George Oberkirsh Seilhamer.

History of the Republican party (Volume 1) online

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tions of the public debt, must be largely derived from duties upon im-
portations, which, so far as possible, should be adjusted to promote
the interests of American labor and advance the prosperity of the
whole country.

9. We reaffirm our opposition to further grants of the public lands
to corporations and monopolies, and demand that the national do-
main be devoted to free homes for the people.

10. It is the imperative duty of the Government so to modify exist-
ing treaties with European governments, that the same protection
shall be afforded to the adopted American citizen that is given to the
native-born; and that all necessary laws should be passed to pro-
tect emigrants in the absence of power in the States for that purpose.

11. It is the immediate duty of Congress to fully investigate the ef-



feet of the immigration and importation of Mongolians upon the
moral and material interests of the country.

12. The Republican party recognizes, with approval, the substan-
tial advances recently made toward the establishment of equal
rights for women by the many important amendments effected by Re-
publican legislatures in the laws which concern the personal and
property relations of wives, mothers, and widows, and by the ap-
pointment and election of w r omen to the superintendence of educa-
tion, charities, and other public trusts. The honest demands of this
class of citizens for additional rights, privileges, and immunities,
should be treated with respectful consideration.

13. The constitution confers upon Congress sovereign power over
the territories of the United States for their government; and in the
exercise of this power it is the right and duty of Congress to pro-
hibit and extirpate, in the Territories, that relic of barbarism polyg-
amy; and w T e demand such legislation as shall secure this end and the
supremacy of American institutions in all the Territories.

14. The pledges which the nation has given to her soldiers and
sailors must be fulfilled, and a grateful people will alw r ays hold those
who imperiled their lives for the country's preservation in the kindest

15. We sincerely deprecate all sectional feeling and tendencies.
We, therefore, note with deep solicitude that the Democratic party
counts, as its chief hope of success, upon the electoral vote of a united
South, secured through the efforts of those who were recently arrayed
against the nation; and we invoke the earnest attention of the country
to the grave truth that a success thus achieved would reopen sec-
tional strife, and imperil national honor and human rights.

16. We charge the Democratic party with being the same in char-
acter and spirit as when it sympathized with treason; with making its
control of the House of Representatives the triumph and opportunity
of the nation's recent foes; with reasserting and applauding, in the na-
tional capital, the sentiments of unrepentant rebellion; with sending
Union soldiers to the rear, and promoting Confederate soldiers to the
front; with deliberately proposing to repudiate the plighted faith of
the Government; with being equally false and imbecile upon the
overshadowing financial questions; with thwarting the ends of jus-
tice by its partisan mismanagement and obstruction of investigation;
with proving itself through the period of its ascendency in the lower
house of Congress, utterly incompetent to administer the government;
and we warn the country against trusting a party thus alike un-
worthy, recreant, and incapable.

17. The National Administration merits commendation for its hon-


orable work in the management of domestic and foreign affairs, and
President Grant deserves the continued hearty gratitude of the
American people for his patriotism and his eminent services in war
and in peace.

18. We present, as our candidates for President and Vice-Presi-
dent of the United States, two distinguished statesmen, of eminent
ability and character, and conspicuously fitted for those high offices,
and we confidently appeal to the American people to intrust the ad-
ministration of their public affairs to Rutherford B. Hayes and Will-
iam A. Wheeler.


We, the delegates of the Democratic party of the United States, in
National Convention assembled, do hereby declare the administra-
tion of the Federal Government to be in urgent need of immediate
reform; do hereby enjoin upon the nominees of this Convention, and
of the Democratic party in each State, a zealous effort and co-opera-
tion to this end; and do hereby appeal to our fellow-citizens of every
former political connection to undertake, with us, this first and most
pressing patriotic duty.

For the Democracy of the whole country, we do here reaffirm our
faith in the permanence of the Federal Union, our devotion to the
Constitution of the United States, with its amendments universally
accepted as a final settlement of the controversies that engendered
civil war, and do here record our steadfast confidence in the per-
petuity of republican self-government.

In absolute acquiescence in the will of the majority the vital
principle of republics; in the supremacy of the civil over the military
authority; in the total separation of church and state, for the sake
alike of civil and religious freedom; in the equality of all citizens
before just laws of their own enactment; in the liberty of individual
conduct, unvexed by sumptuary laws; in the faithful education of the
rising generation, that they may preserve, enjoy, and transmit these
best conditions of human happiness and hope w r e behold the noblest
products of a hundred years of changeful history; but while uphold-
ing the bond of our Union and great charter of these, our rights,
it behooves a free people to practice also that eternal vigilance which
is the price of liberty.

Reform is necessary to rebuild and establish in the hearts of the
whole people the Union, eleven years ago happily rescued from the
danger of a secession of States, but now to be saved from a corrupt
centralism which, after inflicting upon ten States the rapacity of
carpet-bag tyranny, has honeycombed the offices of the Federal


Government itself with incapacity, waste, and fraud; infected States
and municipalities with the contagion of misrule, and locked fast the
prosperity of an industrious people in the paralysis of " hard times."

Reform is necessary to establish a sound currency, restore the pub-
lic credit, and maintain the national honor.

We denounce the failure, for all these eleven years of peace, to
make good the promise of the legal tender notes, which are a chang-
ing standard of value in the hands of the people, and the non-payment
of which is a disregard of the plighted faith of the nation.

We denounce the improvidence which, in eleven years of peace, has
taken from the people, in Federal taxes, thirteen times the whole
amount of the legal-tender notes, and squandered four times their
sum in useless expense without accumulating any reserve for their re-

We denounce the financial imbecility and immorality of that party
which, during eleven years of peace, has made no advance toward re-
sumption, no preparation for resumption, but, instead, has obstructed
resumption, by \vasting our resources and exhausting all our surplus
income; and, while annually professing to intend a speedy return
to specie payments, has annually enacted fresh hindrances thereto.
As such hindrance we denounce the resumption clause of 1875, and
we here demand its repeal.

We demand a judicious system of preparation, by public economies,
by official retrenchments, and by wise finance, which shall enable the
nation soon to assure the whole world of its perfect ability and of its
perfect readiness to meet any of its promises at the call of the creditor
entitled to payment. W T e believe such a system, well devised, and,
above all, intrusted to competent hands for execution, creating, at no
time, an artificial scarcity of currency, and at no time alarming the
public mind into a withdrawal of that vaster machinery of credit by
which ninety-five per cent, of all business transactions are performed.
A system open, public, and inspiring general confidence, would, from
the day of its adoption, bring healing on its wings to all our harassed
industries set in motion the wheels of commerce, manufactures, and
the mechanic arts, restore employment to labor, and, renew, in all
its natural sources, the prosperity of the people.

Reform is necessary in the sum and modes of Federal taxation, to
the end that capital may be set free from distrust and labor lightly

W T e denounce the present tariff, levied upon nearly four thousand
articles, as a masterpiece of injustice, inequality, and false pretense.
It yields a dwindling, not a yearly rising, revenue. It has impover-
ished many industries to subsidize a few. It prohibits imports that


might purchase the products of American labor. It has degraded
Americau commerce from the first to an inferior rank on the high
seas. It has cut down the sales of American manufactures at home
and abroad, and depleted the returns of American agriculture
an industry followed by half our people. It costs the people five
times more than it produces to the treasury, obstructs the processes
of production, and wastes the fruits of labor. It promotes fraud,
fosters smuggling, enriches dishonest officials, and bankrupts honest
merchants. We demand that all customhouse taxation shall be
only for revenue.

Reform is necessary in the scale of public expense Federal, State,
and Municipal. Our Federal taxation has swollen from sixty mill-
ions gold, in 1800, to four hundred and fifty millions currency, in
1870; our aggregate taxation from one hundred and fifty-four mill-
ions gold, in 1860, to seven hundred and thirty millions currency, in
1870 or, in one decade, from less than five dollars per head to more
than eighteen dollars per head. Since the peace, the people have
paid to their tax-gatherers more than thrice the sum of the national
debt, and more than twice that sum for the Federal Government
alone. We demand a rigorous frugality in every department and
from every officer of the Government.

Reform is necessary to put a stop to the profligate waste of public
lands, and their diversion from actual settlers, by the party in power,
which has squandered 200,000,000 of acres upon railroads alone, and,
out of more than thrice that aggregate, has disposed of less than a
sixth directly to tillers of the soil.

Reform is necessary to correct the omission of a Republican Con-
gress, and the errors of our treaties and our diplomacy which have
stripped our fellow-citizens of foreign birth and kindred race, re-
crossing the Atlantic, of the shield of American citizenship, and have
exposed our brethren of the Pacific coast to the incursions of a race
not sprung from the same great parent stock, and in fact now, by
law, denied citizenship through naturalization, as being neither ac-
customed to the traditions of a progressive civilization nor exercised
in liberty under equal laws. We denounce the policy which thus
discards the liberty-loving German and tolerates a revival of the
coolie trade in Mongolian women, imported for immoral purposes,
and Mongolian men, held to perform servile labor contracts, and de-
mand such modification of the treaty with the Chinese Empire, or
such legislation within constitutional limitations, as shall prevent
further importation or immigration of the Mongolian race.

Reform is necessary, and can never be effected but by making it
the controlling issue of the elections, and lifting it above the two false


issues with which the office-holding class and the party in power seek
to smother it.

1. The false issue with which they would enkindle sectarian strife
in respect to the public schools, of which the establishment and
support belongs exclusively to the several States, and which the
Democratic party has cherished from their foundation, and is re-
solved to maintain, without prejudice or preference for any class,
sect, or creed, and without largesses from the treasury to any.

2. The false issue by which they seek to light anew the dying em-
bers of sectional hate between kindred peoples once estranged, but
now reunited in one indivisible republic and a common destiny.

Reform is necessary in the civil service. Experience proves that
efficient, economical conduct of the governmental business is not pos-
sible if its civil service be subject to change at every election, be a
prize fought for at the ballot-box, be a brief reward of party zeal,
instead of posts of honor assigned for proved competency, and held
for fidelity in the public employ; that the dispensing of patronage
should neither be a tax upon the time of all our public men, nor the
instrument of their ambition. Here, again, promises, falsified in the
performance, attest that the party in power can work out no prac-
tical or salutary reform.

Reform is necessary, even more, in the higher grades of the public
service. President, Vice-President, Judges, Senators, Representa-
tives, Cabinet Officers these, and all others in authority are the
people's servants. Their offices are not a private perquisite; they are
a public trust. AVhen the annals of this Republic show the disgrace
and censure of a Vice-President; a late Speaker of the House of Rep-
resentatives marketing his rulings as a presiding officer; three Sen-
ators profiting secretly by their votes as law-makers; five chairmen
of the leading committees of the late House of Representatives ex-
posed in jobbery; a late Secretary of the Treasury forcing balances
in the public accounts; a late Attorney-General misappropriating
public funds; a Secretary of the Navy enriched, or enriching friends,
by percentages levied off the profits of contractors with his depart-
ment; an Ambassador to England concerned in a dishonorable
speculation; the President's private secretary barely escaping con-
viction upon trial for guilty complicity in frauds upon the revenue;
a Secretary of War impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors
the demonstration is complete, that the first step in reform must be
the people's choice of honest men from another party, lest the disease
of one political organization infect the body politic, and lest by mak-
ing no change of men or parties we get no change of measures and no
real reform.


All these abuses, wrongs, and crimes the product of sixteen years'
ascendency of the Republican party create a necessity for reform,
confessed by the Republicans themselves; but their reformers are
voted down in convention and displaced from the cabinet. The
party's mass of honest voters is powerless to resist the 80,000 office-
holders, its leaders and guides.

Reform can only be had by a peaceful civic revolution. We de-
mand a change of system, a change of administration, a change of
parties, that we may have a change of measures and of men.

AY-vo/m/, That this Convention, representing the Democratic party
of the United States, do cordially indorse the action of the present
House of Representatives, in reducing and curtailing the expenses
of the Federal Government, in cutting down salaries and extrava-
gant appropriations, and in abolishing useless offices and places not
required by the public necessities; and we shall trust to the firmness
of the Democratic members of the House that no committee of con-
ference and no misinterpretation of the rules will be allowed to de-
feat these wholesome measures of economy demanded by the country., That the soldiers and sailors of the Republic, and the
widows and orphans of those who have fallen in battle, have a just
claim upon the care, protection, and gratitude of their fellow-citi-


The Republican party, in National Convention assembled, at the
end of twenty years since the Federal Government was first com-
mitted to its charge, submits to the people of the United States its
brief report of its administration:

It suppressed a rebellion which had armed nearly a million of men
to subvert the national authority. It reconstructed the union of the
States with freedom, instead of slavery, as its cornerstone. It trans-
formed four million of human beings from the likeness of things to
the rank of citizens. It relieved Congress from the infamous work of
hunting fugitive slaves, and charged it to see that slavery does not

It has raised the value of our paper currency from thirty-eight per
cent, to the par of gold. It has restored upon a solid basis payment
in coin for all the national obligations, and has given us a currency
absolutely good and equal in every part of our extended country.
It has lifted the credit of the nation from the point where six per
cent, bonds sold at eighty-six to that where four per cent, bonds are
eagerly sought at a premium.

Under its administration, railways have increased from 31,000
miles in 1860, to more than 82,000 miles in 1879.


Our foreign trade has increased from f 700,000,000 to $1,150,000,000
in the same time; and our exports, which were $20,000,000 less than
our imports in 1860, were $204,000,000 more than our imports in 1879.

Without resorting to loans, it has, since the war closed, defrayed
the ordinary expenses of Government, besides the accruing inter-
est on the public debt, and disbursed, annually, over $30,000,000
for soldiers' pensions. It has paid $888,000,000 of the public debt,
and, by refunding the balance at lower rates, has reduced the annual
interest charge from nearly $151,000,000 to less than $89,000,000.

All the industries of the country have revived, labor is in demand,
wages have increased, and throughout the entire country there is
evidence of a coming prosperity greater than we have ever enjoyed.

Upon this record, the Republican party asks for the continued con-
fidence and support of the people; and this Convention submits for
their approval the following statement of the principles and purposes
which will continue to guide and inspire its efforts:

1. We affirm that the work of the last twenty years has been such
as to commend itself to the favor of the nation, and that the fruits
of the costly victories which we have achieved, through immense dif-
ficulties, should be preserved; that the peace regained should be cher-
ished; that the dissevered Union, now happily restored, should be per-
petuated, and that the liberties secured to this generation should be
transmitted undiminished to future generations; that the order es-
tablished and the credit acquired should never be impaired; that the
pensions promised should be paid; that the debt so much reduced
should be extinguished by the full payment of every dollar thereof;
that the reviving industries should be further promoted; and that the
commerce, already so great, should be steadily encouraged.

2. The Constitution of the United States is a supreme law, and not a
mere contract; out of Confederate States it made a sovereign nation.
Some powers are denied to the nation, while others are denied to the
States; but the boundary between the powers delegated and those re-
served is to be determined by the national and not by the State tri-

3. The work of popular education is one left to the care of the sev-
eral States, but it is the duty of the National Government to aid that
work to the extent of its constitutional ability. The intelligence of
the nation is but the aggregate of the intelligence in the several
States, and the destiny of the nation must be guided, not by the
genius of any one State, but by the average genius of all.

4. The Constitution wisely forbids Congress to make any law re-
specting an establishment of religion; but it is idle to hope that the
nation can be protected against the influences of sectarianism while


each State is exposed to its domination. We, therefore, recommend
that the Constitution be so amended as to lay the same prohibition
upon the Legislature of each State, to forbid the appropriation of
public funds to the support of sectarian schools.

5. We reaffirm the belief, avowed in 1876, that the duties levied for
the purpose of revenue should so discriminate as to favor American
labor; that no further grant of the public domain should be made
to any railway or other corporation; that slavery having perished in
the States, its twin barbarity polygamy must die in the Territor-
ies; that everywhere the protection accorded to citizens of American
birth must be secured to citizens by American adoption. That we
esteem it the duty of Congress to develop and improve our water-
courses and harbors, but insist that further subsidies to private per-
sons or corporations must cease. That the obligations of the Re-
public to the men who preserved its integrity in the day of battle are
undiminished by the lapse of fifteen years since their final victory
to do them perpetual honor is, and shall forever be, the grateful privi-
lege and sacred duty of the American people.

6. Since the authority to regulate immigration and intercourse be-
tween the United States and foreign nations rests with the Congress
of the United States and its treaty-making powers, the Republican
party, regarding the unrestricted immigration of the Chinese as an
evil of great magnitude, invokes the exercise of that power to restrain
and limit that immigration by the enactment of such just, humane,
and reasonable provisions as will produce that result.

7. That the purity and patriotism which characterized the early
career of Rutherford B. Hayes in peace and war, and which guided
the thoughts of our immediate predecessors to select him for a Presi-
dential candidate, have continued to inspire him in his career as chief
executive, and that history will accord to his administration the hon-
ors which are due to an efficient, just, and courteous discharge of the
public business, and will honor his interposition between the people
and proposed partisan laws.

8. We charge upon the Democratic party the habitual sacrifice of
patriotism and justice to a supreme and insatiable lust for office and
patronage. That to obtain possession of the National and State Gov-
ernments, and the control of place and position, they have obstructed
all efforts to promote the purity and to conserve the freedom of
suffrage; have devised fraudulent certifications and returns; have
labored to unseat lawfully-elected members of Congress, to secure, at
all hazards, the vote of a majority of the States in the House of Repre-
sentatives; have endeavored to occupy, by force and fraud, the places
of trust given to others by the people of Maine, and rescued by the


courageous action of Maine's patriotic sons; have, by methods vicious
in principle and tyrannical in practice, attached partisan legislation
to appropriation bills, upon whose passage the very movements of
Government depend; have crushed the rights of the individual; have
advocated the principle and sought the favor of rebellion against the
nation, and have endeavored to obliterate the sacred memories of the
war, and to overcome its inestimably valuable results of nationality,
personal freedom, and individual equality. Equal, steady, and com-
plete enforcement of the laws, and protection of all our citizens in the
enjoyment of all privileges and immunities guaranteed by the Con-
stitution, are the first duties of the nation. The danger of a Solid
South can only be averted by the faithful performance of every
promise which the nation made to the citizen. The execution of the
laws, and the punishment of all those who violate them, are the only
safe methods by which an enduring peace can be secured, and genuine
prosperity established throughout the South. Whatever promises the
nation makes, the nation must perform; and the nation can not
with safety relegate this duty to the States. The Solid South must
be divided by the peaceful agencies of the ballot, and all opinions
must there find free expression; and to this end honest voters must be
protected against terrorism, violence, or fraud. And we affirm it to
be the duty and the purpose of the Republican party to use all legiti-

Online LibraryGeorge Oberkirsh SeilhamerHistory of the Republican party (Volume 1) → online text (page 43 of 61)