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Robert Green Ingersoll.

Political speeches of Robert G. Ingersoll online

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man, '' We never had as good times as when we had
plenty of greenbacks."

Suppose a farmer would buy a farm for ten thou-
sand dollars and give his note. He would buy car-
riages, horses, wagons and agricultural implements^
and give his note. He would send Mary, Jane and
Lucy to school. He would buy them pianos, and
send them to college, and would give his note, and
the next year he would again give his note for the
interest, and the next year again his note, and
finally they would come to him and say, " We must
settle up ; we have taken your notes as long as we
can ; we want money." *' Why," he would say to
the gentleman, '' I never had as good a time in my
life as while I have been giving those notes. I
never had a farm until the man gave it to me for
my note. My children have been clothed as well
as anybody's. We have had carriages ; we have
had fine horses ; and our house has been filled with
music, and laughter, and dancing ; and why not
keep on taking those notes .^" So it is with the



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206 CHICAGO SPEECH.

greenback man ; he says, " When we were running
in debt we had a jolly time — ^let us keep it up."
But, my friends, there must come a time when infla-
tion would reach that point when all the Gover-
ment notes in the world would not buy a pin ; when
all the Government notes in the world would not be
worth as much as the last year's Democratic plat-
form. I have no fear that these debts will not be
paid. I have no fear that every solitary greenback
dollar will not be redeemed ; but, my friends, we
shall have some trouble doing it Why ? Because
the debt is a great deal larger than it should have
been. In the first place, there should have been no
debt If it had not been for the Southern Deipoc-
racy there would have been no war. If it had not
been for the Northern Democracy the war would
not have lasted one year.

There was a man tried in court for having mur-
dered his father and mother. He was found guilty,
and the judge asked him, ** What have you to say
that sentence of death shall not be pronounced on
you ? " *• Nothing in the world Judge," said he,
" only I hope your Honor will take pity on me and
remember that I am a poor orphan."

I have no doubt that this debt will be paid. We
have the honor to pay it, and we do not pay it



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CHICAGO SPEECH. 207

on account of the avarice or greed of the bond-
holden An honest man does not pay money to a
creditor simply because the creditor wants it The
honest man pays at the command of his honor and
not at the demand of the creditor.

The United States will pay its debts, not because
the creditor demands, but because we owe it

The United States will liquidate every debt at the
command of its honor, and every cent will be paid.
War is destruction, war is loss, and all the property
destroyed, and the time that is lost, put together,
amount to what we call a national debt When in
peace we shall have made as much net profit as there
was wealth lost in the war, then we shall be a solvent
people. The greenback will be redeemed, we expect
to redeem it on the first day of January, 1879. We
may fail ; we will fail if the prosperity of the country
fails ; but we intend to try to do it, and if we fail,
we will fail as a soldier fails to take a fort, high upon
the rampart, with the flag of resumption in our hands.
We will not say that we cannot pay the debt be-
cause there is a date fixed when the debt is to be
paid. I have had to borrow money myself; I have had
to give my note, and I recollect distinctly that every
man I ever did give my note to insisted that some-
where in that note there should be some vague hint



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208 CHICAGO SPEECH.

as to the cycle, as to the geological period, as to the
time, as to the century and date when I expected to
pay those little notes. I never understood that
having a time fixed would prevent my being indus-
trious ; that it would interfere with my honesty ; or
with my activity, or with my desire to discharge that
debt. And if any man in this great country owed
you one thousand dollars, due you the first day of
next January, and he should come to you and say :
'* I want to pay you that debt, but you must take
that date out of that note." " Why ? " you would say.
••Why," he would reply in the language of Tilden, " I
have to make wise preparation." "Well," you would
say, " why don't you do it ? " " Oh," he says, " I
cannot do it while you have that date in that note."

"Another thing," he says, " I have to get me a
central reservoir of coin." And do you know I have
always thought I would like to see the Democratic
party around a central reservoir of coin.

Suppose this debtor would also tell you, " I want
the date out of that note, because I have to come at
it by a very slow and gradual process." "Well," you
would say, " I do not care how slow or how gradual
you are, provided that you get around by the time
the note is due."

What would you think of a man that wanted the



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CHICAGO SPEECH. 209

date out of the note ? You would think he was a
mixture of rascal and Democrat That is what you
would think.

Now, my friends, the Democratic party (if you may
call it a party) brings forward as its candidate Samuel
J. Tilden, of New York. I am opposed to him, first,
because he is an old bachelor. In a country like
ours, depending for its prosperity and glory upon
an increase of the population, to elect an old bachelor
is a suicidal policy. Any man that will live in this
country for sixty years, surrounded by beautiful
women with rosy Hps and dimpled cheeks, in every
dimple lurking a Cupid, with pearly teeth and
sparkling eyes — any man that will push them
all aside and be satisfied with the embraces of
the Democratic party, does not even know the value
of time. I am opposed to Samuel J. Tilden, because
he is a Democrat ; because he belongs to the Dem-
ocratic party of the city of New York ; the worst
party ever organized in any civilized country.

No man should be President of this Nation who
denies that it is a Nation. Samuel J. Tilden de-
nounced the war as an outrage. No man should
be President of this country that denounced a war
waged in its defence as an outrage. To elect such a
man would be an outrage.



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2IO CHICAGO SPEECH.

Samuel J. Tilden said that the flag stands for a
contract ; that it stands for a confederation ; that it
stands for a bargain. But the great, splendid Re-
publican party says» ''No! That flag stands for a
great, hoping, aspiring, sublime Nation, not for a
confederacy.'*

I am opposed, I say, to the election of Samuel J.
filden for another reason. If he is elected he will be
controlled by his party, and his party will be controlled
by the Southern stockholders in that party. They
own nineteen-twentieths of the stock, and they will
dictate the policy of the Democratic Corporation.

No Northern Democrat has the manliness to stand
up before a Southern Democrat Every Democrat,
nearly, has a face of dough, and the Southern Dem-
ocrat will swap his ears, change his nose, cut his
mouth the other way of the leather, so that his own
mother would not know him, in fifteen minutes. If
Samuel J. Tilden is elected President of the United
States, he will be controlled by the Democratic
party, and the Democratic party will be controlled
by the Southern Democracy — ^that is to say, the late
rebels ; that is to say, the men that tried to destroy
the Government ; that is to say, the men who are
sorry they did not destroy the Government ; that is
to say, the enemies of every friend of this Union ;



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CHICAGO SPEECH. 211

ihat is to say, the murderers and the assassins of
Union men living in the Southern country.

Let me say another thing. If Mr. Tilden does
not act in accordance with the Southern Democratic
command, the Southern Democn^cy will not allow
a single life to stand between them and the absolute
control of this country. Hendricks will then be
their man. I say that it would be an outrage to
give this country into the control of men who en-
deavored to destroy it, to give this country into the
control of the Southern rebels and haters of Union
men.

And on the other hand, the Republican party has
put forward Rutherford B. Hayes. He is an honest
man. The Democrats will say, *' That is nothing."
Well, let them try it. Rutherford B. Hayes has a
good character.

Rutherford B. Hayes, when this war commenced,
did not say with Tilden, ** It is an outrage." He
did not say with Tilden, " I never will contribute to
the prosecution of this war." But he did say this,
" I would go into this war if I knew I would be
killed in the course of it, rather than to live through
it and take no part in it." During the war Ruther-
ford B. Hayes received many wounds in his flesh,
but not one scratch upon his honor. Samuel J. Tilden



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212 CHICAGO SPEECH.

received many wounds upon his honor» but not one
scratch on his flesh. Rutherford B. Hayes is a firm
man ; not an obstinate man, but a firm man ; and I
draw this distinction : A firm man will do what he
believes to be right, because he wants to do right.
He will stand firm because he believes it to be right ;
but an obstinate man wants his own way, whether
it is right or whether it is wrong. Rutherford B.
Hayes is firm in the right, and obstinate only when
he knows he is in the right. If you want to vote
for a man who fought for you, vote for Rutherford
B. Hayes. If you want to vote for a man that
carried our flag through the storm of shot and shell,
vote for Rutherford B. Hayes. If you believe
patriotism to be a virtue, vote for Rutherford B.
Hayes. If you believe this country wants heroes,
vote for Rutherford B. Hayes. If you want a man
who turned against his country in time of war, vote
for Samuel J. Tilden. If you believe the war waged
for the salvation of our Nation was an outrage, vote
for Samuel J. Tilden. If you believe it is better to
stay at home and curse the brave men in the field,
fighting for the sacred rights of man, vote for
Samuel J. Tilden. If you want to pay a premium
upon treason, if you want to pay a premium upon
hypocrisy, if you want to pay a premium upon



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CHICAGO SPEECH. 213

chicanery, if you want to pay a premium upon
S3rmpathizing with the enemies of your country,
vote for Samuel J. Tilden.

If you believe that patriotism is right, if you
believe the brave defender of liberty is better than
the assassin of freedom, vote for Rutherford B.
Hayes.

I am proud that I belong to the Republican
party. It is the only party that has not begged
pardon for doing right It is the only party that
has said: ^' There shall be no distinction on ac-
count of race, on account of color, on account of
previous condition." It is the only party that ever
had a platform broad enough for all humanity to
stand upon.

It is the first decent party that ever lived. The
Republican party made the first free government
that was ever made. The Republican party made
the first decent constitution that any nation ever
had. The Republican party gave to the sky the
first pure flag that was ever kissed by the waves of
air. The Republican party is the first party that
ever said : " Every man is entitled to liberty," not
because he is white, not because he is black, not be-
cause he is rich, not because he is poor, but because
he is a man.



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214 CHICAGO SPEECH.

The Republican party is the first party that knew
enough to know that humanity is more than skin
deep. It is the first party that ssud, " Government
should be for all» as the light, as the air, is for all.'*

And it is the first party that had the sense to
say, " What air is to the lungs, what light is to the
eyes, what love is to the heart, liberty is to the soul
of man." The Republican party is the first party
that ever was in favor of absolute free labor, the
first party in favor of giving to every man, without
distinction of race or color, the fruits of the labor of
his hands. The Republican party said, " Free labor
will give us wealth, free thought will give us
truth.'' The Republican party is the first party
that said to every man, " Think for yourself, and
express that thought" I am a free man. I belong
to the Republican party. This is a free country. I
will think my thought. I will speak my thought or
die. I say the Republican party is for free labor.

Free labor has invented all the machines that
ever added to the power, added to the wealth, add-
ed to the leisure, added to the civilization of man-
kind. Every convenience, everything of use, every-
thing of beauty in the world, we owe to free labor
and to free thought. Free labor, free thought !

Science took the thunderbolt from the gods,



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CHICAGO SPEECH. 21 5

and in the electric spark, freedom, with thought,
with intelligence and with love, sweeps under all the
waves of the sea ; science, free thought, took a tear
from the cheek of unpaid labor, converted it into
steam, and created the giant that turns, with tireless
arms, the countless wheels of toil.

The Republican party, I say, believes in free
labor. Every solitary thing, every solitary improve-
ment made in the United States has been made by
the Republican party. Every reform accomplished
was inaugurated, and was accomplished by the
great, grand, glorious Republican party.

The Republican party does not say : " Let by-
gones be bygones." The Republican party is proud
of the past and confident of the future. The Re-
publican party brings its record before you and
implores you to read every page, every paragraph,
every line and every shining word. On the first
page you will find it written : " Slavery has cursed
American soil long enough ; " on the same page you
will find it written : " Slavery shall go no farther."
On the same page you will find it written : " The
bloodhounds shall not drip their gore upon another
inch of American soil." On the second page you
will find it written : " This is a Nation, not a Con-
federacy ; every State belongs to every citizen, and



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2l6 CHICAGO SPEECH.

no State has a right to take territory belonging to
any citizens in the United States and set up a
separate Government." On the third page you will
find the grandest declaration ever made in this
country: ''Slavery shall be extirpated from the
American soil." On the next page: "The Rebel-
lion shall be put down." On the next page : " The
Rebellion has been put down." On the next page :
"Slavery has been extirpated from the American
soil." On the next page : " The freedmen shall not
be vagrants ; they shall be citizens." On the next
page : " They are citizens." On the next page :
" The ballot shall be put in their hands ; " and
now we will write on the next page : " Every
citizen that has a ballot in his hand, by the gods !
shall have a right to cast that ballot." That in
short, that in brief, is the history of the Republican
party. The Republican party says, and it means
what it says : " This shall be a free country forever ;
every man in it twenty-one years of age shall have
the right to vote for the Government of his choice,
and if any man endeavors to interfere with that
right, the Government of the United States will see
to it that the right of every American citizen is
protected at the polls."

Now, my friends, there is one thing that troubles



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CHICAGO SPEECH. 21^

the average Democrat, and that is the idea that
somehow, in some way, the negro will get to be the
better man. It is the trouble in the South to-day.
And I say to my Southern friends (and I admit that
there are a great many good men in the South, but the
bad men are in an overwhelming majority ; the
great mass of the population is vicious, violent, viru-
lent and malignant ; the great mass of the popula-
tion is cruel, revengeful, idle, hateful,) and I tell that
population : " If you do not go to work, the negro,
by his patient industry, will pass you." In the long
run, the nation that is honest, the people who are
industrious, will pass the people who are dishonest,
and the people who are idle, no matter how grand an
ancestry they may have had, and so I say, Mr.
Northern Democrat, look out !

The superior man is the man that loves his fellow-
man ; the superior man is the useful man ; the su-
perior man is the kind man, the man who lifts up his
down -trodden brothers ; and the greater the load of
human sorrow and human want you can get in your
arms, the easier you can climb the great hill of fame.
The superior man is the man who loves his fellow-
man. And let me say right here, the good men, the
superior men, the grand men are brothers the world
over, no matter what their complexion may be;



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2l8 CHICAGO SPEECH.

centuries may separate them, yet they are hand in
hand ; and all the good, and all the grand, and all the
superior men, shoulder to shoulder, heart to heart,
are fighting the great battle for the progress of man-
kind.

I pity the man, I execrate and hate the man who
has only to boast that he is white. Whenever I am
reduced to that necessity, I believe shame will make
me red instead of white. I believe another thing.
If I cannot hoe my row, I will not steal com from
the fellow that hoes his row. If I belong to the su-
perior race, I will be so superior that I can make my
living without stealing from the inferior. I am per-
fectly ivilling that any Democrat in the world that
can, shall pass me. I have never seen one yet, except
when I looked over my shoulder. But if they can
pass I shall be delighted.

Whenever we stand in the presence of genius, we
take off our hats. Whenever we stand in the pres-
ence of the great, we do involuntary homage in spite
of ourselves. Any one who can go by is welcome,
any one in the world ; but until somebody does go
by, of the Democratic persuasion, I shall not trouble
myself about the fact that may be, in some future
time, they may get by. The Democrats are afraid
of being passed, because they are being passed.



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CHICAGO SPEBCH. 219

No man ever was, no man ever will be, the
superior of the man whom he robs. No man ever
was, no man ever will be, the superior of the man
he steals from. I had rather be a slave than a slave-
master. I had rather be stolen from than be a thief.
I had rather be the wronged than the wrong-doer.
And allow me to say again to impress it forever
upon every man that hears me, you will always be
the inferior of the man you wrong. Every race is
inferior to the race it tramples upon and robs.
There never was a man that could trample upon
human rights and be superior to the man upon
whom he trampled. And let me say anotherthing :
No government can stand upon the crushed rights
of one single human being ; and any compromise
that we make with the South, if we make it at the
expense of our friends, will carry in its own bosom
the seeds of its own death and destruction, and
cannot stand. A government founded upon any-
thing except liberty and justice cannot and ought
not to stand. All the wrecks on either side of the
stream of time, all the wrecks of the great cities and
nations that have passed away — all are a warning
that no nation founded upon injustice can stand.
From sand-enshrouded Egypt, from the marble
wilderness of Athens, from every fallen, crumbling



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220 CHICAGO SPEECH.

stone of the once mighty Rome, comes as it were
a wail, comes as it were the cry, *' No nation
founded upon injustice can permanendy stand."
We must found this Nation anew. We must fight
our fight. We must cling to our old party until
there is freedom of speech in every part of the
United States. We must cling to the old party
until I can speak in every State of the South as
every Southerner can speak in every State of the
North. We must vote the grand old Republican
ticket until there is the same liberty in every
Southern State that there is in every Northern,
Eastern and Western State. We must stand by
the party until every Southern man will admit that
this country belongs to every citizen of the United
States as much as to the man that is born in that
country. One more thing. I do not want any
man that ever fought for this country to vote
the Democratic ticket. You will swap your re-
spectability for disgrace. There are thousands of
you — ^great, grand, splendid men — ^that have fought
grandly for this Union, and now I beseech of you,
I beg of you, do not give respectability to the
enemies and haters of your country. Do not do it
Do not vote with the Democratic party of the
North. Sometimes I think a rebel sympathizer in



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CHICAGO SPEECH. 221

the North worse than a rebel, and I will tell you
why. The rebel was carried into the rebellion by
public opinion at home, — his father, his mother,
his sweetheart, his brother, and everybody he knew ;
and there was a kind of wind, a kind of tornado, a
kind of whirlwind that took him into the army. He
went on the rebel side with his State. The
Northern Democrat went against his own State ;
went against his own Government ; and went
against public opinion at home. The Northern
Democrat rowed up stream against wind and tide.
The Southern rebel went with the current ; the
Northern rebel rowed against the current from pure,
simple cussedness.

And I beg every man that ever fought for the
Union, every man that ever bared his breast to a
storm of shot and shell, that the old flag might float
over every inch of American soil redeemed from
the clutch of treason ; I beg him, I implore him, do
not go with the Democratic party. And to every
young man within the sound of my voice I say, do
not tie your bright and shining prospects to that
old corpse of Democracy. You will get tired of
dragging it around. Do not cast your first vote
with the enemies of your country. Do not cast
your first vote with the Democratic party that was



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1222 CHICAGO SPEECH.

glad when the Union army was defeated. Do not
cast your vote with that party whose cheeks flushed
with the roses of joy when the old flag was trailed
in disaster upon the field of battle. Remember, my
friends, that that party did every mean thing it
could, every dishonest and treasonable thing it
could. Recollect that that party did all it could to
divide this Nation, and destroy this country.

For myself I have no fear ; Hayes and Wheeler
will be the next President and Vice-President of
the United States of America. Let me beg of you
— let me implore you — ^let me beseech you, every
man, to come out on election day. Every man, do
your duty ; every man do his duty with regard to
the State ticket of the great and glorious State of
Illinois.

This year we need Republicans ; this year we
need men that will vote for the party ; and I tell
you that a Republican this year, no matter what
you have against him, no matter whether you like
him or do not Ifke him, is better for the country,
no matter how much you hate him, he is better for
the country than any Democrat Nature can make,
or ever has made.

We must, in this supreme election, we must at
this supreme moment, vote only for the men who



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CHICAGO SPEECH. 223

are in favor of keeping thb Government in the
power, in the custody, in the control of the great,
the sublime Republican party.

Ladies and gentlemen, if I were insensible to the
honor you have done me by this magnificent meet-
ing — the most magnificent I ever saw on earth — a,
meeting such as only the marvelous City of Pluck
could produce ; if I were insensible of the honor,
I would be made of stone. I shall remember
it with delight ; I shall remember it with thank-
fulness all the days of my life. And I ask in
return of every Republican here to remember all
the days of his life, every sacrifice made by this
nation for liberty ; every sacrifice made by every
private soldier, every sacrifice made by every
patriotic man and patriotic woman.

I do not ask you to remember in revenge, but I
ask you never, never to forget As the world
swings through the constellations year after year,
I want the memory, I want the patriotic memory of
this country to sit by the grave of every Union
soldier, and, while her eyes are filled with tears, to
crown him again and again with the crown of ever-



Online LibraryRobert Green IngersollPolitical speeches of Robert G. Ingersoll → online text (page 12 of 31)