Thomas B. (Thomas Brackett) Reed.

Modern eloquence; (Volume 11) online

. (page 23 of 43)
Online LibraryThomas B. (Thomas Brackett) ReedModern eloquence; (Volume 11) → online text (page 23 of 43)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

man ever before possessed in our America, which he has
acquired over the public mind. And how has he acquired
it? Not by the arts of intrigue or the juggling tricks of
diplomacy; not by undermining rivals, or sacrificing public
interests for the gratification of classes or individuals. But
he has acquired it, first, by the exercise of an intuitive
sagacity which, leaving all book-learning at an immeasur-
able distance behind, has always enabled him to adopt the
right remedy at the right time, and to conquer soonest when
the men of forms and office thought him most near to ruin
and despair. Next, by a moral courage which knew no fear
when the public good beckoned him to go on. Last and
chiefest, he has acquired it by an open honesty of purpose
which knew no concealments ; by a straightforwardness of
action which disdained the forms of office and the arts of
intrigue; by a disinterestedness of motive which knew no
selfish or sordid calculation ; a devotedness of patriotism
which staked everything personal on the issue of every
measure which the public welfare required him to adopt.
By these qualities and these means he has acquired his
prodigious popularity and his transcendent influence over
the public mind; and if there are any who envy that influ-
ence and popularity, let them envy also, and emulate, if
they can, the qualities and means by which they were

Great has been the opposition to President Jackson's
administration ; greater, perhaps, than ever has been exhib-


ited against any government, short of actual insurrection
and forcible resistance. Revolution has been proclaimed,
and everything has been done that could be expected to
produce revolution. The country has been alarmed, agi-
tated, convulsed. From the Senate chamber to the village
barroom, from one end of the continent to the other, de-
nunciation, agitation, excitement has been the order of the
day. For eight years the President of this republic has
stood upon a volcano vomiting fire and flames upon him,
and threatening the country itself with ruin and desolation,
if the people did not expel the usurper, despot, and tyrant,
as he was called, from the high place to which the suffrages
of millions of freemen had elevated him*

Great is the confidence which he has always reposed in
the discernment and equity of the American people. I
have been accustomed to see him for many years, and under
many discouraging trials, but never saw him doubt, for an
instant, the ultimate support of the people. It was my
privilege to see him often, and during the most gloomy
period of the panic conspiracy, when the whole earth seemed
to be in commotion against him, and when many friends
were faltering, and stout hearts were quailing before the
raging storm which bank machination and senatorial denun-
ciation had conjured up to overwhelm him. I saw him in
the darkest moments of this gloomy period ; and never did
I see his confidence in the ultimate support of his fellow
citizens forsake him for an instant. He always said the
people would stand by those who stand by them ; and nobly
have they justified that confidence ! That verdict, the voice
of millions, which now demands the expunction of that
sentence which the Senate and the bank then pronounced
upon him, is the magnificent response of the people's hearts
to the implicit confidence which he then reposed in them.
But it was not in the people only that he had confidence ;
there was another, and a far higher power, to which he'con-
stantly looked to save the country, and its defenders, from
every danger; and signal events prove that he did not look
to that high power in vain.

Sir, I think it right, in approaching the termination of
this great question, to present this faint and rapid sketch
of the brilliant, beneficent, and glorious administration of


President Jackson. It is not for me to attempt to do it
justice; it is not for ordinary men to attempt its history.
His military life, resplendent with dazzling events, will de-
mand the pen of a nervous writer; his civil administration,
replete with scenes which have called into action so many
and such various passions of the human heart, and which
has given to native sagacity so many victories over practised
politicians, will require the profound, luminous, and philo-
sophical conceptions of a Livy, a Plutarch, or a Sallust.
This history is not to be written in our day. The contem-
poraries of such events are not the hands to describe them.
Time must first do its office must silence the passions,
remove the actors, develop consequences, and canonize all
that is sacred to honor, patriotism, and glory. In after
ages the historic genius of our America shall produce the
writers which the subject demands men far removed from
the contests of this day, who will know how to estimate
this great epoch, and how to acquire an immortality for
their own names by painting, with a master's hand, the
immortal events of the patriot President's life.

And now, sir, I finish the task which, three years ago,
I imposed on myself. Solitary and alone, and amidst the
jeers and taunts of my opponents, I put this ball in motion.
The people have taken it up and rolled it forward, and I
am no longer anything but a unit in the vast mass which
now propels it. In the name of that mass I speak. I de-
mand the execution of the edict of the people; I demand
the expunction of that sentence which the voice of a few
senators, and the power of their confederate, the Bank of
the United States, has caused to be placed on the journal
of the Senate, and which the voice of millions of freemen
has ordered to be expunged from it.



[Albert J. Beveridge, an American political orator and member of
the United States Senate, was born in Ohio in 1862. His boyhood was
one of hardship, but he early resolved to acquire a good education, and
saved money enough to take him through De Pauw University. To
accomplish this he worked successively as teamster, laborer, farm-hand,
and man of all work ; but when his college days were over he became
a lawyer's clerk, and at last a member of the bar. His ability soon as-
serted itself, and he had a good practice. Public affairs, however, had
great interest for him, and this fact, combined with his unusual apti-
tude as a public speaker, made him in time very conspicuous in the
Republican party in Indiana. In 1899 he was elected to the United
States Senate, although he had never before held public office. One of
his first steps was to visit the Philippine Islands to gather first-hand
information, and as a result he became convinced of the duty of the
United States to retain control of the archipelago. The following
speech, relating to the holding of the Philippine Islands by the United
States, was delivered at Indianapolis in 1898.]

FELLOW CITIZENS: It is a noble land that God has
given us; a land that can feed and clothe the world;
a land whose coast lines would enclose half the countries of
Europe; a land set like a sentinel between the two imperial
oceans of the globe, a greater England with a nobler des-
tiny. It is a mighty people that He has planted on this
soil; a people sprung from the most masterful blood of his-
tory; a people perpetually revitalized by the virile, man-
producing working folk of all the earth ; a people imperial
by virtue of their power, by right of their institutions, by
authority of their heaven-directed purposes the propagan-
dists and not the misers of liberty. It is a glorious history
our God has bestowed upon His chosen people; a history
whose keynote was struck by Liberty Bell; a history heroic
with faith in our mission and our future ; a history of states-


men who flung the boundaries of the republic out into
unexplored lands and savage wildernesses; a history of
soldiers who carried the flag across the blazing deserts and
through the ranks of hostile mountains, even to the gates
of sunset ; a history of a multiplying people who overran a
continent in half a century; a history of prophets who saw
the consequences of evils inherited from the past, and of
martyrs who died to save us from them ; a history divinely
logical, in the process of whose tremendous reasoning we
find ourselves to-day.

Therefore, in this campaign, the question is larger than
a party question. It is an American question. It is a
world question. Shall the American people continue their
resistless march toward the commercial supremacy of the
world? Shall free institutions broaden their blessed reign
as the children of liberty wax in strength, until the empire
of our principles is established over the hearts of all man-

Have we no mission to perform, no duty to discharge
to our fellow man? Has the Almighty Father endowed us
with gifts beyond our deserts and marked us as the people
of His peculiar favor, merely to rot in our own selfishness,
as men and nations must who take cowardice for their
companion and self for their deity as China has, as India
has, as Egypt has?

Shall we be as the man who had one talent and hid it,
or as he who had ten talents and used them until they grew
to riches? And shall we reap the reward that waits on our
discharge of our high duty as the sovereign power of earth ;
shall we occupy new markets for what our farmers raise,
new markets for what our factories make, new markets for
what our merchants sell aye, and, please God, new markets
for what our ships shall carry?

Shall we avail ourselves of new sources of supply of
what we do not raise or make, so that what are luxuries
to-day will be necessities to-morrow? Shall our commerce
be encouraged until, with Oceanica, the Orient, and the
world, American trade shall be the imperial trade of the
entire globe?

Shall we conduct the mightiest commerce of history
with the best money known to man, or shall we use the


pauper money of Mexico, of China, and of the Chicago

What are the great facts of this administration? Not a
failure of revenue; not a perpetual battle between the ex-
ecutive and legislative departments of government ; not a
rescue from dishonor by European syndicates at the price
of tens of millions in cash and national humiliation unspeak-
able. These have not marked the past two years the
past two years, which have blossomed into four splendid
months of glory.

But a war has marked it, the most holy ever waged by
one nation against another a war for civilization, a war
for a permanent peace, a war which, under God, although
we knew it not, swung open to the republic the portals of
the commerce of the world. And the first question you
must answer with your vote is, whether you indorse that
war? We are told that all citizens and every platform in-
dorse the war, and I admit, with the joy of patriotism,
that this is true. But that is only among ourselves, and
we are of and to ourselves no longer. This election takes
place on the stage of the world, with all earth's nations for
our auditors. If the administration is defeated at the
polls, will England believe that we accept the results of
the war?

Will Germany, that sleepless searcher for new markets
for her factories and fields, and therefore the effective med-
dler in all international complications will Germany be
discouraged from interfering with our settlement of the
war, if the administration is defeated at the polls?

Will Russia, that weaver of the webs of commerce, into
which province after province and people after people falls,
regard us as a steadfast people if the administration is
defeated at the polls?

The world is observing us to-day. Not a foreign office
in Europe that is not studying the American republic and
watching the American elections of 1898 as it never watched
an American election before. Are the American people the
chameleon of the nations? "If so, we can easily handle
them," say the diplomats of the world.

Which result, say you, will have the best effect for us
upon the great powers who watch us with the jealousy


strength always inspires a defeat, at the hand of the
American people, of the administration which has conducted
our foreign war to a world-embracing success, and which
has in hand the most important foreign problems since the
Revolution; or such an indorsement of the administra-
tion by the American people as will swell to a national

No matter what your views on the Dingley or the Wil-
son laws ; no matter whether you favor Mexican money or
the standard of this republic ; we must deal from this day
on with nations greedy of every market we are to invade ;
nations with statesmen trained in craft, nations with ships
and guns and money and men. Will they sift out the
motive for your vote, or will they consider the large result
of the indorsement or rebuke of the administration? The
world still rubs its eyes from its awakening to the resistless
power and sure destiny of this republic. Which outcome
of this election will be best for America's future which will
most healthfully impress every people of the globe with the
steadfastness of character and tenacity of purpose of the
American people the triumph of the government at the
polls, or the success of the opposition?

I repeat, it is more than a party question. It is an
American question. It is an issue in which history sleeps.
It is a situation which will influence the destiny of the

And yet have we peace? Does not the cloud of war
linger on the horizon? If it does not if only the tremen-
dous problems of peace now under solution remain, ought
not the administration to be supported in its fateful work by
the indorsement of the American people? Think of Eng-
land abandoning its ministry at the moment it was securing
the fruits of a successful war! Think of Germany rebuking
Bismarck at the moment he was dictating peace to France !
What would America say of them if they should do such a
deed of mingled insanity, perfidy, and folly? What would
the world say of America, if, in the very midst of peace
negotiations upon which the nations are looking with jeal-
ousy, fear, and hatred, the American people should rebuke
the administration in charge of those peace negotiations
and place a hostile House and Senate in Washington? God


forbid ! When a people show such inconstancy, such child-
ish fickleness as that, their career as a power among nations
is a memory.

But, if possible war lurks in the future, what then?
Shall we forsake our leaders at the close of a campaign of
glory and on the eve of new campaigns for which it has pre-
pared? Yet that is what the success of the opposition to
the government means. What is that old saying about the
idiocy of him who changed horses while crossing a stream?
It would be like discharging a workman because he was
efficient and true. It would be like court-martialing Grant
and discharging his heroes in dishonor because they took

Ah! the heroes of Vicksburg and Peach Tree Creek,
Atlanta, Mission Ridge, the Wilderness, and all those fields
of glory, of suffering, and of death !

Soldiers of 1861 ! A generation has passed and you
have reared a race of heroes worthy of your blood heroes
of El Caney, San Juan, and Cavit6, of Santiago and Manila
aye ! and 200,000 more as brave as they, who waited in
camp with the agony of impatience the call of battle, ready
to count the hellish hardship of the trenches the very sweets
of fate, if they could only fight for the flag.

For every tented field was full of Hobsons, of Roose-
velts, of Wheelers, and their men; full of the kind of
soldiers that in regiments of rags, starving, with bare feet
in the snows of winter, made Valley Forge immortal ; full
of the same kind of boys that endured the hideous hard-
ships of the civil war, drank from filthy roadside pools as
they marched through swamps of death, ate food alive with
weevils, and even corn picked from the horses' camp, slept
in the blankets of the blast with sheets of sleet for cover-
ing, breakfasted with danger and dined with death, and
came back those who did come back with a laugh and a
shout and a song of joy, true American soldiers, pride of
their country, and envy of the world.

For that is the kind of boys the soldiers of 1898 are,
notwithstanding the slanders of politicians and the infamy
of a leprous press that try to make the world believe our
soldiers are suckling babes and womanish weaklings, and
our government, in war, a corrupt machine, fattening off


the suffering of our armies. In the name of the sturdy
soldiery of America I denounce the hissing lies of politicians
out of an issue, who are trying to disgrace American man-
hood in the eyes of the nations.

In the name of patriotism, I arraign these maligners of
the soldierhood of our nation before the bar of the present
and the past. I call to the witness stand that Bayard of
our armies, General Joe Wheeler. I call that Hotspur of
the South, Fitzhugh Lee. I call the 200,000 men them-
selves, who went to war for the business of war.

And I put all these against the vandals of politics who
are blackening their fame as soldiers and as men. I call
history to the witness stand. In the Mexican War the
loss from every cause was 25 per cent., and this is on incom-
plete returns; in the present war the loss from every cause
is only 3 per cent. In the Mexican War the sick lay naked
on the ground with only blankets over them, and were
buried with only a blanket around them. Of the volunteer
force, 5,423 were discharged for disability, and 3,229 died
from disease. When Scott marched to Mexico, only 96
men were left out of one regiment of 1,000. The average
of a Mississippi company was reduced from ninety to thirty
men. From Vera Cruz to Mexico a line of sick and dying
marked his line of march.

General Taylor publicly declared that, in his army, five
men died from sickness for every man killed in battle.
Scott demanded surgeons. The government refused to
give them. The three-months men lost nearly 9 per cent. ;
the six-months men lost 14 per cent. ; the twelve-months
men 29 per cent. ; the men enlisted for the war lost 37 per
cent.; 31,914 soldiers enlisted for the war, and 11,914 of
these were lost, of whom 7,369 are unaccounted for.

In the war for the Union no, there is no need of
figures there. Go to the field of Gettysburg and ask. Go
ask that old veteran how fever's fetid breath breathed on
them and disease rotted their blood. And in the present
war, thank God ! the loss and suffering is less than in any
war in all the history of the world.

And if any needless suffering there has been, if any
deaths from criminal neglect, if any hard condition not a
usual incident of sudden war by a peaceful people has been


permitted, William McKinley will see that the responsible
ones are punished. Although our loss was less than the
world ever knew before; although the condition of our
troops was better than in any conflict of our history,
McKinley the Just has appointed, from both parties, a com-
mission of the most eminent men in the nation to lay the
facts before him.

Let the investigation go on, and when the report is
made the people of America will know how black as mid-
night is the sin of those who, for the purpose of politics,
have shamed the hardihood of the American soldiers before
the world, attempted to demoralize our army in the face
of the enemy, and libeled the government at Washington
to delighted and envious nations.

And think of what was done! Two hundred and fifty
thousand men suddenly called to arms; men unused to the
life of camps; men fresh from the soft comforts of the best
homes of the richest people on earth. Those men, equipped,
transported to camps convenient for instant call to battle ;
waiting there the command which any moment might have
brought; supplies purchased in every quarter of the land
and carried hundreds, even thousands of miles ; uniforms
procured, arms purchased, ammunition bought, citizens
drilled into the finest soldiers on the globe ; a war fought
in the deadliest climate in the world, beneath a sun whose
rays mean madness, and in Spanish surroundings festering
with fever and yet the least suffering and the lowest loss
ever known in all the chronicles of war.

What would have been the result if those who would
have plunged us into war before we could have prepared at
all could have had their way? What would have happened
if these warriors of peace, who denounced the President as
a traitor when he would not send the flower of our youth
against Havana, with its steaming swamps of fever, its
splendid outworks and its 150,000 desperate defenders
what would have happened if they could have had their

The mind shrinks and sickens at the thought. Those
regiments, which we greeted the other day with our cheers
of pride, would not have marched back again. All over
this weeping land the tender song,


" We shall meet, but we shall miss him ;
There will be one vacant chair,"

would have risen once again from desolated homes. And
the men who would have done this are the men who are as-
sailing the government at Washington to-day and blas-
pheming the reputation of the American soldier.

But the wrath of the people will pursue them. The
scorpion whips of the furies will be as a caress to the deep
damnation of those who seek a political issue in defaming
the manhood of the republic. God bless the soldiers of
1898, children of the heroes of 1861, descendants of the
heroes of 1776! In the halls of history they will stand side
by side with those elder sons of glory, and the opposition
to the government at Washington shall not deny them.

No ! they shall not be robbed of the honor due them,
nor shall the republic be robbed of what they won for their
country. For William McKinley is continuing the policy
that Jefferson began, Monroe continued, Seward advanced,
Grant promoted, Harrison championed, and the growth of
the republic has demanded. Hawaii is ours ; Porto Rico is
to be ours; at the prayer of the people Cuba will finally be
ours; in the islands of the East, even to the gates of Asia,
coaling stations are to be ours; at the very least the flag of
a liberal government is to float over the Philippines, and
I pray God it may be the banner that Taylor unfurled in
Texas and Fremont carried to the coast the stars and
stripes of glory.

And the burning question of this campaign is, whether
the American people will accept the gifts of events ; whether
they will rise as lifts their soaring destiny; whether they
will proceed upon the lines of national development sur-
veyed by the statesmen of our past; or whether, for the
first time, the American people doubt their mission, ques-
tion fate, prove apostate to the spirit of their race, and halt
the ceaseless march of free institutions.

The opposition tells us that we ought not to govern a
people without their consent. I answer: The rule of lib-
erty, that all just government derives its authority from the
consent of the governed, applies only to those who are
capable of self-government. I answer: We govern the In-


dians without their consent, we govern our territories with-
out their consent, we govern our children without their
consent. I answer: How do you assume that our govern-
ment would be without their consent? Would not the
people of the Philippines prefer the just, humane, civilizing
government of this republic to the savage, bloody rule of
pillage and extortion from which we have rescued them?

Do not the blazing fires of joy and the ringing bells of
gladness in Porto Rico prove the welcome of our flag?

And, regardless of this formula of words, made only for
enlightened, self-governing peoples, do we owe no duty to
the world? Shall we turn these people back to the reeking
hands from which we have taken them? Shall we abandon
them to their fate, with the wolves of conquest all about
them with Germany, Russia, France, even Japan, hunger-
ing for them? Shall we save them from those nations, to
give them a self-rule of tragedy? It would be like giving
a razor to a babe and telling it to shave itself. It would
be like giving a typewriter to an Eskimo and telling him to
publish one of the great dailies of the world. This propo-
sition of the opposition makes the Declaration of Inde-
pendence preposterous, as the reading of Job's lamenta-

Online LibraryThomas B. (Thomas Brackett) ReedModern eloquence; (Volume 11) → online text (page 23 of 43)