Samuel J. (Samuel Jones) Tilden.

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country ; and if, with bold, fearless, and decisive hand, it will
strike at the root of these evils, prosperity will return to us.
Of course I am not here to night to deal in homiletics; I am
simply making what a Down-East parson would call an applica-
tion of the sermon the very excellent sermon - of my friend
the Attorney-General.


GOVERNOR TILDEN was present by invitation at the fair of the
Young Women's Christian Association, held at the Academy of
Music on the evening of Saturday the 7th of May, 1876. The
Governor's allusion to Mr. James Stokes is explained by the
fact that that excellent gentleman had given fifteen thousand
dollars to the purchase of the building occupied by the Associa-
tion. Mr. Stokes' s father was the late Thomas Stokes, who
shares with Robert Raikes the fame of founding the modern
Sunday-School system. After paying his respects to the offi-
cers of the Association, the Governor was conducted to the
centre box in the first tier, where he made the following brief


LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, In the fitness of things the
offices of holy charity peculiarly belong to the female sex.
The poet makes the dying Marmion exclaim,

" O woman ! . . .

When pain and anguish wring the brow,
A ministering angel thou 1 "

In enthusiasm, the tendency to idealize, in the spirit of
sacrifice and devotion that grows out of the sentiment of affec-
tion, the womanly nature has vast reserves of force capable
of being collected, organized, and utilized for the purposes of
public charity. I sympathize with your Association because
this is your object.

I had occasion myself a short time ago to plant a germ of
the graces and capabilities of the female sex in the arid wastes
of the State Board of Charities. It seemed to me a simple and
natural thing to do. I had some legal scruples to evade, some
difficulties to overcome ; but I did it, and I woke up next morn-
ing and found myself famous. Not more astonished was Lord
Byron when he heard of " Childe Harold" being read on the
banks of the Ohio. I received letters of approval and congratu-
lation from gallant young gentlemen like William C. Bryant
and Charles O'Conor. 1 On the whole, I consider it perhaps the
solitary success of my whole life with the female sex ; for I read
in the " Evening Post " I think it was that during all these
diligent and laborious years of my life I had been but writing

1 Bryant was then 82 years of age, and O'Conor 72.


my name on the sands close to the sea, so that each succeed-
ing wave obliterated all I had written ; but that I should now
go down in history because of this graceful, fortunate, and
happy conception. It is well to get renown on such honor-
able terms. I was at the Chamber of Commerce dinner, and
near me sat the Rev. Dr. John Hall, and he told a dream.
The dream was of Saint Peter ; and about that time Mr. Dodge
came to me and pressed me to attend here to-night. Of course
I went home with my head somewhat confused ; and by and by,
in the small hours of the morning, that portion of the Rev. Dr.
Hall's dream which he had not recounted, appeared to me in
a vision. I thought I saw Mr. James Stokes approaching the
gate of Heaven, and Saint Peter said: " What are your titles
to enter here ? ' Now Mr. Stokes thought he would mention
what seemed to him the best thing he had ever done ; so he
mentioned his benefaction to this Society. " Stop," said Saint
Peter ; " I see no evidence that this is a voluntary free-will


offering, because it is a mere surrender to the most charming
of all the Orders of mendicants. We have no entry on our
books of that act." Mr. Stokes looked astonished and troubled ;
but Saint Peter's countenance was suffused with a kindly smile,

/ 7

and he said : " Now, having notice of the fact, anything more

O / o

that } T OU do hereafter, or anything that your friends or others
choose to contribute to this object, shall be regularly entered
in the accounts of Heaven to your credit." Just at that


moment the vision faded ; and I thought how much better is
reality than the best of dreams, because Mr. James Stokes and
his friend Mr. Dodge still live among us. Long may they live
as bright examples to whom all of you may look ! They are
heaping up treasures where moth does not corrupt, nor thieves
break through and steal. I admire their example ; I commend
it to your imitation; and I commend to you also the chief
donor to this society, the son of one of the earliest founders
of modern missionary societies and a worthy descendant of
the zealous coadjutor and ally of the founder of Sabbath-
schools in England and in the world.

VOL. II. 2o


THE National Democratic Convention of 1876 selected to
nominate candidates for the Presidency and Vice-Presidency
met in the great hall of the Board of Trade in St. Louis at
noon on the 27th of June, 1876. General John A. McClernand
was selected as the permanent chairman of the Convention.
When in the call of the States for the presentation of candi-
dates the State of New York was reached, Francis Kernan, one
of the United States senators from the State of New York,
and chairman of the New York delegation, arose and said :

" The great issue upon which this election will be lost or won is
that question of needed administrative reform ; and in selecting
our candidates, if we had a man that had been so fortunate as to
be placed in a public position, who had laid his hand on dishonest
officials, no matter to what party they belonged, or had rooted out
abuses in the discharge of his duty, who had shown himself willing
and able to bring down taxation and inaugurate reform, if we are
wise men and have such a man, it is no disparagement to any other
candidate to say that this is the man that will command the con-
fidence of men who have not been always with the Democracy,
and make our claim strong, so that it will sweep all over this
Union a triumphant party vote.

" Governor Tilden was selected as governor of our State ; he
came into office Jan. 1, 1875. The direct taxes collected from our
tax-ridden people in the tax levy of 1874 were over fifteen mil-
lions of dollars. He has been in office eighteen months, and the
tax levy for the State treasury in this year, 1876, is only eight
millions of dollars. If you go among our farming people, among
our men who find business coming down and their produce bring-
ing low prices, you will find that they have faith in the man who
has reduced taxation in the State of New York one half in eigh-
teen months ; and you will hear the honest men throughout the


country say that they want the man who will do at Washington
what has been done in the State of New York.

" Now do not misunderstand me. We have other worthy men
and good in the State of New York who, if they had had the
chance to be elected, and had had a chance to discover the frauds
in our State administration, among our canals, which were thus
depleting our people, would have done the work faithfully. But
it so happened that Samuel J. Tilden reaped this great benefit
for our people and this great honor for our party.

Governor Tilden was nominated on the second ballot by the
following vote :

Whole vote 738

Necessary for a choice 492

Samuel J. Tilden, of New York 535

Thomas A. Hendricks, of Indiana 60

William Allen, of Ohio 54

Joel Parker, of New Jersey 18

Winfield Scott Hancock, of Pennsylvania 59

Thomas Bayard, of Delaware 11

Allen G. Thurman, of Ohio 2

The Convention appointed a committee, of which the Chair-
man of the Convention was a member, to wait upon Governor
Tilden at his residence in New York city and apprise him of
his nomination. The committee called upon the Governor on
the llth of July, when General McClernand read to him the

* /

following address :

Governor Samuel J. Tilden.

SIR, The undersigned, a committee of the National Democratic
Convention which met at the city of St. Louis, Mo., on the 27th
ultimo, consisting of its president and of one delegate from each
State of the Federal Union, have been intrusted with the pleas-
ant duty of waiting upon and informing you of your nomination
by that body as the candidate of the Democratic party for the
Presidency of the United States at the ensuing election.

It is a source of great satisfaction to us, who but reflect the
opinions of the members of the Convention, that a gentleman
entertaining and boldly advancing, as you do, and have done, those
great measures of national and State reform which are an absolute
necessity for the restoration of the national honor, prosperity, and


credit, should have been selected as our standard-bearer in the
approaching contest. Your name is identified with the all-absorbing
question of reform, reduction of taxes, and the maintenance of
the rights of the laboring masses. The Democracy, in designating
you as their chosen leader, do not feel that they are relying merely
upon your pledges or promises of what you will do in the event
of your election ; your record of the past is our guaranty of your
future course. Having been faithful over a few things, we will
make you a ruler over many things.

Accompanying this letter of notification, we also present you
with the declaration of principles adopted by the Convention.
We have no doubt that you will recognize in this declaration
measures of political policy which immediately concern the hap-
piness and welfare of the entire people of this country ; and we
feel that your election to the Presidency will be a guaranty of
their success, and it will be as much your pleasure to enforce and
maintain them, if elected, as it is ours to give them the stamp of
national representative approbation and approval in their adop-
tion. Entertaining the hope that you will signify to us your
acceptance of the nomination which we have tendered you, and
that you concur with the Convention in their declaration of
principle, we are, dear sir, your very obedient servants,


And all the members of the National Committee.

Governor Tilden replied, first in a brief speech, and sub-
sequently in a letter, which are here given in their order of


I shall at my earliest convenience prepare and transmit to you
a formal acceptance of the nomination which you now tender
to me in behalf of the Democratic National Convention, and
I do not desire on this occasion to anticipate any topic which
might be appropriate to that communication. It may, how-
ever, be permitted to me to say that my nomination was not
a mere personal preference between citizens and statesmen of
this Republic who might very well have been chosen for so
distinguished an honor and for so august a duty. It was
rather a declaration of that illustrious body, in whose behalf
you speak, in favor of administrative reform, with which
events had associated me in the public mind. The strength,
the universality, and the efficiency of the demand for adminis-
trative reform, especially in the administration of the Federal
Government, with which the Democratic masses everywhere
are instinct, has led to a series of surprises in the popular
assemblages, and perhaps in the Convention itself. It would
be unnatural, gentlemen, if a popular movement so genuine
and so powerful should stop with three and a half millions
of Democrats ; that it should not extend by contagion to that
large mass of independent voters who stand between parties
in our country, and even to the moderate portion of the
party under whose administration the evils to be corrected


have grown up. And perhaps in what we have witnessed
there may be an augury in respect to what we may witness
in the election about to take place throughout our country;
at least, let us hope so and believe so.

I am not without experience of the difficulty, of the labor of
effecting administrative reform when it requires a revolution
in policies and in measures long established in government.
If I were to judge by the year and a half during which I have
been in the State government, I should say that the routine
duties of the trust I have had imposed upon me are a small
burden compared with that created by the attempt to change
the practice of the government of which I have been the
executive head. Especially is this so where the reform is to
be worked out with more or less of co-operation of public
officers who either have been tainted with the evils to be
redressed, or who have been incapacitated by the habit of
tolerating the wrongs to be corrected, and to which they have
been consenting witnesses. I therefore, if your choice should
be ratified by the people at the election, should enter upon the
great duties which would be assigned to me, not as a holiday
recreation, but very much in that spirit of consecration in
which a soldier enters battle.

But let us believe, as I do believe, that we now see the dawn
of a better day for our country, that difficult as is the work
to which the Democratic party, with many allies and former
members of other parties, has addressed itself the Republic
is surely to be renovated, and that it is to live in all the
future, to be transmitted to succeeding generations as Jef-
ferson contributed to form it in his dav, and as It has been

/ /

ever since, until a recent period, a blessing to the whole
people and a hope to all mankind.

Gentlemen, I thank you for the very kind terms in which
you have made your communication, and I extend to you,
collectively and individually, a cordial greeting.



ALBANY, July 31, 1876.

GENTLEMEN, When I had the honor to receive a personal
delivery of your letter on behalf of the Democratic National

/ /

Convention, held on the 28th of June at St. Louis, advising me
of my nomination as the candidate of the constituency repre-
sented by that body for the office of President of the United
States, I answered that, at my earliest convenience, and in
conformity with usage, I would prepare and transmit to you
a formal acceptance. I now avail myself of the first interval
in unavoidable occupations to fulfil that engagement.

The Convention, before making its nominations, adopted a
Declaration of Principles which, as a whole, seems to me a
wise exposition of the necessities of our country and of the
reforms needed to bring back the government to its true func-
tions, to restore purity of administration, and to renew the
prosperity of the people. But some of these reforms are so
urgent that they claim more than a passing approval.

The necessity of a reform "in the scale of public expense
Federal, State, and municipal " and " in the R e f orm in pu bii c
modes of Federal taxation" justifies all the ex P ense -
prominence given to it in the declaration of the St. Louis


The present depression in all the business and industries of
the people, which is depriving labor of its employment and
carrying want into so many homes, has its principal cause in
excessive governmental consumption. Under the illusions of
a specious prosperity engendered by the false policies of the
Federal Government, a waste of capital has been going on ever
since the peace of 1865 which could only end in universal
disaster. The Federal taxes of the last eleven years reach the
gigantic sum of 4,500,000,000. Local taxation has amounted
to two thirds as much more. The vast aggregate is not less
than 87,500,000,000. This enormous taxation followed a civil
conflict that had greatly impaired our aggregate wealth and had
made a prompt reduction of expenses indispensable. It was
aggravated by most unscientific and ill-adjusted methods of
taxation, that increased the sacrifices of the people far beyond
the receipts of the Treasury. It was aggravated, moreover, by
a financial policy which tended to diminish the energy, skill,
and economy of production and the frugality of private con-
sumption, and induced miscalculation in business and unremu-
nerative use of capital and labor.

Even in prosperous times the daily wants of industrious
communities press closely upon their daily earnings. The
margin of possible national savings is at best a small percentage
of national earnings. Yet now for these eleven years govern-
mental consumption has been a larger portion of the national
earnings than the whole people can possibly save, even in pros-
perous times, for all new investments. The consequences of
these errors are now a present public calamity. But they
were never doubtful, never invisible. They were necessary and
inevitable, and were foreseen and depicted when the waves of
that fictitious prosperity ran highest. In a speech made by
me on the 24th of September, 1868, it was said of these
taxes :

"They bear heavily upon every man's income, upon every industry
and every business in the country ; and year by year they are cl s-
tined to press still more heavily, unless we arrest the system t. it


gives rise to them. It was comparatively easy, when values were
doubling under repeated issues of legal-tender paper money, to pay
out of the froth of our growing and apparent wealth these taxes ;
but when values recede and sink toward their natural scale, the
tax-gatherer takes from us not only our income, not only our
profits, but also a portion of our capital. ... I do not wish to
exaggerate or alarm ; I simply say that we cannot afford the costly
and ruinous policy of the Eadical majority of Congress. We
cannot afford that policy toward the South. We cannot afford
the magnificent and oppressive centralism into which our govern-
ment is being converted. We cannot afford the present magnifi-
cent scale of taxation."

To the Secretary of the Treasury I said, early in 1865 :-

" There is no royal road for a government more than for an indi-
vidual or a corporation. What you want to do now is to cut down
your expenses and live within your income. I would give all the
legerdemain of finance and financiering I would give the whole
of it for the old, homely maxim, ( Live within your income.'

This reform will be resisted at every step ; but it must be
pressed persistently. We see to-day the immediate representa-
tives of the people in one branch of Congress, while struggling
to reduce expenditures, compelled to confront the menace of
the Senate and the Executive that unless the objectionable
appropriations be consented to, the operations of the Govern-
ment thereunder shall suffer detriment or cease. In my judg-
ment an amendment of the Constitution ought to be devised
separating into distinct bills the appropriations for the various
departments of the public service, and excluding from each
bill all appropriations for other objects and all independent
legislation. In that way alone can the revisory power of each
of the two Houses and of the Executive be preserved and
exempted from the moral duress which often compels assent
to objectionable appropriations, rather than stop the wheels of
the Government.

An accessory cause enhancing the distress in business is to
be found in the systematic and insupportable misgovernrnent
imposed on the States of the South. Besides the ordinary


effects of ignorant and dishonest administration, it has in-
flicted upon them enormous issues of fraudulent

The South. .

bonds, the scanty avails ot which were wasted or


stolen, and the existence of which is a public discredit, tending
to bankruptcy or repudiation. Taxes, generally oppressive, in
some instances have confiscated the entire income of property,
and totally destroyed its marketable value. It is impossible
that these evils should not react upon the prosperity of the
whole country.

The nobler motives of humanity concur with the material
interests of all in requiring that every obstacle be removed to a
complete and durable reconciliation between kindred popula-
tions once unnaturally estranged, on the basis recognized by
the St. Louis platform, of the " Constitution of the United
States, with its amendments, universally accepted as a final
settlement of the controversies which engendered civil war."

But, in aid of a result so beneficent, the moral influence of
every good citizen, as well as every governmental authority,
ought to be exerted, not alone to maintain their just equality
before the law, but likewise to establish a cordial fraternity and
good-will among citizens, whatever their race or color, who are
now united in the one destiny of a common self-government. If
the duty shall be assigned to me, I should not fail to exercise
the powers with which the laws and the Constitution of our
country clothe its chief magistrate, to protect all its citizens,
whatever their former condition, in every political and personal

" Reform is necessary," declares the St. Louis Convention,
" to establish a sound currency, restore the public

Currency reform.

credit, and maintain the national honor ; ' and
it goes on to " demand a judicious system of preparation by
public economies, by official retrenchments, and by wise
finance, which shall enable the nation soon to assure the
whole world of its perfect ability and its perfect readiness to
meet any of its promises at the call of the creditor entitled
to payment."


The object demanded by the Convention is a resumption of
specie payments on the legal-tender notes of the United States.
That would not only " restore the public credit " and " main-
tain the national honor," but it would " establish a sound cur-
rency " for the people. The methods by which this object is
to be pursued and the means by which it is to be attained,
are disclosed by what the Convention demanded for the
future and by what it denounced in the past.

Resumption of specie payments by the Government of the
United States on its legal-tender notes would Bank-note
establish specie payments by all the banks on all resum P tlo -
their notes. The official statement made on the 12th of May
shows that the amount of the bank-notes was three hundred
millions, less twenty millions held by the banks themselves.
Against these two hundred and eighty millions of notes the
banks held one hundred and forty-one millions of legal-tender
notes, or a little more than 50 per cent of their amount ; but
they also held on deposit in the Federal Treasury, as security
for these notes, bonds of the United States worth in gold about
three hundred and sixty millions, available and current in all
the foreign money-markets. In resuming, the banks, even if
it were possible for all their notes to be presented for pay-
ment, would have five hundred millions of specie funds to pay
two hundred and eighty millions of notes without contracting
their loans to their customers or calling on any private debtor
for payment. Suspended banks undertaking to resume have
usually been obliged to collect from needy borrowers the means
to redeem excessive issues and to provide reserves. A vague
idea of distress is therefore often associated with the process
of resumption; but the conditions which caused distress in
those former instances do not now exist. The Government
has only to make good its own promises, and the banks can
take care of themselves without distressing anybody. The
Government is therefore the sole delinquent.

The amount of the legal-tender notes of the United States
now outstanding is less than three hundred and seventy


millions of dollars, besides thirty-four millions of dollars of
Le"ai-tendcr re- fractional currency. Plow shall the Govern-
sumption. nient make these notes at all times as good

as specie ?

It has to provide, in reference to the mass which would be
kept in use by the wants of business, a central reservoir of
coin, adequate to the adjustment of the temporary fluctuations
of international balances, and as a guaranty against transient
drains artificially created by panic or by speculation. It has
also to provide for the payment in coin of such fractional cur-

Online LibrarySamuel J. (Samuel Jones) TildenThe writings and speeches (Volume 1) → online text (page 28 of 52)