Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

practice, the attorneys for the great corporations come to be considered the leading attorneys at their respective bars. In appointments to public office, corporation attorneys have not only the advantage which their professional prominence gives them, but they also have the advantage of friendly relations with the prominent officials. of other corporations. Thus it may happen, without the intention. of the appointing power (and it may happen the more easily with the intention of the appointing power), that officials appointed to enforce the law will be biased against the law which is to be enforced. It may even happen that judges upon the bench will retain after appointment the bias acquired in corporation practice. Public officials, whether executive, legislative or judicial, are but human beings, and in making, interpreting and executing the law, may be unconsciously influenced by preconceived opinions or present associations. I believe that the continued existence of the trust is largely due to the fact that many public officials, without openly defending it, are at heart friendly to it.

The pension plank of our platform, so far as I know, escaped serious criticism, and my Congressional record upon this subject was not assailed. But the Republicans circulated far and wide an editorial which.appeared in the Omaha World-Herald nearly two years before I became connected with the paper. This editorial, which criticised certain pension legislation then under discussion, was used by some who knew that I was in no way responsible for it. During the campaign several prominent generals made a tour of the country and appealed to the veterans to support the Republican ticket, but their arguments were directed against free coinage, rather than against the attitude of the Democratic party on the subject of pensions. It is safe, however, to assert that the Republican position upon the money question drove away more votes than it drew to that party.

The civil service plank of the platform aroused hostile criticism in some quarters. An attempt was made to array the civil service employes against the ticket because the Democratic party declared against life tenure in the civil service. I only referred to this subject. twice during the campaign, once at Washington, in a speech which will be found in another chapter, and later at Chicago in a speech. which was delivered late in the evening and not fully reported. I take this opportunity to express myself more at length.

I do not believe that life tenure is, as a rule, a wise thing in a government like ours. As suggested in my letter of acceptance, the fact that the people make frequent changes in their public officials in

case of elective offices is conclusive proof that life tenure is not popular. If they desired to have their public servants hold office for life, they would manifest that desire by keeping elective officials in office permanently. As long as human nature remains as it is, it will not be safe to place public officials in a position where they are entirely independent of those whom they serve. The man who is permanently provided for, no matter what changes may take place in politics, is apt to become indifferent to public questions and be concerned only in the size and continuance of his salary. I do not mean to say that this is always the case, but it is too apt to be the case. It may be laid down as a sound proposition that, in a republic, no system is wise which tends to discourage a lively interest in all matters which concern the government. The best way to compel people to scrutinize the acts of public officials is to leave them in a position where they will suffer from their own indifference. Rotation in office does not, however, mean that all public officials must necessarily change with each change of administration. Every one who has served in Congress will appreciate the embarrassment which would follow if members of Congress were compelled to look after appointments in all the departments of the Federal Government. Not only would it be embarrassing, but the member of Congress is not in a position to sit as an impartial judge and decide the relative merits of those who ask his endorsement. Without entering into details, I suggest that it is possible to place the civil service upon a substantial foundation by providing a fixed term for appointments --with the possibility of one reappointment in case of special meritthe appointments to be divided among all political parties in proportion to their political strength, and among the States in proportion to their population. In this way a person entering the service would know that by efficiency he could secure a second term, and, knowing that his service would end at the close of the second term, could make arrangements for the future. At present, a clerk when discharged without warning is often left in a position of financial embarrassment. Then, too, when each party has its proportionate representation in the civil service, there will be no disposition to violate the spirit of the law, as both parties have done under the present system. Until each party is given its share of the offices, the successful party will be tempted to secure places for as many of its members as possible. Then, too, appointment for a fixed term places the appointee in a position of political independence, where he is not required to surrender his convictions in order to retain his

position. I need hardly add that the examination should be such as to test the fitness of the candidate for the work to be done, and not to determine his knowledge upon other subjects. Appointments for a fixed term, made after suitable examination and in proportion to the voting strength of the respective parties, would, in my judgment, give an efficient administration of the public service, provide against the dangers which flow from life tenure, remove the question from the domain of partisan politics and guarantee political independence to subordinate officials.

During the campaign our opponents, for the most part, avoided a discussion of that plank of our platform which denounced government by injunction. Our position was so generally approved that those who dissented usually did so in silence.

The same may be said of our demand for arbitration. The principle of arbitration is so just that it is not attacked by argument, even when secretly disliked.

Few platforms have been so bitterly assailed as the one adopted at Chicago. It was misunderstood by some and misrepresented by more. By a few it has been given as an excuse for the abandonment of the party, but to millions of our citizens it has been a hope and an inspiration. While it does not attempt to discuss all needed reforms, it, as far as it goes, assails existing abuses and points out the direction from which relief must come.

CHAPTER XXIX.

NOMINATION OF SILVER PARTY ACCEPTED

ARRIVED in Lincoln the morning of September 8, the day set for receiving formal notification of the silver party nomination. I spoke at a large meeting in the capital grounds in the afternoon and discussed "a government.by banks." In the evening Hon. George A. Groot, of Cleveland, O., delivered an elaborate address in defense of bimetallism, and concluded his remarks with the following:

Mr. Groot's Speech.

Hon. William Jennings Bryan: The National Silver Convention with an unanimity unexampled in the history of national conventions in this country nominated you as the candidate of the National Silver party for the distinguished office of President of the United States. You are now the candidate for the great office of President of three great political parties of which the Silver party is not the least.

The convention selected a committee to formally notify you of its action and that committee conferred upon me the distinguished honor of advising you of your nomination as the candidate of the National Silver party for office of President of the United States. We are met, therefore, at this time and place for the purpose of performing the pleasant duty imposed upon us by the convention. I therefore, in obedience to the wishes of the committee and of the convention, hereby formally notify you that you have been nominated by the National Silver party as its candidate for President, and request that you accept that nomination in the same spirit in which it has been tendered you.

You are now the chosen commander of a grand army, composed of three grand divisions, which is now mobilizing for the purpose of fighting in behalf of humanity on November 3, 1896, the most important political battle of this or of any other age; a battle which is to determine whether this nation shall be a province of Great Britain and be governed and controlled as that nation is by the money barons of Europe, or whether it shall be, as the fathers intended it to be, a free and independent and sovereign nation!

The people who constitute that grand army, inspired as they are by the noblest sentiments of patriotism, under your leadership will, there can be no doubt, on that day lift high their banners in triumph over the defeated allied hosts of plutocracy!

I regret that I have not been able to secure an authentic report of the Silver Convention, giving the names of the Notification Committee. My reply was brief and is as follows:

Speech Accepting Nomination of National Silver Party.

Hon. George A. Groot, Chairman, and others, members of the Notification Committee of the National Silver Party: Gentlemen-I beg to reply at this time without the formality of a letter. The platform of the National Silver Convention contains but one plank and that plank, the plank upon the silver question, is identical in substance with the silver plank of the Chicago platform. As I have already discussed the subject at length in accepting the Democratic nomination it will not be necessary at this time to enter upon any argument in defense of bimetallism. I beg to assure the committee that I accept the nomination tendered on behalf of the National Silver Party in the spirit in which it is tendered. I can appreciate the feelings which animated those who assembled in the Silver Convention and turned their backs upon the party with which they had formerly been associated.

I know something of the strength of party ties because I was once in a position where I looked forward to the possibility of like action upon my own part. I can appreciate the depth of conviction which led the members of that convention to place the interests of their country above the welfare of a party. More than a year ago when we were engaged in a struggle to bring the Democratic party to the indorsement of free coinage, the question was put to me whether, in case of failure, I would support the Democratic nominee, if he were a gold standard advocate running upon a gold standard platform. I never believed that the Democratic party would indorse the gold standard, but when those who questioned me were not content with probabilities, and asked again whether, in the possible event of the Democratic party declaring for gold, I would support the nominee, I said, as you will remember, that under no circumstances would my vote be given to a man who would use the influence of the executive to fasten the gold standard upon the American people. I stood in anticipation where the members of the Silver Party Convention stood in fact. I, like them, preferred the approval of my conscience to the approval of all others. My convictions upon this subject are not shallow convictions. I may be in error-none of us can claim infallibility-but I believe that the gold standard is a conspiracy against the human race. I would no more join the ranks of those who propose to fasten it upon the American people than I would enlist in an army which was marching to attack my home and destroy my family. I repeat, therefore, that I appreciate the spirit which animated those who have just tendered me this second nomination, and I can accept it in the spirit in which it is tendered. I pledge you that, if elected, you shall never have occasion to accuse me of being false to that platform.

When I declared that I would not support a gold standard candidate, I was standing upon the record of the Democratic party; I was defending its principles as well as the interests of the country at large. And when the Republicans who assembled in the Silver Convention at St. Louis refused to worship the golden image which their party had set up, they were standing upon the record of the Republican party. The Republican national platform of 1888 denounced the Democratic administration for having attempted to degrade silver. At the Lincoln day banquet, in Memorial Hall at Toledo, Ohio, on February 12, 1891, the present candidate for president upon the Republican ticket used the words which I shall now read to you. I have found these words

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »