Grover Cleveland.

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

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Her stake in the creation and the development of our country



3*8 SPEECHES IN POLITICAL CANVASSES.

took form in its embryonic days ; and this has given rise from
the beginning to the interested discussion among her people
of every public question, while the education and general in-
formation of her population have made such discussion intel-
ligent and forceful. Her schools and her institutions of learn-
ing have sent to all parts of the land young and thoughtful
men, imbued with sentiments and opinions not learned in their
books. When her feeling has been most aroused she has
challenged the respect of the country because, though uncom-
promising, she has been habitually just, and, though radical,
she has been always great.

1 cannot help recalling at this moment that you gave to the
Senate of the United States the man who is remembered by
all his countrymen as the best modern embodiment of Ameri-
can greatness ; that Webster, though he loved freedom and
hated slavery, neverconsented to the infringement of constitu-
tional rights, even for the sake of freedom ; that, though his
love for Massachusetts was his consuming sentiment, he
emphatically declared that in the discharge of public duty he
would neither regard her especial interests nor her desires as
against his conception of the general interests of the country,
and that his patriotism and his love for the Union were so
great that he constantly sought to check the first sign of
estrangement among our people.

I recall the love of Massachusetts for the memory of Sum-
ner— the great Senator who unhesitatingly braved Executive
displeasure and party ostracism in loyalty to his sense of right;
who surprised and alienated a sentiment, born of patriotic
warmth, by advocating the obliteration of the reminders of the
triumphs of American soldiers over American soldiers ; and
who, throughout a long public career, illustrated his belief that
politics is but the application of moral principle to public
affairs.

If, from the contemplation of these lofty precedents, you turn
to the manner in which the sentiment and feeling of Massachus-
etts have of late been represented in both houses of Congress,,



SPEECHES IN POLITICAL CANVASSES. 3'9

and if you thus find an unpleasing contrast, it is for you to say
whether you are satisfied ; but, if this feeling and sentiment,
genuine and utiperverted, ought to bear the fruits of concilia-
tion and trust among our countrymen, the avoidance of un-
necessary irritation, and the abandonment of schemes which
promise no better result than party supremacy through forced
and unnatural suffrage, there certainly seems to be ground for
apprehension that there has lately been something awry in
your Federal representation. At any rate, it seems to me that
the people themselves, in the State of Massachusetts, are con-
stantly giving proof that they are ready and willing, obedient
to a generous instinct and for the good of the entire country,
to aid in building up American fraternity based upon mutual
faith and confidence, and in restoring and reviving that unity
and heartiness of aim and purpose upon which alone our na-
tional hope can securely rest.

We have fallen upon a time when especial interest is aroused
among our people in subjects which seem to be vital to the
welfare of the country. Our consumers, those of moderate
means and the poor of the land, are too much neglected in our
national policy; their life is made too hard for them, and too
much favor is shown to pampered manufactures and rich
monopolies. A condition of restlessness and irritation has
grown up throughout the country, born of prevailing inequality
and unfairness, which threatens an attack upon sound currency,
and which awakens the fear and anxious solicitude of thought-
ful and patriotic men ; economy m public expenditure has
almost become a byword and jest; and partisanship in power
executes its will by methods unprecedented and ruthless.

I have believed that the Democratic party was right in its
position on all these subjects ; and I am willing to confessthat
my belief is confirmed by the verdict of the people of Mas-
sachusetts. When I see the old Commonwealth break away
from party trammels in aid of right and honesty, when I see a
majority of her last elected representatives in Congress chosen
to enforce the principles we profess, and when I see her put at



320 SPEECHES IN POLITICAL CANVASSES.

the head of her State government one of her young sons, who
stands for these principles in the truest, cleanest, and most
vigorous way, I am prepared to see, following the lead of Mas-
sachusetts, such a revival of moral sentiment in politics as will
insure the general acceptance, by our countrymen, of the truths
we preach.

Any man who fails to appreciate the immense motive power
of the conscience of Massachusetts has viewed to little purpose
the movements which have made their impress on our coun-
try's history, and which have led our national destiny, On
the splendid roster of those here enlisted in our cause, and
among the thousands recorded there who have seen beyond
party lines the morals of political questions, are found the
names of Adams and Everett and Andrew and Quincy and
Garrison and Higginson and Pierce and Eliot and Hoar and
Codman and Williams — giving proof that the people's cause
has touched the conscience of Massachusetts.

The hearts of patriotic men in many States are warmed with
gratitude for the strong and able young men your Common-
wealth has contributed to our public life in this time of her
awakening.

Again, their eyes are turned to Massachusetts. Young and
vigorous Americanism has watched, with pride and enthusiasm
its best representative at the head of your State government,
and those who love true Democracy have rejoiced far and wide
that one who embodies their principles so truly, and exemplifies
them so wisely, has borne himself so nobly. They look to the
people of Massachusetts to recognize the faithful services of
their young Governor and the manner in which he has upheld
the dignity and honor of their State before their countrymen
everywhere. They look to you, by his election and by the
election of all the good men and true who, with him, bear the
standard of your State Democracy, to demonstrate your stead-
fastness in the Democratic cause. They look to you to give
to the national Democracy and the cause of the people, which



SPEECHES IN POLITICAL CANVASSES. 321

it has m charge, the powerful aid ol the still awakened con-
science of Massachusetts.

Democrats of Massachusetts— men of Massachusetts —
which shall your response be ?



IX.
Tnthe Opera House at Providence, R. I., April 1, 1892.

M v Fellow-Citizens :

1 have found it impossible to decline the invitation you sent
me to meet here to-day the Democracy of Rhode Island. I
have come to look in the faces of the men who have been given
the place of honor in the advance of the vast army which
moves toward the decisive battlefield of next November. I
have not come to point the way to consolation in case of your
defeat, but 1 have come to share the enthusiasm which pre-
sages victory. I have not come to condole with you upon the
difficulties which confront you, but to suggest that they will
only add to the glory of your triumph. I have come to remind
you that the intrenchments of spoils and patronage cannot
avail against the valor and determination of right ; that cor-
ruption and bribery cannot smother and destroy the aroused
conscience of our countrymen, and that splendid achievements
await those who bravely, honestly, and stubbornly fight in the
people's cause.

Let us not for a moment miss the inspiration of those
words, " The People's Cause." They signify the defense
of the rights of every man, rich or poor, in every corner
of our land, who, by virtue of simple American manhood,
lays claim to the promises of our free government, and
they mean the promotion of the welfare and happiness of the
humblest American citizen who confidingly invokes the pro-
tection of just and equal laws.

The covenant of our Democratic faith, as I understand it,



322 SPEECHES IN POLITICAL CANVASSES.

exacts constant effort in this cause, and its betrayal I conceive
to be a crime against the creed of true Democracy.

The struggle in which you are engaged arrests the attention
of your party brethren in every State ; and they pause in their
preparation for the general engagement, near at hand, in which
all will be in the field, and look toward Rhode Island with
hope and trust. They read the legends on your banners and
they hear your rallying cries, and know that your fight is in
the people's cause.

If you should be defeated there will be no discouragement
in this vast waiting army ; but you will earn their plaudits and
cover yourselves with glory by winning success.

Large and bright upon your banners are blazoned the words
" Tariff Reform " — the shibboleth of true Democracy and the
test of loyalty to the people's cause.

Those who oppose tariff reform delude themselves if they sup-
pose that it rests wholly upon appeals to selfish considerations
and the promise of advantage, right or wrong ; or that our only
hope of winning depends upon arousing animosity between
different interests among our people. While we do not pro-
pose that those whose welfare we champion shall be blind to
the advantages accruing to them from our plan of tariff reform,
and while we are determined that these advantages shall not
be surrendered to the blandishments of greed and avarice, we
still claim nothing that has not underlying it moral sentiment
and considerations of equity and good conscience.

Because our case rests upon such foundations, sordidness
and selfishness cannot destroy it. The fight for justice and
right is a clean and comforting one ; and because the Ameri-
can people love justice and right, ours must be a winning
fight.

" The government of the Union is a government of the
people ; it emanates from them ; its powers are granted by
them, and are to be exercised directly on them and for their
benefit."

This is t not the language of a political platform. It is a



SPEECHES IX POLITICAL CANVASSES. 323

declaration of the highest court in the land, whose mandates
all must obey, and whose definitions all partisans must accept.

In the light of this exposition of the duty the government
owes to the people, the Democratic party claims that when,
through Federal taxation, burdens are laid upon the daily life
of the people, not necessary for the government's economical
administration, and intended, whatever be the pretext, to enrich
a few at the expense of the many, the governmental compact
is violated.

A distinguished Justice of the Supreme Court, with no
Democratic affiliations, but loved and respected when living
by every American, and since his death universally lamented,
has characterized such a proceeding as " none the less a rob-
bery because it is done under the forms of law and is called
taxation."

Let us then appreciate the fact that we not only stand upon
sure and safe ground when we appeal to honesty and morality
in our championship of the interests of the masses of out-
people as they are related to tariff taxation, but that our mis-
sion is invested with the highest patriotism when we attempt
to preserve from perversion, distortion, and decay the justice,
equality, and moral integrity which are the constituent ele-
ments of our scheme of popular government.

Those who believe in tariff reform, for the substantial good
it will bring to the multitude who are neglected when selfish
greed is in the ascendency ; those who believe that the legiti-
mate motive of our government is to do equal and exact justice
to all our people, and grant especial privileges to none ; those
who believe that a nation, boasting that its foundation is in
honesty and conscience, cannot afford to discard moral senti-
ment ; and those who would save our institutions from the un-
dermining decay of sordidness and selfishness, can hardly
excuse themselves if they fail to join us in the crusade we have
undertaken. Certainly our sincerity cannot be questioned.
In the beginning of the struggle we were not only bitterly op-
posed by a great party of avowed enemies, but were embar-



324 SPEECHES IN POLITICAL CANVASSES.

rassed by those in our own ranks who had become infected
with the unwholesome atmosphere our enemies had created.
We hesitated not a moment boldly to encounter both. We
unified our party, not by any surrender to the half-hearted
among our members, but by an honest appeal to Democratic
sentiment and conscience. We have never lowered our stand-
ard. It surely was not policy nor expediency that induced us
defiantly to carry the banner of tariff reform as we went forth
to meet a well-organized and desperately determined army in
the disastrous field of 1888. A time-serving or expediency-
hunting party would hardly have been found, the day after
such a crushing defeat, undismayed, defiant, and determined :
still shouting the old war cry, and anxious to encounter again
in the people's cause our exultant enemy. We had not long
to wait. At the Waterloo of 1890, tariff reform had its vindi-
cation, and principle and steadfast devotion to American fair-
ness and good faith gloriously triumphed over plausible shifti-
ness and attempted popular deception.

The Democratic party still champions the cause which de-
feat could not induce it to surrender, which no success, short
of complete accomplishment, can tempt it to neglect. Its posi-
tion has been from the first frankly and fairly stated, and no
one can honestly be misled concerning it. We invite the
strictest scrutiny of our conduct in dealing with this subject,
and we insist that our cause has been open, fair, and consist-
ent. I believe this is not now soberly denied in any quar-
ter.

Our opponents, too, have a record on this question. Those
who still adhere to the doctrine that an important function of
the government is especially to aid them in their business ;
those who only see in the consumers of our land forced con-
tributors to artificial benefits permitted by governmental
favoritism ; those who see in our workingmen only the tools
with which their shops and manufactories are to be supplied
at the cheapest possible cost, and those who believe there is no
moral question involved in the tariff taxation of the people, are



SPEECHES IX POLITICAL CANVASSES. 325

probably familiar with this record and abundantly satisfied

with it.

It may, however, be profitably reviewed by those who be-
lieve that integrity and good faith have to do with govern-
mental operations, and who honestly confess that present tariff
burdens are not justly and fairly distributed. Such a review
may also be of interest to those who believe that our con-
sumers are entitled to be treated justly and honestly by the
government, and that the workingman should be allowed to
feel in his humble home, as he supplies his family's daily needs,
that his earnings are not unjustly extorted from him for the
benefit of the favored beneficiaries of unfair tariff laws.

This, then, is the record : When we began the contest for
tariff reform it was said by our Republican opponents, in the
face of our avowals and acts, that we were determined on free
trade. A long advance was made, in their insincerity and im-
pudence, when they accused us of acting in the interests of
foreigners, and when they more than hinted that we had been
bought with British gold. Those who distrusted the effective-
ness of these senseless appeals insulted the intelligence of our
people by claiming that an increase in the cost of articles to
the consumer caused by the tariff was not a tax paid by him,
but that it was paid by foreigners who sent their goods to our
markets. Sectional prejudice was invoked in the most out-
rageous manner, and the people of the North were asked to'
condemn the measure of tariff reform proposed by us because
members of Congress from the South had supported it.

These are fair samples of the arguments submitted to the
American people in the Presidential campaign of 188S.

Tt will be observed that the purpose of these amazing deliver-
ances was to defeat entirely any reform in the tariff — though
it had been enacted at a time when the expense of a tre-
mendous war justified the exaction of tribute from the people
which in time of peace became a grievous burden ; though it
had congested the Federal Treasury with a worse than useless
surplus, inviting reckless public waste and extravagance; and



2,26 SPEECHES IN POLITICAL CANVASSES.

though, in many of its features, the only purpose of its con-
tinuation was the bargaining it permitted for party sup-
port.

There were those, however, in the ranks of our opponents
who recognized the fact that we had so aroused popular atten-
tion to the evils and injustice of such a tariff that it might not
be safe to rely for success upon a bald opposition to its reform.
These were the grave and sedate Republican statesmen who
declared that they never, never, could consent to subserve the
interests of England at the expense of their own country, as
the wicked Democrats proposed to do, and that they felt con-
strained to insist upon a tariff, protective to the point of pro-
hibition, because they devotedly loved our workingmen and
were determined that their employment should be constant
and that their wages should never sink to the disgusting level
of the pauper labor of Europe, but that, in view of the fact
that the war in which the tariff then existing originated had
been closed for more than twenty years, and in view of the
further fact that the public Treasury was overburdened, they
were willing to readjust the tariff, if it could only be done by
its friends instead of " rebel Brigadiers."

I will not refer to all the means by which our opponents
succeeded in that contest". Suffice it to say, they gained com-
plete possession of the government in every branch, and the
tariff was reformed by its alleged friends. All must admit,
however, that either this was not done by the people's friends,
or that the effort in their behalf sadly miscarried or was un-
gratefully remembered ; for a few weeks thereafter, a relega-
tion to private life among those occupying seats in Congress
who had been active in reforming the tariff occurred, which
amounted to a political revolution. These victims claimed
that our voters failed to indorse their reform of the tariff be-
cause they did not understand it. It is quite probable, how-
ever, that if they did not understand it they felt it, and that,
because it made them uncomfortable, they emphatically said
such a reform was not what they wanted. At any rate, the



SPEECHES JX POLITICAL CANVASSES. 3 2 7

consumer has found life harder since this reform than before,
and if there is a workingman anywhere who has had his
wages increased by virtue of its operation he has not yet made
himself known. Plenty of mills and factories have been closed,
thousands of men have thus lost employment, and we daily
hear of reduced wages ; but the benefits promised from this
reform, and its advantage to the people, who really need relict,
are not apparent. The provision it contains permitting reci-
procity of trade in certain cases, depending on the action of
the President, is an admission, as far as it goes, against the
theory upon which this reform is predicated, and it lamely
limps in the direction of freer commercial exchanges. If
" hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue," reciprocity may
be called the homage prohibitory protection pays to genuine
tariff reform.

The demand in your platform for free raw materials ought,
it seems to me, to be warmly seconded by the citizens of your
State. The advantages to the people of Rhode Island of such
a policy do not seem to be questionable, and I am not here to
discuss them in detail ; but all I have said, touching the con-
duct and record of the Democratic party and its opponents in
regard to tariff legislation, is in support of the proposition that
all who desire the special relief referred to in your platform,
or any other improvement in our tariff laws in the general
interest of the people, must look to the Democratic party for
it. The manufacturer who sees in free raw materials a re-
duced cost of his products, resulting in an increased consump-
tion and an extension of his markets, and a constant activity
and return for his invested capital, can hardly trust the party
which first resisted any reform in the tariff, then juggled with
it, and at last flatly refused him the relief he still needs. The
workingman who has been deceived by the promise of higher
wages and better employment, and who now constantly^fears
the closing of manufactories and the loss of work, ought cer-
tainly to be no longer cajoled by a party whose performance
has so clearly given the lie to its professions. The consumer



328 SPEECHES IN POLITICAL CANVASSES.

who has trusted to a reformation of the tariff by its friends,
now that he feels the increased burden of taxation in his home,
ought to look in another direction for relief.

If the Democratic party does not give to the State of Rhode
Island, during the present session of Congress, the free raw
materials she needs, it will be because a Republican Senate or
Executive thwarts its design. At any rate, nothing shall
divert us from our purpose to reform the tariff in this regard,
as well as many others, be the time of its accomplishment
near or remote.

It doubtless would please our adversaries if we could be
allured from our watch and guard over the cause of tariff re-
form to certain other objects, thus forfeiting the people's trust
and confidence. The national Democracy will hardly gratify
this wish and turn its back upon the people's cause, to wander
after false and unsteady lights in the wilderness of doubt and
danger.

Our opponents must, in the coming national canvass, settle
accounts with us on the issue of tariff reform. It will not do
for them to say to us that this is an old and determined con-
tention. The Ten Commandments are thousands of years old ;
but they and the doctrine of tariff reform will be taught and
preached until mankind and the Republican party shall heed
the injunction, "Thou shalt not steal."

As I leave you, let me say to you that your cause deserves
success; and let me express the hope that the close of your
canvass will bring you no regrets on account of activity relaxed
or opportunities lost. Demonstrate to your people the merits
of your cause, and trust them. Above all things, banish every
personal feeling of discontent, and let every personal considera-
tion be merged in a determination, pervading your ranks every-
where, to win a victory. With a cause so just, and with activity,
vigilance, harmony, and determination on the part of Rhode
Island's stanch Democracy, 1 believe you will not fail.



CHAPTER XIII.

ON SOME SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC QUESTIONS.

I.

THE PUBLICITY OF CORPORATIONS.

(From the First Message to the New York Legislature, January, 1884.)

The action of the Board of Railroad Commissioners in re-
quiring the filing of quarterly reports by the railroad companies,
exhibiting their financial condition, is a most important step
in advance, and should be abundantly sustained. It would,
in my opinion, be a most valuable protection to the people if
other large corporations were obliged to report to some depart-
ment their transactions and financial condition.

The State creates these corporations upon the theory that
some proper thing of benefit can be better done by them
than by private enterprise, and that the aggregation of
the funds of many individuals may be thus profitably
employed. They are launched upon the public with the
seal of the State, in some sense, upon them. They are
permitted to represent the advantages they possess and the
wealth sure to follow from admission to membership. In one
hand is held a charter from the State, and in the other is
held their preferred stock.

It is a fact, singular, though well-established, that people
will pay their money for stock in a corporation engaged in en-
terprises in which they would refuse to invest if in private hands.

It is a grave question whether the formation of these artifi-
cial bodies ought not to be checked, or better regulated, and
in some way supervised.



33° ON SOME SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC QUESTIONS.

At any rate, they should always be kept well in hand, and



Online LibraryGrover ClevelandThe writings and speeches of Grover Cleveland; (Volume 1) → online text (page 28 of 48)