Robert Green Ingersoll
I AM just on my way home from the grand old State of Maine, and there has followed me a telegraphic dispatch which I will read to you. If it were not good, you may swear I would not read it:
Every Congressional district, every county in Main, Republican by a large majority. The victory is overwhelming, and the majority will exceed 15,000.” That dispatch is signed by that knight-errant of political chivalry, James G. Blaine.
I suppose we are all stockholders in the great corporation known as the United States of America, and as such stockholders we have a right to vote the way we think will best serve our own interests. Each one has certain stock in this Government, whether he is rich, or whether he is poor, and the poor man has the same interest in the United States of America that the richest man in it has. It is our duty, conscientiously and honestly to hear the argument upon both sides of the political question, and then go and vote conscientiously for the side that we believe will best preserve our interest in the United States of America. Two great parties are before you now asking your support — the Democratic party and the Republican party. One wishes to be kept in power, the other wishes to, have a chance once more at the Treasury of the United States. The Democratic party is probably the hungriest organization that ever wandered over the desert of political disaster in the history of the world. There never was, in all probability, a political stomach so thoroughly empty, or an appetite so outrageously keen as the one possessed by the Democratic party. The Democratic party howling like a pack of wolves looking in with hungry and staring eyes at the windows of the National Capitol, and scratching at the doors of the White House. They have been engaged in these elegant pursuits for sixteen long, weary years. Occasionally they have retired to some convenient eminence and lugubriously howled about the Constitution. The Democratic party comes and asks for your vote, not on account of anything it has done, not on account of anything it has accomplished, but on account of what it promises to do; the Democratic party can make just as good a promise as any other party in the world, and it will come farther from fulfilling it than any other party on this globe. The Republican party having held this Government for sixteen years, proposes to hold it for four years more. The Republican party comes to you with its record open, and asks every man, woman and child in this broad country to read its every word. And I say to you, that there is not a line, a paragraph, or a page of that record that is not only an honor to the Republican party, but to the human race. On every page of that record is written some great and glorious action, done either for the liberty of man, or the preservation of our common country. We ask every body to read its every word. The Democratic party comes before you with its record closed, recording every blot and blur, and stain and treason, and slander and malignity, and asks you not to read a single word, but to be kind enough to take its infamous promises for the future.
Now, my friends, I propose to tell you, to-night, something that has been done by the Democratic party, and then allow you to judge for yourselves. Now, if a man came to you, you owning a steamboat on the Hudson River, and he wished to hire out to you as an engineer, and you inquired about him, and found he had blown up and destroyed and wrecked every steamboat he had ever been engineer on, and you should tell him: I can’t hire you; you blew up such an engine, you wrecked such a ship,” he would say to you, “My Lord! Mister, you must let bygones be bygones.” If a man came to your bank, or came to a solitary individual here to borrow a hundred dollars, and you went and inquired about him and found he never paid a note in his life, found he was a dead-beat, and you say to him,”I can not loan you money.” “Why?” Because, I have ascertained you never pay your debts.” Ah, yes, “he says, you are no gentleman going prying into a man’s record.”
I tell you, my good friends, a good character rests upon a record, and not upon a prospectus, a good record rests upon a deed accomplished, and not upon a promise, a good character rests upon something really done, and not upon a good resolution, and you cannot make a good character in a day. If you could, Tilden would have one to-morrow night.
I propose now to tell you, my friends, a little of the history of the Republican party, also a little of the history of the Democratic party.
And first, the Republican party. The United States of America is a free country, it is the only free country upon this earth; it is the only republic that was ever established among men. We have read, we have heard, of the republics of Greece, of Egypt, of Venice; we have heard of the free city in Europe. There never was a republic of Venice; there never was a republic of Rome; there never was a republic of Athens; there never was a free city in Europe; there never was a government not cursed with caste; there never was a government not cursed with slavery; there never was a country not cursed with almost every infamy, until the Republican party of the United States made this a free country. It is the first party in the world that contended that the respectable man was the useful man; it is the first party in the world that said without regard to previous conditions, without regard to race, every human being is entitled to life, to liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and it is the only party in the world that has endeavored to carry those sublime principles into actual effect. Every other party has been allied to some piece of rascality; every other party has been patched up with some thieving, larcenous, leprous compromise. The Republican party keeps its forehead in the grand dawn of perpetual advancement; the Republican party is the party of reason; it is the party of argument; it is the party of education; it believes in free schools, it believes in scientific schools, it believes that the schools are for the public and all the public; it. believes that science never should be interfered with by any sectarian influence whatever.
The Republican party is in favor of science; the Republican party, as I said before, is the party of reason; it argues; it does not mob; it reasons; it does not murder; it persuades you, not with the shot-gun, not with tar and feathers, but with good sound reason, and argument.
In order for you to ascertain what the Republican party has done for us, let us refresh ourselves a little we all know it, but it is well enough to hear it now and then. Let us then refresh our recollection a little, in order to understand what the grand and great Republican party has accomplished in the land.
We will consider, in the first place, the condition of the country when the Republican party was born. When this Republican party was born there was upon the statute books of the United States of America a law known as the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, by which every man in the State of New York was made by law a bloodhound, and could be set and hissed upon a negro, who was simply attempting to obtain his birthright of freedom, just as you would set a dog upon a wolf. That was the Fugitive Slave law of 1850. Around the neck of every man it put a collar as on a dog but it had not the decency to put the man’s name on the collar. I said in the State of Maine, and several other States, and expect to say it again although I hurt the religious sentiment of the Democratic party, and shocked the piety of that organization by saying it, but I did say then, and now say, that the Fugitive Slave Law in 1850 would have disgraced hell in its palmiest days.
I tell you, my friends, you do not know bow easy it is to shock the religious sentiments of the Democratic party; there is a deep and pure vein of piety running through that organization; it has been for years spiritually inclined; there is probably no organization in the world that really will stand by any thing of a spiritual character, at least until it is gone, as that Democratic party will. Everywhere I have been I have crushed their religious hopes. You have no idea how sorry I am that I hurt their feelings so upon the subject of religion. Why, I did not suppose that they cared anything about Christianity, but I have been deceived. I now find that they do, and I have done what no other man in the United States ever did — I have made the Democratic party come to the defence of Christianity. I have made the Democratic party use what time they could spare between drinks in quoting Scripture. But notwithstanding the fact that I have shocked the religions sentiment of that party, I do not want them to defend Christianity any more; they will bring it into universal contempt if they do. Yes, yes, they will make the words honesty and reform a stench in the nostrils of honest men. They made the words of the Constitution stand almost for treason, during the entire war, and every decent word that passes the ignorant, leprous, malignant lips of the Democratic party, becomes dishonored from that day forth.
At the same time, in 1850, when the Fugitive Slave Law was passed, in nearly all of the Western States, there was a law by which the virtues of pity and hospitality became indictable offenses. There was a law by which the virtue of charity became a crime, and the man who performed a kindness could be indicted, imprisoned, and fined. It was the law of Illinois — of my own State — that if one gave a drop of cold water, or a crust of bread, to a fugitive from slavery, he could be indicted, fined and imprisoned, under the infamous slave law of 1850 under the infamous black laws of the Western States.
At the time the Republican party was born, (and I have told this many times) if a woman ninety-nine one-hundredths white had escaped from slavery, carrying her child on her bosom, having gone through morass and brush and thorns and thickets, had crossed creeks and rivers, and had finally got within one step of freedom, with the light of the North star shining in her tear-filled eyes — with her child upon her withered breast — it would have been an indictable offence to have given her a drop of water or a crust of bread; not only that, but under the slave law of 1850, it was the duty of every Northern citizen claiming to be a free man, to clutch that woman and hand her back to the dominion of her master and to the Democratic lash. The Democrats are sorry that those laws have been repealed. The Republican party with the mailed hand of war tore from the statue books of the United States, and from the statue books of each State, every one of those infamous hellish laws, and trampled them beneath her glorious feet.
Such laws are infamous beyond expression; one would suppose they had been passed by a Legislature, the lower house of which were hyenas, the upper house snakes, and the executive a cannibal king. The institution of slavery had polluted, had corrupted the church, not only in the South, but a large proportion of the church in the North; so that ministers stood up in their pulpits here in New York and defended the very infamy that I have mentioned. Not only that, but the Presbyterians, South, in 1863, met in General Synod, and passed two resolutions.
The first resolution read, “Resolved, that slavery is a divine institution” (and as the boy said, “so is hell”)
Second, “Resolved, that God raised up the Presbyterian Church, South, to protect and perpetuate that institution.”
Well, all I have to say is that, if God did this, he never chose a more infamous instrument to carry out a more diabolical object. What more had slavery done? At that time it had corrupted the very courts so that in nearly every State in this Union if a Democrat had gone to the hut of a poor negro, and had shot down his wife and children before his very eyes, bad strangled the little dimpled babe in the cradle, there was no court before which this negro could come to give testimony. He was not allowed to go before a magistrate and indict the murderer; he was not allowed to go before a grand jury and swear an indictment against the wretch. justice was not only blind but deaf; and that was the idea of justice in the South, when the Republican party was born. When the Republican party was born the bay of the bloodhound was the music of the Union; when this party was born the dome of our Capitol at Washington cast. its shadow upon slave-pens in which crouched and shuddered women from whose breasts their babes had been torn by wretches who are now crying for honesty and reform. When the Republican party was born, a bloodhound was considered as one of the instrumentalities of republicanism. When the Republican party was born, the church had made the cross of Christ a whipping-post. When the Republican party was born, courts of the United States had not the slightest idea of justice, provided a black man was on the other side. When this party came into existence, if a negro had a plot of ground and planted corn in it, and the rain had fallen upon it, and the dew had lain lovingly upon it, and the arrows of light shot from the exhaustless quiver of the sun, had quickened the blade, and the leaves waved in the perfumed air of June, and it finally ripened into the full ear in the golden air of autumn, the courts of the United States did not know to whom the corn belonged, and if a Democrat had driven the negro off and shucked the corn, and that case had been left to the Supreme Court of many of the States in this Union, they would have read all the authorities, they would have heard all the arguments, they would have heard all the speeches, then pushed their spectacles back on their bald and brainless heads and decided, all things considered, the Democrat was entitled to that corn. We pretended at that time to be a free country it was a lie, We pretended at that time to do justice in our courts; it was a lie, and above all our pretence and hypocrisy rose the curse of slavery, like Chimborazo above the clouds.
Now, my friends, what is there about this great Republican party? It is the party of intellectual freedom. It is one thing to bind the hands of men; it is one thing to steal the results of physical labor of men, but it is a greater crime to forge fetters for the souls of men. I am a free man; I will do my own thinking or die; I give a mortgage on my soul to nobody; I give a deed of trust on my soul to nobody; no matter whether I think well or I think ill; whatever thought I have shall be my thought, and shall be a free thought, and I am going to give cheerfully, gladly, the same right to thus think to every other human being.
I despise any man who does not own himself. I despise any man who does not possess his own spirit. I would rather die a beggar, covered with rags, with my soul erect, fearless and free, than to live a king in a palace of gold, clothed with the purple of power, with my soul slimy with hypocrisy, crawling in the dust of fear. I will do my own thinking, and when I get it thought, I will say it. These are the splendid things, my friends, about the Republican party; intellectual and physical liberty for all.
Now, my friends, I have told you a little about the Republican party. Now, I will tell you a little more about the Republican party. When that party came into power it elected Abraham Lincoln President of the United States. I live in the state that holds within its tender embrace the sacred ashes of Abraham Lincoln, the best, the purest man that was ever President of the United States. I except none. When he was elected President of the United States, the Democratic party, said: we will not stand it; “the Democratic party South said; “We will not bear it;” and the Democratic party North said: “You ought not to bear it.”
James Buchanan was then President. James Buchanan read the Constitution of the United States, or a part of it, and read several platforms made by the Democratic party, and gave it as his deliberate opinion that a state had a right to go out of the Union. He gave it as his deliberate opinion that this was a Confederacy and not a Nation, and when he said that, there was another little, dried up, old bachelor sitting over in the amen corner of the political meeting and he squeaked out: “That is my opinion too,” and the name of that man was Samuel J. Tilden.
The Democratic party then and now says that the Union is simply a Confederacy; but I want this country to be a Nation. I want to live in a great and splendid country. A great nation makes a great people. Your surroundings have something to do with it. Great Plains, magnificent rivers, great ranges of mountains, a country washed by two oceans — all these things make us great and grand as the continent on which we live. The war commenced, and the moment the war commenced the whole country was divided into two parties. No matter what they had been before, whether Democrats, Freesoilers, Republicans, old Whirs, or Abolitionists — the whole country divided into two parts — the friends and enemies of the country — patriots and traitors, and they so continued until the Rebellion was put down. I cheerfully admit that thousands of Democrats went into the army, and that thousands of Democrats were patriotic men. I cheerfully admit that thousands of them thought more of their country than they did of the Democratic party, and they came with us to fight for the country, and I honor every one of them from the bottom of my heart, and nineteen out of twenty of them have voted the Republican ticket from that day to this. Some of them came back and went to the Democratic party again and are still in that party; I have not a word to say against them, only this: They are swapping off respectability for disgrace. They give to the Democratic party all the respectability it has, and the Democratic party gives to them all the disgrace they have.
Democratic soldier, come out of the Democratic party. There was a man in my State got mad at the railroad and would not ship his hogs on it, so he drove them to Chicago, and it took him so long to get them there that the price had fallen; when he came back, they laughed at him, and said to him, “You didn’t make much, did you, driving your hogs to Chicago?” “No,” he said, “I didn’t make anything except the company of the hogs on the way.” Soldier of the Republic, I say, with the Democratic party all you can make is the company of the hogs on the way down. Come out, come out and leave them alone in their putridity — in their rottenness. Leave them alone. Do not try to put a new patch on an old garment. Leave them alone. I tell you the Democratic party must be left alone it must be left to enjoy the primal curse, “On thy belly shalt thou crawl and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life,” O Democratic party.
Now, my friends, I need not tell you how we put down the Rebellion. You all know. I need not describe to you the battles you fought. I need not tell you of the men who sacrificed their lives. I need not tell you of the old men who are still waiting for footsteps that never will return. I need not tell you of the women who are waiting for the return of their loved ones. I need not tell you of all these things. You know we put down the rebellion; we fought until the old flag trampled over every inch of American soil redeemed from the clutch of treason.
Now, my friends, what was the Democratic party doing when the Republican party was doing these splendid things? When the Republican party said this was a nation; when the Republican party said we shall be free; when the Republican party said slavery shall be extirpated from American soil; when the Republican party said the negro shall be a citizen, and the citizen shall have the ballot, and citizen shall have the right to cast that ballot for government of his choice peaceably — what was Democratic party doing?
I will tell you a few things that the Democratic party has done within the last sixteen years. In the first place, they were not willing that this country should be saved unless slavery could be saved with it. There never was a Democrat, North or South — and by Democrat I mean the fellows who stuck to the party all during the war, the ones that stuck to the party after it was a disgrace; the ones that stuck to the party from simple, pure cussedness — there never was one who did not think more of the institution of slavery than he did of the Government of the United States; not one that I ever saw or read of. And so they said to us for all those years: if you can save the Union with slavery, and without any help from us, we are willing you should do it; but we do not propose that this shall be an abolition war.” So the Democratic party from the first said “An effort to preserve this Union is unconstitutional,” and they made a breastwork of the Constitution for rebels to get behind and shoot down loyal men, so that the first charge I lay at the feet of the Democratic party, the first charge I make in the indictment, is that they thought more of slavery than of liberty and of this Union, and in my judgment they are in the same condition this moment. The next thing they did was to discourage enlistments in the North. They did all in their power to prevent any man’s going into the army to assist in putting down the Rebellion. And that grand reformer and statesman, Samuel J. Tilden, gave it as his opinion that the South could sue, and that every soldier who put his foot on sacred Southern soil would be a trespasser, and could be sued before a justice of the Peace. The Democratic party met in their conventions in every State North, and denounced the war as an abolition war, and Abraham Lincoln as a tyrant. What more did they do? They went into partnership with the rebels. They said the rebels just as plainly as though they had spoken it: “Hold on, hold out, hold hard, fight hard until we get the political possession of the North and then you can go in peace.”
What more? A man by the name of Jacob Thompson — a nice man and a good Democrat, who thinks that of all the men to reform the Government Samuel J. Tilden is the best man — Jacob Thompson had the misfortune to be a very vigorous Democrat, and I will show you what I mean by that. A Democrat during the war who had a musket — you understand, a musket — he was a rebel, and during the war a rebel that did not have a musket was a Democrat. I call Mr. Thompson a vigorous Democrat, because he had a musket. Jacob Thompson was the rebel agent in Canada, and when he went there he took between six and seven hundred thousand dollars for the purpose of cooperating with the Northern Democracy. He got himself acquainted with and in connection with the Democratic party in Ohio, in Indiana, and in Illinois. The vigorous Democrats, the real Democrats, in these States had organized themselves under the heads of “Sons of Liberty,” “Knights of the Golden Circle,” “Order of the Star” and various other beautiful names, and their object was to release rebel prisoners from Camp Chase, Camp Douglass in Chicago, and from one camp in Indianapolis and another camp at Rock Island. Their object was to raise a fire in the rear, as they called it — in other words, to burn down the homes of Union soldiers while they were in the front fighting for the honor of their country. That was their object, and they put themselves in connection with Jacob Thompson. They were to have an uprising on the 16th of August, 1864. It was thought best to hold a few public meetings for the purpose of arousing the public mind. They held the first meeting in the city of Peoria, where I live. That was August 3rd, 1864. Here they came from every part of the State, and were addressed by the principal Democratic politicians in Illinois.
To that meeting, Fernando Wood addressed a letter, in which he said that although absent in body he should be present in spirit. George Pendleton of Ohio, George Pugh of the same State, Seymour of Connecticut, and various other Democratic gentlemen, sent acknowledgments and expressions of regret to this Democratic meeting that met at this time for the purpose of organizing an uprising among the Democratic party. I saw that meeting, and heard some of their speeches. They denounced the war as an abolition nigger war. They denounced Abraham Lincoln as a tyrant. They carried transparencies that said, “Is there money enough in the land to pay this nigger debt? Arouse, brothers, and hurl the tyrant Lincoln from the throne.” And the men that promulgated that very thing are running the most important political offices in the country, on the ground of honesty and reform. And Thompson says that he furnished the money to pay the expenses of that Democratic meeting. They were all paid by rebel gold, by Jacob Thompson. He has on file the voucher from these Democratic gentlemen in favor of Tilden and Hendricks. The next meetings were held in Springfield, Illinois, Indianapolis, Indiana, the expenses of which were paid in the same way. They shipped to one town these weapons of our destruction in boxes labeled Sunday school books!
That same rebel agent, Jacob Thompson, hired a Democrat by the name of Churchill to burn the city of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Thompson coolly remarked: I don’t think he has had much luck, as I have only heard of a few fires.”
In Indianapolis a man named Dodds was arrested — a sound Democrat — so sound that the Government had to take him by the nape of the neck and put him in Fort Lafayette. The Convention of Democrats then met in the city of Chicago, and declared the war a failure. There never was a more infamous lie on this earth than when the Democratic convention declared in 1864 that the war was a failure. It was but a few days afterward that the roar of Grant’s cannon announced that a lie. Rise from your graves, Union soldiers, one and all, that fell in support of your country — rise from your graves, and lift your skeleton hands on high, and swear that when the Democratic party resolved that the war for the preservation of your country was a failure, that the Democratic party was a vast aggregated liar. Well, we grew magnanimous, and let Dodds out of Fort Lafayette; and where do you suppose Dodds is now? He is in Wisconsin. What do you suppose Dodds is doing? Making speeches. Whom for? Tilden and Hendricks — “Honesty and reform!” This same Jacob Thompson, Democrat, hired men to burn New York, and they did set fire in some twenty places, and they used Greek fire, as he said in his letter, and ingenuously adds I shall never hereafter advise the use of Greek fire.” They knew that in the smoke and ruins would be found the charred remains of mothers and children, and that the flames leaping like serpents would take the child from the mother’s arms and they were ready to do it to preserve the infamous institution of slavery; and the Democratic party has never objected to it from that day to this. They burned steamboats, and many men with them, and the hounds that did it are skulking in the woods of Missouri. While these things were going on, Democrats in the highest positions said “Not one cent to prosecute the war.”
The next question we have to consider is about paying the debt. This is the first question. The second question is the protection of the citizen, whether he is white or black. We owe a large debt. Two-thirds of that debt was incurred in consequence of the action and the meanness of the Democrats. There are some people who think that you can defer the payment of a promise so long that the postponement of the debt will serve in lieu of its liquidation — that you pay your debts by putting off your creditors.
The people have to support the Government; the Government cannot support the people. The Government has no money but what it received from the people. It had therefore to borrow money to carry on the war. Every greenback that it issued was a forced loan. My notes are not a legal tender, though if I had the power I might possibly make them so. We borrowed money and we have to pay the debt. That debt represents the expenses of war. The horses and the gunpowder and the rifles and the artillery are represented in that debt — it represents all the munitions of war. Until we pay that debt we can never be a solvent nation. Until our net profits amount to as much as we lost during the war we can never be a solvent people. If a man cannot understand that, there is no use in talking to him on the subject. The alchemists in olden times who fancied that they could make gold out of nothing were not more absurd than the American advocates of soft money. They resemble the early explorers of our continent who lost years in searching for the fountain of eternal youth, but the ear of age never caught the gurgle of that spring. We all have heard of men who spent years of labor in endeavoring to produce perpetual motion. They produced machines of the most ingenious character with cogs and wheels, and pulleys without number, but these ingenious machines had one fault, they would not go. You will never find a way to make money out of nothing. It is as great nonsense as the fountain of perpetual youth. You cannot do it.
Gold is the best material which labor has yet found as a measure of value. That measure of value must be as valuable as the object it measures.
The value of gold arises from the amount of labor expanded in producing it. A gold dollar will buy as much labor as produced that dollar.
[Here the speaker opened a telegram from Maine, which he read to the audience amid a perfect tempest of applause. It contained the following words:] “We have triumphed by an immense majority, something we have not achieved since 1868.” [The speaker resumed.] And this despatch is signed by man who clutched the throats of the Democrats and held them until they grew black in the face, James G. Blaine. * * *
Now, gentlemen, to pass from the financial part of this, and I will say one word before I do it. The Republican party intends to pay its debts in coin on the 1st of January, 1879. Paper money means probably the payment of the Confederate debt; a metallic currency, the discharge of honest obligations. We have touched hard-pan prices in this country, and want to do a hard-pan business with hard money.
We now come to the protection of our citizens. A government that cannot protect its citizens, at home and abroad, ought to be swept from the map of the world. The Democrats tell you that they will protect any citizen if he is only away from home, but if he is in Louisiana or any other State in the Union, the Government is powerless to protect him. I say a government has a right to protect every citizen at home as well as abroad, and the Government has the right to take its soldiers across the State line, to take its soldiers into any State, for the purpose of protecting even one man. That is my doctrine with regard to the power of the Government. But here comes a Democrat to-day and tells me, (and it is the old doctrine of secession in disguise), that the State of Louisiana must protect its own and that if it does not, the General Government has nothing to do unless the Governor of that State asks assistance, no matter whether anarchy prevails or not. That is infamous. The United States has the right to draft you and me into the army and compel us to serve there, if the powers are being usurped. It is the duty of the Government to see to it that every citizen has all his rights in every State in this Union, and to protect him in the enjoyment of those rights, peaceably if it can, forcibly if it must.
Democrats tell us that they treat the colored man very well. I have frequently read stories relating how white men were passing along the road when suddenly they were set upon by ten or twelve negroes, who sought their lives; but in the fight which ensued, the ten or twelve negroes were killed, not a white man hurt. I tell you it is infamous, and the Democratic press of the North laughs at it, and Mr. Samuel J. Tilden does not care. He knows that many of the Southern States are to be carried by assassination and murder, and he knows that if he is elected it will be by assassination and murder. It is infamous beyond the expression of language. Now, I ask you which party will be the most likely to preserve the liberty of the negro — the party who fought for slavery, or the men who gave them freedom? These are the two great questions — the payment of the debt, and the protection of our citizens. My friends, we have to pay the debt, as I told you, but it is of greater importance to make sacred American citizenship.
Now, these two parties have a couple of candidates. The Democratic party has put forward Mr. Samuel J. Tilden. Mr. Tilden is a Democrat who belongs to the Democratic party of the city of New York; the worst party ever organized in any civilized country. I wish you could see it. The pugilists, the prizefighters, the plug-uglies, the fellows that run with the “machine;” nearly every nose is mashed, about half the ears have been chewed off; and of whatever complexion they are, their eyes are nearly always black. They have fists like tea-kettles and heads like bullets. I wish you could see them. I have been in New York every few weeks for fifteen years; and when I am here I see the old banner of Tammany Hall. “Tammany Hall and Reform;” “John Morrissy and Reform;” “John Kelley and Reform;” “William M. Tweed and Reform;” and the other day I saw the, same old flag; “Samuel J. Tilden and Reform.” The Democratic party of the city of New York never had but two objects — grand and petit larceny. Tammany Hall bears the same relation to the penitentiary that the Sunday school does to church.
I have heard that the Democratic party got control of the city when it did not owe a dollar, and have stolen and stolen until it owes a hundred a sixty millions, and I understand that every election they have had was a fraud, every one. I understand that they stole everything they could lay their hands on; and what hands! Grasped and grasped and clutched, until they stole all it was possible for the people to pay, and now they are all yelling “Honesty and Reform.”
I understand that Samuel J. Tilder, was a pupil in that school, and that now he is the head teacher. I understand that when the war commenced he said he would never aid in the prosecution of that old outrage. I understand that he said in 1860 and in 1861 that the Southern States could snap the tie of confederation as a nation would break a treaty, and that they could repel coercion as a nation would repel invasion. I understand that during the entire war he was opposed to the prosecution, and that he was opposed to the Proclamation of Emancipation, and demanded that the document be taken back. I understand that he regretted to see the chains fall from the limbs of the colored man. I understand that he regretted when the Constitution of the United States was elevated and purified, pure as the driven snow. I understand that he regretted when the stain was wiped from our flag and we stood before the world the only pure Republic that ever existed. This is enough for me to say about him, and since the news from Maine you need not waste your time in talking about him.
[A voice “How about free schools?”]
I want every schoolhouse to be a temple of science in which shall be taught the laws of nature, in which the children shall be taught actual facts, and I do not want that schoolhouse touched or that institution of science touched, by any superstition whatever. Leave religion with the church, with the family, and more than all, leave religion with each individual heart and mind.
Let every man be his own bishop, let every man be his own pope, let every man do his own thinking, let, every man have a brain of his own. Let every man have a heart and conscience of his own.
We are growing better, and truer, and grander. And let me say, Mr. Democrat, we are keeping the country for your children. We are keeping education for your children. We are keeping the old flag floating for your children; and let me say, as a prediction, there is only air enough on this continent to float that one flag.
NOTE: This address was not revised by the author for publication.