by all the speeches ever made beneath the sun.
If the greenback doctrine is right, that evidence of national indebtedness is wealth, if that is their idea, why not go another step and make every individual note a legal tender? Why not pass a law that every man shall take every other man’s note? Then I swear we would have money in Plenty. No, my friends, a promise to pay a dollar is not a dollar, no matter if that promise is made by the greatest and most powerful nation on the globe. A promise is not a performance. An agreement is not an accomplishment and there never will come a time when a promise to pay a dollar is as good as the dollar, unless everybody knows that you have the dollar and will pay it whenever they ask for it. We want no more inflation. We want simply to pay our debts as fast as the prosperity of the country allows it and no faster. Every speculator that was caught with property on his hands upon which he owed more than the property was worth wanted the game to go on a little longer. whoever heard of a man playing poker that wanted to quit when he was a loser? He wants to have a fresh deal. He wants another hand, and he don’t want any man that is ahead to jump the game. It is so with the speculators in this country. They bought land, they bought houses, they bough goods, and when the crisis and crash came, they were caught with the property on their hands, and they want another inflation, they want another tide to rise that will again sweep this driftwood into the middle of the great financial stream. That is all. Every lot in this city that was worth five thousand and that is now worth two thousand — do you know what is the matter with that lot? It has been redeeming. It has been resuming. That is what is the matter with that lot. Every man that owned property that has now fallen fifty per cent., that property has been resuming; and if you could have another inflation tomorrow, the day that the bubble burst would find thousands of speculators who paid as much for property as property was worth, and they would ask for another tide of affairs in men. They would ask for another inflation. What for? To let them out and put somebody else in.
We want no more inflation. We want the simple honest payment of the debt, and to pay out of the prosperity of this country. But, says the greenback man, "We never had as good times as when we had plenty of greenbacks.
Suppose a farmer would buy a farm for ten thousand dollars and give his note. He would buy carriages, horses, wagons and agricultural implements, and give his note. He would send Mary, Jane and Lucy to school. He would buy them pianos, and send them to college, and would give his note, and the next year he would again give his note for the interest, and the next year again his note, and finally they would come to him and say, "We must settle up; we have taken your notes as long as we can; we want money." "Why," he would say to the gentleman, "I never had as good a time in my life as while I have been giving those notes. I never had a farm until the man gave it to me for my note. My children have been clothed as well as anybody’s. We have had carriages; we have had fine horses; and our house has been filled with music, and laughter, and dancing; and why not keep on taking those notes?" So it is with the greenback man; he says, "When we were running in debt we had a jolly time — let us keep it up." But, my friends, there must come a time when inflation would reach that point when all the Government notes in the world would not buy a pin; when all the Government notes in the world would not be worth as much as the last year’s Democratic platform. I have no fear that these debts will not be paid. I have no fear that every solitary greenback dollar will not be redeemed; but, my friends, we shall have some trouble doing it. Why? Because the debt is a great deal larger than it should have been. In the first place, there should have been no debt. If it had not been for the Southern Democracy there would have been no war. If it had not been for the Northern Democracy the war would not have lasted one year.
There was a man tried in court for having murdered his father and mother. He was found guilty and the judge asked him, "What have you yo say that sentence of death shall not be pronounced on you?" "Nothing in the world judge," said he "only I hope your Honor will take pity on me and remember that I am a poor orphan."
I have no doubt that this debt will be paid. We have the honor to pay it, and we do not pay it on account of the avarice or greed of the bondholder. An honest man does not pay money to a creditor simply because the creditor wants it. The man pays at the command of his honor and not the demand of the creditor.
The United States will pay its debts, not because the creditor demands, but because we owe it.
The United States will liquidate every debt at the command of its honor, and every cent will be paid. War is destruction, war is loss, and all the property destroyed, and the time that is lost, put together, amount to what we call a national debt. When in peace we shall have made as much net profit as there was wealth lost in the war, then we shall be a solvent people. The greenback will be redeemed, we expect to redeem it on the first day of January, 1879. We may fail; we will fail if the prosperity of the country, fails but we intend to try to do it, and if we fail, we will fail as a soldier fails to take a fort, high upon the rampart, with the flag of resumption in our hands. We will not say that we cannot pay the debt because there is a date fixed when the debt is to be paid. I have had to borrow money myself; I have had to give my note, and I recollect distinctly that every ever man I ever did give my note to insisted that somewhere in that note there should be some vague hint as to the cycle, as to the geological period, as to the time, as to the century and date when I expected to pay those little notes. I never understood that having a time fixed would prevent my being industrious; that it would interfere with my honesty; or with my activity, or with my desire to discharge that debt. And if any man in this great country owed you one thousand dollars, due you the first day of next January, and he should come to you and say: "I want to pay you that debt, but you must take that date out of that note." "Why?" you would say. "Why," be would reply in the language of Tilden, "I have to make wise preparation." "Well," you would say, "why don’t you do it?" "Oh," he says, "I cannot do it while you have that date in that note."
"Another thing," he says, "I have to get me a central reservoir of coin." And do you know I have always thought I would like to see the Democratic party around a central reservoir of coin.
Suppose this debtor would also tell you, "I want the date out of that note, because I have to come at it by a very slow and gradual process." "Well," you would say, "I do not care how slow or how gradual you are, provided that you get around by the time the note is due."
What would you think of a man that wanted the date out of the note? You would think he was a mixture of rascal and Democrat. That is what you would think.
Now my friends, the Democratic party (if you may call it a party) brings forward as its candidate Samuel J. Tilden, of New York. I am opposed to him, first, because he is an old bachelor. In a country like ours, depending for its prosperity and glory upon an increase of the population, to elect an old bachelor is a suicidal policy. Any man that will live in this country for sixty years, surrounded by beautiful women with rosy lips and dimpled cheeks, in every dimple lurking a Cupid, with pearly teeth and sparkling eyes — any man that will push them aside and be satisfied with the embraces of the democratic party, does not even know the value of time. I am opposed to Samuel J. Tilden, because he is a Democrat; because he belongs to the Democratic party of the city of New York; the worst party ever organized in any civilized country.
No man should be President of this Nation who denies that it is a Nation. Samuel J. Tilden denounced the war as an outrage. No man should be President of this country that denounced a war waged in its defence as an outrage. To elect such a man would be an outrage.
Samuel J. Tilden said that the flag stands for a contract; that it stands for a confederation; that it stands for a bargain. But the great, splendid Republican party says, "No! That flag stands for a great, hoping, aspiring, sublime Nation, not for a confederacy."
I am opposed, I say, to the election of Samuel J. Tilden for another reason. If he is elected he will be controlled by his party, and his party will be controlled by the Southern stockholders in that party. They own nineteen-twentieths of the stock, and they will dictate the policy of the Democratic Corporation.
No Northern Democrat has the manliness to stand up before a Southern Democrat. Every Democrat, nearly, has a face of dough, and the Southern democrat will swap his ears, change his nose cut his mouth the other way of the leather, so that his own mother would not know him, in fifteen minuets. If Samuel J. Tilden is elected President of the United States, he will be controlled by the Democratic party, and the Democratic party will be controlled by the Southern Democracy — that is to say, the late rebels; that is to say, the men that tried to destroy the Government; that is to say, the men who are sorry they did not destroy the Government; that is to say, the enemies of every friend of this Union; that is to say, the murderers and the assassins of Union men living in the Southern country.
Let me say another thing. If Mr. Tilden does not act in accordance with the Southern Democratic command, the Southern Democracy will not allow a single life to stand between them and the absolute control of this country. Hendricks will then be their man. I say that it, would be an outrage to this give this country into the control of men who endeavored to destroy it, to give this country into the control of the Southern rebels and haters of Union men.
And on the other hand, the Republican party has put forward Rutherford B. Hayes. He is an honest man. The Democrats will say, "That is nothing." well, let them try it. Rutherford B. Hayes has a good character.
Rutherford B. Hayes, when this war commenced, did not say with Tilden, "It is an outrage." He did not say with Tilden, "I never will contribute to the prosecution of this war." But he did say this, "I would go into this war if I knew I would be killed in the course of it, rather than to live through it and take no part in it." During the war Rutherford B. Hayes received many wounds in his flesh, but not one scratch upon his honor. Samuel J. Tilden received many wounds upon his honor, but not one scratch on his flesh. Rutherford B. Hayes is a firm man; not an obstinate man, but a firm man and I draw this distinction: A firm man will do what he believes to be right, because he wants to do right. He will stand firm because he believes it to be right; but an obstinate man wants his own way, whither it is right or whether it is wrong. Rutherford B. Hayes is firm in the right, and obstinate only when he knows he is in the right. If you want to vote for a man who fought for you, vote for Rutherford B. Hayes. If you want to vote for a man that carried our flag through the storm of shot shell, vote for Rutherford B. Hayes. If you believe patriotism to be a virtue, vote for Rutherford B. Hayes. If you believe this country wants heroes, vote for Rutherford B. Hayes. If you want a man who turned against his country in time of war, vote for Samuel J. Tilden. If you believe the war waged for the salvation of our Nation was an outrage, vote for Samuel J. Tilden. If you believe it is better to stay at home and curse the brave men in the field fighting for the sacred rights of man, vote for Samuel J. Tilden. If you want to pay a premium upon treason, if you want to pay a premium upon hypocrisy, if you want to pay a premium upon chicanery, if you want to pay a premium upon sympathizing with the enemies of your country, Samuel J. Tilden.
If you believe that patriotism is right, if you believe the brave defender of liberty is better than the assassin of freedom, vote for Rutherford B. Hayes.
I am proud that I belong to the Republican party. It is the only party that has not begged pardon for doing right. It is the only party that has said; "There shall be no distinction on account of race, on account of color, on account of previous condition." It is the only party that ever had a platform broad enough for all humanity to stand upon.
It is the first decent party that ever lived. The Republican party made, the first free government that was ever made. The Republican party made the first decent constitution that any nation ever had. The Republican party gave to the sky the first pure flag that was ever kissed by the waves of air. The Republican party is the first party that ever said: "Every man is entitled to liberty," not because he is white, not because he is black, not because he is rich, not because he is poor, but because he is a man.
The Republican party is the first party that knew enough to know that humanity is more than skin deep. It is the first party that said, "Government should be for all, as the light, as the air, is for all."
And it is the first party that had the sense to say, "What air is to the lungs, what light is to eyes, what love is to the heart, liberty is to the soul of man." The Republican party is the firs party that ever was in favor of absolute free labor, the first party in favor of giving to every man, without distinction of race or color, the fruits of the labor of his hands. The Republican party said, "Free labor will give us wealth, free thought will give us truth." The Republican party is the first that said to every man, "Think for yourself, and express that thought." I am a free man. I belong to the Republican party. This is a free country. I will think my thought. I will speak my thought or die. I say the Republican party is for free labor.
Free labor has invented all the machines that ever added to the power, added to the wealth added to the leisure, added to the civilization of mankind. Every convenience, everything of use, everything of beauty in the world, we owe to free labor and to free thought. Free labor, free thought!
Science took the thunderbolt from the gods, and in the electric spark, freedom, with thought, with intelligence and with love, sweeps under all the waves of the sea; science, free thought, took a tear from the cheek of unpaid labor, converted it into steam and created the giant that turns with tireless arms, the countless wheels of toil.
The Republican party, I say, believes in free labor. Every solitary thing, every solitary improvement in the United States has been made by the Republican party. Every reform accomplished was inaugurated, and was accomplished by the great, grand, glorious Republican party.
The Republican party does not say: "Let bygones be bygones." The Republican party is proud of the past and confident of the future. The Republican party brings its record before you and implores you to read every page, every paragraph, every line and every shining word. On the first page you will find it written: "Slavery has cursed American soil long enough;" on the same page you will find it written: "Slavery shall go no farther." On the same page you will find it written: "The bloodhounds shall not drip their gore upon another inch of American soil." On the second page you find it written: "This is a Nation, not a Confederacy; every State belongs to every citizen, and no State has a right to take territory belonging to any citizens in the United States and set up a separate Government." On the third page you will find the grandest declaration ever made in this country: "Slavery shall be extirpated from the American soil." On the next page the Rebellion has been put down." On the next page: "Slavery has been extirpated from the American soil." On the next page: "The freedmen shall not be vagrants; they shall be citizens." On the next page: "They are citizens." On the next page: "The ballot shall be put in their hands;" and now we will write the next page: "Every citizen that has a ballot in his hand, by the gods! shall have a right to cast that ballot." that in short, that in brief, is the history of the Republican party. The Republican party says, and it means what it says: "This shall be a free country every man in it twenty-one years of age shall have the right to vote for the Government of his choice, and if any man endeavors to interfere with that right, the Government of the United States will see to it that the right of every American citizen is protected at the polls."
Now, my friends, there is one thing that troubles the average Democrat, and that is the idea that somehow, in some way, the negro will get to be the better man. It is the trouble in the South to- day. And I say to my Southern friends (and I admit that there are a great many good men in the South, but the bad men are in an overwhelming majority; the great mass of the population is vicious, violent, virulent and malignant; the great mass of the population is cruel, revengeful, idle, hateful,) and I tell that population: "If you do not go to work, the negro, by his patient industry, will pass you." In the long run, the nation that is honest, the people who are industrious, will pass the people who are dishonest, and the people who are idle, no matter how grand an ancestry they may have had, and so I say, Mr. Northern Democrat, look out!
The superior man is the man that loves his fellowman; the superior man is the useful man; the superior man is the kind man, the man who lifts up his down-trodden brothers; and the greater the load of human sorrow and human want you can get in your arms, the easier you can climb the great hill of fame. The superior man is the man who loves his fellowmen. And let me say right here, the good men, the superior men, the grand men are brothers the world over, no matter what their complexion may be; centuries may separate them, yet they are hand in hand; and all the good, and all the grand, and all the superior men, shoulder to shoulder, heart to heart, are fighting the great battle for the progress of mankind.
I pity the man, I execrate and hate the man who has only to boast that he is white. Whenever I am reduced to that necessity, I believe shame will make me red instead of white. I believe another thing. If I cannot hoe my row, I will not steal corn from the fellow that hoes his row. If I belong to the superior race, I will be so superior that I can make my living without stealing from the inferior. I am actually willing that any Democrat in the world that can, shall pass me. I have never seen one yet, except when I looked over my shoulder. But if they can pass I shall be delighted.
Whenever we stand in the presence of genius, we take off our hats. Whenever we stand in the presence of the great, we do involuntary homage in spite of ourselves. Any one who can go by is welcome, any one in the world; but until somebody does go by, of the Democratic persuasion, I shall not trouble myself about the fact that may be, in some future time, they may get by. The Democrats are afraid of being passed, because they are being passed.
No man ever was, no man ever will be, the superior of the man whom he robs. No man ever was, no man ever will be, the superior of the man he steals from. I had rather be a slave than a slave- master. I had rather be stolen from than be a thief. I had rather be the wronged than the wrong-doer. And allow me to say again to impress it forever upon every man that hears me, you will always be the inferior of the man you wrong. Every race is inferior to the race it tramples upon and robs. There never was a man that could trample upon human rights and be superior to the man upon whom he trampled. And let me say another thing: No government can stand upon the crushed rights of one single human being; and any compromise that we take with the South, if we make it at the expense of our friends, will carry in its own bosom the seeds of its own death and destruction, and cannot stand. A government founded upon anything except liberty and justice cannot and ought not to stand. All the wrecks on either side of the storm of time, all the wrecks of the great cities and nations that have passed away — all are a warning that no nation founded upon injustice can stand. From sand-enshrouded Egypt, from the marble wilderness of Athens, from every fallen, crumbling stone of the once mighty Rome, comes as it were a wail, comes as it were the cry, "No nation founded upon injustice can permanently stand." We must found this Nation anew. We must fight our fight. We must cling to our old party until there is freedom of speech in every part of the United States. We must cling to the old party until I can speak in every State of the South as every Southerner can speak in every State of the North. We must vote the grand old Republican ticket until there is the same liberty in every Southern State that there is in every Eastern and Western State. We must stand by the party until every Southern man will admit that this country belongs to every citizen of the United States as much as to the man that is born in that country. One more thing. I do not want any man that ever fought for this country to vote the Democratic ticket. You will swap your respectability for disgrace. There are thousands of you — great, grand, splendid men — that have fought grandly for this Union, and now I beseech of you, I beg of you, do not give respectability to the enemies and haters of your country. Do not do it. Do not vote with the Democratic party of the North. Sometimes I think a rebel sympathizer in the North worse than a rebel, and I will tell you why. The rebel was carried into the rebellion by public opinion at home, — his father, his mother, his sweetheart, his brother, and everybody he knew; and there was a kind of wind, a kind of tornado, a kind of whirlwind that took him into the army. He went on the rebel side with his State. The Northern Democrat went against his own State; against his own Government; and went against public opinion at home. The Northern Democrat rowed up stream against wind and tide. The Southern rebel went with the current; the Northern rebel rowed against the current from pure, simple cussedness.
And I beg every man that ever fought for the Union, everyman that ever bared his breast to a storm of shot and shell, that the old flag might float over every inch of American soil redeemed from the clutch of treason; I beg him, I implore him, do not go with the Democratic party. And to every young man within the sound of my voice I say, do not tie your bright and shining prospects to that corpse of Democracy. You will get tired of dragging it around. Do not cast your first vote with the enemies of your country. Do not cast your first vote with the Democratic party that was glad when the Union army was defeated. Do cast your vote with that party whose cheeks flushed with the roses of joy when the old flag was trailed in disaster upon the field of battle. Remember, my friends, that that party did every mean thing that it could, every dishonest and treasonable thing it could. Recollect that that party did all it could to divide this Nation, and destroy this country.
For myself I have no fear; Hayes and Wheeler will be the next President and Vice-President of the United States of America. Let me beg of you — let me implore you — let me beseech you, every man, to come out on election day. Every man, do your duty; every man do his duty with regard to the State ticket of the great and glorious State of Illinois.
This year we need Republicans; this year we need men that will vote for the party; and I tell you that a Republican this year, no matter what you have against him, no matter whether you like him or do not like him, is better for the country, no matter how much you hate him, he is better for the country than any Democrat Nature can make, or ever has made.
We must, in this supreme election, we must at this supreme moment, vote only for the men who are in favor of keeping this Government in the in the custody, in the control of the great, the sublime Republican party.
Ladies and gentlemen, if I were insensible to the you honor you have done me by this magnificent meeting — the most magnificent I ever saw on earth — a meeting such as only the marvelous City of Pluck could produce; if I were insensible of the honor, I would be made of stone. I Shall remember it with delight; I shall remember it with thankfulness all the days of my life. And I ask in return of every Republican here to remember all the days of his life, every sacrifice made by this nation for liberty; every sacrifice made by every private soldier, every sacrifice made by every patriotic man and patriotic woman.
I do not ask you to remember in revenge, but I ask you never, never to forget. As the world swings through the constellations year after year, I want the memory, I want the patriotic memory of this country to sit by the grave of every Union soldier and, while her eyes are filled with tears, to crown him again and again with the crown of everlasting honor. I thank you, I thank you, ladies and gentlemen, a thousand times. Good-night.
NOTE: There was no full report made of this speech, the above are simply extracts.
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