Ratcliffe Hicks.

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Democrat in the land needs any further proof that
the electoral vote of Louisiana was stolen from
Tilden and Hendricks.

During the past summer, by word of mouth and
through the columns of his paper. General Hawley
has resolutely contended against the nomination of
the unscrupulous Blaine and the manikin Grant,
always contending that it was better for the Re-
138



IN REPLY TO GENERAL HAWLEY

publican party to nominate its ablest and purest
men.

I shall to-night give my answer to General
Hawley's address, and the intelligent voters of
Connecticut shall be the jury, and decide between
us. I shall say nothing here to-night that I would
not say if General Hawley were sitting upon this
platform. I trust that the day has not yet arrived
in American pohtics when men cannot discuss
politics and still be gentlemen. When that day
does come, I want to be counted out of politics.
I regard General Hawley's speech as the strongest
representation that can be made of the Republican
cause in this canvass, and therefore it is that I
invite your serious attention to what I have to say.

General Hawley commences his address by
claiming " that the Republican party has reduced
the national debt a thousand millions of dol-
lars." In that he is mistaken. The national
debt in 1865 was $2,680,647,869, and in 1879
it was $2,245,495,072, — making a reduction of
$435,151,797. But General Hawley forgot to
state that the people have paid in the last fifteen
years in taxes to the national government the
fabulous sum of $5,170,332,042 ; and for all this
immense contribution by the people there is
nothing practically to show for it except this re-
duction in the national debt of about $400,000,000.
You have paid enough in taxes in the last fifteen
139



RATCLIFFE HICKS

years to pay off the entire national debt twice. You
have paid $12 to get $1 reduction in the national
debt. At the same ratio the youngest voter in
America will have passed to his final reward, and
the people will have paid the debt twelve times
before it will be extinguished. In other words, on
a basis of fifty millions of people, every man who
has a wife and four children would pay in taxes
the sum of about $5,000 in order to pay off the
national debt. On the basis of forty millions of
people, every man with a wife and four children
has paid on the average to the national government
in taxes, in the last fifteen years, the sum of about
$720. Do you wonder, then, that it is hard work
for a poor man to get up in the world ; and do
you not think that it is almost time for a change ?

Again, the national debt was, in 1872, $2,234-
482,993.20, and in 1879 it was $2,245,495,072;
so that the debt has increased in the last six years
$11,013,079. Perhaps General Hawley can tell
you how long it will take to pay off the debt at
the same ratio. No other man can tell you. Is
this not a pretty poor encouragement after all the
taxes you have paid?

Again, General Hawley forgot to tell you that
the entire expenditures of the national government
for the seventy- two years prior to i860, including
two wars, was $1,506,706,141, and that the ex-
penses of fifteen years of Republican rule since the
war have been $5,170,332,042 j so that in fifteen
140



IN REPLY TO GENERAL HAWLEY

years the Republicans have spent $3,663,625,901
more than was spent in the seventy-two years pre-
vious to the war.

Look at it in another way. The people of
America pay annually as interest upon our na-
tional and municipal debts, in round numbers,
^182,000,000. The people of the British Empire
pay on the same debts annually $135,000,000. Yet
America is poor in comparison with the wealth of
the British Empire. The revenue of the British
government is about $400,000,000, and the amount
raised for local purposes is about $104,337,000, —
so that the whole cost of governing the British
Empire is $504,437,000 a year; while the revenue
of the United States is about $260,000,000, and
the amount raised for local purposes is about
$330,000,000, — so that the whole cost of govern-
ing the United States is $590,000,000 against
^504>337jOoc) in Great Britain. And yet the British
government supports in magnificent idleness a royal
family, maintains a great standing army of over
two hundred thousand soldiers, possesses the finest
navy in the world, and plants colonies and sustains
governments in all the four quarters of the globe.

A man who has a wife and four children, which
is about the average size of families (of course
some pay more and some less, I am now speaking
of the average), pays annually in taxes — national,
State, and town in America — over $700. The
annual expenditure of the United States govern-
141



RATCLIFFE HICKS

ment is per head $6.13; of the German, $3.15 ;
and of the Russian, $4.83.

Under the rule of this Republican party, remem-
ber, my friends, that the rich grow richer, and the
poor grow poorer. The population of the United
States since the Republican party came into power
has increased about fifty per cent, while taxation
has increased six hundred per cent. What poor
man on a bare pittance of ^1.25 or ^1.50 a day
can lay by anything for a stormy day? The work-
ing-man is now just barely able to keep the wolf
from his door. Nowhere do I see any houses
being erected by working-men. If we had not
been blessed above all other countries in our
national resources, the American people would
long since have been bankrupt. But sooner or
later, if there is no change, the masses I fear will
tire of such enormous burdens, and a political
eruption will destroy the government under which
we are living.

Let me impress this matter upon your memory.
Let me illustrate it to you in another way. There
is no need crying over the wrongs of distant
people ; there is serious and solemn business at
home for every thoughtful American voter.

Suppose a laboring man earns $1.50 a day
(which is the average wages) ; and suppose that
out of it, after supporting himself and family, he
can lay by $2 a week. He cannot do more than
that. Now, if there are six in the family, he
142



IN REPLY TO GENERAL HAWLEY

pays in annually to the national government $36 ;
so that it takes all he can save in four and
a half months to keep up this extravagant and
costly Republican administration.

One hundred and fifteen men came over from
England last summer to work in a cutlery factory
at Bridgeport, and all but twenty-five have returned,
as they could save more money there than here.

Let no man deceive himself with the thought
that he pays no taxes ; for everything that a man
eats or wears pays a tax to the government. Some
people are so foolish as to say that the poor man
pays no taxes ; but he is the only man that cannot
escape taxation, the only man that pays his full
taxes. He must live and he must be clothed, and
so there is no escape for him from taxation ; but
the rich man may hide away his property, or if he
is a merchant he adds the tax to the price of his
goods. The same is true of the manufacturer.
The rich man in order to pay his taxes is not
obliged to sacrifice any of his luxuries; but the
poor man is obliged to deprive himself, his wife
and children, of many of the common necessities
of life.

I appeal to every man, rich and poor, white and
black, native and foreign born ! If you are satis-
fied with the way the government has been admin-
istered during the past fifteen years, you will
continue to vote the Republican ticket. Remem-
ber, however, my wealthy manufacturing friend,
143



RATCLIFFE HICKS

that when the government crushes the working-man
it destroys your best customer ; for it is upon the
trade of the masses of the country that all business
finally depends. And I appeal with confidence to
all men who are tired of this unparalleled extrava-
gance and wild riot with the people's money, to
vote in November next with the only party that
promises a change for the better, — the poor
man's party, the Democratic party.

Again, General Hawley said in that speech :
" I belong to a party that struck the chains from
three millions of slaves." This is about all the
stock in trade that the Republican party has had
for the last twenty years. But I pronounce the
statement untrue. Show me, in any standard his-
tory of this country, where such a fact is recorded.
No historian has ever yet dared to go down to
posterity upon such a falsification of the facts.
Such a fact finds root only in the heated imagina-
tions of Republican orators.

Every man in the Republican party, from Presi-
dent Lincoln down to the humblest tide-waiter,
declared that the War of the Rebellion was only
waged for the perpetuity of the Union, and that
the relation of master and slave should not be dis-
turbed. In the darkest hours of the Rebellion,
when it seemed as if the cause of the Union must
go down in midnight darkness, some of our gen-
erals — General Butler among others — advocated
144



IN REPLY TO GENERAL HAWLEY

the enlistment of the colored men into our armies.
The suggestion was approved by the authorities at
Washington as a last military resort, as building a
fire in the enemy's rear ; and the end crowned the
means. The colored soldier became an American
citizen, and history records upon its truthful pages
that freedom came to the colored man as a result
of the war.

But if General Hawley thinks otherwise, was
there not some better way than to have sacrificed
half a million of precious human lives and caused
untold misery to a million bleeding hearts, and
squandered five thousand millions of dollars, and
mortgaged the industry of four generations?
Would it not have been better to purchase the
freedom of the slaves? You could have bought
the freedom of every slave in America, and planted
him on African soil, for one half the money you
spent to free him, and you would have saved so
many precious lives and so much misery.

The trouble with General Hawley' s logic is that
he strikes from the universe a living, loving God ;
that he leaves nothing for God to do in this fallen
world ; that he closes his eyes to a divine provi-
dence which presides over the affairs of nations as
well as of men, and that

"shapes our ends,
Rough-hew them how we will."

In the place of a beneficent God he wishes to
install the Republican party, and to that party the
10 145



RATCLIFFE HICKS

colored man is to hold himself indebted for all the
good of this hfe. Other men may do as they
please ; but were I a colored man, I would rather
hold my liberty as a heritage from divine Provi-
dence ; I would rather worship at the shrine of
the ever-living God than bow down to any false
image, to any golden calf, though it may have
written upon it those talismanic words, "The
Republican party."

Again, General Hawley said that he was sur-
prised to see so many of the men who were coming
to this country cling to the Democratic party.
What other party can they cling to ? What other
party bids them welcome to these Western shores?
What other party has been their unflinching friend
through all the changes of American politics, from
the foundation of the government down to the
present hour? What party is it that carries its
puritanical notions so far that it would make crim-
inals of three millions of our citizens — the most
industrious, the most peaceful, and the most valua-
ble — because they see no harm in the use of
lager beer as a beverage, while intelligent physi-
cians are daily prescribing it to weak women and
sickly children ?

It was the Democratic party which in 1804

repealed the odious law passed by the Federal

party requiring fourteen years' residence before an

alien could become a citizen. It was the Demo-

146



IN REPLY TO GENERAL HAWLEY

cratic party which furnished to the world that
famous doctrine which has been the shield and
protection of so many of our foreign-born citizens,
— " Once an American citizen always an American
citizen," — which has made it safe for them to
revisit the homes of their ancestry. It was the
Democratic party which strangled the bastard and
fiendish organization — born of the worst passions
of the human heart — which in 1855 burnt the
houses of those noble women, the Sisters of Char-
ity, who for centuries have spent their lives minis-
tering to the wants of the poor and the sick and
the unfortunate of every race and clime ; the
organization which attempted at the same time to
shut out from the privilege of American citizen-
ship all foreigners, and which found its advocate
and organ in General Hawley's paper, the " Hart-
ford Courant."

That spirit is not dead, but only slumbers ; and
it but needs some rallying cause to break forth
anew. There is an organization in existence now
known as the American Alliance, and one of its
principles is as follows. Listen, my fellow-men,
while I read you the infamous declaration : —

" I. An amendment to the naturalization laws
limiting suffrage to persons born in this country or
of American parents.

" 2. The election of American-born citizens only to
official positions in this country."



147



RATCLIFFE HICKS

The present Republican President in America is
a member of that organization. That I may not
misquote him, let me read you his own words, and
let no lover of his country forget them : —

I have just received your letter informing me of my
election as a member of your admirable Alliance.
Return my thanks to the Alliance, as I deeply sympa-
thize with its principles.

I remain your fellow-citizen, R. B. Hayes.

To-day, in a New England State, — Rhode
Island, — a foreigner cannot vote unless he owns
$134 worth of property; while the most illiterate
and degraded negro, if he happens to have been
born on American soil, can enjoy the privileges of
citizenship. General Hawley and his political
associates have not yet learned that a man so un-
fortunate as to have been born on the other side
of the broad Atlantic is as good as a colored man
born here. And still General Hawley pretends to
wonder why foreigners cling to the Democratic
party.

It was foreigners that planted the American col-
onies ; it was foreigners that enabled us to win the
battles of the Revolution ; it was foreigners that
saved the Union ; it is foreigners that run our fac-
tories, that till our soil, that work our mines ; it is
foreigners that have kept America in the vanguard
of nations for the last one hundred years. And
still if you were to go out with me to-night into
148



IN REPLY TO GENERAL HAWLEY

the streets of this thriving city of Meriden, and
ask every Repubhcan whom we should meet why
he was not a Democrat, nine out of every ten
would give the woman's argument, " Because it is
not respectable to be a Democrat, as all the for-
eigners belong to the Democratic party." If you
could have gone back with me through nineteen
centuries, and we could have together traversed the
narrow stony streets of Jerusalem, and could have
asked the proud Jew why he was not a Christian, he
would have told us because it was not respectable
to be a follower of the meek and lowly Jesus ; that
only poor and ilUterate people belonged to the dis-
ciples of the risen Lord. But the time came, as
you know, when the proud Jew was an outcast in
every country of the inhabited globe, and a beggar
at every court in Europe.

Oh, my delicately clad proud son of Yankee
sires, beware lest the day may come when your
children will lag behind in the race of life with the
descendants of the despised foreigner ! The God
of the Universe moves in a mysterious way, and
his love encircles alike the pathway of the poor
and the contemned, of the alien as well as that of
his proud Republican neighbor.

Again, General Hawley says that "the Demo-
cratic party is similar to the Tory or Conservative
party in England," and he asked our foreign-born
voters to look into this matter and think it over
149



RATCLIFFE HICKS

carefully. Ah, General Hawley, you either read
English history wrongly, or your memory fails you.
It is the Liberal party in England which has ex-
tended the suffrage to the poor ; which has passed
the burial act so that any clergyman may perform
the funeral rites in the churchyards of the estab-
lished Church ; which has passed an act so that the
Catholics of Ireland are no longer compelled to
support a hostile church ; which has passed the
hare and rabbit bill, the employer's liability act,
and many other acts in the interest of the laboring
classes.

How has it been in America? It was the
Democratic party which crushed the Society of
Cincinnati in its effort to establish an hereditary
aristocracy in this country. It was the Democratic
party in Connecticut which in 1818 wiped out the
provision in the Constitution which compelled every
man to contribute to the support of the Congre-
gational Church. It was the Democrats who
repealed the law once upon our statute books that
no foreigner should own any land in this State.
It was the Democratic party which in 1843 repealed
the provision of our Constitution that every voter
should hold property, and gave the suffrage to the
poor man. It is to a Democratic governor of this
State that you owe the law which provides an
exemption of a certain portion of the wages of the
working-man. That Democratic governor was none
other than that good man who sleeps so peacefully
150



IN REPLY TO GENERAL HAWLEY

to-night beneath the autumn leaves, your own
dearly loved and highly honored fellow-citizen, —
his name is dear to every Connecticut heart, —
Thomas H. Seymour. It was the Democratic con-
vention in this State which two years ago pledged
itself in favor of the repeal of the factorizing pro-
cess, and in favor of a homestead exemption, — two
things dear to the heart of the working-man. It is
to a Democratic governor of this State that you owe
more than to any other man living the establishment
of free schools in Connecticut, so that the poorest
man in the community may give his children the
benefits of an education. That man is your stand-
ard-bearer in this coming contest. Need I men-
tion his name? It is the Hon. James E. English.
The Republicans say they passed the homestead
act for the working-man. But just as soon as they
had passed that law, they gave away to rotten cor-
porations two hundred million acres of the best
land, and compelled settlers to pay two prices for
it. With the single exception of the homestead
act, which is of no benefit to the poor people of
Connecticut, there has not been a single act passed
in the last one hundred years in America in the in-
terest of the working-man that has not been passed
by the Democratic party.

Again, General Hawley says, " the RepubHcans
prosecuted the war to a successful close."

Here again I would rather have the facts than
151



RATCLIFFE HICKS

General Hawley's statement. Listen while I read
these to you : —

cifofpc Union Total Vote, Rep. Vote,

stares. Volunteers. iS6o. i860,

Delaware 13)654 16,039 3)8 15

Maryland 49)7oo 92,562 2,214

W. Virginia 33)063 34.192 464

Missouri 108,773 165,508 17,128

Kentucky 78,540 146,216 i)364

Totals 282,608 464,467 24,965

Does it look as if nobody but Republicans went
to the war? New York State — a Democratic
State with a Democratic governor — sent two-fifths
of all the soldiers in the Union army.

When the Democratic soldiers were at the war
fighting and the Republicans were home making
money, the Republicans always carried the elec-
tions ; but when the war was over and the soldiers
came home, we carried Connecticut, New Jersey,
New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and many
other Northern States.

There was not one Union victory won in the
War of the Rebellion without the aid of Democratic
soldiers. There was not one bloody field of all
that dreadful carnage where Democratic soldiers
were not to be found fighting for the Union. And
in the darkest hours of the Rebellion, when the fate
of the North hung trembling in the balance, and all
the world awaited anxiously the issue of the contest
at Gettysburg, one man, the hero of the hour, rode
152



IN REPLY TO GENERAL HAWLEY

up and down the Union lines, and nerved every
heart to victory. As a Union soldier in Meriden,
who was on his body-guard, described it to me the
other day, in the fiercest of the battle that man's
horse was shot under him, when he rose, took off
the bridle, leaned over and kissed the dying beast,
leaped upon the horse of his aid, and rushed on
to the front of the battle. That man is your
standard-bearer, the idol of American soldiers, —
Winfield Scott Plancock.

Republican papers and Republican orators are
trying to injure the military reputation of General
Hancock. They know no other way of destroying
his estimation with the American people. But my
only answer to all their foolish gibberings is this :
that honors won on the bloody fields of battle and
recorded on the pages of the world's history cannot
be injured by the childish prattle of disappointed
stay-at-home Republican politicians.

Again, General Hawley claims " as one of the
achievements of the Republican party the putting
of the ballot into the hands of every adult man."

I have just shown you how groundless this claim
is when tried by the test of history. I have shown
you how the poor man of this country owes his
privileges of suffrage to the Democratic party. I
have shown you what unjust discriminations are
made in the State of Rhode Island against worthy
men who had the misfortune to be born on foreign
153



RATCLIFFE HICKS

soil. Three years ago the RepubUcan party of
this State passed a law forbidding the making of
electors in the evening, — the most convenient
time for the working-man. Selectmen can meet
for any other purpose during any hours of the day
or night ; so can school visitors, assessors, boards
of relief, common council, and every other muni-
cipal body. Does it look as if the Republicans
wanted the poor man to vote? Oh, my friends,
they are willing that the poor man shall vote if he
will only vote as they tell him.

Now, listen to what I shall read, and similar
notices have been posted in many factories in New
England. I invoke the attention of every unpre-
judiced voter within the sound of my voice to-
night, and I appeal to him whether he approved of
such things. This notice was posted at the last
Presidential election in a factory in Westerly, R. I.
Let me read : —

To ALL Voters employed by the N. E. Granite Works
AND THE Smith Granite Co. :
Having become fully convinced that the election of
Samuel J. Tilden and a Democratic Congress on the
7th of November, will do a great injury to our busi-
ness, and will also be a national calamity, we do most
earnestly advise all voters in our employ to vote the
Republican ticket, most especially for a Republican
Member of Congress. You will by so doing secure
your own interest, our interest, and the interest of your
country.

The N. E. Granite Works.
The Smith Granite Co.
^54



IN REPLY TO GENERAL HAWLEY

It appeared in evidence before the Committee
of Congress that the principal owner in the New
England Works was a citizen of the city of Hart-
ford, and an intimate friend of General Hawley.
It was no less a person than the Hon. James G.
Batterson, of the Hartford Accident Insurance
Company. Oh, "consistency, thou art a jewel"
that becomes even a Republican politician ! Let
us hear of no more bulldozing in the South so long
as this civilized coercion is going on all over these
New England States !

Again, General Hawley says " the first act of the
Democratic party when it came into power was to
demand the repeal of the election laws which pro-
tected the citizens against unblushing and whole-
sale frauds at the ballot-box."

Ah, no man knows how anxious these Republi-
cans are to prevent fraud at the ballot-box ! They
have just completed the registry list in the city of
Philadelphia, and there are on that list twenty
thousand more names than the census of last June
contained of all men over twenty years of age,
naturalized and unnaturalized, sane and insane, in
prison and out of prison in that city. The registry
list is larger than the city of New York, although
New York is one-half greater than Philadelphia.
A Republican in Meriden told me himself that
he voted three times in one day in Philadel-
phia for Hartranft, the Republican candidate for
governor. 155



RATCLIFFE HICKS

Now, under this damnable law, the Republicans
have appointed in the cities of Philadelphia, New


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Online LibraryRatcliffe HicksSpeeches and public correspondence of Ratcliffe Hicks .. → online text (page 8 of 18)