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to my personal interests as an earner of wages, as well as disastrous to the United States as a nation."
If the wage-earner ought to sign a statement declaring the free coinage of silver injurious to his personal interests, I want to ask you why the advocates of the gold standard who are engaged in other kinds of business do not make some statement in regard to their business? Why do not the members of the syndicates which have been bleeding the United States Treasury make application for membership in a club and declare that the free coinage of silver is injurious to their personal interests? Why do not the bondholding classes in their applications state that it would be injurious to their personal interests? Why don't the money changers and the attorneys of the great trusts and corporations write in their applications that the success of the Chicago ticket would be injurious to their personal interest? They want it understood that the laboring man is influenced by his personal interests, but that the great leaders of the gold standard are simply interested in the public weal.
It is only a short distance from Elkhart to South Bend, where the last meeting of the day was held. Here we were the guests of ex-Congressman Shively, with whom I served upon the Ways and Means Committee of the House of Representatives. Mr. Shively was the Democratic candidate for Governor last fall, and presided at the meeting. Senator Blackburn was present, having spoken to an afternoon meeting from the same platform.
We reached Chicago early the following morning and I spent the day in consultation with the National Committee. Mrs. Bryan proceeded to Nebraska in the evening.
ARLY Saturday morning, in company with National Committeeman Wall and wife, ex-Governor Peck, Mr. F. W. Von
Cotzhausen, and other members of the Milwaukee reception committee, I started for that city, speaking briefly at Waukegan, Kenosha and Racine. The afternoon meeting at the National Park was interrupted by rain, or, rather, would have been interrupted, but for the fact that the audience insisted on staying in spite of the rain. Hon. W. C. Silverthorne, the Democratic and fusion candidate for Governor, presided at this meeting. The evening meeting at Schlitz Park was presided over by ex-Governor Peck. I quote at length from the speech delivered on this occasion because it discussed more fully than any other the financial policy of the administration.
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen: I learned early in life that a public officer was but a public servant, and I think that it is an idea which we ought always to bear in mind. It is well for the officer himself to remember it, and equally important for the people to remember it. A public officer is simply a hired man employed at a fixed salary for a certain time to do certain work. He is not in office merely because he wants to be; his only reason for being there ought to be that those whom he serves want him to be there. In other words, the officer is merely chosen by the people to do work which they must have done, and they have no reason for choosing him except that they believe that he can do that work for them. Officers are not elected to think for the people; people are supposed to think for themselves. They are elected to act for the people, simply because the people are so numerous that they cannot act for themselves. An officer, I might say, is a necessary evil. It would be better for the people if they could act for themselves, but that being impossible, they must do the next best thing and act through some one else; and the beauty of our form of government is that, instead of acting through somebody who rules by right divine, our people act through representatives whom they themselves choose and whom they can turn out of office whenever they so desire.
Since the public officer is elected to carry out your ideas, it is important that you should know, first, for what policies a candidate stands, and second, whether he will carry out those policies, if elected. You can find from reading the platform upon which a candidate runs for what policy he stands, and then you have to judge from what you know of him whether he can be relied
upon to carry out the policies which are presented in his platform. There is no way of telling absolutely except by trial. I come to you standing upon a platform. While you may not agree to everything in that platform, it is only fair that any man who stands upon a platform should himself believe in the platform. I believe in the platform, not because I stand upon it-I believe in it because it presents doctrines which I believed in before they were written in that platform, and I have reasons for the faith which is in me. Every platform embraces a large number of subjects, because at all times government covers various questions, but it is also true that in every election there is generally one issue which rises above all other issues and which, more than any other, engrosses the thoughts of the people. In selecting the party which he will support in any campaign, the citizen takes the paramount issue, that thing which he thinks is more important than other things, and by that paramount issue determines his allegiance. In this campaign we have suffered some desertions. Why? Because our platform, departing from what has sometimes been the custom, is straight, clear and emphatic on the leading questions. It is easy to hold all the members of the party together if your platform means nothing and the people are willing to submit to platforms which may mean anything or nothing according to construction; but whenever a party takes a firm position on any great question, it must expect that those who do not believe with the party will feel justified in leaving it, provided they can find somewhere else an expression of their ideas. I say, this must be expected.
But, my friends, we reached a time when decided action was necessary. This money question which today overshadows all other questions has been thrust upon the American people, not so much by the advocates of free coinage as by the opponents of free coinage. What has brought it to the attention of the American people? As soon as the last campaign closed, the monied interests of this country made a combined attack on what was known as the Sherman law. They demanded the repeal of the purchasing clause of the Sherman law, and they based their attack upon the platform of the Democratic party of 1892; but instead of enforcing that platform as a whole, they picked out a part of a sentence and insisted upon enforcing it, while they ignored the rest of the platform. The Democratic party denounced the Sherman law as a makeshift. What is a makeshift? Why, it is a temporary expedient. It is a thing used until some better thing can be secured, and the very plank in the platform that declared in favor of the repeal of the makeshift, asserted that we held to the use of gold and silver as the standard money of the country, and not that only, but that platform added that gold and silver should be coined without discrimination against either metal, or charge for mintage. This declaration was followed by certain qualifying words, but these qualifying words did not destroy the declaration of the Democratic party for the coinage of gold and silver upon equal terms, and yet the monied interests of this country combined to attack the Sherman law, secure its repeal and leave nothing in its place to furnish the money which the people need. They said that gold was going abroad and that if they repealed the Sherman law gold would stop going abroad. After a struggle that has seldom been equaled, they succeeded in repealing the Sherman law without condition, and then what? Did gold stop going
abroad? No, gold went abroad faster than before; and then what? Then they began to issue bonds to get enough gold to supply those who wanted to send it abroad, or who wanted to put it away in their vaults, or wanted to create an excuse for the issue of more bonds. They issued fifty million dollars' worth of bonds, and then fifty million dollars more of bonds, and then the administration entered into what is known as the Rothschild contract.
My friends, let me dwell just a moment upon that contract. I call your attention to the fact that while that contract was made by a Democratic administration, it was supported by all the leading members of the Republican party, and more than that, the Republican party in convention assembled did not denounce or criticise that contract. Why? Because the men who wrote the Republican platform have always justified the President's conduct. Now, I want to say to you that, in my judgment, that was the most infamous contract that was ever entered into by this nation. That contract at an enormous price employed certain financiers in New York and London, to do what? To look after the Treasury and protect it. Do you know what it means to employ a man to protect your treasury? When you purchase his good will you confess that if you did not purchase it you would not get it, and when you buy it at a high price, you admit that his good will is very valuable to you. I want you to remember, my friends, that if this nation is dependent upon the good will of one banking firm in New York and one banking firm in London, the very moment you confess it you put it in the power of those two firms to charge whatever they please for their good will towards this Government, and I am not willing to admit that this Government exists by sufferance. I am not willing to admit that we have reached an extremity where it becomes necessary for us to purchase the good will of any syndicate, foreign or domestic. More than that, I assert that 70,000,000 people, in their majesty and strength, have a government, or should have a goverment, which can not only live without the aid of these syndicates, but can live in spite of anything that these syndicates may do. I am not surprised that members of that syndicate are opposed to the Democratic party. I am not surprised at all, because the Democratic party believes that this Government can get along without them; and more than that, the Democratic party believes that, if they imagine they can injure this Government and dare to try it, they ought to be treated like any other conspirators.
Cicero, it is related, once said to his son: "Do not go into the retail business; the retail business is a small and vulgar business. Go into the wholesale business; that is a respectable business."
My friends, this doctrine seems to be applied to those who would injure the Government. If a man attempts to do the Government a small injury, he is a contemptible man and ought to be punished, but if he attempts to do the Government a great injury, he goes into the wholesale business and becomes respectable, and then the Government must negotiate with him. When our Constitution was based upon the theory that all men were created equal and stood equal before the law, there was no provision in there making an exception in behalf of financiers and asserting that they are greater than anybody else.
I warn you, fellow citizens, against entertaining the opinion of government
that our opponents seem to entertain. To say that anything less than a majority has the right to dictate the financial policy of this country is to abandon the theory upon which our Government is founded. Either the majority must rule, or the minority; and if a few people insist upon making the laws of this country on any question, then upon that question we have minority rule instead of majority rule.
We may differ as to what kind of financial legislation is best, but there is one question upon which we must agree, if we believe that our people are capable of self government and that our institutions deserve to be perpetuated. There is one question upon which we must agree, and that is, that the American people, acting through their Constitution and their laws, are the only power to determine what is good for the American people and what the American people shall have in the way of legislation.
I have called your attention to the Rothschild contract. Do you know why that contract was entered into? There was a reason given and the only reasonable one-I do not mean reasonable to those who believe in bimetallismbut reasonable enough for those who believe in the gold standard.
When the Government sold bonds at home, the officials in charge of the Treasury saw that people went to the Treasury and drew out a part of the gold to pay for the bonds; therefore the Treasury officials thought that they would try to sell the bonds abroad in order to avoid the necessity of furnishing the gold to pay for the bonds.
I believe that if our people understood what was possible-what is not only possible, but what is the actual practice under the present financial system as practiced by the present administration-they would rise in a unanimous revolt against that policy.
Let me show you what has been done. The Government decided to issue $50,000,000 of bonds to buy gold. Now suppose you want to buy bonds. You go to the Secretary of the Treasury and he says that he has some bonds to sell, and you hand him a thousand dollars in greenbacks and Treasury notes. He says, "I cannot accept these notes;" and you say, "Why not?" Are not these greenbacks and Treasury notes good?" He says, "Yes, they are good for most things, but these bonds are sold to obtain gold; therefore, we must demand gold for the bonds." You say to him, "All right, Mr. Secretary, if you will not give me the bonds for these greenbacks and Treasury notes, I will just deposit them and demand their redemption in gold." The Secretary says, "That is all right; that is what we are here for;" and he hands out the gold. Then you say to him, "Do I not understand that you have some bonds for sale for which you want gold?" and he says, "Yes," and you hand him the gold and say to him, "Here, Mr. Secretary, is the gold, now give me the bonds."
Do you believe that that is possible? It is possible under the present policy. Do you believe that anybody in this country has done it? It has been done under the present administration of the Treasury. When the Treasurer issued the first fifty millions of dollars of bonds, the amount of gold drawn out during the time between the publication of the notice and the issue of the bonds was something like eighteen million dollars. In other words, to the extent of the money withdrawn for the purpose of buying bonds the Government simply allowed the gold to pass out of the Treasury, and then sold bonds to