« PreviousContinue »
of millions of debt owed to them over the world, and much of which we owe. They draw upon us for much of their food supplies and raw materials; for meat, wheat, corn, oil, cotton, wool, iron, lead and the like staples, and seek to get them for the least money. Besides this, Great Britain has large gold mines in South America, Australia and South Africa, and by closing our silver mines has greatly enhanced their value and their products. Recent British aggressions against Venezuela and the settlements in South Africa were moved by the desire to add to the possession of gold mines, and by monopolizing that metal as far as possible, to assert the commercial supremacy of the world.
No nation can call itself independent that cannot establish a financial system of its own. We abhor the pretense that this, the foremost, richest and most powerful nation of the world, cannot coin its own money without suing for international agreement at the courts of European autocrats, who, having their primary interests to subserve, have for many years held out to us the idea before every presidental election that they would enter upon such an agreement and foiled every effort to obtain it afterward.
We have never had an international agreement about our money system with foreign nations, and none of the founders of the Republic ever dreamed that such an agreement was essential. We have had three international conferences with European powers in order to obtain it, and to wait longer upon them is to ignore the people's interest, to degrade our national dignity and to advertise our impotence and folly.
The concession that the scientific thought of the world is for the double standard as the only solution of financial difficulty is a concession that wisdom far and wide cheers us on. The declaration that the English Commons, the Prussian Diet and French Minister of Finance have recently expressed themselves in its favor shows that it would succeed if not suppressed by the sinister influences of autocratic power.
The concession that international agreement could restore the metals to equality and that such restoration would be a boon to mankind, is a concession that law regulates the value of money, and that the bimetallists are right in their theories of a double standard.
The framers of our Constitution knew this when they gave power to Congress to coin money and regulate the value thereof and of foreign coins, and when they prohibited the States from making anything but gold and silver legal tender. Hamilton knew this when he framed the first mint act of 1792, and based the unit of our currency upon both metals for the double reason assigned by him that to exclude one would reduce it to a mere merchandise and involve the difference between a full and a scanty circulation. Jefferson knew this when he indorsed the work of Hamilton and Washington when he approved it. Daniel Webster knew this when he declared that gold and silver were our legal standard and that neither Congress nor any State had the right to establish any other standard or displace this standard. General Grant knew this when he looked to silver as a resource of payment and found to his astonishment that a Republican Congress had demonetized it, and that he, as President, had unwittingly signed the bill. The people of the United States know this now and know also that "they who would be free themselves must strike the blow."
We maintain that this great nation, with a natural base, as Gladstone said, of the greatest continuous empire ever established by man, with far more territory and more productive energy than Great Britain, France and Germany combined, without dependence upon Europe for anything that it produces and with European dependence upon us for much that we produce, is fully capable of restoring its constitutional money system of gold and silver at equality with each other. And as our fathers in 1776 declared our national independence, so now has the party founded by Thomas Jefferson, the author of that declaration, met here to declare our financial independence of all other nations, and to invoke all true Americans to assert it by their votes and place their country where it of right belongs as the greatest, noblest and foremost nation that blesses the life of mankind on this globe.
Hon. John H. Atwood, of Kansas, was made chairman of the Committee on Credentials, and discharged the duties of the position with great ability. The contests before the committee involved the entire Nebraska delegation, and a portion of the Michigan delegation. The committee reported with practical unanimity in favor of seating the delegation of which I was a member, in place of the delegation sent by the bolting organization of gold Democrats. The convention adopted, without division, the report upon the Nebraska contest and our delegates were escorted to seats in the convention. The committee brought in a majority and a minority report on the Michigan contest, the majority report being adopted by a vote which ran substantially along the line of the Daniel-Hill vote. While the convention was waiting for the report of the Committee on Credentials, speeches were made by a number of prominent delegates, among them ex-Governor Hogg of Texas, Senator Blackburn of Kentucky, Governor Altgeld of Illinois, and ex-Congressman George Fred Williams of Massachusetts. Mr. Hogg's work has entitled him to a foremost place among the Democrats of the nation, and the convention early showed its partiality for him. Mr. Altgeld was a prime factor in the fight waged by the silver Democrats for the capture of the party organization. As he was the recognized leader of his party in the greatest State of the West, his support was necessary in order to secure a victory for silver in the National Convention. He not only gave to the cause his great personal influence, but during the ante-convention campaign delivered several strong speeches, principal among which was his reply to Mr. Carlisle's Chicago speech.
The Committee on Permanent Organization recommended the selection of Senator Stephen M. White, of California, as permanent chairman of the convention, and the report was adopted without division.
Mr. White has for many years been a most indefatigable, as well as able, champion of bimetallism. Upon taking the chair he said:
Mr. White's Speech.
Gentlemen of the Convention: I will detain you with no extended speech. The Democratic party is here represented by delegates who have come from the Atlantic and Pacific shores. Every State has its full quota; every State, so far as I can bring about such a result, shall have full, equal, absolute and impartial treatment from this stand. Every State is entitled to such treatment; every question should be considered carefully and deliberately, and when the voice of this convention is crystallized into a judgment it should be binding upon all true Democratic members of this convention.
We differ, perhaps, today upon certain vital issues, and we might express some feelings of bitterness in these discussions, but we submit to the voice and the candid judgment of our brethren, and upon that judgment we will certainly rely. Time passes as we stand here; it leaves many with unsatisfied ambition. It leaves numerous aspirations and hopes unrealized. Men now prominent will pass away-some to oblivion while they live-and others, because they have been summoned to another shore; but the Democratic party will not die, even when we all have ceased to live.
When the differences which challenge consideration tonight have passed into history, when the asperities of this hour no longer obtain, the Democratic party, the guardian of the people's rights and the representative of the sentiments of the United States in support of Constitutional right, will endure to bless mankind.
My ambition or yours is of but little moment. Whether I succeed, or you, in impressing sentiments upon this convention is not of supreme importance. In this council chamber the Democratic party looks for an indication of its existence. The people seek here the righting of their wrongs, and the Constitution-the great charter of our liberties-here must find its best, its truest and its most loyal defenders. No sectionalism whatever; equal, impartial justice to all in this land; the triumph of the people's cause, as here exemplified and expressed, is the object for which we have assembled, and to carry out that object I will consecrate my best exertions.
CONTEST OVER THE PLATFORM.
S THE adoption of the platform was the rock upon which the convention split, I give below the names of the Committee on Resolutions:
Senator James K. Jones, of Arkansas, Irving W. Drew, New Hampshire.
E. J. Hale, North Carolina.
R. E. Mattingley, District of Columbia.
A. A. Jones, New Mexico.
John H. Blankhead, Alabama.
From the first assembling of the Platform Committee it became evident that there could be no agreement. The differences between the delegates upon the money question were so radical and the convictions so deep that compromise was impossible. A large majority of the delegates had come instructed for a platform declaring for free and unlimited coinage at 16 to 1, while a minority of the delegates were instructed to oppose such a declaration. The majority prepared their money plank and the minority theirs, and the contest was trans
ferred to the convention. Senator Jones, the chairman of the committee, presented the majority report, and the platform as read by him was adopted. As I shall set it forth in full in a subsequent chapter, I shall not quote from it here. The minority report was signed by Messrs. David B. Hill, William F. Vilas, George Gray, John Prentiss Poe, Irving W. Drew, C. V. Holman, P. J. Farrell, William R. Steele, Allen McDermott, Lynde Harrison, David S. Baker, Thomas A. E. Weadock, James E. O'Brien, John E. Russell, Robert E. Wright, and Charles D. Rogers. (Mr. Weadock, who signed the minority report, was replaced by Mr. Hummer, after the Michigan contest was decided. The latter supported the majority report.)
The report and substitute recommended read as follows:
To the Democratic National Convention: Sixteen delegates, constituting the minority of the Committee on Resolutions, find many declarations in the report of the majority to which they cannot give their assent. Some of these are wholly unnecessary. Some are ill considered and ambiguously phrased, while others are extreme and revolutionary of the well recognized principles of the party. The minority content themselves with this general expression of their dissent, without going into a specific statement of these objectionable features of the report of the majority; but upon the financial question, which engages at this time the chief share of public attention, the views of the majority differ so fundamentally from what the minority regard as vital Democratic doctrine as to demand a distinct statement of what they hold to as the only just and true expression of Democratic faith upon this paramount issue, as follows, which is offered as a substitute for the financial plank in the majority report:
"We declare our belief that the experiment on the part of the United States alone of free silver coinage and a change of the existing standard of value independently of the action of other great nations, would not only imperil our finances, but would retard or entirely prevent the establishment of international bimetallism, to which the efforts of the Government should be steadily directed. It would place this country at once upon a silver basis, impair contracts, disturb business, diminish the purchasing power of the wages of labor, and inflict irreparable evils upon our nation's commerce and industry.
"Until international co-operation among leading nations for the coinage of silver can be secured we favor the rigid maintenance of the existing gold standard as essential to the preservation of our national credit, the redemption of our public pledges, and the keeping inviolate of our country's honor. We insist that all our paper and silver currency shall be kept absolutely at a parity with gold. The Democratic party is the party of hard money and is opposed to egal tender paper money as a part of our permanent financial system, and we therefore favor the gradual retirement and cancellation of all United States notes and Treasury notes, under such legislative provisions as will prevent undue contraction. We demand that the national credit shall be resolutely maintained at all times and under all circumstances."
The minority also feel that the report of the majority is defective in failing