Robert Green Ingersoll
26 page printout Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship. **** **** Contents of this file page RATIFICATION SPEECH. 1 BANGOR SPEECH. 15 **** **** This file, its printout, or copies of either are to be copied and given away, but NOT sold. Bank of Wisdom, Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 The Works of ROBERT G. INGERSOLL **** **** RATIFICATION SPEECH. 1888. FELLOW-CITIZENS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN -- The speaker who is perfectly candid, who tells his honest thought, not only honors himself, but compliments his audience. It is only to the candid that man can afford to absolutely open his heart. Most people, whenever a man is nominated for the presidency, claim that they were for him from the very start -- as a rule, claim that they discovered him. They are so anxious to be with the procession, so afraid of being left, that they insist that they got exactly the man they wanted. I will be frank enough with you to say that the convention did not nominate my choice. I was for the nomination of General Gresham, believing that, all things considered, he was the best and most available man a just judge, a soldier, a statesman. But there is something in the American blood that bows to the will of the majority. There is that splendid fealty and loyalty to the great principle upon which our Government rests; so that when the convention reached its conclusion, every Republican was for the nominee. There were good men from which to select this ticket. I made my selection, and did the best I could to induce the convention to make the same. Some people think, or say they think, that I made a mistake in telling the name of the man whom I was for. But I always know whom I am for, I always know what I am for, and I know the reasons why I am for the thing or for the man. And it never once occurred to me that we could get a man nominated, or elected, and keep his name a secret. When I am for a man I like to stand by him, even while others leave, no matter if at last I stand alone. I believe in doing things above board, in the light, in the wide air. No snake ever yet had a skin brilliant enough, no snake ever crawled through the grass secretly enough, silently or cunningly enough, to excite my admiration. My admiration is for the eagle, the monarch of the empyrean, who, poised on outstretched pinions, challenges the gaze of all the Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 1 1888 RATIFICATION SPEECH. world. Take your position in the sunlight; tell your neighbors and your friends what you are for, and give your reasons for your position; and if that is a mistake, I expect to live making only mistakes. I do not like the secret way, but the plain, open way; and I was for one man, not because I had anything against the others, who were all noble, splendid men, worthy to be Presidents of the United States. Now, then, leaving that subject, two parties again confront each other. With parties as with persons goes what we call character. They have built up in the nation in which they live reputation, and the reputation of a party should be taken into consideration as well as the reputation of a man. What is this party? What has it done? What has it endeavored to do? What are the ideas in its brain? What are the hopes, the emotions and the loves in its heart? Does it wish to make the world grander and better and freer? Has it a high ideal? Does it believe in sunrise, or does it keep its back to the sacred east of eternal progress? These are the questions that every American should ask. Every man should take pride in this great Nation -- America, with a star of glory in her forehead! -- and every man should say, "I hope when I lie down in death I shall leave a greater and grander country than when I was born." This is the country of humanity. This is the Government of the poor. This is where man has an even chance with his fellow-man. In this country the poorest man holds in his hand at the day of election the same unit, the same amount, of political power as the owner of a hundred millions. That is the glory of the United States. A few days ago our party met in convention. Now, let us see who we are. Let us see what the Republican party is. Let us see what is the spirit that animates this great and splendid organization. And I want you to think one moment, just one moment: What was this country when the first Republican President was elected? Under the law then, every Northern man was a bloodhound, pledged to catch human beings, who, led by the light of the Northern Star, were escaping to free soil. Remember that. And remember, too, that when our first President was elected we found a treasury empty, the United States without credit, the great Republic unable to borrow money from day to day to pay its current expenses. Remember that. Think of the glory and grandeur of the Republican party that took the country with an empty exchequer, and then think of what the Democratic party says to-day of the pain and anguish it has suffered administering the Government with a surplus! We must remember what the Republican party has done -- what it has accomplished for nationality, for liberty, for education and for the civilization of our race. We must remember its courage in war, its honesty in peace, Civil war tests to a certain degree the strength, the stability and the patriotism of a country. After the war comes a greater strain. it is a great thing to die for a cause, but it is a greater thing to live for it. We must remember that the Republican party not only put down a rebellion, not only created a Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 2 1888 RATIFICATION SPEECH. debt of thousands and thousands of millions, but that it had the industry and the intelligence to pay that debt, and to give to the United States the best financial standing of any nation. When this great party came together, in Chicago what was the first thing the convention did? What was the first idea in its mind? It was to honor the memory of the greatest and grandest men the Republic has produced. The first name that trembled upon the lips of the convention was that of Abraham Lincoln -- Abraham Lincoln, one of the greatest and grandest men who ever lived, and, in my judgment, the greatest man that ever sat in the presidential chair. And why the greatest? Because the kindest, because he had more mercy and love in his heart than were in the heart of any other President. And so the convention paid its tribute to the great soldier, to the man who led, in company with others, the great army of freedom to victory, until the old flag floated over every inch of American soil and every foot of that territory was dedicated to the eternal freedom of mankind. And what next did this convention do? The next thing was to send fraternal greetings to the Americans of Brazil. Why? Because Brazil had freed every slave, and because that act left the New World, this hemisphere, without a slave -- left two continents dedicated to the freedom of man -- so that with that act of Brazil the New World, discovered only a few years ago, takes the lead in the great march of human progress and liberty. That is the second thing the convention did. Only a little while ago the minister to this country from Brazil, acting under instructions from his government, notified the President of the United States that this sublime act had been accomplished. -- notified him that from the bodies of millions of men the chains of slavery had fallen -- an act great enough to make the dull sky of half the world glow as though another morning had risen upon another day. And what did our President say? Was he filled with enthusiasm? Did his heart beat quicker? Did the blood rush to his cheek? He simply said, as it is reported, "that he hoped time would justify the wisdom of the measure." It is precisely the same as though a man should quit a life of crime, as though some gentleman in the burglar business should finally announce to his friends I have made up my mind never to break into another house," and the friend should reply: "I hope that time will justify the propriety of that resolution." That was the first thing, with regard to the condition of the world, that came into the mind of the Republican convention. And why was that? Because the Republican party has fought for liberty from the day of its birth to the present moment. And what was the next? The next resolution passed by the convention was, "that we earnestly hope we shall soon congratulate our fellow-citizens of Irish birth upon the peaceful recovery of home rule in Ireland." Wherever a human being wears a chain, there you will find the sympathy of the Republican party. Wherever one languishes in a dungeon for having raised the standard of revolt in favor of human Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 3 1888 RATIFICATION SPEECH. freedom, there you will find the sympathy of the Republican party. I believe in liberty for Ireland, not because it is Ireland, but because they are human beings, and I am for liberty, not as a prejudice, but as a principle. The man rightfully in jail who wants to get out is a believer in liberty as a prejudice; but when a man out of jail sees a man wrongfully in jail and is willing to risk his life to give liberty to the man who ought to have it, that is being in favor of liberty as a principle. So I am in favor of liberty everywhere, all over the world, and wherever one man tries to govern another simply because he has been born a lord or a duke or a king, or wherever one governs another simply by brute force, I say that that is oppression, and it is the business of Americans to do all they can to give liberty to the oppressed everywhere. Ireland should govern herself. Those who till the soil should own the soil, or have an opportunity at least of becoming the owners. A few landlords should not live in extravagance and luxury while those who toil live on the leavings, on parings, on crumbs and crusts. The treatment of Ireland by England has been one continuous crime. There is no meaner page in history, What is the next thing in this platform? And if there is anything in it that anybody can object to, we will find it out to-night. The next thing is the supremacy of the Nation. Why, even the Democrats now believe in that, and in their own platform are willing to commence that word with a capital N. They tell us that they are in favor of an indissoluble Union -- just as I presume they always have been. But they now believe in a Union. So does the Republican party. What else? The Republican party believes, not in State Sovereignty, but in the preservation of all the rights reserved to the States by the Constitution. Let me show you the difference: For instance, you make a contract with your neighbor who lives next door -- equal partners -- and at the bottom of the contract you put the following addition: "If there is any dispute as to the meaning of this contract, my neighbor shall settle it, and any settlement he shall make shall be final." Is there any use of talking about being equal partners any longer? Any use of your talking about being a sovereign partner? So, the Constitution of the United States says: "If any question arises between any State and the Federal Government it shall be decided by a Federal Court." That is the end of what they call State Sovereignty. Think of a sovereign State that can make no treaty, that cannot levy war, that cannot coin money. But we believe in maintaining the rights of the States absolutely in their integrity, because we believe in local self-government. We deny, however, that a State has any right to deprive a citizen of his vote. We deny that the State has any right to violate the Federal law, and we go further and we say that it is the duty of the General Government to see to it that every citizen in every State shall have the right to exercise all of his privileges as a citizen of the United States -- "the right of every lawful citizen," says our platform, "native or foreign, white or black, to cast a free ballot." Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 4 1888 RATIFICATION SPEECH. Let me say one word about that. The ballot is the king, the emperor, the ruler of America it is the only rightful sovereign of the Republic; and whoever refuses to count an honest vote, or whoever casts a dishonest vote, is a traitor to the great principle upon which our Government is founded. The man poisons, or endeavors to poison, the springs of authority, the fountains of justice, of rightful dominion and power; and until every citizen can cast his vote everywhere in this land and have that vote counted, we are not a republican people, we are not a civilized nation. The Republican party will not have finished its mission until this country is civilized. That is its business. It was born of a protest against barbarism. The Republican party was the organized conscience of the United States. It had the courage to stand by what it believed to be right. There is something better even than success in this world; or in other words, there is only one kind of success, and that is to be for the right. Then whatever happens, you have succeeded. Now, comes the next question. The Republican party not only wants to protect every citizen in his liberty, in his right to vote, but it wants to have that vote counted. And what else? The next thing in this platform is protection for American labor. I am going to tell you in a very brief way why I am in favor of protection. First, I want this Republic substantially independent of the rest of the world. You must remember that while people are civilized -- some of them -- so that when they have a quarrel they leave it to the courts to decide, nations still occupy the position of savages toward each other. There is no national court to decide a question, consequently the question is decided by the nations themselves, and you know what selfishness and greed and power and the ideas of false glory will do and have done. So that this Nation is not safe one moment from war. I want the Republic so that it can live although at war with all the world. We have every kind of climate that is worth having. Our country embraces the marriage of the pine and palm; we have all there is of worth; it is the finest soil in the world and the most ingenious people that ever contrived to make the forces of nature do their work. I want this Nation substantially independent, so that if every port were blockaded we would be covered with prosperity as with a mantle. Then, too, the Nation that cannot take care of itself in war is always at a disadvantage in peace. That is one reason. Let me give you the next. The next reason is that whoever raises raw material and sells it will be eternally poor. There is no State in this Union where the farmer raises wheat and sells it, that the farmer is not poor. Why? He only makes one profit, and, as a rule, that is a loss. The farmer that raises corn does better, because he can sell, not corn, but pork and beef and horses. In other words, he can make the second or third profit, and those farmers get rich. There is a vast difference between the labor necessary to raise raw material and Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 5 1888 RATIFICATION SPEECH. the labor necessary to make the fabrics used by civilized men. Remember that; and if you are confined simply to raw material your labor will be unskilled; unskilled labor will be cheap, the raw material will be cheap, and the result is that your country will grow poorer and poorer, while the country that buys your raw material, makes it into fabrics and sells it back to you, will grow intelligent and rich. I want you to remember this, because it lies at the foundation of this whole subject. Most people who talk on this point bring forward column after column of figures, and a man to understand it would have to be a walking table of logarithms. I do not care to discuss it that way. I want to get at the foundation principles, so that you can give a reason as well as myself why you are in favor of protection. Let us take another step. We will take a locomotive -- a wonderful thing -- that horse of progress, with its flesh of iron and steel and breath of flame -- a wonderful thing. Let us see how it is made. Did you ever think of the deft and cunning hands, of the wonderfully accurate brains, that can make a thing like that? Did you ever think about it? How much do you suppose the raw material lying in the earth was worth that was changed into that locomotive? A locomotive that is worth, we will say, twelve thousand dollars; how much was the raw material worth lying in the earth, deposited there millions of years ago? Not as much as one dollar. Let us, just for the sake of argument, say five dollars. What, then, has labor added to the twelve thousand dollar locomotive? Eleven thousand nine hundred and ninety-five dollars. Now, why? Because, just to the extent that thought is mingled with labor, wages increase; just to the extent you mix mind with muscle, you give value to labor; just to the extent that the labor is skilled, deft, apt, just to that extent or in that proportion, is the product valuable. Think about it. Raw material! There is a piece of canvas five feet one way, three the other. Raw material would be to get a man to whitewash it; that is raw material. Let a man of genius paint a picture upon it; let him put in that picture the emotions of his heart, the landscapes that have made poetry in his brain, the recollection of the ones he loves, the prattle of children, a mother's tear, the sunshine of her smile, and all the sweet and sacred memories of his life, and it is worth five thousand dollars -- ten thousand dollars. Noise is raw material, but the great opera of "Tristan and Isolde" is the result of skilled labor. There is the same difference between simple brute strength and skilled labor that there is between noise and the symphonies of Beethoven. I want you to get this in your minds. Now, then, whoever sells raw material gives away the great profit. You raise cotton and sell it; and just as long as the South does it and does nothing more the South will be poor, the South will be ignorant, and it will be solidly Democratic. Now, do not imagine that I am saying anything against the Democratic party. I believe the Democratic party is doing the best it can under the circumstances. You know my philosophy makes me very charitable. You find out all about a man, all about his ancestors, and you can account for his vote always. Why? Because Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 6 1888 RATIFICATION SPEECH. there are causes and effects in nature. There are sometimes antecedents and subsequents that have no relation to each other, but at the same time, all through the web and woof of events, you find these causes and effects, and if you only look far enough, you will know why a man does as he does. I have nothing to say against the Democratic party. I want to talk against ideas, not against people. I do not care anything about their candidates, whether they are good, bad or indifferent. What, gentlemen, are your ideas? What do you propose to do? What is your policy? That is what I want to know, and I am willing to meet them upon the field of intellectual combat. They are in possession; they are in the rifle pits of office; we are in the open field, but we will plant our standard, the flag that we love, without a stain, and under that banner, upon which so many dying men have looked in the last hour when they thought of home and country -- under that flag we will carry the Democratic fortifications. Another thing; we want to get at this business so that we will understand what we are doing. I do not believe in protecting American industry for the sake of the capitalist, or for the sake of any class, but for the sake of the whole Nation. And if I did not believe that it was for the best interests of the whole Nation I should be opposed to it. Let us take this next step. Everybody, of course, cannot be a farmer. Everybody cannot be a mechanic. All the people in the world cannot go at one business. We must have a diversity of industry. I say, the greater that diversity, the greater the development of brain in the country. We then have what you might call a mental exchange; men are then pursuing every possible direction in which the mind can go, and the brain is being developed upon all sides; whereas, if you all simply cultivated the soil, you would finally become stupid. If you all did only one business you would become ignorant; but by pursuing all possible avocations that call for taste, genius, calculation, discovery, ingenuity, invention -- by having all these industries open to the American people, we will be able to raise great men and great women; and I am for protection, because it will enable us to raise greater men and greater women. Not only because it will make more money in less time, but because I would rather have greater folks and less money. One man of genius makes a continent sublime. Take all the men of wealth from Scotland -- who would know it? Wipe their names from the pages of history, and who would miss them? Nobody. Blot out one name, Robert Burns, and how dim and dark would be the star of Scotland. The great thing is to raise great folks. That is what we want to do, and we want to diversify all the industries and protect them all. How much? Simply enough to prevent the foreign article from destroying the domestic. But they say, then the manufacturers will form a trust and put the prices up. If we depend upon the foreign manufacturers will they not form trusts? We can depend on competition. What do the Democrats want to do? They want to do away with the tariff, so as to do away with the surplus. They want to put down the tariff to do away with the surplus. If you put down the tariff a small per cent. so that the foreign article comes to America, instead of decreasing, you will increase the surplus. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 7 1888 RATIFICATION SPEECH. Where you get a dollar now, you will get five then. If you want to stop getting anything from imports, you want to put the tariff higher, my friend. Let every Democrat understand this, and let him also understand that I feel and know that he has the same interest in this great country that I have, and let me be frank enough and candid enough and honest enough to say that I believe the Democratic party advocates the policy it does because it believes it will be the best for the country. But we differ upon a question of policy, and the only way to argue it is to keep cool. If a man simply shouts for his side, or gets mad, he is a long way from any intellectual improvement. If I am wrong in this, I want to be set right. If it is not to the interest of America that the shuttle shall keep flying, that wheels shall keep turning, that cloth shall be woven, that the forges shall flame and that the smoke shall rise from the numberless chimneys -- if that is not to the interest of America, I want to know it. But I believe that upon the great cloud of smoke rising from the chimneys of the manufactories of this country, every man who will think can see the bow of national promise. "Oh, but," they say, "you put the prices so high." Let me give you two or three facts: Only a few years ago I know that we paid one hundred and twenty-five dollars a ton for Bessemer steel. At that time the tariff was twenty-eight dollars a ton, I believe. I am not much on figures. I generally let them add it up, and I pay it and go on about my business. With the tariff at twenty-eight dollars a ton, that being a sufficient protection against Great Britain, the ingenuity of America went to work. Capital had the courage to try the experiment, and the result was that, instead of buying thousands and thousands and thousands and tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands and millions of tons of steel from Great Britain, we made it here in our own country, and it went down as low as thirty dollars a ton. Under this "rascally protection" it went down to one-fourth of what free trade England was selling it to us for. And so I might go on all night with a thousand other articles; all I want to show you is that we want these industries here, and we want them protected just as long as they need protection. We want to rock the cradle just as long as there is a child in it. When the child gets to be seven or eight feet high, and wears number twelve boots, we will say: "Now you will have to shift for yourself." What we want is not simply for the capitalist, not simply for the workingmen, but for the whole country. If there is any object worthy the attention of this or any other government, it is the condition of the, workingmen. What do they do? They do all that is done. They are the Atlases upon whose mighty shoulders rests the fabric of American civilization. The men of leisure are simply the vines that run round this great sturdy oak of labor. If there is anything noble enough, and splendid enough to claim the attention of a nation, it is this question, and I hope the time will come when labor will receive far more than it does to-day. I want you all to think of it -- how little, after all, the laboring man, even in America, receives. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 8 1888 RATIFICATION SPEECH. [A voice: "Under protection."] Yes, sir, even under protection. Take away that protection, and he is instantly on a level with the European serf. And let me ask that good, honest gentleman one question. If the laborer is better off in other countries, why does not the American. laborer emirate to Europe? There is no place in the wide world where, in my judgment, labor reaps its true reward. There never has been. But I hope the time will come when the American laborer will not only make a living for himself, for his wife and children, but lay aside something to keep the roof above his head when the winter of age may come. My sympathies are all with them, and I would rather see thousands of palaces of millionaires unroofed than to see desolation in the cabins of the poor. I know that this world has been made beautiful by those who have labored and those who have suffered. I know that we owe to them the conveniences of life, and I have more conveniences, I live a more luxurious life, than any monarch ever lived one hundred years ago, I have more conveniences than any emperor could have purchased with the revenue of his empire one hundred years ago. It is worth something to live in this age of the world. And what has made us such a great and splendid and progressive and sensible people? [A voice: "Free thought."] Free thought, of course. Back of every invention is freethought. Why does a man invent? Slavery never invents; freedom invents. A slave working for his master tries to do the least work in the longest space of time, but a free man, working for wife and children, tries to do the most work in the shortest possible time. He is in love with what he is doing, consequently his head and his hands go in partnership; muscle and brain unite, and the result is that the head invents something to help the hands, and out of the brain leaps an invention that makes a slave of the forces of nature -- those forces that have no backs to be whipped, those forces that shed no tears, those forces that are destined to work forever for the happiness of the human race. Consequently I am for the protection of American labor, American genius, American thought. I do not want to put our workingmen on a level with the citizens of despotisms. Why do not the Democrats and others want the Chinese to come here? Are they in favor of being protected? Why is it that the Democrats and others object to penitentiary labor? I will tell you. They say that a man in the penitentiary can produce cheaper. He has no family to support, he has no children to look after; and they say, it is hardly fair to make the father of a family and an honest man compete with a criminal within the walls of a penitentiary. So they ask to be protected. What is the difference whether a man is in the penitentiary, or whether he is in the despotism of some European state? "Ah, but," they say, "you let the laborer of Europe come here himself." Yes, and I am in favor of it always. Why? This world belongs to the human race. And when they come here, in a little while they have Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 9 1888 RATIFICATION SPEECH. our wants, and if they do not their children do, and you will find the second generation of Irishmen or Germans or of any other nationality just as patriotic as the tenth generation from the first immigrant. I want them to come. Then they get our habits. Who wants free trade? Only those who want us for their customers, who would like to sell us everything that we use -- England, Germany, all those countries. And why? Because one American will buy more than one thousand, yes, five thousand Asiatics. America consumes more to-day than China and India, more than ten billion would of semi-civilized and barbarous peoples. What do they buy -- what does England sell? A little powder, a little whiskey, cheap calico, some blankets -- a few things of that kind. What does the American purchase? Everything that civilized man uses or that civilized man can want. England wants this market. Give her free trade, and she will become the most powerful, the richest nation that ever had her territories marked upon the map of the world. And what do we become? Nobodies. Poor. Invention will be lost, our minds will grow clumsy, the wondrous, deft hand of the mechanic paralyzed -- a great raw material producing country -- ignorant, poor, barbaric. I want the cotton that is raised in this country to be spun here, to be woven into cloth. I want everything that we use to be made by Americans. We can make the cloth, we can raise the food to feed and to clothe this Nation, and the Nation is now only in its infancy. Somehow people do not understand this. They really think we are getting filled up. Look at the map of this country. See the valley of the Mississippi. Put your hand on it. Trace the rivers coming from the Rocky Mountains and the Alleganies, and sweeping down to the Gulf, and know that in the valley of the Mississippi, with its wondrous tributaries, there can live and there can be civilized and educated five hundred millions of human beings. Let us have some sense. I want to show you how far this goes beyond the intellectual horizon of some people who hold office. For instance: We have a tariff on lead, and by virtue of that tariff on lead nearly every silver mine is worked in this country. Take the tariff from lead and there would remain in the clutch of the rocks, of the quartz misers, for all time, millions and millions of silver; but when that is put with lead, and lead runs with silver, they can make enough on lead and silver to pay for the mining, and the result is that millions and millions are added every year to the wealth of the United States. Let me tell you another thing: There is not a State in the Union but has something it wants protected. And Louisiana -- a Democratic State, and will be just as long as Democrats count the votes -- Louisiana has the impudence to talk about free trade and yet it wants its sugar protected. Kentucky says free trade, except hemp; and if anything needs protection it is hemp. Missouri says hemp and lead. Colorado, lead and wool; and so you can make the tour of the States and every one is for free trade with an exception -- that exception being to the advantage of that State, and when you put the exceptions together you have protected the industries of all the States. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 10 1888 RATIFICATION SPEECH. Now, if the Democratic party is in favor of anything, it is in favor of free trade. If President Cleveland's message means anything it means free trade. And why? Because it says to every man that gets protection: If you will look about you, you will find that you pay for something else that is protected more than you receive in benefits for what is protected of yours; consequently the logic of that is free trade. They believe in it I have no doubt. When the whole world is civilized, when men are everywhere free, when they all have something like the same tastes and ambitions, when they love their families and their children, when they want the same kind of food and roofs above them -- if that day shall ever come -- the world can afford to have its trade free, but do not put the labor of America on a par with the labor of the Old World. Now, about taxes -- internal revenue. That was resorted to in time of war. The Democratic party made it necessary. We had to tax everything to beat back the Democratic hosts, North and South. Now, understand me. I know that thousands and hundreds of thousands of individual Democrats were for this country, and were as pure patriots as ever marched beneath the flag. I know that -- hundreds of thousands of them. I am speaking of the party organization that staid at home and passed resolutions that every time the Union forces won a victory the Constitution had been violated. I understand that. Those taxes were put on in time of war, because it was necessary. Direct taxation is always odious. A government dislikes to be represented among all the people by a tax gatherer, by an official who visits homes carrying consternation and grief wherever he goes. Everybody, from the most ancient times of which I have ever read, until the present moment, dislikes a tax gatherer. I have never yet seen in any cemetery a monument with this inscription: "Sacred to the memory of the man who loved to pay his taxes." It is far better if we can collect the needed revenue of this Government indirectly. But, they say, you must not take the taxes off tobacco; you must not take the taxes off alcohol or spirits or whiskey. Why? Because it is immoral to take off the taxes. Do you believe that there was, on the average, any more drunkenness in this country before the tax was put on than there is now? I do not. I believe there is as much liquor drank to-day, per capita, as there ever was in the United States. I will not blame the Democratic party. I do not care what they drink. What they think is what I have to do with. I will be plain with them, because I know lots of fellows in the Democratic party and that is the only bad thing about them -- splendid fellows. And I know a good many Republicans, and I am willing to take my oath that that is the only good thing about them. So, let us all be fair. I want the taxes taken from tobacco and whiskey and why? Because it is a war measure that should not be carried on in peace; and in the second place, I do not want that system inaugurated in this country, unless there is an absolute necessity for it, and the moment the necessity is gone, stop it. The moral side of this question? Only a couple of years ago, I think it was, the Prohibitionists said that they wanted this tax taken from alcohol. Why? Because as long as the Government licensed, as long as the Government taxed and received sixty Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 11 1888 RATIFICATION SPEECH. millions of dollars in revenue, just so long the Government would make this business respectable, just so long the Government would be in partnership with this liquor crime. That is what they said then. Now we say take the tax off, and they say it is immoral. Now, I have a little philosophy about this. I may be entirely wrong, but I am going to give it to you. You never can make great men and great women, by keeping them out of the way of temptation. You have to educate them to withstand temptation. It is all nonsense to tie a man's hands behind him and then praise him for not picking pockets. I believe that temperance walks hand in hand with liberty. Just as life becomes valuable, people take care of it. Just as life is great, and splendid and noble, as long as the future is a kind of gallery filled with the ideal, just so long will we take care of ourselves and avoid dissipation of every kind. Do you know, I believe, as much as I believe that I am living, that if the Mississippi itself were pure whiskey and its banks loaf sugar, and all the flats covered with mint, and all the bushes grew teaspoons and tumblers, there would not be any more drunkenness than there is now! As long as you say to your neighbor "you must not" there is something in that neighbor that says, "Well I will determine that for myself, and you just say that again and I will take a drink if it kills me." There is no moral question involved in it, except this: Let the burden of government rest as lightly as possible upon the shoulders of the people, and let it cause as little irritation as possible. Give liberty to the people. I am willing that the women who wear silks, satins and diamonds; that the gentlemen who smoke Havana cigars and drink champagne and Chateau Yquem; I am perfectly willing that they shall pay my taxes and support this Government, and I am willing, that the man who does not do that, but is willing to take the domestic article, should go tax free. Temperance walks hand in hand with liberty. You recollect that little old story about a couple of men who were having a discussion on this prohibition question, and the man on the other side said to the Prohibitionist: "How would you like to live in a community where every body attended to his own business, where every body went to bed regularly at night, got up regularly in the morning; where every man, woman and child was usefully employed during the day; no backbiting, no drinking of whiskey, no cigars, and where they all attended divine services on Sunday, and where no profane language was used?" "Why," said he, "such a place would be a paradise, or heaven; but there is no such place." "Oh," said the other man, "every well regulated penitentiary is that way." So much for the moral side of the question. Another point that the Republican party calls the attention of the country to is the use that has been made of the public land. Oh, say the Democratic party, see what States, what empires have been given away by the Republican party -- and see what the Republican party did with it. Road after road built to the great Pacific. Our country unified -- the two oceans, for all practical purposes, washing one shore. That is what it did, and what else? It has given homes to millions of people in a civilized land, where they can get all the conveniences of civilization. And what else? Fifty million acres have been taken back by the Government. How was Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 12 1888 RATIFICATION SPEECH. this done? It was by virtue of the provisions put in the original grants by the Republican party. There is another thing to which the Republican party has called the attention of the country, and that is the admission of new States where there are people enough to form a State. Now, with a solid South, with the assistance of a few Democrats from the North, comes a State, North Dakota, with plenty of population, a magnificent State, filled with intelligence and prosperity. It knocks at the door for admission, and what is the question asked by this administration? Not "Have you the land, have you the wealth, have you the men and women?" but "Are you Democratic or Republican? "And being intelligent people, they answer: "We are Republicans." And the solid South, assisted by the Democrats of the North, says to that people: "The door is shut; we will not have you." Why? "Because you would add two to the Republican majority in the Senate." Is that the spirit in which a nation like this should be governed? When a State asks for admission, no matter what the politics of its people may be, I say, admit that State; put a star on the flag that will glitter for her. The next thing the Republican party says is, gold and silver shall both be money. You cannot make everything payable in gold -- that would be unfair to the poor man. You shall not make every thing payable in silver -- that would be unfair to the capitalist; but it shall be payable in gold and silver. And why ought we to be in favor of silver? Because we are the greatest silver producing nation in the world; and the value of a thing, other things being equal, depends on its uses, and being used as money adds to the value of silver. And why should we depreciate one of our own products by saying that we will not take it as money? I believe in bimetallism, gold and silver, and you cannot have too much of either or both. No nation ever died of a surplus, and in all the national cemeteries of the earth you will find no monument erected to a nation that died from having too much silver. Give me all the silver I want and I am happy. The Republican party has always been sound on finance. It always knew you could not pay a promise with a promise. The Republican party always had sense enough to know that money could not be created by word of mouth, that you could not make it by a statute, or by passing resolutions in a convention. It always knew that you had to dig it out of the ground by good, honest work. The Republican party always knew that money is a commodity, exchangeable for all other commodities, but a commodity just as much as wheat or corn, and you can no more make money by law than you can make wheat or corn by law. You can by law, make a promise that will to a certain extent take the place of money until the promise is paid. It seems to me that any man who can even understand the meaning of the word democratic can understand that theory of money. Another thing right in this platform. Free schools for the education of all the children in the land. The Republican party believes in looking out for the children. It knows that the a, b, c's are the breastworks of human liberty. They know that every schoolhouse is an arsenal, a fort, where missiles are made to hurl Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 13 1888 RATIFICATION SPEECH. against the ignorance and prejudice of mankind; so they are for free school. And what else? They are for reducing the postage one-half. Why? Simply for the diffusion of intelligence. What effect will that have? It will make us more and more one people. The oftener we communicate with each other the more homogeneous we become. The more we study the same books and read the same papers the more we swap ideas, the more we become true Americans, with the same spirit in favor of liberty, progress and the happiness of the human race. What next? The Republican party says, let us build ships for America -- for American sailors. Let our fleets cover the seas, and let our men-of-war protect the commerce of the Republic -- not that we can wrong some weak nation, but so that we can keep the world from doing wrong to us. This is all. I have infinite contempt for civilized people who have guns carrying balls weighing several hundred pounds, who go and fight poor, naked savages that can only throw boomerangs and stones. I hold such a nation in infinite contempt. What else is in this platform? You have no idea of the number of things in it till you look them over. It wants to cultivate friendly feelings with all the governments in North, Central and South America, so that the great continents can be one -- instigated, moved, pervaded, inspired by the same great thoughts. In other words, we want to civilize this continent and the continent of South America. And what else? This great platform is in favor of paying -- not giving, but paying -- pensions to every man who suffered in the great war. What would we have said at the time? What, if the North could have spoken, would it have said to the heroes of Gettysburg on the third day? "Stand firm! We will empty the treasures of the Nation at your feet." They had the courage and the heroism to keep the hosts of rebellion back without that promise, and is there an American to-day that can find it in his heart to begrudge one solitary dollar that has found its way into the pocket of a maimed soldier, or into the hands of his widow or his orphan? What would we have offered to the sailors under Farragut on condition that they would pass Forts St. Phillip and Jackson? What would we have offered to the soldiers under Grant in the Wilderness? What to the followers of Sherman and Sheridan? Do you know, I can hardly conceive of a spirit contemptible enough -- and I am not now alluding to the President of the United States -- I can hardly conceive of a spirit contemptible enough to really desire to keep a maimed soldier from the bounty of this Nation. It would be a disgrace and a dishonor if we allowed them to die in poorhouses, to drop by life's highway and to see their children mourning over their poor bodies, glorious with scars, maimed into immortality. I may do a great many bad things before I die, but I give you my word that so long as I live I will never vote for any President that vetoed a pension bill unless upon its face it was clear that the man was not a wounded soldier. What next in this platform? For the protection of American homes. I am a believer in the home. I have said, -- and I say again Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 14 1888 RATIFICATION SPEECH. -- the hearthstone is the foundation of the great temple; the fireside is the altar where the true American worships. I believe that the home, the family, is the unit of good government, and I want to see the aegis of the great Republic over millions of happy homes. That is all there is in this world worth living for. Honor, place, fame, glory, riches -- they are ashes, smoke, dust, disappointment, unless there is somebody in the world you love, somebody who loves you; unless there is some place that you can call home, some place where you can feel the arms of children around your neck, some place that is made absolutely sacred by the love of others. So I am for this platform. I am for the election of Harrison and Morton, and although I did nothing toward having that ticket nominated, because, I tell you, I was for Gresham, yet I will do as much toward electing the candidates, within my power, as any man who did vote on the winning side. We have a good ticket, a noble, gallant soldier at the head; that is enough for me. He is in favor of liberty and progress. And you have for Vice-President a man that you all know better than I do, but a good, square, intelligent, generous man. That is enough for me. And these men are standing on the best platform that was ever adopted by the Republican party -- a platform that stands for education, liberty, the free ballot, American industry; for the American policy that has made us the richest and greatest Nation of the globe. END
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