George Oberkirsh Seilhamer.

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In this way the vote of Indiana was carried, and in the same way the
State of New York gave its electoral vote to Mr. Harrison by a small
majority. Probably at no time in our history has there been such a
carnival of corruption as was seen at that time. The success achieved
was, however, comparatively small, so far as public sentiment wat<
concerned, as the party successful in the Electoral College was un-
able to command a majority of the votes of the United States."

These were merely the utterances of disappointment and chagrin.
No Presidential canvass was ever conducted on a higher plane of
political morality. There was no attempt to " raise the usual scare
about the reduction of the wages of workingmen." Mr. Cleveland's
famous message and the Mills bill had effected that without any ex-
traordinary efforts of the Republicans. There was no need to " reach
the farming population of the country and instruct them in the mean-
ing of tariff reform." No class of voters in this country is better in-
structed than the American farmers. There was no corrupt pur-
chase of voters in Indiana or New York. Presidents are not elected
by popular majorities, and it would be a sad day for this country if
a plurality of 98,017 should elect in a vote exceeding 11,000,000.

A sign of the unrest of the period is found in the multiplicity of
candidates in 1888. The Prohibitionists nominated Clinton B. Fisk,
of New Jersey, for President, and John A. Brooks, of Missouri, for
Vice-President; the Union Labor party, Alson J. Streeter, of Illinois,
for President, and Charles E. Cunningham, of Arkansas, for Yice-
President; the United Labor party, Robert II. Cowdry, of Illinois, for
President, and W. II. T. \Yakeman, of Kansas, for Vice-President;
the " American " party, James Langdon Curtis, of New York, for
President, and James R. Greer, of Tennessee, for Vice-President, and
the National Greenback party and one or two other factions repre-
senting the elements of discontent went through the formality of mak-
ing nominations. Fisk's vote was 249,665; Streeter's, 146,883; Cow-
dry's, 3,073; Curtis's, 1,591; and all the others, 9,854. The total vote
was 11,388,007. General Harrison carried twenty States with 233
Electoral votes, and Mr. Cleveland eighteen States with 168 Elec-
toral votes.

The period that began with defeat had ended in recovery, that was
to be followed by another Period of Discontent in which similar politi-
cal phenomena were to be repeated.



1. The Republicans of the United States, in Convention assembled,
renew their allegiance to the principles upon which they have
triumphed in six successive Presidential elections, and congratulate
the American people on the attainment of so many results in legisla-
tion and administration by which the Republican party has, after sav-
ing the Union, done so much to render its institutions just, equal, and
beneficent the safeguard of liberty and the embodiment of the best
thought and highest purposes of our citizens. The Republican party
has gained its strength by quick and faithful response to the demands
of the people for the freedom and the equality of all men; for a united
nation, assuring the rights of all citizens; for the elevation of labor;
for an honest currency; for purity in legislation, and for integrity
and accountability in all departments of the Government; and it
accepts anew the duty of leading in the work of progress and reform.

2. We lament the death of President Garfield, whose sound states-
manship, long conspicuous in Congress, gave promise of a strong
and successful administration, a promise fully realized during the
short period of his office as President of the United States. His dis-
tinguished success in war and in peace has endeared him to the hearts
of the American people.

3. In the Administration of President Arthur we recognize a wise,
conservative, and patriotic policy, under which the country has been
blessed with remarkable prosperity; and w r e believe his eminent serv-
ices are entitled to and will receive the hearty approval of every

4. It is the first duty of a good Government to protect the rights
and promote the interests of its own people; the largest diversity of
industry is most productive of general prosperit} 1 " and of the comfort
and independence of the people. We, therefore, demand that the im-
position of duties on foreign imports shall be made, not for " revenue
only," but that in raising the requisite revenues for the Government,
such duty shall be so levied as to afford security to our diversified in-
dustries and protection to the rights and wages of the laborer, to the
end that active and intelligent labor, as well as capital, may have its
just reward, and the laboring man his full share in the national

5. Against the so-called economical system of the Democratic party,


which would degrade our labor to the foreign standard, we enter
our earnest protest; the Democratic party has failed completely to
relieve the people of the burdens of unnecessary taxation by a wise
reduction of the surplus.

G. The Republican party pledges itself to correct the inequalities
of the tariff and to reduce the surplus, not by the vicious and indis-
criminate process of horizontal reduction, but by such methods as
will relieve the taxpayer without injuring the laborer or the great
productive interests of the country.

7. We recognize the importance of sheep husbandry in the United
States, the serious depression which it is now experiencing and the
danger threatening its future prosperity; and we, therefore, respect
the demands of the representatives of this important agricultural in-
terest for a readjustment of duty upon foreign wool in view that
such industry shall have full and adequate protection.

8. We have always recommended the best money known to the
civilized world, and we urge that an effort be made to unite all com-
mercial nations in the establishment of the international standard
which shall fix for all the relative value of gold and silver coin-
si O'fl


9. The regulation of commerce with foreign nations and between
the States is one of the most important prerogatives of the general
Government, and the Republican party distinctly announces its pur-
pose to support such legislation as will fully and efficiently carry out
the constitutional power of Congress over interstate commerce.
The principle of the public regulation of railway corporations is
a wise and salutary one for the protection of all classes of the people,
and we favor legislation that shall prevent unjust discrimination and
excessive charges for transportation, and that shall secure to the
people and to the railroads alike the fair and equal protection of the

10. We favor the establishment of a National Bureau of Labor; the
enforcement of the eight-hour law; a wise and judicious system of
general education by adequate appropriation from the National reve-
nues wherever the same is needed. We believe that everywhere the
protection of a citizen of American birth must be secured to citizens
by American adoption, and we favor the settlement of National differ-
ences by international arbitration.

11. The Republican party, having its birth in a hatred of slave la-
tor and a desire that all men may be truly free and equal, is unaltera-
bly opposed to placing our workingmen in competition with any form
of servile labor, whether at home or abroad. In this spirit we denounce
the importation of contract labor, whether at home or abroad, as an


offense against the spirit of American institutions, and we pledge
ourselves to sustain the present law restricting Chinese immigration,
and to provide such further legislation as is necessary to carry out its

12. Reform of the civil service, auspiciously begun under Republic-
an administration, should be completed by the further extension of
the reform system already established by law r to all the grades of the
service to which it is applicable. The spirit and purpose of the reform
should be observed in all executive appointments, and all laws at
variance w r ith the objects of existing reform legislation should be
repealed to the end that the dangers to free institutions which lurk
in the power of official patronage may be wisely and effectively

13. The public lauds are a heritage of the people of the United
States, and should be reserved as far as possible for small holdings
by actual settlers. We are opposed to the acquisition of large tracts
of these lands by corporations or individuals, especially where such
holdings are in the hands of non-resident aliens, and we will endeavor
to obtain such legislation as will tend to correct this evil. We demand
of Congress the speedy forfeiture of all land-grants which have lapsed
by reason of non-compliance with acts of incorporation, in all cases
where there has been no attempt in good faith to perform the condi-
tions of such grants.

14. The grateful thanks of the American people are due to the
Union soldiers and sailors of the late war, and the Republican party
stands pledged to suitable pensions to all who were disabled and for
the \vidows and orphans of those who died in the war. The Repub-
lican party pledges itself to the repeal of the limitation contained in
the Arrears act of 1879, so that all invalid soldiers shall share alike,
and their pensions shall begin with the date of disability or discharge,
and not with the date of the application.

15. The Republican party favors a policy which shall keep us from
entangling alliances with foreign nations, and which shall give the
right to expect that foreign nations shall refrain from meddling in
America, and the policy which seeks peace can trade with all powers,
but especially with those of the Western Hemisphere.

1(>. We demand the restoration of our navy to its old-time strength
and efficiency, that it may in any sea protect the rights of American
citizens and the interests of American commerce, and we call upon
Congress to remove the burdens under which American shipping has
been depressed, so that it may again be true that we have a commerce
which leaves no sea unexplored, and a navy which takes no law from
superior force.


IT. Resolved, That appointments by the President to offices in the
Territories should be made from the botta fide citizens and residents of
the Territories wherein they are to serve.

18. Rexohrd, That it is the duty of Congress to enact such laws as
shall promptly and effectually suppress the system of polygamy with-
in our Territories, and divorce the political from the ecclesiastical
power of the so-called Mormon Church, and that the law so enacted
should be rigidly enforced by the civil authorities, if possible, and by
the military if need be.

19. The people of the United States in their organized capacity con-
stitute a nation and not a mere confederacy of States. The National
Government is supreme within the sphere of its National duty, but
the States have reserved rights which should be faithfully main-
tained; each should be guarded with jealous care, so that the harmony
of our system of government may be preserved and the Union kept

20. The perpetuity of our institutions rests upon the maintenance
of a free ballot, an honest count, and a correct return. We denounce
the fraud and violence practiced by the Democratic party in Southern
States, by which the will of the voter is defeated, as dangerous to the
preservation of free institutions, and we solemnly arraign the Demo
cratic party as being the guilty recipient of the fruit of such fraud and

21. We extend to the Republicans of the South, regardless of their
former party affiliations, our cordial sympathy, and pledge to them
our most earnest efforts to promote the passage of such legislation
as will secure to every citizen, of whatever race and color, the full and
complete recognition, possession, and exercise of all civil and political


The Democratic party of the Union, through its representatives in
National Convention assembled, recognizes that, as the Nation grows
older, new issues are born of time and progress, and older issues per-
ish. But the fundamental principles of the Democracy, approved by
the united voice of the people, remain, and will ever remain, as the
best and only security for the continuance of free government. The
preservation of personal rights; the equality of all citizens before the
law; the reserved riirhts of the States, and the supremacy of the Fed-
eral Government within the limits of the Constitution will ever form
The true basis of our liberties, and can never be surrendered without
destroying that balance of rights and powers which enables a conti-
nent to be developed in peace, and social order to be maintained by


means of local self-government. But it is indispensable for the
practical application and enforcement of these fundamental princi-
ples that the government should not always be controlled by one
political party. Frequent change of administration is as necessary
as constant recurrence to the popular will. Otherwise, abuses grow,
and the Government, instead of being carried on for the general wel-
fare, becomes an instrumentality for imposing heavy burdens on the
many who are governed, for the benefit of the few who govern. Pub-
lic servants thus become arbitrary rulers. This is now the condition
of the country; hence a change is demanded.

The Republican party, so far as principle is concerned, is a remi-
niscence. In practice it is an organization for enriching those who
control its machinery. The frauds and jobbery which have been
brought to light in every department of the Government are suffi-
cient to have called for reform within the Republican party; yet those
in authority, made reckless by the long possession of power, have
succumbed to its corrupting influence and have placed in nomination
a ticket against which the independent portion of the party are in
open revolt. Therefore, a change is demanded. Such a change was
alike necessary in 1876, but the will of the people was then defeated
by a fraud which can never be forgotten nor condoned. Again, ill
1880, the change demanded by the people was defeated by the lavish
use of money contributed by unscrupulous contractors and shame-
less jobbers, who had bargained for unlawful profits or high office.
The Kepublican party, during its legal, its stolen, and its bought
tenures of power, has steadily decayed in moral character and politi-
cal capacity. Its platform promises are now a list of its past failures.
It demands the restoration of our navy it has squandered hundreds
of millions to create a navy that does not exist. It calls upon Con-
gress to remove the burdens under which American shipping has
been depressed it imposed and continued those burdens. It professes
the policy of reserving the public lands for small holdings by actual
settlers it has given away the people's heritage till now a few rail-
roads and non-resident aliens, individual and corporate, possess a
larger area than that of all our farms between the two seas. It pro-
fesses a preference for free institutions it organized and tried to le-
galize a control of State elections by Federal troops. It professes a
desire to elevate labor it has subjected American workingmen to
the competition of convict and imported contract labor. It professes
gratitude to all who were disabled or died in the war, leaving widows
and orphans it left to a Democratic House of Representatives the
first effort to equalize both bounties and pensions. It proffers a
pledge to correct the irregularities of our tariff it created and has


continued them. Its own tariff commission confessed the need of
more than 20 per cent, reduction its Congress gave a reduction of
less than 4 per cent. It professes the protection of American manu-
factures it has subjected them to an increasing flood of manufactured
goods and a hopeless competition with manufacturing nations, not
one of which taxes raw materials. It professes to protect all Ameri-
can industries it has impoverished many to subsidize a few. It
professes the protection of American labor it has depleted the re-
turns of American agriculture, an industry followed by half our
people. It professes the equality of all men before the law, attempt-
ing to fix the status of colored citizens the acts of its Congress were
overset by the decisions of its courts. It " accepts anew the duty of
leading in the work of progress and reform " its caught criminals
are permitted to escape through contrived delays or actual conniv-
ance in the prosecution. Honeycombed with corruption, outbreak-
ing exposures no longer shock its moral sense. Its honest members,
its independent journals, no longer maintain a successful contest for
authority .in its councils or a veto upon bad nominations. That
change is necessary is proved by an existing surplus of more than
$100,000,000, which has yearly been collected from a suffering peo-
ple. Unnecessary taxation is unjust taxation. We denounce the
Republican party for having failed to relieve the people from crush-
ing war taxes, which have paralyzed business, crippled industry, and
deprived labor of employment and of just reward.

The Democracy pledges itself to purify the Administration from
corruption, to restore economy, to revive respect for law, and to re-
duce taxation to the lowest limit consistent with due regard to the
preservation of the faith of the Nation to its creditors and pensioners.
Knowing full well, however, that legislation affecting the operations
of the people should be cautious and conservative in method, not in
advance of public opinion, but responsive to its demands, the Demo-
cratic party is pledged to revise the tariff in a spirit of fairness to
all interests. But, in making reduction in taxes, it is not proposed
to injure any domestic industries, but rather to promote their healthy
growth. From the foundation of this Government taxes collected
at the Custom House have been the chief source of Federal revenue.
Such they must continue to be. Moreover, many industries have
come to rely upon legislation for successful continuance, so that any
change of law must be at every step regardful of the labor and capi-
tal thus involved. The process of the reform must be subject in the
execution to this plain dictate of justice all taxation shall be lim-
ited to the requirements of economical government. The necessary
reduction in taxation can and must be effected without depriving


American labor of the ability to compete successfully with foreign
labor, and without imposing lower rates of duty than will be ample
to cover any increased cost of production which may exist in conse-
quence of the higher rate of wages prevailing in this country. Suffi-
cient revenue to pay all the expenses of the Federal Government
economically administered, including pensions, interest, and prin-
cipal of the public debt, can be got under our present system of
taxation from Custom House taxes on fewer imported articles, bear
ing heaviest on articles of luxury, and bearing lightest on articles of
necessity. We, therefore, denounce the abuses of the existing tariff;
and subject to the preceding limitations, we demand that Federal
taxation shall be exclusively for public purposes, and shall not exceed
the needs of the Government economically administered.

The system of direct taxation known as the " internal revenue " is
a war tax, and so long as the law continues, the money derived there-
from should be sacredly devoted to the relief of the people from the
remaining burdens of the war, and be made a fund to defray the ex-
pense of the care and comfort of worthy soldiers disabled in line of
duty in the wars of the Republic, and for the payment of such pen-
sions as Congress may from time to time grant to such soldiers, a like
fund for the sailors having been already provided; and any surplus
should be paid into the Treasury.

We favor an American continental policy based upon more intimate
commercial and political relations with the fifteen sister republics of
North, Central, and South America, but entangling alliances with

We believe in honest money, the gold and silver coinage of the Con-
stitution, and a circulating medium convertible into such money with-
out loss.

Asserting the equality of all men before the law, we hold that it is
the duty of the Government in its dealings with the people to mete
out equal and exact justice to all citizens of whatever nativit} 7 , race,
color, or persuasion, religious or political.

We believe in a free ballot and a fair count, and we recall to the
memory of the people the noble struggle of the Democrats in the
Forty-fifth and Forty-sixth Congresses, by which a reluctant Repub-
lican opposition was compelled to assent to legislation making every-
where illegal the presence of troops at the polls, as the conclusive
proof that a Democratic Administration will preserve liberty with

The selection of Federal officers for the Territories should be re-
stricted to citizens previously resident therein.

We oppose sumptuary laws which vex the citizen and interfere with
individual liberty.


We favor honest civil-service reform and the compensation of all
United States officers by fixed salaries; the separation of church and
state, and the diffusion of free education by common schools, so that
every child in the land may be taught the rights and duties of citizen-

While we favor all legislation which will tend to the equitable dis-
tribution of property, to the prevention of monopoly, and to the
strict enforcement of individual rights against corporate abuses, \ve
hold that the welfare of society depends upon a scrupulous regard
for the rights of property as defined by law. We believe that labor
is best rewarded where it is freest and most enlightened. It should
therefore be fostered and cherished. We favor the repeal of all laws
restricting the free action of labor, and the enactment of laws by
which labor organizations may be incorporated, and of all such legis-
lation as will tend to enlighten the people as to the true relations of
capital and labor.

W T e believe that the public land ought, as far as possible, to be
kept as homesteads for actual settlers; that all unearned lands here-
tofore improvidently granted to railroad corporations by the action
of the Republican party should be restored to the public domain, and
that no more grants of land shall be made to corporations, or be
allowed to fall into the ownership of alien absentees.

We are opposed to all propositions which, upon any pretext, would
convert the General Government into a machine for collecting taxes
to be distributed among the States or the citizens thereof.

In reaffirming the declaration of the Democratic platform of 1856,
that the liberal principles embodied by Jefferson in the Declaration
of Independence, and sanctioned in the Constitution, which makes
ours the land of liberty and the asylum of the oppressed of every
nation, have ever been cardinal principles in the Democratic
faith, w T e nevertheless do not sanction the importation of foreign la-
bor or the admission of servile races, unfitted by habits, training,
religion, or kindred, for absorption into the great body of our people,
or for the citizenship which our laws confer. American civilization
demands that against the immigration or importation of Mongolians
to these shores our gates be closed.

The Democratic party insists that it is the duty of the Govern-
ment to protect with equal fidelity and vigilance the rights of its
citizens, native and naturalized, at home and abroad; and to the end
that this protection may be assured, United States papers of naturali-
zation issued by courts of competent jurisdiction must be respected
by the executive and legislative departments of our own Govern-
ment and all foreign powers. It is an imperative duty of this Gov-


eminent to efficiently protect all the rights of persons and property
of every American citizen in foreign lands, and demand and enforce

Online LibraryGeorge Oberkirsh SeilhamerHistory of the Republican party (Volume 1) → online text (page 51 of 61)