Presidential Campaign 1876

The Question Before The People.
What Is The Real Issue In The Presidential Campaign?

A Speech by Henry George,
Before The Tilden And Hendricks Central Club, At Dashaway Hall, San Francisco, On The Evening Of August 15ih, 1876.

The Meeting being called to order, the Hon. Thomas P. Ryan, President of the Club, came forward and introduced Mr. Henry George, who spoke as follows:

We are coming to another Presidential election under circum stances which ought to give a fresh impulse to patriotic feeling. “We have just entered upon a new century of the Republic—the Republic one and indivisible. Over the whole vast territory held by over forty-five millions of people the same flag has been given to the breeze, the same anniversaries kept, the same traditions recalled. The thrill of Lexington, the joy of Bunker Hill, the defiant thunder of Moultrie have again swept through the land, and out again with all the added meaning of a century has rung the announcement of our independence. With eyes so fixed on the old beacons; with faces so turned towards the august shapes that loom through the mists of a hundred years, cold must be the heart that has not felt the prejudices of section and the surviving animosities of civil strife melting in the glow of a patriotism that knows but one common country.

Can we not, should we not, put away from us in this Centennial year all the rancor of party feeling? Can we not, should we not, make this Presidential election in fact, what it is in theory, a great council of the nation, to which we come not as the adherents of rival factions, but in the temper*1 of men with mutual bonds and common interests, counciling with each other as to what is best for all? For this election means much more than the choice of an Executive. We have not simply to say what man shall govern, but what ideas shall govern; not merely who shall take the helm, but in what direction the Ship of State shall be steered.

Remembering this, the political contest is lifted above the low plain of denunciation and demagoguism, and becomes not a contest for spoils in which the people are simply permitted to choose which gang shall plunder them; but a solemn momentous inquiry, demanding from each voter a conscientious judgment.

Now, however much we may differ on minor questions it seems to me that the great body of the American people must find common ground on one thing the desire to restrain political corruption and to reduce the public burdens. It is to this class that I wish to address myself.

If one party avowed itself in favor of reform and the other party avowedly opposed it, the citizen who conscientiously wished to cast his vote for reform would be in no perplexity. But as is always the case, both parties ask the suffrage of the voter with the name of reform upon their lips. Which shall we believe?

Why accept the declarations of either? You may as well set it down as an axiom that reform, simply as reform and purely for the sake of reform, you will never get from any party. Whenever any set of politicians start a party which has no other avowed object than that of reform, you may safely put them down as demagogues; for if they are not, be sure that the moment the party has any show of success, the demagogues will be found leading it with louder bawls for reform than anybody else.

The only philosophical way to look for reform is to apply to politics the same common sense method you would apply to any affair of every day life. If there is any difference at all between our parties, they must represent different policies of government. If the domain of law extend, as it surely does, to the mental and moral as well as to the physical universe, every evil of which we are conscious must have its antecedent cause. Ascertain what the policies represented by these parties are, trace back to their causes the evils you would have reformed, and then seeing how the policy of each party would affect the causes of these evils, you can tell which party is most likely to give reform, as certainly as you could tell whether irrigation or drainage would be best for a piece of land which you knew was too wet or too dry.

Parties and Party Principles.

In endeavoring to fix with certainty what these parties of ours mean that is to say, what diverse policies of government they represent, let me ask your attention if I take a somewhat wide range. Simple as the question may seem, there are many Democrats who do not appear to have the slightest idea of what Democracy really is, while there are many, very many Republicans who know as much for what they are voting as the firemen in the hold of a steamer know which way the vessel is going. Party names are frequently misleading; party platforms are proverbially framed to catch votes, and when we remember that a party line simply divides by two all the various opinions of a great community, we must expect to find on each side of it all sorts of diversities and divergences. In addition to this we are just now in a peculiar position. A question which for a whole generation has thrust itself with more and more violence into our politics, until it culminated in an appeal to actual force, has been settled. The old issues have gone, and party lines have shifted, while many people seem as yet unaware of it.

But, however we may be perplexed, if we take individual opinions or isolated acts, as to what is the real difference between the parties, or whether they differ from each other at all, if we extend our survey to a view of them as wholes, we shall be able, clearly enough, to discern their distinctive features. For great parties do not exist by accident. They can not be gotten up to order, as our friends of the late Independent party have found out. They must represent more than the desire of certain individuals for power, or they could not cohere. They must have certain principles on which, in spite of differences of opinion on other matters, the members generally agree, and on which they generally differ from the other party in short, they must have a reason for existence, or they would not exist.

Of course, when I speak of the principles of a party, I mean its distinctive principles that in which it differs from its’ adversary, not that in which it agrees for it is only as to these differences that parties exist. It is important to notice this, for it is a favorite device of party managers to proclaim themselves champions of principles upon which the people are substantially agreed. Thus, in England, long after the strife between Catholic and Protestant had ceased, you would find a party proclaiming itself the peculiar champion of the Protestant succession, when no one dreamed of attacking the Protestant succession; thus in this country you will find a party proclaiming that its peculiar mission is to preserve the Union, when there does not exist a sane man in all the land who has the slightest idea of attempting to break up the Union.

These feigned issues or false issues, are the chosen field of the demagogue, who always strives to hide the distinctive features of his party under features which are not distinctive, but generally popular. They are the great source of confusion and delusion to superficial observers, who frequently run away with the idea that a question must be in issue because there is so much fuss made about it, or else come to the conclusion that there is no real difference between parties after all.

But, if we look closely, we will always find that there is an essential difference between parties. The unthinking may be deluded into voting upon dead issues or false issues; but the real struggle of parties is always over the live issue made by the application of their distinctive principles to the affairs of the time.

Now, since the slavery question is settled and out of our politics, what are the questions of the time? Evidently, the general questions of the conduct of government, and the real differences between parties must be as to these.

The Two Great Parties of every Country.

Now, wherever we look, in every country, in every time, which shows the first stir of political life, we see two great parties, which answer to the sweeping generalization that has divided all mankind politically into adherents of the rival Houses of Have and Want—that is to say, the party of moneyed interests and the party of the poorer classes; the parties of capital and of labor; of aristocracy and democracy; of conservatism and progress; the party which attaches most importance to the strength of the government and that which looks most to the freedom of the individual.

As the natural political division is a dual one, so here is the natural line on which the permanent parties in every country inevitably divide. Here are the Right and Left of the French Assembly, the Cavalier and Roundhead of the England of Charles I; the Tory and Whig of the England of George III; the Conservative and Liberal of the England of Victoria.

These parties frequently change and oftentimes exchange their names; they often seem to a certain extent to exchange membership—sometimes coronet and mitre glitter in the democratic van, as when what was quaintly termed “the army of God and Holy Church” wrested from John the Great Charter of Anglo-Saxon Liberties; sometimes, even the Crown itself, as when Kings backed by Commons destroyed feudal privileges; sometimes the aristocratic party finds its strongest bulwark in the prejudices of the common people; sometimes the moneyed power avails itself successfully of the ignorance of the laboring classes. At times these parties seem to superficial observers even to have exchanged characters—the party which is really conservative trying to pull down; the party which is really progressive trying to conserve; yet in any normal condition of things, by whoever looks to essentials, the identity of these two great parties can always be traced.

“Sir,” said Dr. Johnson, “I perceive from your childish jealousy of the power of the Crown, that you are a vile Whig. The crown has not power enough.”

“Sir,” the sturdy Briton would say, were he an American of to-day “Sir; I perceive from your childish jealousy of the interference of the Federal Government that you are a vile Democrat. It is the pernicious doctrine of States’ Rights, not the power of the general Government, that the country has to fear.”

The Two Permanent American Parties.

Immediately upon the acknowledgment of our independence, these two natural political divisions showed themselves in the United States as the Federal and anti- Federal parties, the one anxious that the new Government should be a strong one the other looking with suspicion upon all concentration of power. Out of their clash and through their compromises grew that wondrous instrument, the Constitution of the United States itself the most striking proof of how the early republic called her best brain into her service; an instrument which, when we consider its beautiful adaptations, so strong yet so elastic, so compact yet all-embracing, so nicely poised, so well guarded, seems, looking at the times and the lack of previous experience, like the highest act of constructive statesmanship.

The Constitution adopted, we find these two parties fighting over its interpretation—the party of strong government and aristocratic tendencies struggling to gain by strained constructions what had been lost in the debates of the Convention, and the party of individual rights and democratic tendencies struggling for strict construction and the curtailment of government to necessary functions. Over funding system and national bank, internal improvements and tariff, and countless minor questions, under varying names, but with clearly drawn lines, they waged the battle, until the conflict over slavery, culminating in civil war, sunk in momentous issue the questions of normal times.

The war ended, the slavery question settled, thank God, forever, what parties do we find arise? What but those that any political philosopher might have predicted would arise? It is the two old parties—the two natural parties—which stand fronting each other, again to struggle for the power of shaping the destinies of the Republic!

Be not deceived by the clamor upon false issues; be not confused by finding in the two parties individual opinions or acts that seem very much alike. Look below the froth of the surface and the eddies of the border for the real direction of the opposing tides. Search underneath the words of platforms for their real meaning; consider what are the principles upon which each proposes to conduct the government, and what is the real difference? You will find one party endeavoring to extend the power and functions of the General Government, the other supporting the rights of the States; one enacting and maintaining a tariff for protection, the other advocating a tariff for revenue; one party which has the support of nearly all the corporations and great moneyed interests of the country, the other naturally distrusted by them. The more carefully you look, the more clearly will you see that the distinctive features of the two parties which must divide the suffrages of the American people in this election are the distinctive features of the two old historic parties—that they are in fact the same parties.

The Two Great American Party Leaders

The two great men who were the first leaders of American parties may justly be considered their best exponents; and if a great party can be personified by a man, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson may stand forth to all time as the personification of the conflicting ideas expressed in our two permanent parties. The one pure in character, patriotic in purpose and with mental abilities which must excite the admiration even of those who differ most from his political philosophy—looked back over the history of the world and saw every attempt at self-government end in anarchy or despotism. With profound convictions of the inability of the people to govern themselves, he regarded the British Constitution, as it then existed, as the best expression of human wisdom, and to that model he aimed to conform our polity. Looking for means to forced interpretations of the Constitution, he sought to build up a strong Central Government, which, by the manifold nature of its functions, the elaborateness of its administration, the number of its employes and the amount of its revenues and expenditures, should dwarf the relative importance of the States, and become not a mere creature for specific ends, but a power in the land. By means of national banks, a national debt and funding system a network of internal improvements and a scheme of protective duties, bounties and subsidies, he strove to intertwine the interests of capital with the government, and thus build up the counterpoise to democracy which he believed necessary, and which was supplied in the English system by an hereditary executive, a landed aristocracy, an Established Church, the rotten boroughs and a vast debt.

The other great statesman, whose pen traced our Declaration of Independence, looked with fervent faith upon the possibilities of the future. The failure of all previous attempts at self-government he traced to a lack of democracy, not to an over plus of it, and above all things he dreaded the insidious inroads of the aristocratic principle. He desired to localize government as much as possible, that it might be kept close to the people and within their control, to reduce the powers and functions and revenues and expenses of the General Government to the minimum which would enable it to perform its necessary functions, and to keep the money power out of politics by leaving everything regarding the investment of capital and the development of industry to the voluntary principle.

These two conflicting ideas can be traced broadly and clearly in the principles and actions of the two great parties all through our political history. The one the party of centralized government, of an elaborate administration, of a protective tariff, of national banks and favored corporations—the party of the money power. The other, the party of States Rights and strict construction; of simple government, and free trade—the party of the people.

The Genealogy of our Parties

The genealogy is clear. The anti-Federal party became first the Republican and then the Democratic party. The Federal party became the Whig party and then disappeared from sight to re-appear as the Republican party. I do not mean to say that this was the original aim of the Republican party. On the contrary, its very name was chosen to typify the revival in it of the Democracy of Jefferson, and, called into existence by the growing agitation of the slavery question, it drew from both parties without respect to what may be called the normal issues. But the Democratic party, maintaining its organization while that of the Whig party had been abandoned, it became an easy matter to impress the Whig economic policy upon the new party while the popular attention was fixed on the struggle, and the moneyed interests and protected classes having once secured the organization, have kept it.

In spite of the change in names, in circumstances, and in battle cries, were those intellectual giants of our early prime to arise from their graves to-night, can you doubt that they would know their own? That Alexander Hamilton would take his stand with the party bearing the name of that which he used to oppose; and that Thomas Jefferson, though in his lifetime he called himself a Republican, would find his place in the ranks of the Democracy?

It is not with an irrelevant purpose that I have thus sought to fix the character and trace the genealogy of the parties contending in this campaign for the possession of the Government. I wish to show clearly that the real issue between them is not upon any question growing out of the war, and has nothing to do with unionism or secession. When we see that these parties are not things of to-day, but have existed since the beginning of our republic; when we see that under changing names and varying circumstances they have always exhibited the same general character, we see that their real differences are permanent ones; that they represent two diverse policies of government, between which, whether wittingly or unwittingly, each voter in this election must choose.

And now that we have seen what these two parties are, and what is the policy each represents, let us turn to the evils we would have reformed.

Corruption and its Causes

It is not necessary for me to attempt to paint the state of political corruption to which we have been reduced.

We all see it; we all feel it. It is the dark background to our national rejoicing, the skeleton which has stood by us at the feast. Our Fourth of July orators do not proclaim it; our newspapers do not announce it; we hardly whisper it to one another, but we all know, for we all feel, that beneath all our centennial rejoicing there exists in the public mind to-day a greater doubt of the success of Republican institutions than has existed before within the memory of our oldest man. And not with out reason. Before the storm the stout tree may bend yet not break. The howling winds may tear from it branch after branch; the lightning of heaven may rive it in twain, yet if it be strong of heart and sound of root it shall send up new shoots to hail the sun again in greener glory. But when the worms attack it; when a black mass of rottenness is eating out its heart, and slimy things are cutting through its roots, though the air be soft and the winds be hushed, though to the outward eye everything proclaims the strength and majesty of the monarch of the forest, we know the tree is doomed!

We are told that these evils are the natural results of the war. But I deny that they are in any sense the results of the war, except as the war has been used as a cover under which to rivet a false policy on the country while keeping the people still voting on war issues. Did the Mexican war bear any such fruit? Did the war of 1812? The close of the Revolution left the nation in a far worse condition than the close of the Civil War—with resources more severely strained, with credit more impaired; with currency more disordered, and with a government yet to create instead of a government which had come intact through the severest ordeal. Yet, did any such corruptions as those which now disgrace us mark the period following the Revolution?

That war is in many ways demoralizing, it is true. But war waged for a high idea does not transmute patriotism into jobbery, statesmanship into demagoguism, virtue into corruption. On the contrary, it calls forth the highest traits of character. Who does not feel that his faith in the patriotism, in the spirit, in the endurance and devotion of the American people is stronger for what in the war they showed themselves capable of doing and suffering? What grander spectacle has history ever presented than that afforded by the uprising of the nation when the first shot which tore the flag showed there was real danger that the Union might be rent in two? “They fight but for an idea,” our foreign critics said. Yet for that idea men marched to death by hundreds of thousands; the greatest exactions, the heaviest burdens, were uncomplainingly borne; wealth was poured out as though it were water, and poverty stinted itself to send some little comfort to the boys in the field, or provide some little luxury for the wounded in the hospital. Has the war made our patriotism cold; our love of country less? Has it dampened our faith in the American people? Ah; we know now, if we never knew before, that it is not idle pageantry that makes our cities bloom with flags as in the anniversary we have just kept. Bunting and calico typify something as real as the breeze that shakes their folds. For the idea which that flag expresses every stripe has been wet with blood; for the love of it every star has been dimmed with tears!

And, gentlemen, if it is not yet here, the time will come, when our children will look back with mournful pride, not only to the devotion which maintained the Union, but to the fortitude with which the Southern cause was sustained—when in the glories of a common blood will be included the splendid courage of the South, as well as the heroic determination of the North, as we include in our heritage of pride the fiery charge of Bupert’s Cavaliers with the immovable steadfastness of Roundhead pikes—as we recognize in the dogged bravery with which in the face of the hail of death that line of scarlet and steel moved up the slope of Bunker Hill the same high spirit that from the slender earthworks on the crest hurled it back!

Many things the war may teach us, but not to distrust the manly qualities of our people. Many are the lessons which we may read in its million graves, but not the lesson that the virtues of our blood have run out. The high qualities which the blending of Celt and Saxon, Norman and Dane, gave to a breed of men that have yet to know defeat except from their own blood; the high qualities which have made our race the standard bearer of human liberty; the high qualities which are making the language of one little island the universal tongue of the modern world, are as strong, as steadfast, as ever!

The object of telling you that these things are due to the war is to induce you to quietly rest in the belief that they will remedy themselves in time. But if this were the case these evils would be growing less and less apparent. On the contrary, during the eleven years that have elapsed since the war, has not corruption been growing more and more flagrant; the complaints of labor louder and louder?

No; it is not the war that is responsible for all this. It is the policy upon which the Government has been administered. Our public service is corrupt because the natural result of our laws has been to engender corruption; our industry is oppressed because our laws have prevented its natural development; the masses are becoming poorer and the few richer, because the whole tendency of our system of finance and taxation is to make $100,000 more profitable in the hands of one man than in the hands of a hundred. These results are not accidents; they are not surprises. They are the legitimate workings of natural laws—of laws as fixed and far-reaching as that which drives this earth in its orbit round the sun.

If we were to take particular by particular the manifestations of corruption and industrial depression, and trace them up from effect to cause, we would find ultimately the source of all of which we complain in the policy upon which our government has been administered; but inasmuch as we shall get a quicker and more comprehensive view, let me substitute the deductive for the inductive form of inquiry, and trace that policy downward, from generals to particulars from cause to effect.

If we analyze this policy we will find it the same as that which I ascribed to the Hamiltonian party. A strong and centralized government, the use of the power of taxation to foster special interests and forms of industry, the engaging by the General Government in a system of internal improvements, and the creation and providing for of great corporations.

How Centralization Posters Corruption.

Now, a strong government means an expensive government. It means a large army and navy; heavier taxes, more officers, more contractors, more stipendiaries of various kinds that is to say, an increase in the class interested in heavy expenditures; an increase in the trading capital which can be used to effect nominations and carry elections, and by thus giving to those who will use such agencies an advantage over those who will not, a constant tendency to supplant statesmen by corrupt manipulators, and to make our representatives the representatives of special interests and not of the people.

Now, what does centralization mean? It means the removal of power further from the people, the weakening of the responsibility which the representative feels towards his constituents, the distraction of public attention, the lessening of the power of public opinion. Centralization is the great enemy of republican government; where it passes a certain point republicanism becomes impossible. The reason why our fathers were able so easily to establish a republican form of government is, that they were used to local self-government; the reason why a republic, except in name, is impossible in France, is, that her people are used to a centralized administration. See how centralization ties our hands in this Chinese matter, compelling us like the people of a subject province, to sue a power three thousand miles away, to protect us from an evil, fiom which we ought to be able to protect ourselves.

But there is an obvious instance of how centralization can debauch and corrupt. The carpet-baggers in the Southern States, maintained in power against the will of the people of those States by the central authority at Washington, and feeling no responsibility, except to that power, to which they refer their quarrels as a Roman Proconsul in a distant province would have referred to the Emperor, have not only made the local governments in those States the most profligate ever known on this continent, but have sent to Congress characterless adventurers, owing no responsibility, to make laws for the North as well as the South—to vote taxes on you and me at the bidding of any one who would bribe them. Better far, for our own sakes, at least, had we denied to the South all representation, than to have introduced into Congress this utterly irresponsible, this corrupt and corrupting element.

How “Protective” Taxes Foster Corruption.

So much for what we may call the political side of this policy. Let us now look at the economic side. Under this policy the raising of revenue is considered as only one, and that the least important, of the ends of taxation. The other and most important end is the enhancement of the profits of certain sets of capitalists, or, as the system is called by its advocates, with a most sublime reliance upon the stupidity of the American working classes, the “protection of American industry.” This profligate, impoverishing and destructive system was exploded by Adam Smith one hundred years ago, and has been condemned by the American people whenever the question was fairly submitted to them, and except to point out its results as pertinent to the question we are considering, I shall have nothing to say of it further than, if it be correct, then every new invention which facilitates communication or diminishes its cost, is a public calamity, and that instead of a line of custom houses on our seaboard we should be infinitely richer and more prosperous were each State an independent nation with a line of Custom Houses around its own border.

But how this policy has wished to corrupt the Government it is easy to see:

Of the thousands of articles upon which we levy import duties, there is hardly a single one upon which the tax has not been imposed with more or less reference to the enhancement of private interests. All the manufacturers, importers and dealers in these articles have thus had a constant direct moneyed interest in influencing the action of Congress; for there has not been a session since 1860, when the Morrill tariff was adopted, in which there has not been more or less tinkering or attempted tinkering with the tariff; and there will not be, so long as this Protective system shall last. The agents of these interests have filled, and still fill, the lobbies of Congress, where their money has gone by the million to bribe and debauch, to say nothing of the contributions they have made to pack Conventions and carry elections. But this is only one side of it. While the enactment and maintenance of these taxes has engendered corruption, once imposed they have become a constant incentive to corruption of another set of officials. The high taxes thus imposed by corruption have offered such enormous premiums for evasion that all the horde of revenue officers, all the spies and informers, and seizures and moities, have not been able to prevent it. While on the one hand officers of the Government have been habitually corrupted to impose taxes, on the other hand officers of the Government have been habitually corrupted to wink at their evasion. While the Iron and Steel Association, and the Eastern wool and cotton manufacturers, and the Ohio salt men and all the countless combinations for the imposition and maintenance of taxes upon the American people keep their agents at Washington to sustain the tariff, the largest firms in the country are engaged in smuggling, by the bribery of the Custom House officers and the making of false oaths. All this not only corrupts the Government through all its branches (for corruption spreads like contagious disease), but it directly corrupts the people themselves. The honest is driven out of business, while the unscrupulous waxes rich.

So with internal taxes. It is not only a matter of reason, but experience, that such a tax as we levy upon whisky cannot be collected, and that a smaller tax would yield a greater revenue; yet this tax is kept up at the instigation of the whisky rings, who find in it a prohibition to every honest distiller. The tax is levied on the people, but, instead of passing into the treasury, millions are diverted into the hands of corrupt combinations to enrich law-breakers, to suborn witnesses, to corrupt public officers, to maintain venal newspapers, to pack conventions, and buy votes at the polls. The people are taxed to pay the expenses of corrupting those who are intrusted with making the laws and those who are intrusted with enforcing them.

How Favored Corporations Foster Corruption.

It is hardly necessary for me to more than allude to the part, in producing the present reign of corruption, which the policy towards corporations, upon which the Government, as now administered by the Republican party, has had. Look at the National Banks. Used as we have been to banks which confined themselves to legitimate banking functions, it is unnecessary to tell any Californian that for the existence of these institutions, as banks of issue, there is not the slightest use or excuse. Yet, see them lending the Government three hundred millions at a high rate of interest and borrowing back two hundred and seventy millions without interest at all. Is it strange that they should have money to spend in politics, and that, with their enormous capital and power over business, they should be largely represented in Congress?

Look at the railroad companies, for whom the Government has been made a special Providence, and the lands of the people and the taxes gathered from the people an endowment fund. See these companies sending their attorneys to sit in Congress in the name of the people. See them using the spoil of Credit Mobilier and Contract and Finance Company to corrupt whoever is capable of corruption and to keep out of office whoever is not. See them in your State politics: buying legislators like sheep, debauching parties, and even interfering in county elections. Look at the Pacific Mail Steamship Company spending a million to buy from Congress a grant of half a million dollars a year of the people’s money, and contributing $25,000 as its quota towards carrying the single State of California for the Republican ticket. These things are not accidents; they are the natural, the inevitable results of admitting the principle that Government may, for any purpose, or on any pretense, enrich corporations at the public expense. The corruption which we have seen follows the admission of this principle, as thunder follows lightning or heat results from fire.

And, now, putting all these things together, and remembering how corruption engenders corruption, how the vast extension of the sphere and objects of government which this policy implies gives temptation and opportunity to corruption, and how the constant tendency of the introduction of moneyed influences into politics is, to keep the best talent and the highest character out of the public service and to put in the mediocre and the dishonest, have I not sufficiently accounted for the reign of corruption of which you all see the indications?

The Causes of Business Stagnation and Industrial Depression

And as corruption springs directly and necessarily from the policy upon which the government has been administered, so does the business stagnation and the industrial depression of which complaints have become chronic. Governments have no purse of Fortunatus in which to dip. There is but one source from which all the expenses of this costly and elaborate government can be defrayed; there is but one fund from which can be drawn the spoils of corruption, the plunder of rings, the gains which make corporations more powerful than the State. Every cent that is spent, every cent that is wasted, every cent that is stolen, comes from the earnings of the people. To provide for this extravagance, to supply for this waste, to build up these great fortunes, the farmer rises early and works late; the miner delves thousands of feet underground; young girls and tender children stand all day in the whirr and clash of the factory looms; the mechanic denies himself a holiday; the laborer’s family are pent up in the squalor of a tenement house. Yes; and prostitutes walk the streets, and children grow up ignorant and debased, and brain and muscle that ought to go to the enrichment of society are turned to prey upon it!

The Federal tax-gatherer is everywhere. In each exchange by which labor is converted into commodities, there he is standing between buyer and seller to take his toll. Whether it be a match or a locomotive, a dishcloth or a dress, a new book or a glass of beer, the tax-gatherer steps in. He says to Labor as the day’s toil begins: “Ah! you want to do a little work for yourself and family. Well, first work an hour to pay the interest on the national debt and defray the necessary expenses of government; and then another hour for the national banks and subsidized corporations, and the expenses of governing the Southern States! Then an hour for the army and the navy and the contractors thereof; then an hour for the manufacturers of New England, and an hour for the iron millionaires of Pennsylvania; half an hour for the Marine Corps and the various comfortable little bureaus, and then after you have done a little work for your State government and a little work for your county and municipal government, and a little work for your landlord then you can have the rest of the day to work for yourself and family.

Do I exaggerate? Well, gentlemen, go home; consult with your wives; figure up as closely as you can your average daily purchases of all sorts: ascertain as nearly as you can how much the cost of each article is enhanced by the tax upon it, and by the profit which each dealer through whose hands it passes must make on the tax, and then you will be able to see how much I exaggerate!

How the Policy of our Government shackles Labor

This policy upon which our government is administered, this protective and fostering policy which uses the taxes levied upon the people as a means to enrich favored capitalists and build up monopolies, is like a great ravening beast let loose into a grain field. It is not so much what it eats as what it tramples down and destroys. The ligatures which it has wound around every limb of the industrial body have impeded the circulation that is essential to health. Instead of the constant action and reaction which maintain the healthy equilibrium and harmonious working of all the parts, we have fever here and atrophy there. Why is it that hundreds of thousands of men stand idle in all the great centres of industry; that all branches of business complain; that mills run on half time or are closed for months in the year; that every great city on the other side of the mountains has to set up its soup-houses in winter, to deal out in degrading and demoralizing charity the means of sustenance for which the recipients would gladly work ?

The favored interests for whose ostensible benefit this restrictive system is maintained and the short-sighted fools who are their dupes, talk about over-production. How can there be over-production when everybody wants something which some one else would be glad to make? These hundreds of thousands of unemployed men include all trades and avocations. They all suffer for the things which the labor of the others could give them; they are all anxious in return for those things to exchange their own labor. Over-production! Why, gentlemen, is there too much coal when people shiver in winter? too much clothing when people go threadbare? too many shoes when people go barefoot? too many houses when people are crowded together like pigs in a sty? too much food when people starve? It is not over production; it is, that the oppressive burdens laid on industry by government have so shackled and enervated it that it cannot make the exchanges which, under the modern system, of a minute division of labor, are necessary to keep labor employed.

Thanks to the fact that we are engaged in skimming the cream off of what is probably the richest country, all things considered, the world ever saw, and to the further fact that we are so situated as to have escaped the protective effect of the tariff, we of California have not felt the effects of this Government policy so much as our brothers of the older States; but there is one way in which we may see how American industry has been crushed by bad laws. Cross to Oakland on Sunday when the vessels in port have their ensigns set, and see from every three out of four of the deep- water vessels in our bay the British flag flying. Here in this bay, which used to be crowded with the graceful forms of American ships, an American ship is almost a rarity, Sixteen years ago American ships were more common in Melbourne and Calcutta, in Shanghai and Rio, ay, even in the Liverpool docks, than they are to-day in this American Bay. Talk about the Alabama and Shenandoah having produced this result! Why, you might as well talk about the Gaspee and Shannon, the Orders in Council or the French Spoliation. Ever since the war, our ship-builders and ship owners have been begging for a release from Protective taxation, that they might once more build ships and sail them, not alone for our own carrying trade, but for that of the world. But Congress has persistently refused. The “Protective” policy must be carried out if it sweeps, as it surely will, the American flag off the high seas, except when carried by a subsidized vessel.

It is not worth while to talk about the currency question. Some time or other I would like to show you how through this juggle of currency the people have been fleeced. But for us to be now quarrelling over the currency would be like starving men consuming their time in quarelling over the kind of dishes in which they would eat their food when they got it without taking any means to get food. One homely illustration will suffice. The other day the Government advertised that it would resume specie payment in San Francisco to the extent of exchanging $50.000 in silver for $50,000 in greenbacks. Our richest money lender hired a lot of fellows to stand before the door of the Sub-Treasury all night. The net result was that he made the difference that he, this man, who without chick or child is rich enough to buy out a good sized town, is so much the richer, and that we are so much the poorer. For when a man gets richer without creating wealth, somebody must be getting poorer. Now, fellow-citizens, this is but a sample of the whole financial policy which has been pursued since the war its whole aim and end has been to make the rich richer and the poor poorer, and so long as the Government is run in the interest of the money power, this will be the case. The first step to financial reform is to wrest control from that power.

The Fault one of Policy not of Men.

Now, fellow-citizens, this is the policy upon which our government has been and is being conducted. Is it any wonder that it has produced corruption and impoverishment? What could it produce, what can it produce, but corruption and impoverishment? So long as smoke ascends, as water runs down hill; so long as it remains true that the whole is equal to the sum of all its parts, such a policy must produce such results. Do men expect grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Why, then, under a governmental policy which offers every temptation to dishonesty, and holds out every reward to corruption, should we hear this prating about men, as though the accident of who held the offices was the cause of the disease. Fellow-citizens, I have not time to defend President Grant, but he needs defense from his own professed friends, who, after endorsing him in their platform, are now, like the high priests of old, laying their hands upon him and sending him out into the wilderness, a scapegoat for all the sins of the party.

Grant has enough sins to answer for; but to hold him responsible for all this corruption would be about as sensible as to hold him responsible for the war. It is the system, not the man. It is the policy upon which the Government has been administered, not the individuals in whose hands the administration has been carried on.

And the question presented to you in this election is simply this: Shall this policy be continued or shall it be reversed? That is the issue. Whatever else is talked about is merely the prating of people too blind to see what is really involved in this election, or the clap-trap of demagogues to draw your attention from the main point. On the one side stands the Republican party representing the policy that has corrupted politics and fettered industry; on the other side stands the Democratic party, representing a policy that would tend to reduce temptations to corruption and make industry free.

Now, fellow-citizens, your vote at this election must be a choice between these two policies of government. , As one of the great jury on whose verdict hangs the future of the country, this question is put to each one of you. You cannot evade it; you cannot qualify it; your answer must be either this or that.

The Appeal to Prejudice.

But you will be told that in voting the Democratic ticket you will be voting with ex-Rebels! Well, what of it? Would you hesitate to trade with ex-Rebels? Would you hesitate to profess a religious creed to which your conscience impelled you because ex-Rebels also professed it? If our common country were invaded by hostile armies and our coasts menaced with hostile fleets, would you hesitate to take up arms in her defence because ex-Rebels would also be found in the ranks? Why, then, when you find being rivetted on the country a policy which is debauching government and people, throttling industry and pauperizing labor, should you hesitate to vote against it because ex-Rebels will also vote against it? Must you submit to be taxed as you are taxed, from the fear that if you vote to abolish these taxes you will vote with ex- Rebels?

You are told that the Democratic party cannot be trusted. Fellow citizens, pause a moment and see what this involves. If it be true, it is a confession of the absolute failure of republican government, and the organs of the aristocratic party in England are right when they point to us and say that we must be content to see our government sink from low to lower depths of corruption, absolutely powerless to prevent it. What effect would it have upon a dishonest cashier to know that, no matter how much he stole, his employer was afraid to discharge him? And what effect would such an avowal have upon the employer’s fortunes ?

Fellow-citizens, unlike the men who address such arguments to you, I give you credit for ordinary intelligence. It is not necessary, then, for to me tell you that party lines are not drawn on moral character, and that it as ridiculous to say that all the honesty is in one party and all the dishonesty in the other, as to say that all Presbyterians shave their chins or that all Methodists wear red flannel underclothes. Nor is it, I think, necessary for me to tell you that while all parties contain honorable men and unscrupulous men, the constant tendency of the working of party machinery is to give to the unscrupulous the party management; a tendency only restrained by the necessity of getting popular support at the polls. As competition between sellers keeps down prices to a fair profit, so does the competition between parties keep out of office flagrant dishonesty. To say that the Democratic party, if it got power, would assume the Rebel debt, permit the negroes to be abused or cut off the pensions of Union soldiers, is to say that the Democrats, the moment they got power, would be so disgusted with it that they would take the surest means to put their opponents in at the next election. To say that the Republican party, no matter what it does must be continued in power from fear of the Democrats, is to give notice to the rogues in the Republican party that they may steal as much as they can and put in office who they please.

But, fellow-citizens, I almost feel as if I were degrading myself and insulting your intelligence, by stopping to reply to such arguments. They are on a par with the stories which the Chinese litterati tell the common people about the missionaries being anxious to get children into the Mission schools in order to get their eyes and livers to make charms; on a par with the stories which the slave owners at the beginning of the war used to tell the negroes, that the Federals wanted to get pos session of them to sell them in Cuba. The Chinamen sometimes believed these stories, but the darkies did not, and I think it only fair that the average voter should be credited with as much intelligence as that veracious gentleman the Intelligent Contraband of the war. The best reply I have heard to such cant is that made by a brave Union soldier to one who was urging him to help elect the Republican ticket on the ground that the Democrats could not be trusted. Said he: “I feel about it a good deal like John Randolph, who once at a hotel called a waiter, and, pointing to his cup, said, ‘If that is tea, bring me coffee; if that is coffee, bring me tea.’ For my part, if it is loyalty that we have been having under this Administration, I want a little something else!”

A Question for Republicans.

Fellow-citizens who still call yourselves Republicans, as one who contributed all he could to the first successes of that party and steadily voted with it until the slavery question and the war was finally settled, let me ask you to put the inquiry to yourselves, “What are you voting for, now?” Are you so attached to a name, are you such slaves of a magic word, that when the whisky ring and the fattened corporations and the protected manufacturers, the thieving contractors; the cormorants who rob your living soldiers of their paltry pay; the ghouls who traffic in the headstones of your dead heroes, seize the old banner and shout the old war-cry, you must rally to their defense? Was it your object in joining the Republican party to rivit a policy on the country by means of which the classes who grew rich during the sacrifices and slaughter of the war should grow richer after the peace?

Did you bargain for such work as this when you joined the Republican party? I think not. If you became Republicans, as I was a Republican, it was from the hatred of human slavery. Fellow-citizens, negro slavery is dead; but cast your eyes over the North to-day and see a worse than negro slavery taking root under the pressure of the policy you are asked as Republicans to support by your votes. See seventy thousand men out of work in the Pennsylvania coal fields; fifty thousand laborers asking for bread in the city of New York; the alms-houses of Massachusetts crowded to repletion in the Summer time; unemployed men roving over the West in great bands, stealing what they cannot earn. See in the sultry Eastern Summer little children gasping for breath in the squalor of the tenement houses; see in the bitter Eastern Winter, barefooted girls and boys dodging the liveried equipages of wealth on the frozen pavement in the effort to earn a penny. See when the lamps are lighted, and before the millionaire’s door the costly carpet is spread, that dainty satin slippers may not touch the pave as they alight from silk-lined carriages—see the long procession of prostitutes that steal out to walk the streets—many of them girls of education and refinement, many of them girls whose fathers lie in forgotten graves on Southern battle fields, a sacrifice for the perpetuity of this Union! Read the cold matter-of-fact reports of the Massachusetts Bureau of Labor Statistics and see how a generation is growing up there condemned to the hopeless slavery of the mill; how in New England—New England of the free school, the meeting-house, the printing press—New England that wept, and gave and voted and fought for her brother of the black skin all the horrors of child factory labor are being enacted. Ah, gentlemen, sadder than any cry that ever came from the cotton-field or cane- brake is the low moan of the children:

They are weary ere they run;
They have never seen the sunshine nor the glory,
Which is brighter than the sun.
They know the grief of man, without his wisdom,
They sink in man’s despair without its calm;
Are slaves without the liberties of Christdom,
Are martyrs, by the pang without the palm!

They look up with their pale and sunken faces,
And their look is dread to see, For they mind you of their angels in high places,
With eyes turned on Deity ! ” How long,” they say, ” how long, O, cruel nation,
Will you stand to move the world on a child’s heart Stifle down with mailed heel its palpitation,
And tread onward to your throne amid the mart?”
Their blood plashes upward, O, gold-heaper,
And your purple shows your path!
But the child’s sob in the silence curses deeper
Than the strong man in his wrath!

Ah, gentlemen, that I had the sympathetic eloquence of Sheridan, the logic red-hot with passion that flowed from the lips of Burke! If I could paint these things so that you would see and feel them for your country’s sake, for your children’s sake, for your own soul’s sake, you would not dare vote to perpetuate a policy from which flow such evils!

Men and Reform.

Fellow-citizens, whatever your previous affiliations may have been, if you would vote for reform, you must vote with the party whose policy is calculated to work re form. I care not what Mr. Hayes’ wishes or intentions may be. The moment he takes office he will be surrounded by every corrupt element already intrenched in power. Personally, he may be as pure as the snow; but will that avail? Can he turn his back on the men and the influences that took him from comparative obscurity and set him on the dazzling heights of the chieftainship of forty-five millions of people? Can he disregard all the claims of service, all the obligations of gratitude, and cut and carve and slash among his own political and personal friends? Fellow-citizens, if you think so, you have but the faintest appreciation of the real difficulties of re form, or you must imagine that the Republican wire-pullers have, under the name of Rutherford B. Hayes, nominated the Archangel Gabriel, and not a man born of woman. But even admitting that Mr. Hayes is possessed of all the genius of Caesar, and all the self-sacrificing virtues of the elder Cato, what of real reform can any man or set of men effect so long as the source of corruption is untouched so long as the policy which produces corruption is maintained?

I do not wish to say much about men, but there is one point I want to make, for it involves a principle.

That the Republican candidate is a fair representative of the intelligence and patriotism of his party I do not doubt; but neither will it be denied that the sole reason why he and not any one of five hundred other gentlemen is to-day the candidate of the party is due to his negative rather than his positive qualities. The only lesson which can be derived from the elevation of this particular man to the Presidency is that the lightning of Nominating Conventions sometimes strikes where it seems least likely to.

On the other hand, the nomination of Tilden was forced on the Democratic Convention by the fact that he had identified his name with reform. His election will be a declaration to every aspiring man that the road to the highest honor is to battle with corruption and destroy abuses.

Fellow-citizens, if you really want reform you must pay the price for it. And that price is that you honor and reward reformers. Against the gold of the public plunderers, against their power of making combinations, you must set the certainty that, by your votes, you will support and reward whoever, resisting their wiles, sets himself against them.

Now, fellow-citizens, by the candidacy of these two men the question is fairly presented to you, “Do you really want reformers in office?” The Republican party managers thought you did not, and, ignoring gentlemen who, in the Republican party, represented that idea, they nominated Hayes. The Democratic party managers thought you did, and they have nominated the man, of all they had to choose from, who had, as a reformer, achieved most distinction. It is for you to say who was right.

The election of Tilden will say to all future political conventions that the strongest man they can put up is the man most identified with reform.

The election of Hayes will say that a record as a reformer is no element of strength. And when the corrupt element in the Republican party or the corrupt element in the Democratic party again make a fight against a man who has shown himself disposed to stop their stealing, they will point to this election to prove that reform gets no votes, and that the reformer may be safely shoved out of the way, since any one of whom the people never heard in the character of a reformer, is as available as he.

Fellow-citizens who want reform, are you so ignorant of the workings of politics, so ignorant of human nature, as to suppose that, under such circumstances, you will be likely in future to get any reformers to vote for?

What may be Hoped from a Democratic Success.

Now, I do not mean to tell you that the mere success of the Democratic party at this election will at once sweep away all corruption and re-establish prosperity. It would be childish to expect that. When we find that we have been traveling the wrong road, the resolve to retrace our steps is only the beginning of a slow and painful return, the more slow and painful if our road has been down hill. But this a Democratic success will mean—a stoppage of the nation in its career towards demoralization, the beginning of reform. To expect absolute wisdom, perfect purity from the Democratic party, would be as hopeless as to expect it from any other party. Corruption is a moral disease, just as small-pox or the cholera are physical diseases; and when it becomes generally disseminated in a community, to expect it to show it self in one party and spare another, would be as rational as to expect the cholera to seize only Unitarians, or the small-pox to attack none but Catholics.

This much we may, in the event of a Democratic success, certainly expect: The abandonment of that source of corruption, demoralization and impoverishment, the Protective system, a large reduction of taxation and expenditures, a considerable simplification of government, and the divorce, to a very great extent, of private special interests from public affairs.

Only a beginning, perhaps; but still a beginning which leads to further steps. For just in proportion as you take out of politics the money influence, do you make it possible for the best brain and conscience to step to the front, instead of the purchasing and purchasable element. Just as you reduce the number of officials do you bring them under the eye of the people; just as you simplify the functions of government do you enable the popular judgment to make itself felt in public affairs.

And although I consider men as of infinitely less concern than principles, the character of the man whom the Democratic party present at this election cannot but be regarded as the best earnest and happiest augury of what it will do, if intrusted with power.

Samuel J. Tilden is a Democrat worthy to be presented for the suffrages of all who hold to the ideas of Jefferson. Growing up in the last generation; when our polity its scope and its limitations, its strength and its weaknesses, were far more profoundly and generally studied than they have been amid the distractions of sectional strife which have beset this generation, he was nurtured in the Democracy of Jackson, and even in his youth was a man of mark in that school of patriotic and thoughtful politicians who safely steered our republicanism through so many of its earlier dangers.

That he has the brains to apply Democratic principles to the government of the Republic, more in need of them than ever before, we know. That he has the will, his fighting of corruption in his own State and own party shows.

Should he be elected, I believe that posterity will not blush to recognize his name in the line with our earlier Presidents, and that his inauguration will mark an other political epoch like that marked by what was long known as the Civil Revolution of 1800, when, under the lead of Thomas Jefferson, the Democratic spirit of the American people overthrew in its first insiduous advances the same policy which is now making the corruption of our Government a by-word among the nations and impoverishing the many to place colossal fortunes in the hands of a few.

The Premonitions of Decay.

Surely there are enough indications to him who will heed them that this work of re form cannot be long delayed. Stand still we cannot, for nothing in the universe stands still. Either we must begin to retrace our steps or we must go from bad to worse. Every step downward will lessen the power and increase the difficulty of return. Toleration of corruption means not merely the intrenchment of corruption, but the enervation of public conscience; the obliteration in the public mind of the distinction between right and wrong. The impoverishment of labor means the destruction of that personal independence of the people in which alone the foundations of popular government can rest with safety. The aggregation of capital means the creation of an aristocracy all the more dangerous because untitled, and all the more unscrupulous because not hereditary. It is an ominous thing that we have begun to look without surprise upon notoriously corrupt men clothed with the honors and wielding the power of high office. It is an ominous thing that upon the very buildings designed to commemorate the first Centennial of a nation whose chiefest glory it was that every boot-black could have a turkey in his pot, thousands of men should be anxious to get work at seventy-five cents a day, and that in a depreciated currency. It is an ominous thing that in this Centennial year, States that a century ago were covered by the primeval forest should be holding Conventions to consider the “tramp nuisance,” the sure symptom of that leprosy of nations, chronic pauperism.

Men who have yet to pass the summer solstice of life will remember, when they were boys with what contemptuous pity they were taught to regard the effete monarchies of the Old World. Dare they teach to their own boys in this Centennial year the lessons which they learned with every returning national anniversary? Can we scoff at royalty when the bribe-taker has been tracked to the very door of the White House? Can we ridicule hereditary legislators when our own Senators sit in purchased seats? Can we deride coats-of-arms when the shield of the nation is used by the nation’s representative to advertise a common swindle, and the eagle of the republic cut into bait with which to gull the people to whom he is accredited? Does the law lord of England look so ridiculous in his wig and gown when our highest law officer stands accused of stealing the funds with which he is entrusted? Dare we prate of the luxuries of courts when our soldiers on the frontier are robbed of their paltry pay to robe in shimmering satin the wife of an American Secretary of War? Can we brag of the blessings of making our own laws when a single corporation pays a million dollars to get a bill passed by Congress, and a member of a State Legislature moves that if a railroad magnate has no further business with it, this house do now adjourn? or boast of the virtues of the ballot when great cities are notoriously ruled by the scum of their populace, and government employes are marched up to the polls in line and given a pasteboard ticket to vote? Can we look with mingled horror and contempt upon the French 18th Brumaire and 2d of December, when we have heard the hall of an American Legislature echo to the tramp of armed men? Can we talk so flippantly of the pauper labor of Europe when our roads are crowded with men looking vainly for work, and public soup-houses are opened every winter in our great cities?

All this means the gradual approach of a state of things in which Republican government is no longer possible; in which, though its forms may be preserved, as forms are always preserved, republican government will have to be abandoned, and the best interests of society may be anxious to exchange the empty privilege of pok ing pieces of paper in a box, for the security of property and the guarantee of order. Democratic Republicanism is like some of the gases, innoxious when pure, but an agent of terrible destruction when adulterated.

The Remedy yet in our Hands.

But these things indicate evils as yet entirely within our own power. It is in no fools’ paradise where all things are provided that the Creator has placed us; but a world in which, if we will but use the reason he has given, we may make all things bend to our service. There is no law that necessarily associates deep poverty with great wealth, political corruption with material prosperity, and internal weakness with external greatness. But there is a law by virtue of which things good in themselves tend to be become evil if not properly restrained and directed. There is a law by virtue of which we can never safely abandon present effort in the belief that a past generation has done all things needful a law to which Washington directed our attention, in the maxim, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”

It is my firm and profound conviction—a conviction supported by every axiom of political science and reinforced by every page of our history, that the Democratic principle, carried out in its integrity and expanded as it is capable of expansion, will not only solve all the evils of which we now complain, but the new difficulties that time is sure to bring. But of this each of you have the same right; each of you the same opportunities of judging as I.

Judge for yourselves. Ask not what this man says or that man says; consider not who is on this side or who on that. Vote as though your vote was the casting one. How you vote no one has a right to ask. That is a matter between you and your own conscience. But what the nation has a right to ask of you; what is the first duty of citizenship, is that you give the question presented in this election your best thought. Commonplace as such an election as this may seem, yet viewed as the struggle of two great policies of government, it is impossible to overestimate its importance. The question presented to you is not an abstract one; it is not a sentimental one. It relates directly and immediately to the daily life of the individual It stretches far out into the future. It appeals to every businessman as a question of profits, to every workingman as a question of wages. It involves the molding of the character and the shaping of the destinies of a nation which is to be the grandest power of the world, and must be the great example or the great warning of the Twentieth century.

The influence of government upon national character is as far-reaching as it is unobtrusive. It resembles the action of those silent processes of nature which do not force themselves upon our attention, but in which long-continued observation recognizes the world-builders yet at their work. It may seem to make small difference in the every-day life of the individual, even when the most pernicious policy is adopted as the rule of the State, but what we know of the history of the world is little else than the record of how this cause has transmuted races of conquerors into races of slaves, wealth into poverty, learning into ignorance, art into barbarism, the divine spirit of progress into brutish apathy.

Here we stand, a new nation on a fresh continent, endowed as never a new nation was endowed before—with all that has been slowly gained by the best of the race through thousands of years of effort and mistake, and struggle and sacrifice; free sharers in all that is valuable in the heritage of our elder brothers, exempt from all the conditions that cripple and bind them. What will we do with the talent that has been intrusted to us? Wrap it in a napkin and bury it in the earth, or put it out to increase. Merely make a new Europe; or carry forward the promise of progressive humanity to full bud and glorious bloom? Great we must be. In the coming century whose shadows are even now beginning to steal over us, this nation must occupy to the rest of the world a position such as has not been held by any nation since imperial Rome perished of the concentration of capital and political corruption. The centre of power, art, refinement, literature and wealth must pass to this continent. But shall there also pass over here the centre of that volcanic force which shot up a premonitory admonition in the flames of burning Paris; of that barbarism which made Macaulay point to the shadow of palaces, and museums, and colleges and libraries of great cities as the new wilds from which might some day emerge for the overthrow of modern civilization Vandals more destructive than marched under Genseric and Huns more fierce than followed Attilla? Shall our power be exercised by a few for selfish ends, or be wielded by the people for the people? Shall our cul ture be confined to a class, or be the common heritage of all? Shall wealth be dammed up, here making pestilential marshes and there a desert, or flow in its natural courses giving to each his fair, full earnings? These are the questions which we must settle in these elections of ours.

A Recapitulation.

Let me recapitulate:

The question involved in this election is not as between two men; it is not as between two parties. It is between two great policies of government, and your vote, or even your refusal to vote, must be its answer. Between the policy of Alexander Hamilton and the policy of Thomas Jefferson you are called upon to decide. You have tried the one. You see its results in ruined commerce, prostrated industry, and an epidemic of corruption that has disgraced the highest places and is fast eating downward to poison the daily life of the masses. You see it in the differentiation of the people into the very rich and the hopelessly poor. Will you continue it, or will you try the other?

Be not deceived! You might as well charge the bullet or the knife with being the cause of the death of a murdered man, as to think that all the things of which you complain result from the accident of having had bad men in office. What can any change of men avail so long as the policy, which is the primary cause of these evils, is unchanged ?

The great problem of Republican Government is yet to be solved! Its crucial trial is not on fields of battle, but its peaceful struggles such as this. If you elect to continue a governmental policy which has for its end and aim the building up of that aristocracy of capital on which De Tocqueville, forty years ago, warned us to keep our eyes anxiously fixed, then the bounds of our destiny may be seen in the past. Do not fear that any monarchy in name will ever be established here. We were done with monarchs in George III. After the expulsion of the Tarquins no one ever arose in Borne to call himself King. But as in Rome, under the simple name of Imperator, which at first had no more significance that the title of General now, a master came to rule as the King’s never dared to rule—so with us. Concentrated wealth, if present tendencies continue, will in some insidious way bind us with bonds we cannot break, and so enervate the people that, in the dread of anarchy, they will be content with the loss of liberty.

The genius of Democracy points to the future. She sees in it possibilities greater than any yet realized—possibilities only shadowed forth to dreamer or martyr as gleams of a Golden Age, or visions of the City of God. A nation too great to need armies; too proud to do injustice; to powerful to fear it. A nation whose simple government shall merely prevent the strong from oppressing the weak and hold the equal scales of justice. A nation where trade shall be free from barrier or restraint, and industry unhampered by law; where the ox that treadeth out the corn shall not be muzzled; nor the producers of wealth want amid abundance. A nation that can spare the toil of women and children; that needs no alms-houses or soup societies; where even the day laborer may have leisure and refinement and independence; when something better than wealth shall be looked on as the chief good and highest honor. A nation that has come fully out the night of barbarism, and shines in the full light of Christian civilization; a nation where liberty means the perfect freedom of each to develop all that is best in his character without interfering with the equal rights of others.

Is it only a dream? Perhaps it is. But things which we now enjoy as freely as the air around us, were but dreams when men died for them. It is only by looking at the ideal that we can appreciate the spirit of the hero; the devotion of the martyr; the enthusiasm of poet; the preciousness of the heirloom we have received from the past; of the legacy we may leave to the future.


After the burst of applause which followed the conclusion of Mr. George’s remarks had subsided, he was, on motion, unanimously requested to furnish the Club his speech for publication in pamphlet form.