Grover Cleveland.

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

. (page 4 of 48)
Online LibraryGrover ClevelandThe writings and speeches of Grover Cleveland; (Volume 1) → online text (page 4 of 48)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


servile immigration, which injuriously competes with our labor-
ing men in the field of toil, and adds to our population an ele-
ment ignorant of our institutions and laws, impossible of
assimilation with our people, and dangerous to our peace and
welfare; a strict and steadfast adherence to the principles of
Civil Service Reform and a thorough execution of the laws
passed for their enforcement, thus permitting to our people the
advantages of business methods in the operation of their gov-
ernment; the guaranty to our colored citizens of all their
rights of citizenship, and their just recognition and encourage-
ment in all things pertaining to that relation; a firm, patient,
and humane Indian policy, so that in peaceful relations with
the government the civilization of the Indian may be pro-
moted, with resulting quiet and safety to the settlers on our
frontiers; and the curtailment of public expense by the intro-
duction of economical methods in every department of the
government.

The pledges contained in the platform adopted by the late
convention of the National Democracy lead to the advance-
ment of these objects and insure good government — the aspira-
tion of every true American citizen, and the motive for every
patriotic action and effort. In the consciousness that much
has been done in the direction of good government by the
present administration, and submitting its record to the fair
inspection of my countrymen, I indorse the platform thus pre-
sented, with the determination that, if I am again called to the
Chief Magistracy, there shall be a continuance of devoted
endeavor to advance the interests of the entire country.



1 8 SPEECHES AND LETTERS

Our scale of Federal taxation and its consequences largely
engross, at this time, the attention of our citizens, and the peo-
ple are soberly considering the necessity of measures of relief.

Our government is the creation of the people, established to
carry out their designs and accomplish their good. It was
founded on justice, and was made for a free, intelligent, and
virtuous people. It is only useful when within their control,
and only serves them well when regulated and guided by their
constant touch. It is a free government, because it guarantees-
to every American citizen the unrestricted personal use and
enjoyment of all the reward of his toil and of all his income,
except what may be his fair contribution to necessary public
expense. Therefore, it is not only the right, but the duty, of
a free people, in the enforcement of this guaranty, to insist
that such expense should be strictly limited to the actual pub-
lic needs. It seems per r ectly clear that when the government,
this instrumentality created and maintained by the people to
do their bidding, turns upon them, and, through an utter per-
version of its powers, extorts from their labor and capital trib-
ute largely in excess of public necessities, the creature has
rebelled against the creator and the masters are robbed by
their servants.

The cost of the government must continue to be met by
tariff duties collected at our custom houses upon imported
goods, and by internal revenue taxes assessed upon spirituous
and malt liquors, tobacco, and oleomargarine.

I suppose it is needless to explain that all these duties and
assessments are added to the price of the articles upon which
they are levied, and thus become a tax upon all those who buy
these articles for use and consumption. I suppose, too, it is
well understood that the effect of this tariff taxation is not
limited to the consumers of imported articles, but that the
duties imposed upon such articles permit a corresponding
increase in price to be laid upon domestic productions of the
same kind; which increase, paid by all our people as consum-
ers of home productions and entering every American home,



ACCEPTING NOMINATIONS, TO

constitutes a form of taxation as certain and as inevitable as
though the amount was annually paid into the hand of the tax
gatherer.

These results are inseparable from the plan we have adopted
for the collection of our revenue by tariff duties. They are
not mentioned to discredit the system, but by way of preface
to the statement that every million of dollars collected at our
:ustom houses for duties upon imported articles and paid into
tiie public treasury, represents many millions more which,
though never reaching the national treasury, are paid by our
citizens as the increased cost of domestic productions resulting
from our tariff laws.

In these circumstances, and in view of this necessary effect
of the operation of our plan for raising revenue, the absolute
duty of limiting the rate of tariff charges to the necessities of
a frugal and economical administration of the government
seems to be perfectly plain. The continuance, upon the pretext
of meeting public expenditures, of such a scale of tariff taxa-
tion as draws from the substance of the people a sum largely in
excess of public needs, is surely something which, under a gov-
ernment based upon justice, and which finds its strength and
usefulness in the faith and trust of the people, ought not to be
tolerated.

While the heaviest burdens incident to the necessities of the
government are uncomplainingly borne, light burdens become
grievous and intolerable when not justified by such necessities.

Unnecessary taxation is unjust taxation.

And yet this is our condition. We are annually collecting
at our custom houses, and by means of our internal revenue
taxation, many millions in excess of all legitimate public needs.
As a consequence, there now remains in the national treasury
a surplus of more than one hundred and thirty millions of
dollars.

No better evidence could be furnished that the people are
exorbitantly taxed. The extent of the superfluous burden
indicated by this surplus will be better appreciated when it is



20 SPEECHES AND LETTERS

suggested that such surplus alone represents taxation aggre-
gating more than one hundred and eight thousand dollars in a
county containing fifty thousand inhabitants.

Taxation has always been the feature of organized govern-
ment the hardest to reconcile with the people's ideas of free-
dom and happiness. When presented in a direct form, nothing
will arouse popular discontent more quickly and profoundly
than unjust and unnecessary taxation. Our farmers, me-
chanics, laborers, and all our citizens, closely scan the slightest
increase in the taxes assessed upon their lands and other prop-
erty, and demand good reason for such increase. And yet
they seem to be expected, in some quarters, to regard the
unnecessary volume of insidious and indirect taxation visited
upon them by our present rate of tariff duties with indifference,
if not with favor.

The surplus revenue now remaining in the treasury not only
furnishes conclusive proof of unjust taxation, but its existence
constitutes a separate and independent menace to the prosper-
ity of the people.

This vast accumulation of idle funds represents that much
money drawn from the circulating medium of the country
which is needed in the channels of trade and business.

It is a great mistake to suppose that the consequences which
follow the continual withdrawal and hoarding by the govern-
ment of the currency of the people are not of immediate
importance to the mass of our citizens, and only concern
those engaged in large financial transactions. .

In the restless enterprise and activity which free and ready
money among the people produces is found that opportunity
for labor and employment, and that impetus to business and
production, which bring in their train prosperity to our citi-
zens in every station and vocation. New ventures, new
investments in business and manufacture, the construction of
new and important works, and the enlargement of enterprises
already established, depend largely upon obtaining money upon
easy terms with fair security; and all these things are stimu-



ACCEPTING NOMINATIONS. 21

lated by an abundant volume of circulating medium. Even
the harvested grain of the farmer remains without a market,
unless money is forthcoming for its movement and transporta-
tion to the seaboard.

The first result of a scarcity of money among the people is
the exaction of severe terms for its use. Increasing distrust
and timidity are followed by a refusal to loan or advance on any
terms. Investors refuse all risks and decline all securities, and
in a general fright the money still in the hands of the people is
persistently hoarded. It is quite apparent that when this per-
fectly natural, if not inevitable, stage is reached, depression in
all business and enterprise will, as a necessary consequence,
lessen the opportunity for work and employment, and reduce
salaries and the wages of labor.

Instead, then, of being exempt from the influence and effect
of an immense surplus lying idle in the national treasury, our
wage-earners, and others who rely upon their labor for support,
are most of all directly concerned in the situation. Others,
seeing the approach of danger, may provide against it, but it
will find those depending upon their daily toil for bread unpre-
pared, helpless, and defenseless. Such a state of affairs does
not present a case of idleness resulting from disputes between
the laboring man and his employer, but it produces an abso-
lute and enforced stoppage of employment and wages.

In reviewing the bad effects of this accumulated surplus and
the scale of tariff rates by which it is produced, we must nut
overlook the tendency toward gross and scandalous public
extravagance which a congested treasury induces, nor the fact
that we are maintaining without excuse, in a time of profound
peace, substantially the rates of tariff duties imposed in time
of war, when the necessities of the government justified the
imposition of the weightiest burdens upon the people.

Divers plans have been suggested for the return of this
accumulated surplus to the people and the channels of trade.
Some of these devices are at variance with all rules of good
finance; some are delusive, some are absurd, and somebetrav,



22 SPEECHES AMD LETTERS

by their reckless extravagance, the demoralizing influence of a
great surplus of public money upon the judgments of indi-
viduals.

While such efforts should be made as are consistent with
public duty, and sanctioned by sound judgment, to avoid dan-
ger by the useful disposition of the surplus now remaining in
the treasury, it is evident that, if its distribution were accom-
plished, another accumulation would soon take its place if the
constant flow of redundant income was not checked at its
source by a reform in our present tariff laws.

We do not propose to deal with these conditions by merely
attempting to satisfy the people of the truth of abstract theories,
nor by alone urging their assent to political doctrine.
We present to them the propositions that they are unjustly
treated in the extent of present Federal taxation, that, as a
result, a condition of extreme danger exists, and that it is for
them to demand a remedy and that defense and safety prom-
ised in the guarantees of their free government.

We believe that the same means which are adapted to relieve
the treasury of its present surplus and prevent its recurrence,
should cheapen to our people the cost of supplying their daily
wants. Both of these objects we seek in part to gain by reduc-
ing the present tariff rates upon the necessaries of life.

We fully appreciate the importance to the country of our
domestic industrial enterprises. In the rectification of existing
wrongs their maintenance and prosperity should be carefully
and in a friendly spirit considered. Even such reliance upon
present revenue arrangements as has been invited or encour-
aged should be fairly and justly regarded. Abrupt and radical
changes which might endanger such enterprises, and injuriously
affect the interests of labor dependent upon their success and
continuance, are not contemplated or intended.

But we know the cost of our domestic manufactured products
is increased, and their price to the consumer enhanced, by the
duty imposed upon the raw material used in their manufac-
ture. We know that this increased cost prevents the sale of



ACCEPTING ATOM/StA T/OA 23

our productions at foreign markets in competition with those
countries which have the advantage of free raw material. We
know that, confined to a home market, our manufacturing oper-
ations are curtailed, their demand for labor irregular, and the
rate of wages paid uncertain.

We propose, therefore, to stimulate our domestic industrial
enterprises by freeing from duty the imported raw materials
which, by the employment of labor, are used in our home man-
ufactures, thus extending the markets for their sale and per-
mitting an increased and steady production with the allowance
of abundant profits.

True to the undeviating course of the Democratic party, we
will not neglect the interests of labor and our workingmen. In
all efforts to remedy existing evils, we will furnish no excuse
for the loss of employment or the reduction of the wage of
honest toil. On the contrary, we propose, in any adjustment
of our revenue laws, to concede such encouragement and advan-
tage to the employers of domestic labor as will easily compen-
sate for any difference that may exist between the standard of
wages which should be paid to our laboring men and the rate
allowed in other countries. We propose, too, by extend-
ing the markets for our manufacturers to promote the
steady employment of labor, while by cheapening the cost of
the necessaries of life we increase the purchasing power of
the workingman's wages and add to the comforts of his
home.

And before passing from this phase of the question I am
constrained to express the opinion that, while the interests of
labor should be always sedulously regarded in any modification
of our tariff laws, an additional and more direct and efficient
protection to these interests would be afforded by the restric-
tion and prohibition of the immigration or importation of
laborers from other countries, who swarm upon our shores,
having no purpose or intent of becoming our fellow-citizens, or
acquiring any permanent interest in our country, but who
crowd every field of employment with unintelligent labor at



24 SPEECHES AMD LETTERS

wages which ought not to satisfy those who make claim to
American citizenship.

The platform adopted by the late National Convention of
our party contains the following declaration: "Judged by
Democratic principles, the interests of the people are betrayed
when by unnecessary taxation trusts and combinations are per-
mitted and fostered which, while unduly enriching the few that
combine, rob the body of our citizens by depriving them as
purchasers of the benefits of natural competition."

Such combinations have always been condemned by the
Democratic party. The declaration of its National Conven-
tion is sincerely made, and no member of our party will be
found excusing the existence or belittling the pernicious results
of these devices to wrong the people. Under various names they
have been punished by the common law for hundreds of years ;
and they have lost none of their hateful features because they
have assumed the name of trusts, instead of conspiracies.

We believe that these trusts are the natural offspring of a
market artificially restricted; that an inordinately high tariff,
besides furnishing the temptation for their existence, enlarges
the limit within which they may operate against the people,
and thus increases the extent of their power for wrong-do-
ing.

With an unalterable hatred of all such schemes, we count the
checking of their baleful operations among the good results
promised by revenue reform.

While we cannot avoid partisan misrepresentation, our posi-
tion upon the question of revenue reform should be so plainly
stated as to admit of no misunderstanding.

We have entered upon no crusade of free trade. The reform
we seek to inaugurate is predicated upon the utmost care for
established industries and enterprises, a jealous regard for the
interests of American labor, and a sincere desire to relieve the
country from the injustice and danger which threaten evil to
all the people of the land.

We are dealing with no imaginary danger. Its existence



ACCEPTING NOMINATIONS. 2 5

has been repeatedly confessed by all political parties, and
pledges of a remedy have been made on all sides.

Yet, when in the legislative body, where under the Consti-
tution all remedial measures applicable to this subject must
originate, the Democratic majority were attempting, with
extreme moderation, to redeem the pledge common to both
parties, they were met by determined opposition and obstruc-
tion; and the minority, refusing to co-operate in the House of
Representatives, or propose another remedy, have remitted the
redemption of their party pledge to the doubtful power of the
Senate.

The people will hardly be deceived by their abandonment
of the field of legislative action to meet in political convention
and flippantly declare in their party platform that our conserv-
ative and careful effort to relieve the situation is destructive
to the American system of protection. Nor will the people be
misled by the appeal to prejudice contained in the absurd
allegation that we serve the interests of Europe, while they will
support the interests of America.

They propose in their platform thus to support the interests
of our country by removing the internal revenue tax from
tobacco and from spirits used in the arts and for mechanical
purposes. They declare also that there should be such a
revision of our tariff laws as shall tend to check the importation
of such articles as are produced here. Thus, in proposing to
increase the duties upon such articles to nearly or quite a pro-
hibitory point, they confess themselves willing to travel back-
ward in the road of civilization, and to deprive our people of
the markets for their goods which can only be gained and
kept by the semblance, at least, of an interchange of business,
while they abandon our consumers to the unrestrained oppres-
sion of the domestic trusts and combinations which are in the
same platform perfunctorily condemned.

They propose further to release entirely from import duties
all articles of foreign production (except luxuries) the like of
which cannot be produced in this country. The plain people



26 SPEECHES AND LETTERS

of the land and the poor, who scarcely use articles of any
description produced exclusively abroad and not already free,
will find it difficult to discover where their interests are
regarded in this proposition. They need in their homes
cheaper domestic necessaries; and this seems to be entirely
unprovided for in this proposed scheme to serve the country.

Small compensation for this neglected need is found in the
further purpose here announced and covered by the declara-
tion, that if, after the changes already mentioned, there still
remains a larger revenue than is requisite for the wants of the
government, the entire internal taxation should be repealed,
"rather than surrender any part of our protective system."

Our people ask relief from the undue and unnecessary bur-
den of tariff taxation now resting upon them. They are
offered instead — free tobacco and free whisky.

They ask for bread and they are given a stone.

The implication contained in this party declaration, that
desperate measures are justified or necessary to save from
destruction or surrender what is termed our protective system,
should confuse no one. The existence of such a system is
entirely consistent with the regulation of the extent to which
it should be applied and the correction of its abuses.

Of course, in a country as great as ours, with such a wonder-
ful variety of interests, often leading in entirely different direc-
tions, it is difficult, if not impossible, to settle upon a perfect
tariff plan. But in accomplishing the reform we have entered
upon, the necessity of which is so obvious, I believe we should
not be content with a reduction of revenue involving the pro-
hibition of importations and the removal of the internal tax
upon whisky. It can be better and more safely done within
the lines of granting actual relief to the people in their means
of living, and at the same time giving an impetus to our
domestic enterprises and furthering <5ur National welfare.

If misrepresentations of our purposes and motives are to gain
credence and defeat our present effort in this direction, there
seems to be no reason why every endeavor in the future to



ACCEPTING NOMINATIONS. 27

accomplish revenue reform should not be likewise attacked and
with like result. And yet no thoughtful man can fail to see in
the continuance of the present burdens of the people, and the
abstraction by the government of the currency of the country,
inevitable distress and disaster. All danger will be averted by
timely action. The difficulty of applying the remedy will
never be less, and the blame should not be laid at the door of
the Democratic party if it is applied too late.

With firm faith in the intelligence and patriotism of our
countrymen, and relying upon the conviction that misrepre-
sentation will not influence them, prejudice will not cloud their
understanding and that menace will not intimidate them, let
us urge the people's interest, and public duty, for the vindica-
tion of our attempt to inaugurate a righteous and beneficent
reform.

Grover Cleveland.



CHAPTER II.

INAUGURAL MESSAGE AND SPEECHES.
I.

As Mayo?- of Buffalo, January 2, 1882.

To the Honorable the Common Council:

In presenting to you my first official communication, I am
by no means unmindful of the fact that I address a body, many
of the members of which have had large experience in munici-
pal affairs; and which is directly charged, more than any
other instrumentality, with the management of the government
of the city and the protection of the interests of all the people
within its limits. This condition of things creates grave
responsibilities, which, I have no doubt, you fully appreciate.
It may not be amiss, however, to remind you that our fellow-
citizens, just at this time, are particularly watchful of those in
whose hands they have placed the administration of the city
government, and demand of them the most watchful care and
conscientious economy.

We hold the money of the people in our hands to be used for
their purposes and to further their interests as members of the
municipality, and it is quite apparent that when any part of
the funds which the taxpayers have thus intrusted to us is
diverted to other purposes, or when, by design or neglect, we
allow a greater sum to be applied to any municipal purpose
than is necessary, we have, to that extent, violated our duty.
There surely is no difference in his duties and obligations,
whether a person is intrusted with the money of one man or
many. And yet it sometimes appears as though the office-
holder assumes that a different rule of fidelity prevails between

23



INAUGURAL MESSAGE AND SPEECHES. 29

him and the taxpayers than that which should regulate his con-
duct when, as an individual, he holds the money of his
neighbor.

It seems to me that a successful and faithful administration
of the government of our city may be accomplished, by bear-
ing in mind that we are the trustees and agents of our fellow-
citizens, holding their funds in sacred trust, to be expended for
their benefit; that we should at all times be prepared to render
an honest account to them touching the manner of its expen-
diture, and that the affairs of the city should be conducted, as
far as possible, upon the same principles as a good business
man manages his private concerns.

I am fully persuaded that in the performance of your duties
these rules will be observed. And I, perhaps, should not do
less than to assure your honorable body that, so far as it is in
my power, I shall be glad to co-operate with you in securing
the faithful performance of official duty in every department
of the city government.

It seems to me that the duties which should be performed by
this officer [the City Auditor] have been 'entirely misappre-
hended. I understand that it has been supposed that he does
all that is required of him when he tests the correctness of the
extensions and footings of an account presented to him, copies
the same in a book and audits the same as charged, if the



Online LibraryGrover ClevelandThe writings and speeches of Grover Cleveland; (Volume 1) → online text (page 4 of 48)