George Oberkirsh Seilhamer.

History of the Republican party (Volume 1) online

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full reparation for any invasion thereof. An American citizen is only
responsible to his own Government for any act done in his own country
or under her flag, and can only be tried therefor on her own soil and
according to her laws; and no power exists in this Government to
expatriate an American citizen to be tried in any foreign land for any
such act.

This country has never had a well-defined and executed foreign
policy save under Democratic administration. That policy has ever
been in regard to foreign nations, so long as they do no act detri-
mental to the interests of the country or hurtful to our citizens, to
let them alone; that as a result of this policy we recall the acquisition
of Louisiana, Florida, California, and of the adjacent Mexican terri-
tory by purchase alone, and contrast these grand acquisitions of
Democratic statesmanship with the purchase of Alaska, the sole fruit
of a Republican administration of nearly a quarter of a century.

The Federal Government should care for and improve the Missis-
sippi River and other great waterways of the Republic, so as to secure
for the interior States easy and cheap transportation to tide water.

Under a long period of Democratic rule and policy our merchant
marine was fast overtaking and on the point of outstripping that of
Great Britain; under twenty years of Republican rule and policy our
commerce has been left to British bottoms, and the American flag
has almost been sw r ept off the high seas. Instead of the Republican
party's British policy, w r e demand for the people of the United States
an American policy. Under Democratic rule and policy our mer-
chants and sailors, flying the Stars and Stripes in every port, success-
fully searched out a market for the varied products of American in-
dustry; under a quarter century of Republican rule and policy, de-
spite our manifest advantage over all other nations in high-paid la-
bor, favorable climates, and teeming soils; despite freedom of trade
among all these United States; despite their population by the fore-
most races of men, and an annual immigration of the young, thrifty,
and adventurous of all nations; despite our freedom here from the
inherited burdens of life and industry in Old World monarchies,
their costly war navies, their vast tax-consuming, non-producing
standing armies; despite twenty years of peace, that Republican rule
and policy have managed to surrender to Great Britain, along with
our commerce, the control of the markets of the world. Instead of the
Republican party's British policy, we demand, in behalf of the Ameri-
can Democracy, an American policy. Instead of the Republican
party's discredited scheme and false pretense of friendship for Ameri-


can labor, expressed by imposing taxes, we demand, in behalf of the
Democracy, freedom for American labor by reducing taxes, to the
end that these United States may compete with unhindered powers
for the primacy among nations in all the arts of peace and fruits of

With profound regret we have been apprised by the venerable
statesman through whose person was struck that blow at the vital
principle of republics, acquiescence in the will of the majority, that
he can not permit us again to place in his hands the leadership of
the Democratic hosts, for the reason that the achievement of reform
in the administration of the Federal Government is an undertaking
now too heavy for his age and failing strength. Rejoicing that his
life has been prolonged until the general judgment of our fellow-
countrymen is united in the wish that that wrong were righted in
his person, for the Democracy of the United States we offer to him, in
his withdrawal from public cares, not only our respectful sympathy
and esteem, but also that best homage of freemen, the pledge of our
devotion to the principles and the cause now inseparable from the
name of Samuel J. Tilden.

With this statement of the hopes, principles, and purposes of the
Democratic party, the great issue of reform and change in adminis-
tration is submitted to the people, in calm confidence that the popular
voice will pronounce in favor of new men and new and more favorable
conditions for the growth of industry, the extension of trade and em-
ployment, and due reward of labor and of capital, and the general
welfare of the whole country.


The Republicans of the United States, assembled by their delegates
in National Convention, pause on the threshold of their proceedings
to honor the memory of their first great leader, the immortal cham-
pion of liberty and the rights of the people, Abraham Lincoln, and
to cover also with wreaths of imperishable remembrance and grati-
tude the heroic names of our later leaders, who have more recently
been called away from our councils Grant, Garfield, Arthur, Logan,
Conkling. May their memories be faithfully cherished. We also
recall with our greetings and with prayer for his recovery the name
of one of our living heroes, whose memory will be treasured in the
history both of Republicans and of the Republic the name of that
noble soldier and favorite child of victory, Philip H. Sheridan.

In the spirit of those great leaders and of our own devotion to
human liberty, and with that hostility to all forms of despotism and
oppression which is the fundamental idea of the Republican party,
we sent fraternal congratulations to our fellow-Americans of Brazil


upon their great act of emancipation, which completed the abolition
of slavery throughout the two American continents. We earnestly
hope that we may soon congratulate our fellow-citizens of Irish birth
upon the peaceful recovery of Home Rule for Ireland.

We reaffirm our unswerving devotion to the National Constitution
and to the indissoluble Union of the States; to the autonomy reserved
to the States under the Constitution; to the personal rights and lib-
erties of citizens in all the States and Territories in the Union, and
especially to the supreme and sovereign right of every lawful citizen,
rich or poor, native or foreign born, white or black, to cast one free
ballot in public elections, and to have that ballot duly counted. We
hold the free and honest popular ballot and the just and equal repre-
sentation of all the people to be the foundation of our republican Gov-
ernment, and demand effective legislation to secure the integrity and
purity of elections, which are the fountains of all public authority.
We charge that the present Administration and the Democratic ma-
jority in Congress owe their existence to the suppression of the ballot
by a criminal nullification of the Constitution and Laws of the United

We are uncompromisingly in favor of the American system of Pro-
tection; we protest against its destruction, as proposed by the Presi-
dent and his party. They serve the interests of Europe; we will sup-
port the interests of America. We accept the issue and confidently
appeal to the people for their judgment. The protective system must
be maintained. Its abandonment has always been followed by gen-
eral disaster to all interests except those of the usurer and the sheriff.
We denounce the Mills bill as destructive to the general business, the
labor, and the farming interests of the country, and we heartily
indorse the consistent and patriotic action of the Republican Repre-
sentatives in Congress in opposing its passage.

We condemn the proposition of the Democratic party to place wool
on the free list, and we insist that the duties thereon shall be adjusted
and maintained so as to furnish full and adequate protection to that
industry throughout the United States.

The Republican party would effect all needed reduction of the Na-
tional revenue by repealing the taxes upon tobacco, which are an
annoyance and burden to agriculture, and the tax upon spirits used
in the arts and for mechanical purposes, and by such revision of the
tariff laws as will tend to check imports of such articles as are pro-
duced by our people, the production of which gives employment to our
labor, and releases from import, duties those articles of foreign pro-
duction (except luxuries) the like of which can not be produced at
home. If there shall still remain a larger revenue than is requisite for


the wants of the Government, we favor the entire repeal of the inter-
nal taxes rather than the surrender of any part of our protective sys-
tem at the joint behest of the whisky ring and the agents of foreign

We declare our hostility to the introduction into this country of
foreign contract labor, and of Chinese labor, alien to our civilization
and Constitution, and we demand the rigid enforcement of the exist-
ing laws against it, and favor such immediate legislation as will ex-
clude such labor from our shores.

We declare our opposition to all combinations of capital organized
in trusts or otherwise, to control arbitrarily the condition of trade
among our citizens; and we recommend to Congress, and the State
Legislatures, in their respective jurisdictions, such legislation as will
prevent the execution of all schemes to oppress the people by undue
charges on their supplies, or by unjust rates for the transportation
of their products to market. We approve the legislation by Congress
to prevent alike unjust burden and unfair discriminations between
the States.

We reaffirm the policy of appropriating the public lands of the
United States to be homesteads for American citizens and settlers
not aliens which the Republican party established in 1862, against
the persistent opposition of the Democrats in Congress, and which
has brought our great Western domain into such magnificent devel-
opment. The restoration of unearned railroad land grants to the
public domain for the use of actual settlers, which was begun under
the administration of President Arthur, should be continued. We
deny that the Democratic party has ever restored one acre to the
people, but declare that by the joint action of Republicans and Demo-
crats about twenty-eight millions of acres of unearned lands, origi-
nally granted for the construction of railroads, have been restored
to the public domain, in pursuance of the conditions inserted by the
Republican party in the original grants. W T e charge the Democratic
Administration with failure to execute the laws securing to settlers
titles to their homesteads, and with using appropriations made for
that purpose, to harass innocent settlers with spies and persecutions,
under the false pretense of exposing frauds and vindicating the law.

The government by Congress of the Territories is based upon neces-
sity, only to the end that they may become States in the Union ; there-
fore, whenever the conditions of population, material resources, pub-
lic intelligence, and morality are such as to insure a stable local
government therein, the people of such Territories should be per-
mitted, as a right inherent in them, to form for themselves Constitu-
tions and State Governments, and be admitted into the Union. Pend-


ing the preparation for Statehood, all officers thereof should be se-
lected from the bona fide residents and citizens of the Territory where-
in they are to serve. South Dakota should of right be immediately
admitted as a State in the Union, under the Constitution framed and
adopted by her people, and we heartily indorse the action of the Re-
publican Senate in twice passing bills for her admission. The refusal
of the Democratic House of Representatives, for partisan purposes,
to favorably consider these bills, is a willful violation of the sacred
American principle of local self-government, and merits the condem-
nation of all just men. The pending bills in the Senate to enable
the people of Washington, North Dakota, and Montana Territories
to form constitutions and establish State Governments should be
passed without unnecessary delay. The Republican party pledges it-
self to do all in its power to facilitate the admission of the Territories
of New Mexico, Wyoming, Idaho, and Arizona to the enjoyment of
self-government as States, such of them as are now qualified, as soon
as possible, and the others as soon as they may become so.

The political power of the Mormon Church in the Territories, as
exercised in the past, is a menace to free institutions, too dangerous
to be longer suffered. Therefore, we pledge the Republican party
to appropriate legislation asserting the sovereignty of the Nation in
all Territories where the same is questioned, and in furtherance of that
end, to place upon the statute books legislation stringent enough to
divorce the political from the ecclesiastical power, and thus stamp out
the attendant wickedness of polygamy.

The Republican party is in favor of the use of both gold and silver
as money, and condemns the policy of the Democratic Administration
in its efforts to demonetize silver.

We demand the reduction of letter postage to one cent per ounce.

In a republic like ours, where the citizen is the sovereign and the of-
ficial the servant, where no power is exercised except by the will of the
people, it is important that the sovereign the people should possess
intelligence. The free school is the promoter of that intelligence which
is to preserve us as a free Nation; therefore, the State or Nation,
or both combined, should support free institutions of learning suffi-
cient to afford every child growing in the land the opportunity of a
good common-school education.

We earnestly recommend that prompt action be taken by Congress
in the enactment of such legislation as will best secure the rehabili-
tation of our American merchant marine, and we protest against the
passage by Congress of a free ship bill, as calculated to work injustice
to labor, by lessening the wages of those engaged in preparing ma-
terials, as well as those directly employed in our shipyards. We de-


mand appropriations for the early rebuilding of our navy, for the
construction of coast fortifications and modern ordnance, and other
approved modern means of defense for the protection of our defense-
less harbors and cities, for the payment of just pensions to our
soldiers, for necessary works of National importance in the improve-
ment of harbors and the channels of internal, coastwise, and foreign
commerce, for the encouragement of the shipping interests of the
Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific States, as well as for the payment of the
maturing public debt. This policy will give employment to our labor,
activity to our various industries, increase the security of our country,
promote trade, open new and direct markets for our produce, and
cheapen the cost of transportation. We affirm this to be far better for
our country than the Democratic policy of loaning the Government's
money without interest to " pet banks."

The conduct of foreign affairs by the present Administration has
been distinguished by its inefficiency and its cowardice. Having
withdrawn from the Senate all pending treaties made by Republican
administrations for the removal of foreign burdens and restrictions
upon our commerce and for its extension into better markets, it has
neither effected nor proposed any others in their etead. Professing
adherence to the Monroe doctrine, it has seen with idle complacency
the extension of foreign influence in Central America, and of foreign
trade everywhere among our neighbors. It has refused to charter,
sanction, or encourage any American organization for constructing
the Nicaragua Canal, a work of vital importance to the maintenance
of the Monroe doctrine, and of our National influence in Central and
South America, and necessary for the development of trade with our
Pacific territory, with South America, and with the islands and fur-
ther coasts of the Pacific Ocean.

We arraign the present Democratic Administration for its weak
and unpatriotic treatment of the fisheries question, and its pusillani-
mous surrender of the essential privileges to which our fishing vessels
are entitled in Canadian ports under the treaty of 1818, the reciprocal
maritime legislation of 1830, and the comity of nations, and which
Canadian fishing vessels receive in the ports of the United States.

We condemn the policy of the present Administration and the
Democratic majority in Congress toward our fisheries as unfriendly
and conspicuously unpatriotic, and as tending to destroy a valuable
National industry and an indispensable source of defense against a
foreign enemy.

" The name of American applies alike to all citizens of the Republic,
and imposes upon all alike the same obligation of obedience to the
laws. At the same time that citizenship is and must be the panoply


and safeguard of him who wears it, and protect him, whether high or
low, rich or poor, in all his civil rights. It should and must afford
him protection at home, and follow and protect him abroad, in what-
ever land he may be on a lawful errand."

The men who abandoned the Republican party in 1884 and continue
to adhere to the Democratic party, have deserted not only the cause
of honest government, of sound finance, of freedom and purity of the
ballot, but especially have deserted the cause of reform in the civil
service. We will not fail to keep our pledges because they have
broken theirs, or because their candidate has broken his. We there-
fore repeat our declaration of 1884, to wit : " The reform of the civil
service, auspiciously begun under the Republican administration,
should be completed by the further extension of the reform system,
already established by law, to all the grades of the service to which
it is applicable. The spirit and purpose of the reform should be ob-
served in all executive appointments, and all laws at variance with
the object 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 effectually avoided."

The gratitude of the Nation to the defenders of the Union can not
be measured by laws. The legislation of Congress should conform to
the pledge made by a loyal people, and be so enlarged and extended
as to provide against the possibility that any man who honorably
wore the Federal uniform shall become an inmate of an almshouse
or dependent upon private charity. In the presence of an overflow-
ing treasury it would be a public scandal to do less for those whose
valorous service preserved the Government. We denounce the hostile
spirit shown by President Cleveland in his numerous vetoes of meas-
ures for pension relief, and the action of the Democratic House of
Representatives in refusing even a consideration of general pension

In support of the principles herewith enunciated we invite the
co-operation of patriotic men of all parties, and especially of all work-
ingmen, whose prosperity is seriously threatened by the free-trade
policy of the present Administration.


The Democratic party of the United States, in National Convention
assembled, renews the pledge of its fidelity to Democratic faith, and
reaffirms the platform adopted by its representatives in the Conven-
tion of 1884, and indorses the views expressed by President Cleve-
land in his last annual message to Congress as the correct interpreta-


tion of that platform upon the question of tariff reduction; and also
indorses the efforts of our Democratic Representatives in Congress
to secure a reduction of excessive taxation.

Chief among its principles of party faith are the maintenance of an
indissoluble Union of free and indestructible States, now about to
enter upon its second century of unexampled progress and renown:
devotion to a plan of government regulated by a written constitution
strictly specifying every granted power, and expressly reserving to
the States or people the entire ungranted residue of power; the en-
couragement of a jealous, popular vigilance directed to all who have
been chosen for brief terms to enact and execute the laws and are
charged with the duty of preserving peace, insuring equality, and
establishing justice.

The Democratic party welcomes an exacting scrutiny of the admin-
istration of the executive power, which four years ago was committed
to its trust in the election of Grover Cleveland as President of the
United States, but it challenges the most searching inquiry con-
cerning its fidelity and devotion to the pledges which then invited
the suffrages of the people. During a most critical period of our
financial affairs, resulting from over-taxation, the anomalous con-
dition of our currency, and a public debt unmatured, it has, by the
adoption of a wise and conservative course, not only averted disaster,
but greatly promoted the prosperity of the people.

It has reversed the improvident and unwise policy of the Repub-
lican party touching the public domain, and has reclaimed from
corporations and syndicates, alien and domestic, and restored to the
people nearly one hundred millions of acres of valuable land, to be
sacredly held as homesteads for our citizens.

While carefully guarding the interests of the taxpayers and con-
forming strictly to the principles of justice and equity, it has paid
out more for pensions and bounties to the soldiers and sailors of the
Republic than was ever paid before during an equal period.

It has adopted and consistently pursued a firm and prudent foreign
policy, preserving peace with all nations, while scrupulously main-
taining all the rights and interests of our own Government and people
at home and abroad. The exclusion from our shores of Chinese labor-
ers has been effectually secured under the provision of a treaty, the
operation of which has been postponed by the action of a Republican
majority in the Senate.

Honest reform in the civil service has been inaugurated and main-
tained by President Cleveland, and he has brought the public service
to the highest standard of efficiency, not only by rule and precept,
but by the example of his own untiring and unselfish administration
of public affairs.


In every branch and department of the Government under Demo-
cratic control, the rights and the welfare of all the people have been
guarded and defended; every public interest has been protected, and
the equality of all our citizens before the law, without regard to race
or color, has been steadfastly maintained.

Upon its record thus exhibited, and upon the pledge of a continu-
ance to the people of these benefits, the Democracy invokes a renewal
of public trust by the re-election of a chief magistrate who has been
faithful, able, and prudent.

We invoke, in addition to that trust, the transfer to the Democracy
of the entire legislative power.

The Republican party, controlling the Senate and resisting in both
houses of Congress a reformation of unjust and unequal tax laws,
which have outlasted the necessities of war and are now undermin-
ing the abundance of a long peace, deny to the people equality before
the law and the fairness and the justice which are their right. Thus
the cry of American labor for a better share of the rewards of indus-
try is stifled with false pretenses, enterprise is fettered and bound
down to home markets, capital is disturbed with doubt, and unequal,
unjust laws can neither be properly amended nor repealed.

The Democratic party will continue with all the power confided
to it the struggle to reform these laws in accordance with pledges
of its last platform, indorsed at the ballot-box by the suffrages of the

Of all the industrious freemen of our land the immense majority,
including every tiller of the soil, gain no advantage from excessive
tax laws, but the price of nearly everything they buy is increased by
the favoritism of an unequal system of tax legislation.

All unnecessary taxation is unjust taxation. It is repugnant to
the creed of Democracy that by such taxation the cost of the necessa-
ries of life should be unjustly increased to all our people. Judged
by Democratic principles, the interests of the people are betrayed
when, by unnecessary taxation, trusts and combinations are per-
mitted to exist, w T hich while unduly enriching the few that combine,
rob the body of our citizens by depriving them of the benefits of nat-

Online LibraryGeorge Oberkirsh SeilhamerHistory of the Republican party (Volume 1) → online text (page 52 of 61)