Grover Cleveland.

The writings and speeches of Grover Cleveland; (Volume 1) online

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268 TO POLITICAL CLUBS AND ORGANIZATIONS.

departure from the sound and safe theory that the people
should support the government for the sake of the benefits
resulting to all, has bred a sentiment manifesting itself with
astounding boldness, that the government may be enlisted in
the furtherance and advantage of private interests, through
their willing agents in public place. Such an abandonment of
the idea of patriotic political action on the part of these inter-
ests, has naturally led to an estimate of the people's franchise
so degrading that it has been openly and palpably debauched
for the promotion of selfish schemes. Money is invested in
the purchase of votes with the deliberate calculation that it
will yield a profitable return in results advantageous to the
investor. Another crime akin to this in motive and design is
the intimidation by employers of the voters dependent upon
them for work and bread.

Nothing could be more hateful to true and genuine Democ-
racy than such offenses against our free institutions. In several
of the States the honest sentiment of the party has asserted itself,
in the support of every plan proposed for the rectification of
this terrible wrong. To Fail in such support would be to violate
that principle in the creed of true Democracy which com-
mands "a jealous care of the right of election by the people,"
for certainly no one can claim that suffrages purchased or cast
under the stress of threat or intimidation represent the right
of election by the people.

Since a free and unpolluted ballot must be conceded as
absolutely essential to the maintenance of our free institutions,
I may perhaps be permitted to express the hope that the State
of Pennsylvania will not long remain behind her sister States
in adopting an effective plan to protect her people's suffrage.
In any event the Democracy of the State can find no justifica-
tion in party principle, nor in party traditions, nor in a just
apprehension of Democratic duty, for a failure earnestly to
support and advocate ballot reform.

I have thus far attempted to state some of the principles of
true Democracy, and their application to present conditions.



TO POLITICAL CLUBS AND ORGANIZATIONS. 269

Their enduring character and their constant influence upon

those who profess our faith have also been suggested. Jl I
were now asked why they have so endured and why they have
been invincible, I should reply in the words of the sentiment
to which I respond: "They are enduring because they arc-
right, and invincible because they are just."

I believe that among our people the ideas which endure, and
which inspire warm attachment and devotion, are those having
some elements which appeal to the moral sense. When men
are satisfied that a principle is morally right, they become its
adherents for all time. There is sometimes a discouraging
distance between what our fellow-countrymen believe and what
they do, in such a case; but their action in accordance with
their belief may always be confidently expected in good time.
A government for the people and by the people is everlastingly
right. As surely as this is true so surely is it true that party
principles which advocate the absolute equality of American
manhood, and an equal participation by all the people in the
management of their government, and in the benefit and pro-
tection which it affords, are also right. Here is common
ground where the best educated thought and reason may meet
the most impulsive and instinctive Americanism. It is right
that every man should enjoy the result of his labor to the fullest
extent consistent with his membership in civilized community.
It is right that our government should be but the instrument
of the people's will, and that its cost should be limited within
the lines of strict economy. It is right that the influence of
the government should be known in every humble home as the
guardian of frugal comfort and content, and a defense against
unjust exactions, and the unearned tribute persistently coveted
by the selfish and designing. It is right that efficiency and
honesty in public service should not be sacrificed to partisan
greed; and it is right that the suffrage of our people should
be pure and free.

The belief in these propositions, as moral truths, is nearly
universal among our countrymen. We are mistaken if we



270 TO POLITICAL CLUBS AND ORGANIZATIONS.

suppose the time is distant when the clouds of selfishness and
perversion will be dispelled and their conscientious belief will
become the chief motive force in the political action of the
people.

I understand all these truths to be included in the principles
of true Democracy. If we have not at all times trusted as
implicitly as we ought to the love our people have for the
right, in political action, or if we have not always relied
sufficiently upon the sturdy advocacy of the best things which
belong to our party faith, these have been temporary aberra-
tions which have furnished their inevitable warning.

We are permitted to contemplate to-night the latest demon-
stration of the people's appreciation of the right, and of the
acceptance they accord to Democratic doctrine when honestly
presented. In the campaign which has just closed with such
glorious results, while party managers were anticipating the
issue in the light of the continued illusion of the people, the
people themselves and for themselves were considering the
question of right and justice. They have spoken, and the
Democracy of the land rejoice.

In the signs of the times and in the result of their late State
campaign, the Democracy of Pennsylvania must find hope and
inspiration. Nowhere has the sensitiveness of the people, on
questions involving right and wrong, been better illustrated than
here. At the head of your State government there will soon
stand a disciple of true Democracy, elected by voters who
would have the right and not the wrong when their consciences
were touched. Though there have existed here conditions and
influences not altogether favorable to an unselfish apprehen-
sion of the moral attributes of political doctrine, I believe that
if these features of the principles of true Democracy are per-
sistently advocated, the time will speedily come when, as in a
day, the patriotic hearts of the people of your great Common-
wealth will be stirred to the support of our cause.

It remains to say that, in the midst of our rejoicing and in
the time of party hope and expectation, we should remember



TO POLITICAL CLUBHAND ORGANIZATIONS. -7>

that tlir way of right and justice should be followed as a matter
of duty and regardless of immediate success. Above all things
let us not for a moment forget that grave responsibilities await
the party which the people trust; and let us look for guidance
to the principles of true Democracy, which "are enduring
because they are right, and invincible because they are just."



VI.
At the Democratic Club, New York, April 13, 1891.

Mr. President and Gentlemen:

I desire, first of all, to express my thanks to the promoters of
this occasion, for the pleasure which a place in this goodly
company affords me, and to congratulate the Democratic Club
upon the indication of prosperity and enterprise supplied by its
ownership of this beautiful and commodious house. The
maintenance of such a center for the cultivation and dissem-
ination of true Democratic principles, together with the activity
and earnestness of members of the club, furnish the most
gratifying evidence that those who abide here fully realize the
value and importance of unremitting political endeavor and
thorough organization in behalf of true Democracy.

It seems to me that the atmosphere which pervades this
place is ill-suited to selfish and ignoble designs; and I feel at
this moment that I am surrounded by influences which invite
patriotic partisanship and disinterested devotion to party prin-
ciples. This sensation is most agreeable — for I am glad to be
called a partisan if my partisanship is patriotic. If a partisan
is correctly defined as "one who is violently and passionately
devoted to a party or interest," I must plead guilty to the
charge of being a Democratic partisan, so long as the Democ-
racy is true to its creed and traditions, and so long as condi-
tions exist which, to my understanding, make adherence to its
doctrines synonymous with patriotism.



/



272 TO POLITICAL. CLUBS AND ORGANIZATIONS.

It is a glorious thing to belong to a party which lias a history
beginning with the first years of our government, and full of
achievements interwoven with all that has made our country
great and kept our people free. It is an inspiring thing to
know that by virtue of our party membership we are associated
with those who resist the attempt of arrogant political powci
to interfere with the independence and integrity of popular
suffrage, who are determined to relieve our countrymen from
unjust and unnecessary burdens, who are intent upon checking
extravagance in public expenditures, and who test party pur-
poses by their usefulness in promoting the interests and welfare
of all the people of the land.

These considerations furnish to those who love their country
the highest and best incentives to constant and faithful effort
in the cause of true Democracy.

We are reminded on this occasion that we not only have a
proud history and glorious traditions, but that our party had an
illustrious founder, whose services and teachings have done as
much to justify and make successful our government by the
people and for the people, as any American who ever lived. A
claim to such political ancestry is, of itself, sufficient to lend
honor and pride to membership in a party which preserves in
their vigor and purity the principles of that Democracy which
was established by Thomas Jefferson.

These principles were not invented for the purpose of gain-
ing popular assent for a day, nor only because they were useful
in the early time of the Republic. They were not announced
for the purpose of serving personal ambitions, nor merely for
the purpose of catching the suffrages of the people. They
were laid as deep and broad as the truths upon which the
fabric of our government rested. In the spirit of prophecy,
they were formulated and declared, not only as suited to the
experiments of a new government, but as sufficient in every
struggle and every emergency which should beset popular rule,
in all times to come and in all stages of our country's growth
and development.



TO POLITICAL CLUBS AND ORGANIZATIONS. 273

The political revolution which accompanied the birth of our
party was not accomplished while the principles of Democracy
were kept laid away in a napkin, nor was the unanimity of
their first acceptance secured by the senseless and noisy shout-
ing of partisan bigotry and the refusal to receive converts to
the faith. No man believed more implicitly in the political
instruction of the people than the great founder of our party ;
and the first triumph of Democratic principles, under his lead-
ership, was distinctly the result of a campaign of education.
So, too, in the light of our last great victory, no man who
desires Democratic success will deny the supreme importance
of a most thorough and systematic presentation to our fellow-
citizens of the reasons which support the avowed and accepted
purposes of our party. Those who now sneer at efforts in that
■direction are our enemies — whether they confront us as con-
fessed opponents, or whether they are traitors skulking within
our camp. ^ —

It seems to me that this is peculiarly a time when the Demo-
cratic party should be mindful of its relations to the country,
of its responsibilities as the guardian of sat red principles, and
of its duty to a confiding people. In the rejoicing which
success permits, let us remember that the mission of our party
is continued warfare. We cannot accomplish what we promise -
to the people if we allow ourselves to he diverted from the
perils which are still in our way. Blindness to danger, and
neglect of party organization and discipline, are invitations to
defeat. We cannot win permanent and substantial success by
putting aside principle and grasping after temporary expedi-
ents. We shall court disaster if we relax industry in com-
mending to the intelligence of our countrymen the creed which
we profess; and we tempt humiliating failure and disgrace I
when we encourage or tolerate those who, claiming fellowship
with us, needlessly and often from the worst of motives, seek
to stir up strife and sow discord in the councils of our
party.

As we celebrate to-night the birthday of the father of



274 TO POLITICAL CLUBS AND ORGANIZATIONS.

Democracy, let us reinforce our Democratic zeal and enthusi-
asm and renew our faith and trust in the aroused intelligence
of our countrymen. Let the reflections prompted by the
surroundings of this occasion, confirm us in the assurance that
we shall patriotically discharge our political duty and well
maintain our party loyalty, if in all we do as Democrats we
bravely and consistently hold fast to the truths which illumine
the path laid out by our great guide and leader.



VII.



Before the " Cleveland Democracy " at Buffalo, N. Y.,
May 12, 1 89 1.

Mr. President and Gentlemen:

As 1 stand for the first time face to face with the Cleveland
Democracy, I experience mingled emotions of responsibility
and pride. My sense of responsibility arises from my relation
to your organization as its godfather, and my pride from the
noble manner in which you have borne my name. I acknowl-
edge your right to require of me at this time an account of the
manner in which I have kept the political faith to which you
are devoted. This right grows out of the fact that the word
"Democracy," as it stands in the name of your organiza-
tion, means so much and is so worthy of your care, that
its significance should not be in the least clouded by any
prefix which is not in keeping with Democratic aims and pur-
poses.

In giving an account of my political behavior, I can only
offer a record of political conduct familiar to all my country-
men, and supplement this record by the declaration that I have
done the best I could to deserve the confidence in me which
you have so gracefully manifested. For the character of the
record thus presented, you yourselves are answerable with me
— for it has been made under the influence and encouragement



TO POLITICAL CLUBS AND ORGANIZATIONS. 275

of the sentiments and doctrines which the Cleveland Democ-
racy have cultivated and enforced. When we started together
m political life and responsibility, your accepted creed taught

that politics was something more than adroit jugglery; thai
there was still such a thing as official duty, and that it meant
obligation to the people ; that the principles of our government
were worthy of conscientious study ; and that the doctrines of
true Democracy, honestly and bravely enforced, promised the
greatest good to all our countrymen, and exacted, through the
length and breadth of our land, impartial governmental care
and indiscriminating justice.

You were not content to allow these truths to remain with
you as mere idle beliefs. They supplied constant and aggress-
ive motives for your political activity and were your inspira-
tion as you went forth to do battle in the Democratic cause,
resting your hope of triumph upon an unwavering faith in the
thoughtful and well-informed intelligence of the American
people.

Thus you were found doing valiant service in the campaign
of education. As the smoke of the last stubbornly fought
battle cleared away, no soldiers on the field were found sur-
rounded by more trophies of victory than the forces of the
Cleveland Democracy.

Surely your rewards are most abundant. You have not
only aided in the advancement of the Democratic standard,
but you have also contributed your full share in demonstrating
that the people can be trusted when aroused to thoughtfulness
and duty.

When I suggest to you that much sturdy fighting still awaits
all those enlisted in the Democratic ranks, I feel that I am
speaking to veterans who have no fear of hard campaigning.
We may be sure that unless we continue active, watchful war-
fare, we shall lose what we have gained in the people's cause.
Insidious schemes are started on every side to allure them to
their undoing. Awakened to a sense of wrong and injustice,
promises of redress and benefit are held up to their sight, "like



276 TO POLITICAL CLUBS AND ORGANIZATIONS.

Dead Sea fruits, that tempt the eye but turn to ashes on the
lips." The selfish and designing will not forego the struggle,
but will constantly seek to regain their vantage ground through
tempting fallacies and plausible pretexts of friendliness.

1 believe the most threatening figure which to-day stands in
the way of the safety of our government and the happiness of
our people, is reckless and wicked extravagance in our public
expenditures. It is the most fatal of all the deadly brood born
of governmental perversion. It hides beneath its wings the
betrayal of the people's trust, and holds powerless in its fas-
cinating glance the people's will and conscience. It brazenly
exhibits to-day a Billion Dollar Congress. But lately, a large
surplus remained in the people's public treasury after meeting
all expenditures, then by no means economical. This condition
was presented to the American people as positive proof that
their burden of taxation was unjust because unnecessary; and
yet, while the popular protest is still heard, the harpy of Public
Extravagance devours the surplus and impudently calls upon
its staggering victims to bring still larger supplies within the
reach of its insatiate appetite. A few short years ago a pen-
sion roll amounting to fifty-three millions of dollars was will-
ingly maintained by our patriotic citizens. To-d,ay, Public
Extravagance decrees that three times that sum shall be drawn
from the people, upon the pretext that its expenditure repre-
sents the popular love of the soldier. Not many years ago a
river and harbor bill, appropriating eleven millions of dollar:;,
gave rise to a loud popular protest. Now, Public Extrava-
gance commands an appropriation of twenty-two millions for
the same purposes, and the people are silent. To-day, millions
are paid for barefaced subsidy; and this is approved or con-
doned at the behest of Public Extravagance, and thus a new
marauder is turned loose, which, in company with its vicious
tariff partner, bears pilfered benefit to the households of
favored selfish interests.

We need not prolong the details. Turn where we will, we
?.?e the advance of this devouring and destructive creature.



TO POLITICAL CLUBS AND ORGANIZATIONS. 277

Our Democratic faith teaches us that the useless exaction of
money from the people, upon the false pretext of public neces-
sity, is the worst of all governmental perversions, and involves
the greatest of all dangers to our guarantees of justice and
equity. We need not unlearn this lesson to apprehend the fact
that behind the fact that such exaction, and as its source of
existence, is found Public Extravagance. The ax will not be
laid at the root of the unwholesome tariff tree, with its vicious
inequality and injustice, until we reach and destroy its parent
and support.

But the growth of Public Extravagance in these latter days,
and its unconcealed and dreadful manifestations, force us to
the contemplation of other crimes, of which it is undoubtedly
guilty, besides unjust exactions from the people.

Our government is so ordained that its lifeblood flows from
the virtue and patriotism of our people, and its health and
strength depend upon the integrity and faithfulness of their
public servants. If these are destroyed, our government, if it
endures, will endure only in name, failing to bless those for
whom it was created, and failing in its mission as an example to
mankind.

Public Extravagance, in its relation to inequitable tariff laws,
not only lays an unjust tribute upon the people, but is respon-
sible for unfair advantages bestowed upon special ami favored
interests as the price of partisan support. Thus the exercise
of the popular will, for the benefit of the country at larye, is
replaced by sordid and selfish motives directed to personal
advantage, while the encouragement of such motives, in public:
place for party ends, deadens the official conscience.

Public Extravagance directly distributes gifts and gratuities
among the people, whose toleration of waste is thus secured, or
whose past party services are thus compensated, or whoarethus
bribed to future party support. This makes the continuance
ot partisan power a stronger motive among public servants
than the faithful discharge of the people's trust, and sows the
i;eeds of contagious corruption in the body politic.



2 7 s TO POLITICAL CLUBS AND ORGANIZATIONS.

But to my mind, the saddest and most frightful result of
Public Extravagance is seen in the readiness of the masses of
our people, who are not dishonest, but only heedless, to accus-
tom themselves to that dereliction in public place which it
involves. Evidence is thus furnished that our countrymen are
in danger of losing the scrupulous insistence upon the faithful
discharge of duty on the part of their public servants, the
regard for economy and frugality which belongs to sturdy
Americanism, the independence which relies upon personal
endeavor, and the love of an honest and well-regulated gov-
ernment, all of which lie at the foundation of our free institu-
tions.

Have I overstated the evils and dangers with which the
tremendous growth of Public Extravagance threatens us?
Every man who loves his country well enough to pause and
think of these things must know that I have not.

Let us, then, as we push on in our campaign of education,
especially impress upon our countrymen the lesson which
teaches that Public Extravagance is a deadly, dangerous thing,
that frugality and economy are honorable, that the virtue and
watchfulness of the people are the surest safeguards against
abuses in their government, and that those who profess to
serve their fellow-citizens in public place must be faithful to
their trust.



VIII.



Before the Business Mens Democratic Association, New York,
January 8, 1892.

Mr. President and Gentlemen:

No one can question the propriety of the celebration of this
day by the organization whose invitation has called us together.
Its right to celebrate on this occasion results from the fact that
it is an organization attached to the doctrines of true Democ-
racy, having a membership composed of business men, who,



TO POLITICAL CLUBS AND ORGANIZATION H. ^79

in a disinterested way, devote themselves to honest party work,
and who labor for the growth and spread of the political prin-
ciples which they profess.

This anniversary has not gained its place as a festival day in
the calendar of Democracy by chance or through unmeaning
caprice; nor is it observed by the Democratic party merely
because a battle was fought on the 8th day of January,
many years ago, at New Orleans. That battle in itself had no
immediate political significance, and, considered solely as a
military achievement in comparison with man}- other battles
fought by Americans both before and since, it need not be
regarded as an event demanding especial commemoration.

The Democratic zest and enthusiasm of our celebration of
the day grow out of the fact that the battle of New Orleans
was won under the generalship of Andrew Jackson. So. while
the successful general in that battle is not forgotten to-night,
Democrats, wherever they are assembled throughout our land
to celebrate the day, are honoring the hero who won the battles
of Democracy, and are commemorating the political courage
ami steadfastness which were his prominent characteristics.

It is well that there are occasions like this where we may
manifest that love and affection for Andrew Jackson which
have a place in every Democratic heart. It is needless to
attempt an explanation of this love and affection. They are
Democratic instincts. So strong is our conviction that Jack-
son's Democracy derived its strength and vigor from the stead-
fast courage, the honesty of purpose and the sturdy persistency
which characterized the man, that we willingly profess the
belief that these same conditions are essential to the usefulness
and success of the Democratic party in these latter days.



Online LibraryGrover ClevelandThe writings and speeches of Grover Cleveland; (Volume 1) → online text (page 24 of 48)