Ratcliffe Hicks.

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destiny ; and then they will come out all right. It
will never do to run this government to please
Wall Street or government parasites. Wall Street
howls for Congressional action. What for? That
they can put on a confiding public more cordage,
more lead, more sugar trusts, more schemes full of
water or gas, or both. There has got to be a
panic ; and panics are healthy. They bring busi-
ness down to a normal level, and men to their
senses ; they teach a lesson to men who are float-
ing on financial bladders; they kill the wicked


schemes emanating from Wall Street, wherein
honest people are led by dividends paid but never
earned, and by false statements, to take bonds and
stocks in its swindling schemes, and thereby with-
draw millions from honest enterprises to make a
few rogues rich at the expense of the vast public.
These are two terrible elements that prey upon the
public. They produce nothing, they do not add a
dollar to the values of this country, and their wishes
are no more to be consulted than the inmates of
an insane asylum.

I believe in the Washburn Bill. I believe that
no man should be permitted to sell what he cannot
deliver. I believe that gambling in Wall Street is
no better than gambling on a horse-race ; and in
fact I believe it is more injurious to business inter-
ests, for in Wall Street they gamble upon the neces-
sities of life and upon the materials on which
manufacturers must work; they speculate and
make false values in corn, in wheat, in pork, in
iron, in lead, in cotton, and in sugar, thereby both
robbing the producer of the fruits of his honest
toil, and harassing and confusing the manufacturer,
who is unable to make any satisfactory calculation
for the future.

It is not political speeches nor editorials that
the common people of this country need, but a
few tracts, — like those issued by Franklin under
the name of " Poor Richard," condensing the wis-
dom of Franklin ; like those of John Stuart Mill,


of Adam Smith, of Thomas R. Malthus, of Francis
Wayland, — showing that wealth and prosperity
are not to be gained from or through the govern-
ment, but by every man and every business concern
observing certain cardinal principles in living, in
expenses, and in the conducting of business. It
is in this way that the working-people of France
have become so wealthy. I have seen them stand-
ing all night in the streets of Paris to be ready to
subscribe for a new government loan the next
morning ; and they subscribed for fifty times the
amount the government required.

I believe that all the currency of this country
should be issued by the Government. I believe
that the examination of banks should be taken out
of politics, and should be under the supervision of
men appointed by United States judges, and they
should hold their place during life or good be-
havior. There should be no more politics in the
management of a bank than in that of a factory.

I believe that the United States government
should be responsible for all deposits in a national
bank. This would not be such a serious under-
taking for the Government, and its very assurance
or guarantee would prevent runs and unwholesome
withdrawals of deposits. Or, if this system is not
adopted, then the government should make the
results of its investigations known publicly, the
same as is done in city and town affairs. National
banks secure the confidence of the public because


of the fact that they are subject to examination by
the government, and countless millions are in-
trusted to them every day for this reason. And
yet these confiding depositors have no means of
knowing the character of the bank or the safety
of their deposits; for whatever the examinations
made, the results thereof are not disclosed to the
depositors, the men above all others who should
know. They are made to the Comptroller of the
Currency at Washington, and to the President and
Cashier of the bank in the way of reprimands or
cautions ; but all information as to the weakness
or bad management of a national bank is relig-
iously withheld from the only disinterested party
in the whole transaction, — the depositor, who is
left to shift for himself. Let the government adopt
the plan of making public the results of bank
examinations, and there would be no more runs
on banks, and no more hoarding of money by
frightened depositors. Three hundred million
dollars of currency was withdrawn from the banks
and hidden in stockings and safes this summer,
for want of this very confidence. A bank should
mail to every depositor (in justice also to their
stockholders) a copy of each report of the govern-
ment examiner, and thus keep the depositors
aware of the condition and standing of the bank
in which they have deposited their money. You
cannot blame the public for losing confidence in
the banks when they are kept in ignorance of


their true condition, and in many cases are grossly
misled by the statement of bank officers.

What the business interests of this country de-
mand is that Congress shall stop legislating for
classes as against the masses; stop legislating in
the interest of the bankers, and legislate a little more
in the interest of the depositors ; that it should stop
legislating in the interest of a few pet manufacturers,
for of all the industries of this country none are so
dead to-day as the pampered industries, like silk,
woollen, gun, cutlery, wooden screws, and iron, and
a host of others that were unjustly protected until
they became so profitable that hundreds of people
engaged in the same line of business, — so that
finally it was no longer foreign competition which
they feared, but the competition at their next
door, necessitating trusts, combinations, and pool-
ing schemes to keep up profits and prevent over-

Let Congress adjourn for five years, and go
home and stay there, and the business interests of
this country will take care of themselves. If Con-
gress will only go home, we prophesy that Grover
Cleveland will never again call it together. Presi-
dent Harrison was not far from right when he
called Congress " Cleveland's wild horses."




From, the New Orleans ^* Picayune,*
March i6, 1894.

Hon. Ratcliffe Hicks is one of the wealthiest men
in New England, and one of the most successful busi-
ness men of the day. He is the president of the Can-
field Rubber Works of Connecticut, a member of the
Legislature, and prominent in politics. Mr. Hicks
has made some investments in New Orleans, and
expresses himself as delighted beyond all expecta-
tion with the city. He said to a reporter of the
" Picayune " last night in his rooms at the Grunewald
Hotel : —

I HAVE been all over the world, but I have never
seen an avenue or a public thoroughfare of any
kind that equals St. Charles Avenue. I desire to
say that it is the prettiest street I have ever seen.
It possesses a uniqueness that charms ; and the
vegetation and the lay of the grounds, as well as the
style of the buildings which line the street, please
the eye and suggest to the observer the delight
that one must feel to reside in such a community
and on such a street.

To say that I am delighted with New Orleans
would be to express myself mildly. This is a


wonderful city, presenting to any American who
resides in the North or the West an individuahty
that is unknown to any other metropoUs in the
United States, or anywhere for that matter. New
Orleans needs to be advertised in the North, and
the advantages of the city as a winter resort set
forth. The death-rate ought to be shown up and
compared with other cities in order to disabuse
the public mind, for there certainly exist erro-
neous opinions of New Orleans in the North. A
great many people there believe that the city is
unhealthy. I know it is not, and every one ought
to know it. These matters should be published to
the world, and repeated until the belief becomes
general, that instead of having here an unhealthy
city you have one of the healthiest in the United
States, or in any other country, with a death-rate
lower than can be found almost anywhere else, all
things compared. I have found that in the winter-
time this is a good city to come to when one is
sufifering with a bronchial trouble. Your average
yearly temperatures should be published during
all the seasons. I myself don't think the summer
here is half so disagreeable as the summer in New
York or Chicago. New Orleans can be com-
mended as a summer resort as well as a winter
resort. Another thing : you have all along the
gulf coast suburban watering-places that surpass
similar places in Florida or anywhere else. People
throughout the country have very little idea about


it because it has never been advertised. I am
afraid you people down here don't use enough
printer's ink in speaking of your own greatness.
I have been along the Mediterranean. There the
monsoons which come about four o'clock in the
afternoon drive the pleasure-seekers indoors, and
the clear and beautiful sea is turned into a boister-
ous one.

New Orleans and its suburbs are much better
than any place in Florida for winter resorts. There
is nothing in Florida to interest people. California
is too far away. Here are amusements of all kinds,
and a great diversity of interesting things to be
seen. You have a great many novelties that please
the eye. I have been in Paris, and I am frank in
saying that I have found the surroundings here
preferable. There is however one thing which
you lack : you should have better drainage. Then,
too, you need more hotels, for nothing brings peo-
ple to a city like good hotels. You have not near
enough here to accommodate the people who want
to come, or who will come. It is a fact that more
hotels bring more people. This is a nice one to
stop in, but you should have more like it. With
better accommodations and facilities for the enter-
tainment of strangers, there is no reason in the
world why this city should not become the greatest
resort in the United States. You have the opera
and the races ; and then there is the vegetation and
the foliage and the flowers ; and the people are hos-


pitable and kind. The city is full of social life
and pleasure, and the business men don't wear
themselves out making money to the exclusion of
all other duties of life. The people are interest-
ing, educated, and refined. The clubs are not
excelled an3rwhere. I have gone down to some
of the clubs here, and found men playing chess at
three o'clock in the afternoon. They will talk to
you about the opera, the drama, politics or factory
or anything, but they seldom speak of business in
social life. Now, in New York you go into a club,
and the men are talking about the exchanges and
the rise and fall of stocks. They eat a lunch in
three minutes, more or less, and are gone again.
Not so here.

There is a prejudice against New Orleans which
a free use of printer's ink should eradicate. It is
groundless. I believe so much in New Orleans
that I propose to buy some more property here,
and shall probably move my family here in the

Another thing I should speak of, and that is the
great commercial advantages afforded by Nature
to this city. Situated as it is at the mouth of the
greatest river in the world, it becomes at once a
metropolis, with an incalculable commercial future.
Your cotton and sugar and rice are products which
keep up trade and business, and are not dependent
upon legislation altogether for their existence.
They are three of the necessaries, and will of


course find a market. This keeps up business,
and renders values less liable to fluctuation. Your
business interests don't vary so much with tariff
changes as those in the New England States do.
Too much cannot be said of New Orleans.



Interview published in the " New York World,*
April S, 1894.

Bridgeport, April 7.

Ratcliffe Hicks, a leading manufacturer of this
city and one of the leading politicians of the State,
returned yesterday. He has been on an extensive
trip through Brazil and Central America, Mexico and
Lower California. Mr. Hicks has always taken an
active interest in politics. For four years he has been,
a legislative representative from Tolland, and has
been identified with many State reforms. He is also
mentioned prominently as a candidate for governor in
the fall elections on the Democratic ticket. It is gen-
erally believed that in the contest for this election the
nomination will be between Ratcliffe Hicks and E. C.
Benedict. Neither is anxious for the nomination on
account of the unsettled condition of the tariff, but
probably either will accept the nomination if the inter-
ests of the Democratic party of Connecticut demand
it. When Mr. Hicks left last fall. Congress was just
beginning to discuss the tariff question, with every
prospect of speedily settling it. Most of the time
since Mr. Hicks has been out of reach of the daily
papers, and was surprised on his return to find that



Congress had done so little. His remarks on the sub-
ject are interesting. To a "World" representative
he said : —

I THINK the Wilson Bill is probably as good a
bill as can be drawn by politicians. They are
swapping jackknives down in Washington ; that is
all : " If you vote for my scheme, I will vote for
yours." This is without regard to the interests of
the tax-payers and the consumers of the country.
Politicians have been fighting over this tariff ques-
tion seventy-five years, and they will probably con-
tinue to fight over it seven hundred and fifty years
longer if the people will let them do it. The
tariff should be taken entirely out of politics, and
be committed to a board of the most intelligent,
non-partisan, disinterested men that can be found
in the country. They should hold office for a
term of ten years, and should receive the same
salary ar- judges of the United States Supreme
Court ; all interested parties should have a right
to appear before them and present their claims,
and the decision of the board should be final
for a given number of years. This is what
the business interests of the country demand,
and what they will some day have in spite of
the politicians ; for politicians thrive on this tariff

I think the Income tax is the most just and
reasonable tax ever proposed. It is the tax of


the world, for every nation has it ; and if left to
the people, it would be voted by a majority so
overwhelming that the opponents would be in a
contemptible minority. I am glad that the Demo-
cratic party has taken up this issue. My only fear
is that the Republicans will not dare to make it a
party issue.

Upon disposing of the tariif question, Congress
ought to adjourn and go home, after cutting down
the appropriations from fifty to one hundred mil-
lions at least. The people of this country pay
more tax per head than any nation in the world,
and have the least to show for it. Our army costs
as much, practically, as any of the armies of
France, Germany, Russia, or England, and in
comparison looks like a fly on an elephant. Our
navy costs us about as much as the navy of France
or England, and is a picnic party compared with
the naval armament of those countries. We have
the most extravagant and most wasteful govern-
ment in the world. What we need at Washington
is a business men's government. We have a busi-
ness man for President of the United States, and
what we want in Congress is more business men
and fewer lawyers. We want more voting and less
talking. We want business methods applied to
the administration of the affairs of this govern-
ment. We are living under a system adopted
one hundred years ago by a few planters from
Virginia, and it no more meets the requirements


of the age than would a stagecoach for transport-
ing passengers from Boston to New York. We
want the same businessUke method in the manage-
ment of government affairs as is applied to vast
railroad interests like the Pennsylvania road, or
the New York Central, whose annual receipts and
disbursements far exceed those of the United States
government prior to the War of the Rebellion.

I asked W. H. Barnum once why he did not,
with all his political influence, get some govern-
ment contracts. He said that this United States
government would make any man dishonest who
had any business to transact with it. You had to
go to Washington, he said, and lie round hotels
for weeks to get a contract. Then you had to sit
in the anteroom of some bureau officer and wait
his time for approving your vouchers; and after
you had waited weeks for this man to act, who
worked with no vim and was green to his business
(probably some broken-down politician), the
chances are that you would be at last told that the
appropriation was exhausted, and you would have
to wait until the next session of Congress. Finally,
you would give up in disgust, and put your claim
into the hands of some attorney who had the run
of the Department. Consequently, every con-
tractor had to ask from twenty-five to fifty per
cent more than he would of an individual, in order
to reimburse himself for his time, trouble, and



The Post-office building at Hartford cost the
government about ^700,000. The wealthiest con-
tractor in Connecticut has repeatedly informed me
that he would build one exactly like it for $300,000.
So it has been all over the country in everything
that the government has attempted to do. Why
the elevator in the Post-office at Hartford has not
been running, so I am informed, because the
appropriations are exhausted 1 Ex-Collector Byx-
bee informed me that he could not get money
enough to buy either a broom or a snow-shovel
while he was collector of the port of New Haven
for four years, to clear off the snow from the
sidewalks in front of the Custom House. These
are only a few of the hundreds and thou-
sands of instances that are occurring every day
all over the country (the newspapers are full of
them) which show how the entire system of run-
ning the business affairs of the government needs

The hope of this country is that some day a
man like S. J. Tilden will come to the front ; and
it will make no difference whether he is a Demo-
crat or a Republican, so long as he and his party
shall remodel the affairs of our government, bring
order out of chaos, stop corruption and stealing,
and prevent the awful waste of the tax-payers'
money, which in my opinion has done more to
bring on the present distressing state of business
in the United States than any other one thing.


Remember always that every dollar the govern-
ment expends costs some man one whole day's
work to earn, as a dollar is the average daily
wages throughout the United States ; and remem-
ber, also, that economy is the only royal road to
national or individual wealth.

To THE Editor of the "Times":

As more or less has been said in the newspapers
in regard to my candidacy for the Democratic
nomination for Governor next fall, permit me to
say through the columns of your paper that I am
not a candidate for that or any other office. Un-
der no circumstances will I accept the same. I
write this letter in justice to the many good men
whose names have been mentioned. Whoever is
nominated will receive my cordial support.

A friendly reporter overstated my position some
months ago. Those who have known me long
and well will bear me witness that at no time has
it been my intention or desire to force my candi-
dacy upon the party.

To those who have spoken kindly of my nomi-
nation I tender my thanks ; and their kind words
are better to me than an election. Permit me to
add that there are certain important changes in the
administration of public affairs in Connecticut, and


certain great economies in the public expendi-
tures of the State, in which I became interested
during my service in the last two sessions of the
General Assembly, and which I hope to see ac-
complished in the near future. They have no

political bearing.

Ratcliffe Hicks.

New York, April 6, 1896.




nm 7 1904


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Online LibraryRatcliffe HicksSpeeches and public correspondence of Ratcliffe Hicks .. → online text (page 18 of 18)