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Gold Democrats and the Primary Election.

(Springfield, Ill., May 8, 1896.)

Governor Altgeld returned from Chicago this afternoon and when seen by a reporter he was asked:

"Governor, how are the Democrats of Chicago on the money question ?" He answered:

"The people of Chicago are overwhelmingly opposed to the single gold standard and the whole bond-jobbing policy of the federal administration, and will send practically a solid delegation to the State convention in favor of the restoration of the free coinage of silver. There are a few men, mostly adherents of or office-holders under the federal administration, and some of the corporations' hired men, who, acting under instructions from Washington and New York, are trying to secure a delegation to the national convention that shall misrepresent the people of this State; but these men are all generals, they


are all great men who have no constituency, they have no privates they are men who manage to eat the bread that others sweat for. But these men do not hesitate to resort to any means to carry their point. This whole gold movement is a part of that wave of corruption that is deluging our land. It started by controlling governments through improper influences and it progresses, not by appealing to the nobler manhood of the American citizens, but by buying its way. Owning the press and having many rich men in their ranks it must be expected that the whole ‘hanging-on class’ — the men who like to pose in drawing rooms, the club-loungers and those fine young men who require an hour and a half to wash their teeth and comb their hair — should be on that side. But the argument the managers rely on is ‘boodle.’

"Several weeks ago a Chicago banker in a conference stated that they must win, and that he alone would guarantee to raise $20,000 for this purpose. According to the boasting of some of the men in their employ, they have since then received $50,000 from New York, in addition to what is raised at home. While using this fund they employ catch phrases to deceive the people, such as ‘honest money’, ‘honest primaries,’ etc., while they are all the time working for just the opposite ends. During the last ten days, many Democrats from different sections of the State have visited Chicago. Naturally they went around to see what they could learn. They visited the headquarters of the Cleveland Democrats, and according to the reports which they brought to me they were asked only a few questions in regard to the sentiments of their people, but in each case they were at once asked the question: How much money will it take to carry your county for us? That is, in each case they sought to put a price on the manhood of American citizens.

"In order to handle this boodle fund effectively, the Cleveland managers tried to get control of the Democratic County Committee, consisting at present of about one hundred and twenty-five men. As they had a small number of men to deal with they felt that with all the money at their command they could easily buy their way through and succeed. According to reports coming directly the price offered for committeemen in some cases reached $500. But when the final test came there were more than two to one against the Cleveland people. They were routed, horse, foot and dragoon. A number of gold standard men were so disgusted with the hypocrisy and fraud of it all that they voted with the silver men."

"Governor, the newspapers say that the committee refused to grant honest primaries?"


"That is a slander and a part of the campaign of misrepresentation and deception that is being carried on."

"Then, why did not the committee call the primaries under what is known as the Crawford law?"

"The committee adopted all of the Crawford law that is of value and tends to secure honest primaries and it rejected only that part of the Crawford law which opens the door wide to fraud."

"How was that?"

"Well, the so-called Crawford law is a law on our statute books governing primary elections and whenever a political committee passes a resolution to hold its primaries under this law then the law at once applies and the committee has no more control over the matter. Under this law the regular judges and clerks of elections, appointed by the board of election commissioners for Chicago, and who sit at the regular elections, hold the primaries. This is an excellent provision and the Democratic committee on Tuesday night adopted this part. But unfortunately, under the primary law it is not compulsory on the regular judges to sit at a primary election, and whenever they do not, then instead of having other capable and honest men appointed for that purpose, the vacancy is to be filled by the bystanders at the time the polls open, and in such a case if one faction has a crowd of rough by-standers present it can put in three of its tools and then the primary election becomes a farce, although it is ostensibly held under the primary law.

"When I went to Chicago last week I suggested to some of the members of the committee that they should call the primary elections under the so-called Crawford law and thus avoid all further controversy, but they replied that this would make a farce of the whole business, that some of the worst primaries ever held were conducted under this law. It was urged by these committeemen that if the committee adopted such a resolution and relinquished all control in the matter, that then the gold people, with their corruption fund, could induce a number of the regular judges to stay away, and as the ordinary citizen does not like a squabble and as the committee had no funds with which to secure the presence of by-standers, the gold people would have a crowd of roughs at the polling places and would put in three of their hired men as judges and that then the whole matter would be farcical. In view of these facts the committee did right in declaring that the regular judges of elections shall hold these primaries in so far as they will agree to serve and that in cases where they will not act that then, instead of calling in by-standers brought there for


that purpose, the committee shall see that men of character are appointed."

"But the gold standard men threaten to bolt if they don't get their rights."

"Oh, that is simply to carry out a prearranged plan settled on by the Eastern manipulators. The crowd that has made millions out of the government during the present administration is determined to keep its fingers on the treasury. For this purpose they have determined to control both national conventions. They care nothing about political parties except as they are a convenience. They already have the coming St. Louis Republican convention in their hands and they are bound to control the Democratic convention. They are determined to rule at all hazards. You notice they are starting contests in almost every State where they are defeated by the people and they hope by fraud, or by force if necessary, to seat enough contesting delegates to control the convention. You see they practically own a majority of the National Democratic Committee. They regard it as so many assets for future business purposes in making raids on the treasury and they hope through this committee to control the organization of the convention and in that way to unseat enough of the regularly elected delegates and seat a lot of their spurious delegates. Consequently if Christ himself were to hold the primaries and even if these gentlemen did not have one vote in ten they would still organize a bolt, because they are instructed to do so. Securing their rights simply means that the tail shall have the undisputed right to wag the dog.

"Some weeks ago these gentlemen talked harmony. They insisted that we must have harmony in the party, and did you notice how this harmony was to be effected? The great masses of the Democrats were to surrender their convictions and were to let this small squad of men have their way and in this manner we were to have harmony. The party has been controlled by the Eastern manipulators for a third of a century. One would suppose that the tail might for once make a little concession to the dog — but not so with these men. Instead of coming forward and saying: ‘Now we have not only had our way for thirty odd years, but we have used you as a convenience during all that time and we will now let you have your way for once in order that we may have harmony.’

"Instead of saying this they demanded a continuation of submission. They practically said: ‘Now, all of you fellows of the great West and the great South, just lay down and let us continue to walk over you with the nails in our shoes and we will be harmonious.’ But there is an end to all things mundane. There is an end to patience


and there is an end to deception and fraud and the time has come when the great masses of the Democracy are going to speak for themselves. And the Democrats of Chicago are determined to do this, and when their voice is heard there will be nothing in it that will comfort those men who are doing chores for the East."