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may be destroyed. Such ownership is to be accomplished gradually, in a manner consistent with sound public policy.
2. The interest of the United States in the public highways, built with public moneys, and the proceeds of extensive grants of land to the Pacific railroads should never be alienated, mortgaged or sold, but guarded and protected for the general welfare as provided by the laws organizing such railroads. The foreclosure of existing liens of the United States on these roads should at once follow default in the payment thereof by the debtor, the companies, and at the foreclosure sales of said roads the Government shall purchase the same if it become necessary to protect its interest therein, or if they can be purchased at a reasonable price; and the Government shall operate said railroads as public highways for the benefit of the whole people, and not in the interest of the few, under suitable provisions for protection of life and property, giving to all transportation interests equal privileges and equal rates for fares and freight.
3. We denounce the present infamous schemes for refunding these debts, and demand that the laws now applicable thereto be executed and administered according to their true intent and spirit.
4. The telegraph, like the postoffice system, being a necessity for the transmission of news, should be owned and operated by the Government in the interest of the people.
1. The true policy demands that national and State legislation shall be such as will ultimately enable every prudent and industrious citizen to secure a home, and therefore the land should not be monopolized for speculative purposes. All lands now held by railroads and other corporations in excess of their actual needs should by lawful means be reclaimed by the Government and held for actual settlers only, and subject to the right of every human being to acquire a home upon the soil; and private land monopoly, as well as alien ownership, should be prohibited.
2. We condemn the frauds by which the land grants to the Pacific railroad companies have, through the connivance of the Interior Department, robbed multitudes of actual bona fide settlers of their homes and miners of their claims, and we demand legislation by Congress which will enforce the exemption of mineral land from such grants after, as well as before, patent.
3. We demand that bona fide settlers on all public lands be granted free homes as provided in the national homestead law, and that no exception be made in the case of Indian reservations when opened for settlement, and that all lands not now patented come under this demand.
We favor a system of direct legislation through the initiative and referendum under proper constitutional safeguards.
1. We demand the election of President, Vice-President, and United States Senators by a direct vote of the people.
2. We tender to the patriotic people of Cuba our deepest sympathy in their heroic struggle for political freedom and independence, and we believe the time has come when the United States, the great Republic of the world, should recognize that Cuba is and of right ought to be a free and independent State.
3. We favor home rule in the Territories and the District of Columbia, and the early admission of Territories as States.
4. All public salaries should be made to correspond to the price of labor and its products.
5. In times of great industrial depression, idle labor should be employed on public works as far as practicable.
6. The arbitrary course of the courts in assuming to imprison citizens for indirect contempt, and ruling by injunction, should be prevented by proper legislation.
7. We favor just pensions for our disabled Union soldiers.
8. Believing that the elective franchise and an untrammeled ballot are essential to a government of, for, and by the people, the People's party condemn the wholesale system of disfranchisement adopted in some of the States as unrepublican and un-democratic, and we declare it to be the duty of the several State Legislatures to take such action as will secure a full, free, and fair ballot and an honest count.
9. While the foregoing propositions constitute the platform upon which our party stands, and for the vindication of which its organization will be maintained, we recognize that the great and pressing issue of the pending campaign upon which the present Presidential election will turn is the financial question, and upon this great and specific issue between the parties we cordially invite the aid and co-operation of all organizations and citizens agreeing with us upon this vital question.
The convention then proceeded to the nomination of a candidate for the Presidency. My name was placed before the convention by Gen. Weaver, who spoke as follows:
Mr. Weaver's Speech.
Mr. Chairman: I arise before you this morning, facing the most critical period that has ever occurred in the history of the Populist party. I know that I have in my heart not one aspiration to do anything in this convention or to say one word in this presence that would militate against the growth and strength, security and purpose of the Populist party. I have but two aspirations in connection with that party. The first is incorporated with my life work. It is to preserve untarnished and unsullied to the American people the great principles that we have contended for for the last twenty years. My second purpose is to preserve the organization for present and future usefulness in every part of this Union.
You have all read the papers this morning; you have all read the manly dispatch from the Democratic nominee for the presidency, William J. Bryan. No man could have done less and be a man. His manly attitude concerning the action of this convention we must all respect. But, my fellow citizens. this question has reached a point where neither Mr. Bryan nor his personal friends have any right whatever to say what the action of this convention shall be. This is a greater question than the personality of its candidates.
After your action last night, after I had read the telegrams from Mr. Bryan, I utterly refused, and I here and now utterly refuse, to confer either with Mr. Bryan or Mr. Jones as to who shall be the nominee of this convention. That is a matter that we have a right to determine for ourselves. It is the relief of 70,000,000 people that is at stake.
I am here to do but one thing and to ask the consideration and the attention of this convention to that one thing. I know that I am proceeding upon right lines. You know how long I have fought in your behalf; listen now to what I have to say. I bore your standard (I know I was undeserving) first, sixteen years ago, in 1880, and twelve years afterward, unsolicited, you made me your standard bearer in 1892. I did my best. I did all I could do with the means at my command to support our principles among the people. Now I stand here in the crucial juncture of our party's history, and I shall proceed to deliver my convictions deliberately. In that midnight discussion between Brutus and Cassius concerning the contemplated battle at Philippi, Brutus urged that their cause their legions brimful, at the height, and ready to decline. Said he:
There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
And then, in dramatic climax, he exclaimed:
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
For twenty years we have been pleading with the people to espouse the sacred cause which is at stake in this campaign. We have constantly urged through good and through evil report that our principles were more important than party associations; were above all considerations of private fortune or the petty and feverish ambitions of men. We have thus far suited our action to our words. Through five presidential campaigns, stretching from 1876 to 1892, you correctly estimated the purposes of old party managers, and events have sustained every specification in your indictment against them. Millions of honest men within old party ranks were deceived, lured into ambush and betrayed. But not a single one of your pickets has ever been caught napping or been taken by surprise. To your devoted efforts is largely due the revival of economic learning in this country, which has enabled the Democratic party to assume its present admirable attitude. Your work now promises much to mankind, and is about to break forth in complete victory for the industrial masses. Though oft repulsed by the multitude, whom we would have liberated, though crucified in return for our kindness, yet through it all we have steadily confided in the righteousness of our cause and the final good sense of the people. We still believe that this nation has a mission to perform which bad men will not be permitted to destroy, and recent events indicate that the nineteenth century is not, after all, to close with the friends of freedom despondent in the western hemisphere.
This country has recently witnessed a new Pentecost, and received another baptism of fire. The recent convention at Chicago sounded a bugle call for union which can neither be misunderstood nor go unheeded. In its patriotic utterances and action it swept away all middle ground, and opened the road to a formidable organic alliance. They not only made union possible-thank heaven, they have rendered it inevitable.
From the very beginning our organization has made party fealty subordinate to principle. We will not here reverse ourselves and refuse to accept victory now so easily within our reach. We will not refuse the proffered assistance of at least 3,000,000 free silver Democrats, and not less than 1,000,000 free silver Republicans, simply because they have shown the good sense to come with an organized army fully equipped and manned for battle. Let them have their own divisions and army corps. The field of glory is open to all competitors who are fighting for the same principles.
The Populists have already shown their prowess in many engagements during twenty years of struggle. If our allies can strike sturdier blows at plutocracy than can we; if they can scale the battlements of the gold power more gallantly than our old veterans, and are able to plant their colors one foot nearer the citadel of the enemy than we can ourselves, let every Populist cheer and support them in their heroic work. We will all march under the same flag, keep step to the same music, face the same foe, share in, and shout over, the same triumph.
We cannot be mistaken concerning the real issue involved in the struggle of the present year. It is between the gold standard, gold bonds and bank currency on the one hand, and the bimetallic standard, no bonds, and government currency on the other. The people are asked to choose between enforced idleness, destitution, debt, bankruptcy and despair on the one side, and an open door of opportunity under just laws and normal conditions on the other. The situation presents the mightiest civic question that ever convulsed a civilized nation. The conflict can neither be postponed nor avoided. In the name of the suffering people, I affirm that this is no time for dissensions or party divisions. The supreme hour for action has arrived. If we would be victorious we must make common cause with the
heroic men who dominated the Chicago convention. No other course is either prudent or desirable. We are not asked to abandon our party, nor would it be wise to do so. If it is to be preserved we will, in my judgment, be compelled to take the course which I am about to indicate. The silver Democrats have lined up as an organization. Now let the Populists, free silver Republicans, and the American silver party do likewise. Form an embattled square-impenetrable to the assaults of the confederated gold power.
After due consideration, in which I have fully canvassed every possible phase of the subject, I have failed to find a single good reason to justify us in placing a third ticket in the field. The exigencies of the hour imperatively demand that there shall be but one. I would not endorse the distinguished gentleman named at Chicago. I would nominate him outright, and make him our own, and then share justly and rightfully in his election. The situation is a striking verification of the old adage that "The path of duty is the path of safety." Take this course, and all opposition will practically disappear in the Southern and Western states, and we can then turn our attention to other parts of the field. Take any other, and you endanger the entire situation and strengthen the arm of our common adversary.
If you allow the present happy juncture to pass, all the heroic work of twenty years will be thrown to the winds. Our guiding hand will disappear
in the momentous conflict just when it should be stretched forth to steady the ark of our covenant. We would prove to the world that we are devoid of capacity to grasp great opportunities, and lacking in strength to grapple with prodigious emergencies. The people have a gallant champion in the field, who is leading a revolt against the plutocracy of Christendom. Every oppressor, every plutocrat, in two hemispheres has turned his guns upon him. The subsidized organs have openly proclaimed that he must be crushed by any means and at whatever cost. The confederated monopolies have laid aside their parties and their politics and are marching in hot haste against him. Let us signal to him to hold the fort-that we are comingand then hasten to his relief. Gentlemen, I want to say to you in all earnestness, that, assailed as is this gallant knight by the sleuth hounds of the money power of the world, you may deliberate here as long as you please, but you cannot prevent the people from rushing to the support of their recognized defender and leader. If you will not say the word, they will break over all restraints and go themselves, leaders or no leaders, and may God bless them for so doing.
Therefore, in obedience to my highest conception of duty, with the solemn conviction that I am right, I place in nomination for the presidency of the United States a distinguished gentleman, who, let it be remembered, has already been three times endorsed by the Populist party of his own State-once for Representative in Congress; once for United States Senator, and only last week for the Presidency. I name that matchless champion of the people, that intrepid foe of corporate greed, that splendid young statesman-William J. Bryan, of Nebraska.
The nomination was seconded by Gen. Field of Virginia, Hons. W. H. Claggett of Idaho, H. E. Taubeneck of Illinois, Jerry Simpson of Kansas, Ignatius Donnelly of Minnesota, and T. V. Cator of California, Judges J. K. Hines of Georgia, W. L. Green of Nebraska, and A. J. Plowman of South Dakota, Mrs. Mary E. Lease of Kansas, and Messrs. Cobb of Alabama, Brown of Massachusetts, Greece of Michigan, Smith of Montana, Kitchin of North Carolina, Matthews of New York, Sites of Ohio, McDowell of Tennessee, Beverly of Virginia, McGuire of Washington, Brown of Wyoming, Crosby of Missouri, Kent of District of Columbia, and others whose names I have not been able to ascertain.
The name of Col. S. F. Norton, of Illinois, was presented to the convention by Henry G. Call, of New York, and the nomination was seconded by James H. Davis, of Texas, and a delegate from West Virginia. The ballot resulted in 1042 for me and 340 for Mr. Norton.
I may add here that Mr. Norton during the campaign gave active support to the fusion electors and spoke in several States.