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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 Bank of Wisdom 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 Bank of Wisdom 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 Bank of Wisdom 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. Bank of Wisdom 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 Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 7 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 Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 8 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 Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 9 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 **** ****