Principles of the Democratic Party.
Mr. LOGAN. Mr. Chairman, the democratic platform is a "whited sepulcher, full of dead men's bones." It is a monument which is intended to hide decay and conceal corruption. Like many other monuments it attracts attention by its vast proportions and excites disgust by the falsity of its inscriptions. The casual observer, knowing nothing of the previous life of the deceased, who reads this eulogy upon the tomb, might imagine that all the virtues, the intellect, and the genius of the age were buried there. But to him who knows that the life had been a living lie, an incessant pursuit of base ends, the stone is a mockery and the panegyric a fable.
It is my purpose to show, sir, that this Democratic platform is mockery of the past, and that its promises for the future are hollow, evasive, and fabulous; that it disregards the sanctities of truth and deals only in the language of the juggler. It is like the words of the weird witches, who wrought a noble nature to crime and ruin, and then in the hour of dire extremity —
And broke it to the hope."
What are the pledges of this platform, made by a party which now asks place and power for themselves and retirement and obscurity for us? They pledge peace to the country. Well, sir, the country should have peace. They pledge a uniform and valuable currency to the country. Sir, the country desires such a currency. They pledge economy in the administration of the Government. Judicious economy is among the first maxims of government. They pledge payment of the public debt and reduction of taxation. I agree that the public credit must be preserved at all hazards, and that taxation should be reduced by all means. They pledge reform of all abuses. Sir, when once an abuse is discovered no man will deny that it should be at once reformed. They pledge the observance of the laws, the guarantees of the Constitution, the rights of the people, and the promotion of the public weal. Nothing more could be asked of a party than that it should do everything which is good and abstain from all that is bad. Happy indeed, sir, is that country whose rulers are all wise, all virtuous, all patriots, and all without ambition except to excel in worth and wisdom.
When such a party is found, Mr. Chairman, I shall support it no matter by what name it may be called; but until it is found — and I may be permitted to remark that it never yet has been found in history — I shall support that party which does the best it can for the country with what materials it has and makes up in good deeds what it may lack in polished speech.
Now, Mr. Chairman, as I am an anxious inquirer after truth, and as I agree that the promises of this platform are many and seemingly fair, and likely to catch the eye and the ear of some who are unsuspecting, I am desirous of showing the basis upon which they rest in order that I may determine first how far I may trust to their performance. It is an inquiry that concerns not only me but all of us; but more particularly does it concern those who are to come after us — the young men of this nation who are now about to cast their
4137first vote, and who will ultimately occupy the places we now hold, and be affected for good or for ill by the policy we may now adopt. No man has a right to treat this question lightly, and when we see a convention held by an adverse party it is our duty to criticise fairly but rigidly its acts, and to ask of what personnel it is composed.
If we find that its proclamations of principles are only a bait for votes; if we find that its resolutions are inconsistent, the one with the other, and all contradictory of the resolutions of previous years; if we find that instead of being a party promoting the prosperity of the country it is the party who attempted the life of the country; if we find that it is a party whose policy was suicidal in peace and fratricidal in war; if we find that it is a party which has adhered to no principle in times past except the principle of perpetuity; if we find that the men who now lift their voices as its leaders are unworthy men who bared their blades in rebellion; if we find there a gathering of all who are wildly ambitious, thoroughly unscrupulous, and dangerously discontented, then we may safely say their pledges are all false; and we may warn not only the soldiers and sailors but all good men, and particularly all young men, to avoid their snares and flee from their delusions. It requires an unusual condition of public affairs to produce such an unusual platform, and we require to know what that condition is before we can judge of it. Let us see what is the condition and what produced it. A very few years ago the Democratic party were in power. They had been in power for many, many years before. Whatever of good there was in their policy they had had time to develop it. Whatever of evil there was they had had opportunity to correct it. They did neither the one thing nor the other. There were not hostile armies then. The people imagined that there was peace. A few only believed that there could be war. But war was imminent. Under the surface of peace that party were preparing for war. In the council chambers of the nation they howled for war. In the different Departments of the Government where they were trusted and uncontrolled they were preparing for war. In the minds of the young and unsuspecting they sowed the seeds of war. In their newspapers they threatened war. In the lecture-room, in the college, from the pulpit and the rostrum they invoked war, and finally, when they judged the time had come when the nation was most helpless and the weapons of defense most useless, they made war, and war of what kind? Actual war, treasonable war, war against those who had loved and fostered them, upon codwellers under the same roof and brothers by birth and blood. How did war find us? It found us as the ship is found when the pirates scuttle her, open to the mercy of the waves and ready to be ingulfed.
We had made no preparation for war. The military and naval establishments were on a peace footing, and even the skeleton had been disjointed. Treason was in the high places, and consternation pervaded everywhere else. That which might have been efficient in a pinch had been weakened by treachery or paralyzed by surprise. We had few troops, few guns, few forts, few sail, and few commanders. Scarcely a man in the North out of the regular service knew the first movements in the school of the soldier. The knowledge of arms had not been sought, and material and munition of war had sparsely been provided. We had no money to carry on a war. We had no policy declared to carry us through a war. But war, bloody, dreadful, disrupting, came upon us, and we had to meet it as best we could. The first thing was to get money. We issued the greenbacks. Whether that was the wisest thing to be done is not the question. At that time it seemed to be the only thing we could do, and therefore we did it.
But greenbacks were not sufficient. We issued the bonds of various kinds because we needed more money and we had to offer security of some kind for it, and that seemed to be at that time the best that could be offered. Whether it was so in fact or not is not now the question. They were issued and are not yet redeemed. Spite of all this we got heavily in debt. The war was a gigantic one. Armies were raised whose numbers astounded the world. Destruction of property followed whose amount might bankrupt a nation. But we were fighting for the life and liberties of this people and to solve the problem of man's capability for self-government; we could not stop. We were compelled to go on; and debt followed us as fast and as far as we went — heavy, crushing, appalling debt. Laws were defied, and we compelled their obedience. When the civil power was too weak we took the strong arm with the sword. States were insurgent and the people thew off their allegiance. We took the Government from those who cast it off, and we gave it to those who fought to maintain it. Our debts were falling due and we taxed the people to pay them. The taxes were heavy; but the debts were heavy, and the Army expenses were enormous.
In so far as we could we struggled to keep down our debt and to keep up our credit. What else? We found slavery had been a cause of war; but we found also that war abolished slavery. What next? We found those who had been slaves were true; and those who should have been true were false. We gave the slave a musket because we found he was a man; and we gave him a ballot that he might be a citizen. And so, sir, under these disabilities and against all these disadvantages we fought out that fight. We subdued the rebellion, we ended the war. And then, Mr. Chairman, what was the condition of affairs? We found the South exhausted, impoverished, and starved. We found her white male population fearfully thinned by battle; her black laboring population freed, but without opportunity to labor, and no resources for a livelihood.
Everything was dark, gloomy, and dismal. There was no money, no commerce, no traffic there. The races were embittered against each other, and the whites threatened to exterminate the blacks. We gave rations to the whites, and the Freedmen's Bureau as protection to the blacks. We afforded opportunities for employment; and we regulated the relations of the employer and the laborer. We protected one and we encouraged the other. And when we could not keep the peace by the civil arm we resorted to the military, because we have had enough of war and we determined that the peace should be kept. What next? We found that there were no governments in the rebel States which we could recognize; and we provided plain and merciful means by which new governments could be established.
This was the condition of the South. How was it in the North? We were oppressed with our debt; we were borne down with our taxes; we were perplexed how to pay the first, and how to reduce the latter. But our hearts were all glad notwithstanding, because we had saved our country. We mourned for those we had lost, but we rejoiced for those who were to come, for we had solved the problem of liberty and the destiny of our people. We set ourselves immediately to repair the ravages of war. At the close of the war, by the official report of the Secretary of the Treasury, dated December 3, 1866, our indebtedness on the 31st day of August, 1865, was $2,846,021,742 04; on the 1st day of June, 1868, by the report of the same official, our indebtedness was $2,510,245,886 74, being a reduction of the national debt since August 31, 1865, to June 1, 1868, of $335,775,855 30, showing a reduction of our national debt of over one hundred millions per annum. Under a Republican Congress could we have had an Executive and Cabinet in harmony with Congress so that frauds and robberies of the revenues could have been stopped, in my judgment the whole country would be at peace, and our debt reduced at least $500,000,000. We now propose to reduce the Army and Navy as rapidly as can be done with safety to the country, and all other expenses of the Government. We have also, as fast as State after State organizes its government, abolished military authority and subordinated it to the civil, and abolished the Freedmen's Bureau, to take effect the 1st of next January.
This, Mr. Chairman, is a brief statement of the condition of our country since 1860. I have been brief in stating, because I did not wish to tell an oft-told tale. I have only sketched those events which have given rise to the pledges and complaints of the Democratic platform. Now, sir, when a nation finds itself thus suddenly engaged in an unforeseen war, and thus unexpectedly is called upon for all its resources, and emerges from the struggle victorious but fatigued, strong but wearied, it is certainly entitled to some forbearance, and its supporters should meet with some encouragement and praise. This remark brings me to my first allegation against this platform. I allege against it that it makes a specious and a false complaint against us for doing the only thing which it was in our power to do, and the only thing which any other party, Republican or Democratic, could have done, unless they made an ignominious peace with the rebels! No other set of men, be their politics what they might, could have done aught other than we did do, if they were patriots and fought the battle of the country! I allege against it, also, that the very men who now make this complaint were either the identical men, or else the partisan friends and adherents of the identical men who brought on this war, who fought the flag, who caused the debt, and who were the immediate occasion of all our sorrow and of all our burdens!
It is not true, then, that the Democratic party will give peace to the country. They have been the party of war, and by the written declarations of their candidate for Vice President they propose more war unless they can undo all the victory we have achieved, and renew rebellion where we have quieted it. I read, Mr. Chairman, a letter written by Major General F. P. Blair, to Colonel Broadhead, of St. Louis
WASHINGTON, June 30, 1868.
DEAR COLONEL: In reply to you inquiries I beg leave to say that I leave you to determine, on consultation with my friends from Missouri, whether my name shall be presented to the Democratic convention, and to submit the following as what I consider the real and only issue in this contest:
The reconstruction policy of the Radicals will be complete before the next election; the States so long excluded will have been admitted, negro suffrage established, and the carpet-baggers installed in their seats in both branches of Congress. There is no possibility of changing the political character of the Senate, even if the Democrats should elect their President and a majority of the popular branch of Congress. We cannot, therefore, undo the Radical plan of reconstruction by congressional action; the Senate will continue a bar to its repeal. Must we submit to it? How can it be overthrown? It can only be overthrown by the authority of the Executive, who is sworn to maintain the Constitution, and who will fail to do his duty if he allows the Constitution to perish under a series of congressional enactments which are in palpable violation of its fundamental principles.
If the President elected by the Democracy enforces or permits others to enforce these reconstruction acts, the Radicals, by the accession of twenty spurious Senators and fifty Representatives, will control both branches of Congress, and his Administration will be as powerless as the present one of Mr. Johnson.
There is but one way to restore the Government and the Constitution, and that is for the President-elect to declare these acts null and void, compel the Army to undo its usurpations at the South, disperse the carpet-bag State governments, allow the white people to reorganize their own governments, and elect Senators and Representatives. The House of Representatives will contain a majority of Democrats from the North, and they will admit the Representatives elected by the white people of the South, and with the cooperation of the President it will not be difficult to compel the Senate to submit once more to the obligations of the Constitution. It will not be able to withstand the public judgment, if distinctly invoked and clearly expressed on this fundamental issue, and it is the sure way to avoid all future strife to put the issue plainly to the country.
I repeat that this is the real and only question which we should allow to control us: Shall we submit
to the usurpations by which the Government has been overthrown, or shall we exert ourselves for its full and complete restoration? It is idle to talk of bonds, greenbacks, gold, the public faith, and the public credit. What can a Democratic President do in regard to any of these, with a Congress in both branches controlled by the carpet-baggers and their allies? He will be powerless to stop the supplies by which idle negroes are organized into political clubs — by which an army is maintained to protect these vagabonds in their outrages upon the ballot. These, and things like these, eat up the revenue and resources of the Government and destroy its credit — make the difference between gold and greenbacks. We must restore the Constitution before we can restore the finances, and to do this we must have a President who will execute the will of the people by trampling into dust the usurpation of Congress known as the reconstruction acts. I wish to stand before the convention upon this issue, but it is one which embraces everything else that is of value in its large and comprehensive results. It is the one thing that includes all that is worth a contest, and without it there is nothing that fives dignity, honor, or value to the struggle.
Your friend, FRANK P. BLAIR.
Colonel JAMES O. BROADHEAD.
Is this the language of peace? Is this the pledge of security to the country? Is this the return to the settled pursuits of civil life and the calm routine of trade, which shall reassure our people and restore our prosperity? Does it not rather suggest the clarion-trump and the clash of arms — the neigh of steed and the shriek of death? Are our taxes to be lessened under these threats? Will our credit be made better by these means? Gentlemen shall not tell me that this is not an utterance of the party nor a binding declaration. The letter was written before the convention met, in view of its meeting, and in order to bring the write and his doctrines before that convention as a candidate. Both aims were attained. The letter was published — the writer was nominated. The doctrines are his and his party's, and are embodied in the platform by declaration that "we regard the reconstruction acts (so called) as usurpations, and unconstitutional, revolutionary, and void." It seems, then, from this that all we have done is to be undone. No matter that the voice of the country in election after election, year after year, has sanctioned it and said it was well done, the Democratic party says it must be undone, or that the sword shall be unsheathed and desolation sweep over the land.
Where, now, are the pledges of specie payment, of redeemed bonds, of equal currency, of wise legislation, of amicable feeling, of restored confidence, of judicious economy, and reduced taxation? Gone! gone! The loud note of insurrection has dispelled them all, and the possibility of our national Parliament being dissolved by the sword, as in Cromwell's day, has put all lingering hope to flight. We are promised a uniform and valuable currency — one currency — which is to be sufficient "for the Government and the people, the laborer and the office holder, the pensioner and the soldier, the producer and the bondholder." We are promised "payment of the public debt as rapidly as practicable." We are notified of "equal taxation of every species of property, including bonds and other securities." We are to expect "economy in the administration of the Government," and the "abolition of the Freedmen's Bureau." How is all this to be brought about? For fear I may do injustice to the platform, I wish to quote some extracts from the World newspaper of July 8, the day after the platform was made. I may add that the World is the authoritative exponent of the views of the distinguished gentleman Horatio Seymour, who has been nominated for President by that party, and therefore this interpretation is his interpretation
"The declaration relating to the finances are scattered through different sections of the platform. They need to be brought together before we can get an intelligent view of their scope. The platform is explicit enough upon each particular point, but its several declarations so limit and modify one another that it would be very misleading to consider any one of them apart from the rest."
It is somewhat singular, if this document was all fairness and honesty, that its different subjects could not be put close enough together to afford an "intelligent view" of each, and "its declarations are so misleading" as to require an expert like the World to bring them together in harmony. Why is it that "its several declarations limit and modify one another" if these are the declarations and the principles upon which our people are asked to stake their happiness?
But, says the World, this is what it means
"Payment of the principal of the five-twenty bonds in greenbacks will easily be found in the platform, if searched for. The language is that ‘when the obligations of the Government are not expressly state upon their face, or the law under which they were issued does not provide that they shall be paid in coin, they ought in right and in justice to be paid in the lawful money of the United States,’ that is to say, in greenbacks. This is explicit enough so far as it relates to the medium of payment; but how does the platform propose to provide the means? In other words, where are the greenbacks to come from? On this also the platform is explicit. They are not to be manufactured by the printing-press, but to be raised by taxation. By this method the payment of the public debt cannot be very rapid. The bondholders need have no fear that their property is to be swept away by a new inundation of paper money. Payment of the public debt in greenbacks without increasing their present amount, payment in greenbacks out of the proceeds of a reduced taxation, will leave the greater portion of the debt standing for many years to come."
Two things appear from this: first, that the payment of the public debt cannot be very rapid; and second, that the greenbacks wherewith to pay it are to be raised by taxation. This is a novel way indeed to "equalize the currency" and to "reduce taxation." We are to be taxed additionally to pay the public debt, and to be taxed a long time to come before it can be discharged, and the Democracy call this "reform of an existing abuse." There is another fact concealed in this statement which it were well to bring to light. We have heard that much of our miseries are due to the "bloated bondholder." They are lepers who have infected us in our persons and tainted our financial atmosphere. But they are assured by this platform that "they need have no fears that their property is to be swept away by a new inundation of paper money."
If these bonds are vile as they say, why should they not be swept away under a Democratic dispensation? We do not think they are; but if we are to rely on Democratic testimony they are the gangrene of our body-politic. Again, if there is to be no "new inundation of paper money," how are the greenbacks to be raised, which, levied in taxation, are to pay off the national debt? First, it is said, they will raise greenbacks by taxation and pay off the bonds. It must be admitted that the greenbacks already in circulation are not adequate for this, and so more must be issued. But next it is said that there will be no more issued. Then how are the bonds to be paid? It may be that this is all clear to other eyes, and that the end will certainly be reached by the means; but I trust I may be pardoned if I confess at once that I am not able to take that "intelligent view" which shows me how it is to be done. It seems, too, that the World has the same opacity as myself if its vision is confined to this point, and so it takes another stretch
There is another part of the platform which has a pertinent bearing on this subject. It is the declaration in favor of ‘one currency for the Government and the people, for the bondholder and the producer.’ Now, although nothing is expressly said upon that point, we suppose the platform contemplates the payment of the duties on imports in coin as heretofore. This seems to us a justifiable, nay, an inevitable inference from what is said about paying in coin such obligations of the Government as stipulate for coin upon their face. The interest upon both the ten-forty and the five-twenty bonds is payable in coin by the very terms of the law, and also the principle of the ten-forties. If the Government keeps this express engagement, it must by some means raise the coin, and no other method is suggested than by collecting it, as now, at the custom-houses. Now, as the platform pledges the party to pay specie to the bondholders to meet their interest and that part of their principal which the law requires to be paid in coin, it seems evident that the ‘one currency for the Government and the people, the bondholder and the producer,’ must contemplate an early return to specie payments. The ‘one currency’ must mean either a uniform good currency or a uniform bad currency. It is inconceivable in itself and inconsistent with the platform, that the old, hard-money Democratic party should promise a uniform currency of bad money. The one currency means a sound currency; a currency equivalent to coin and at all times exchangeable for it. One currency of depreciated greenbacks would be inconsistent with the payment in coin of that part of the public obligations which are acknowledged by the platform to be due in coin; inconsistent with the collection of the revenue from imports in gold; inconsistent with the idea that we are ever to return to specie payments
"Another declaration, in still another section of the platform, evinces an intention to make an early return to specie payments. After calling for a reduction of the public expenses and a reform of the system of taxation, the platform proceeds thus: ‘So that the burden of taxation may be equalized and lessened, the credit of the Government and the currency made good.’ The credit of the Government is not ‘good’ so long as its promises sell for less than their face; the currency is not ‘good’ so long as it is inflated and irredeemable
"The platform proposes to pay the five-twenties in greenbacks; proposes to raise the money for this purpose by taxation; promises unequivocally that the burden of taxation shall be lessened; the credit of the Government made good; the currency made good; and that that good currency shall be the same for all classes, including the bondholders. We do not regard these several declarations as contradictory, but as mutually explanatory, perfectly consistent, and harmonious. The Democratic party is pledged by the platform to appreciate the greenbacks to par and use them for the payment of that part of the public debt which is not by express provision of law due in coin."
Now, having got all the light of which the subject is capable, let us see exactly what it is that is promised by these reformers. They say to the people, "The bloated bondholder is eating out your substance, and we will tax his property just as we tax yours." They say to the bondholder, "Have no fears for your bonds; we will issue no more greenbacks to depreciate them; and we will pay them in a good and lawful currency. If it is not gold it shall be as god as gold." They say to the people, "We will reduce your taxes." They say to the capitalist, "We will pay our debts by taxation." They say to the people, "We will have but one currency for all alike, and that shall be greenbacks." They say to the creditor, "We will pay you in gold, as the law requires; but we will make the greenback of the value of gold if we can." And then they say to all, to the bondholder and the people, the pensioner and the soldier, the laborer, the office-holder, and the producer, "We will reform all abuses; we will equalize taxation by a uniform currency; we will pay the bonds in gold, or greenbacks at par; and we will pay off our debts." When? After many years to come!
So, Mr. Chairman, admitting that all this is to be brought about in the very letter and spirit of the promise, it appears that the first condition of its fulfillment is, that the Democratic party shall have unlimited power for many years to come, or else it cannot keep its word. If it should be asked what recourse or remedy will the people have if, after having given that power to that party for many years to come, those promises should not be kept, these pledges should not be fulfilled, I am at a loss to reply; I do not find any remedy stated in the platform; I am not aware of any recourse. Still, however, it may be impertinent and useless also to make the inquiry or to seek for redress. A ruined debtor, bankrupt to the last farthing, need trouble himself but very little as to the disposition of the assets which he has not got. This, then, sir, is the much-vaunted financial policy which is to be inaugurated by the Democratic party, and through which this country is to be rescued from all her present difficulties. This is the key-note of their complaint, and the battle cry of their campaign.
It is a platform which was made to suit a candidate who was defeated for the nomination. The platform was made for one man, but that man is not the one who is standing on it. The man who wanted that platform did not get the nomination, and the man who did get the nomination did not want that platform. It is not of record that like another memorable candidate of by-gone years "he spit upon it." Indeed, his well-known habits of decorum and aristocratic breeding forbid the possibility of such a thing. But it is of record that he made two earnest and powerful speeches to prevent the enunciation of a doctrine which he knew was absurd in the present and would be falsified in the future. If, then,
4139their financial declarations are vague and false how can we trust aught else they say? The country wants peace; through peace will come prosperity. Prosperity thrives under a Government of fixed principles, and principles are most firmly fixed when they are most generally and best understood by the people at large. If their finances fail all else fails. Now, what do they say upon another most essential and remunerative branch of the national finances — that branch which is now and must continue to be the only gold-yielding portion of our revenue — I mean the tariff? I quote again, sir, from the World
"There is only one other subject embraced in the platform which seems to call for any remark, and that is the tariff, or ‘protection.’ This part of the platform is a muddle. The language is: ‘a tariff for revenue upon foreign imports,’ which is good sound Democratic doctrine, but it is immediately followed by this unintelligible jumble: ‘and such equal taxation under the internal revenue laws as will afford incidental protection to domestic manufactures.’ We are here treated to the paradox of a revenue tariff and protective internal taxes. But the wonder does not end here. A protective tariff discriminates, but internal taxes are to protect without discriminating. It is ‘equal’ internal taxes that are to accomplish the feat of protecting domestic manufactures. If all interests are taxed alike, how can any be protected? What are they to be protected against? Not against foreign rivals by internal taxes; not against domestic competition by equal taxes. The promise of ‘a tariff for revenue’ is excellent; all beyond that is nonsense."
You will observe, Mr. Chairman, that it is not I who says that this is a muddle, an unintelligible jumble, a paradox, and nonsense, but the leading Seymour paper in the United States.
I turn now to another topic, and still I quote the "World:
"All that the Democratic party promise to do in relation to negro supremacy is comprised in these words: ‘the reduction of the standing Army and Navy, the abolition of the Freedmen's Bureau, and all political instrumentalities designed to secure negro supremacy.’ The Freedmen's Bureau, with the Army to back it, is a tremendous electioneering machine intended to control the negro vote. When it is abolished, the negro vote will fall under the control of the white citizens of the South, and there will be no difficulty in carrying all the southern States for the Democratic party."
That is, the Freedmen's Bureau is an outrageous institution, because it prevents the Democratic party from controlling the negro vote and getting supremacy in every southern State; that is to say, the Freedmen's Bureau would be all right if it were in Democratic hands and the negro will be a good enough man to vote so soon as he can be got to vote the Democratic ticket. The World further adds
"The platform promises to smash the political machine called the Freedmen's Bureau and all other Federal agencies for controlling the southern elections — but beyond this it wisely promises nothing in relation to negro suffrage. It promises that the Federal Government shall not interfere to cajole the negroes into voting against the interests of their section, and trusts to the natural ascendancy of white intelligence to accomplish whatever else may be deemed expedient. In this matter the platform is equally wise in what it promises and in what it abstains from promising."
In other words, it is admirable, because it is so happy in suppressing the truth to an extent as great as in suggesting a falsehood; and this, sir, is the whole of it beyond the usual quantity of empty phrases. "Full of sound and fury, and signifying nothing," with which from time immemorial the Democratic party have been in the habit of garnishing their platforms. I might make a closer analysis of it all; and I think I might make a stronger show of its utter worthlessness; but I am content to accept the rendition of the World, in order that I may not be charged with partisan prejudice. I take the World because it is the word.
It explains the deed for him who is to perform it; and surely where we decide evidence of intention and of faith, we can ask for nothing stronger than the word and the deed combined. But I have not done yet. I desire with your indulgence to go a little behind the promise to inquire as to the character of those who make the promise. It is an axiom with all business men that the value of a note is determined not at all by what it promises to pay, but wholly and exclusively by the character of the makers and indorsers. I wish to inquire, Mr. Chairman, who are the men that made up that Democratic convention, and who are the men who indorsed its candidates? I have already referred to the men who in the time of peace plotted war. I have shown how it was that this country became charged with its load of debt. I have dwelt upon the struggles and the difficulties of that hour, and the wails and the woes of our mourners. I have stated how we did all that we did, because it was the only thing to do. I have shown how we wrestled with our adversity, and finally how we overcame our enemies. We bore the brunt of arms for the sake of our country, and to uphold its Constitution, its laws, and its liberties. We had but one desire, and that was "Peace to our country." We had but one anxiety, and that was to preserve intact this chosen land. Well, sir, as I said, the war was over and the victory was ours. There was no longer a rebel in arms. They had dispersed, as we supposed, never to meet again.
But, sir, we were mistaken. They have met again. Where? Why, this time upon northern soil, and in a northern city, in the city of New York, the great metropolis of this country, in the Democratic convention. I do not say that every man who met there had been a rebel; but I do say that all the rebels met there who are now leading in public life, and who hope for public position. It was the same old story over again. The same old faces to see. The men who had held this Government for years and plotted to destroy it while they held it were there. The men who fought to destroy this Government when they could no longer hold it were there. The men who though they had never plotted to destroy it or fought against it, yet quietly acquiesced in the designs of those who did, were there. The men who have always given blind allegiance to the behest of party regardless of the good of the country, were there. The men who have always been the praters and croakers and false prophets of the country were there; and a few men who had once served their country, but were lured off by fatal ambition and the hope of spoils were there. Good men may have been there; but bad men were most certainly there; and just as certainly the bad outnumbered the good; and these are the men, sir, who complain of us. These are the men who say we have violated the law and have usurped the Constitution. We have told them to the contrary many and many a time. In these very Halls, before they deserted their places, we assured them that we desired nothing but the law and the Constitution. After they had erected their first batteries, and before they fired on Fort Sumter, they were again assured that the law and the Constitution should be kept inviolate. Even after they had waged their fiercest war upon us the President of the United States once more proclaimed that we fought only to protect the Constitution and the laws.
Again and again, by the camp-fire, under the flag of truce and in the hospitals, and in exchange of prisoners and in parleys and communications they were made acquainted with the fact that we had but one object, and that was to enforce the Constitution and the laws. And yet again, sir, when the battle was at a white heat, and strong arms and strong hearts wrought wounds and death, when the air was filled with lamentations and pierced by cries of agony, when the greedy earth drank up the gushing blood of our bravest and our best, we still advanced but the one standard, which was the old starry banner, emblematic of the Constitution, the laws, our unity and strength. Ah, sir, it must have been a humiliating scene at that convention. Were the loyal soldiers and citizens of this country looking on when the rebel General Preston nominated the former Union General Blair? Did the loyal sailors and soldiers hear the rebel Wade Hampton second the nomination? Did the rank and file of the loyal men listen to the butcher of Fort Pillow — Forrest? Where were then the memories of former treacheries, of a nation undone and a Constitution usurped, of laws violated and civil slaughter instituted?
I have no desire to keep alive old animosities or to recall the past with a view to let it rankle. I am willing that the lessons of the war should be their own monitor to those who learned them. But when I hear those who risked their lives to save our country charged with betraying our country; when I hear those whose shorn limbs and maimed trunks are witnesses of their devotion to the laws charged with breaking the laws; when I hear those who are now lying in their premature graves for the cause of the Constitution charged with usurping that Constitution, I cannot help it if my indignant heart beats fast and my utterance grows thick, while I demand to know "Who are ye that denounce us?"
It is for this reason, Mr. Chairman, that I say the present issue is one which concerns our young men greatly, because it contains the question whether in any future war it is worth while for our young men to embark in it. Heretofore it has always been held in all ages, ancient and modern, that he who defended his country was entitled to the gratitude of his country. But if it shall be decided by this election that he who defends his country is to be aspersed by his country, then the sooner it is understood the better it will be for those who would have otherwise periled their existence at the call of their people! That issue is involved in this campaign, and no artifice or chicanery should be permitted to bury it out of sight. But what right have those to complain who were in the Democratic convention yet were not in the rebel ranks? Did they aid to suppress the rebellion? Were they prompt with men and money in our need? Were they hopeful in our dark days and joyful in our bright days? Did they cheer our soldiers and give them the strength of their blessings and a God speed? Did they nurse them when sick and succor them when wounded? No, sir; they did not, or else they would not be found to-day in such company. The civilian who supported the military in the day of the war has never yet complained that we have done great wrong, or never yet desired to take the reins of government from the Republican party.
This is no schism in our own ranks. This is no falling off of those who once were with us because of our misdeeds. This is no branch of the Union party saying that we are tyrants and usurpers and robbers and destroyers, and that therefore they can support us no longer. Not at all. It is simply our old enemies who have fought us in the Halls of Congress and on the battle-field and in campaigns for years, never winning, ever failing, but always fierce and hateful. It affords me sincere pleasure that I may look again upon those who met so lately in convention at the city of Chicago. What a sight was there. Mr. Chairman, there were gathered together the men who had served their country in every capacity to which duty called them. The men whose devotion had been as unswerving as their fidelity was unquestioned. Men whose sole thoughts and whose constant thoughts were for their country's good, and how best and soonest to make it manifest and permanent. Men from the closet, men from the camp, men from the public station, men from private life, men of destination, men unknown; but men, all of them, whithersoever they came and whatsoever they were, all of them men who came on the one thought of how yet to aid their country.
Whom did they select, and how were they selected? Not after days of balloting and nights of intrigue; not upon bargains by politicians and tradings by tricksters; not upon appliances of questionable morality and through stimulants of debasing tendency. In a moment as it were, and by one spontaneous accord, the hearts of all of these men came together, and their judgments approved their instincts. With one unfaltering acclaim they selected
4140the hero whose valor had been resplendent in the field, and the statesman whose wisdom had been acknowledged in Congress. The popular judgment is seldom wrong, but never was it so right as when it asked that this Government should be put in the hands of Grant and Colfax. They had seen Grant clothed with the powers of a dictator, and seen him use them with the moderation of a patriot. They had seen him at the head of an irresistible Army, and seen him disband it as from a dress-parade. They had watched him achieve victory after victory, and yet quietly put off all the shows and trappings of war. They had found him sagacious as a counselor and safe as a chieftain. He had proved himself to be honest, and they knew he could be trusted.
Sir, on that day three hundred thousand sainted martyrs to the cause of liberty, for whom the earth had bared her bosom to receive their manly forms, and heaven opened wide her gates to receive their noble spirits, looked down approvingly upon our action, because it was the action of true and faithful men, intending the honor, prosperity, and happiness of their country, I have no doubt, sir, of their election. To doubt it would be to impugn the judgment of my countrymen. The country demands that the political power for that "many years to come" desired by the Democrats shall be intrusted to the Republican party. They have faith in the Republican party. They judge it by what it has done, and hence they know full well what it will do. They know that the Republican party is in fact the only party of peace and prosperity. It was that party which led the hosts of the Union to the haven of peace through the red ordeal of war. These questions which now embarrass us are but the debris of war. We have cared for the wounded, we have buried the dead. We have disbanded our armies as part of the work remaining after the war. To give stability to the currency, to equalize taxation, to harmonize States, and to insure prosperity, is sill another and probably quite as difficult a portion of that same labor. But the party which did the one is unquestionably equal to the other.
I am not an enthusiast when obstacles are to be overcome and when intricate questions are to be solved. I do not wish, therefore, to be called visionary or enthusiastic when I predict the results which will certainly follow from the administration of the Republican party in four years more. We will see, sir, then the admirable results of having all the different Departments of the Government acting in entire unison and accord. Heretofore during the eight years that our party has been in power, we have had to give four of them to stay the tide of rebellion, and the rest have been rendered nearly useless to us by the obstinacy, the perversion, and the machinations of designing Executive. When we marched into the field our foe was before us. We knew what we had to meet. There were no surprises in store for us. It was the dread arbitrament of battle. But after that we had another foe to meet, a dangerous foe, powerful and insidious; one whose assaults were made in the garb of peace and under the pretexts of law; one who sought to check every step of our progress and retard every advance of our civilization. Our time has been occupied in detecting the hidden ambushes of this enemy, and saving ourselves from his surprises. But soon he will pass away.
Like the armed foe whose accessory he was he will disappear from the public gaze and become impotent for further harm. With the Executive to encourage the Congress, and with a Congress which will respect and hearken to the Executive, then, indeed, the fruits of our legislation will be visible and gratifying. Commerce will revive, for the country will have stability. Our ships shall once again multiply upon the seas, for our flag will denote security. Our name shall be respected abroad, for we shall have demonstrated the doctrine of self-government. Our bonds will be sought for investment, for we shall have vindicated our integrity. Our currency shall be unsuspected at home, for we shall have proved its value. Our revenue shall be increased, for the country will have become inspired with confidence. Bad men will be hurled from power, and honest ones put in their places. Our taxes shall be diminished, for all will unite in yielding them. The southern States will be reorganized and recognized, for they will have seen that therein lays their welfare.
We will go on, sir, as a nation hand in hand, treading the broad pathway which leads us up to prosperity and progress, with our march unimpeded by the difficulties which now surround us, and posterity shall bless our work unceasingly forever.