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I have known something of the advocates of the gold standard. We went through this contest in our State before other States did. I got acquainted with the genus "gold bug" out there.
I have great respect for Republicans. I have great respect for any man who has an opinion, believes in a thing, stands by it, and tells people what he believes in. I have great respect for any man of convictions, I care not how widely he may differ from me. As I desire to think as I please, I concede the right to every one to think as he pleases, and when I find a man espousing a cause in which he believes, he cannot express himself so emphatically as to take from me the respect which I always feel toward an honest opponent.
But there is one thing which I do not like, and there is one thing which I do not hesitate to express my dislike for, and that is for a man who has a belief and dares not take the public into his confidence.
I respect the advocate of a gold standard who says he is for a gold standard and will try to secure a gold standard. I cannot say so much for the man who says he is for bimetallism and works for the gold standard quietly.
I am willing to meet in the open field any opponent who stands for a principle and a candidate. I am willing to meet in the open field a party which adopts a platform, nominates candidates upon the platform, and then tries to elect candidates on that platform.
I cannot say so much for those who, having been defeated in a fair convention, try to steal the name "Democrat" from those who are entitled to it, and then put up a ticket which they do not expect to vote for.
A man who says he is for honest money and nominates a ticket for the purpose of electing another, does not commence at the right place to prove his honesty.
I have had something to do with gold standard Democrats. I have seen them in Nebraska. I have seen them beaten at the primaries and beaten in convention, and then I have seen them resort to every sort of deception in order to elect a Republican, and therefore I am prepared for all sorts of underhand schemes. I am prepared for all sorts of work in the dark; and when we have to deal with men who, instead of fighting an open fight, are always seeking to derive some underhand advantage, we have to take every precaution. We cannot fight them as we would others.
I am glad to speak in this State. It did not require much persuasion to obtain my promise to come. When my colleague in Congress, who was opposed to me at every step on this money question, became a convert to free silver, all differences between us on that subject disappeared, and we stood together, and when he came to Chicago representing at least a part of the Democracy of Massachusetts-at that time a part-and took his stand, I made up my mind that if George Fred Williams could fight for free coinage against all the hostile influences of the Bay State, I could come and hold up his hands while he did battle.
No part of this country is so far from my home that I cannot reach it if one word or act of mine can give encouragement to a warrior like George Fred Williams.
I know something of the embarrassment which surrounds one when he takes a position opposed by his friends and acquaintances. I know something
of the bitterness which is aroused by the independence that is shown on such occasions; but, my friends, it has been the history of every cause that some had to stand forth and take the abuse as they blazed the way where multitudes followed after.
I heard some one say that when one person saw a thing he was a fanatic; when a number were able to see the same thing, he became an enthusiast; and when everybody saw it he became a hero.
Two months ago George Fred Williams was a fanatic. He is now an enthusiast. The time will come when his name will be written among the heroes.
An audience in this city once hissed Wendell Phillips, but they did not hiss him always, and, my friends, I come to impress upon you tonight a truth which Wendell Phillips presented more eloquently than I can. I am going to quote the words of Wendell Phillips to you, because Wendell Phillips pointed out the very dangers which confront us now.
The Democratic platform has declared in favor of bimetallism and against the gold standard. It has also declared against the issue of paper money by national banks.
The gold standard and national bank currency go together. The gold standard allows a few financiers to control the legal tender money, and the national bank system allows a few banks to control the paper money; and when you have them together the volume of your currency is held in the hands of a few, who can expand it or contract it at will, and by so doing enrich themselves while they spread disaster among those who are subject to their control.
Let me read to you what Wendell Phillips said in regard to the control of the currency:
In other words, it was the currency which, rightly arranged, opened a nation's well springs, found work for willing hands to do, and filled them with a just return, while honest capital, daily larger and more secure, ministered to a glad prosperity. Or it was currency, wickedly and selfishly juggled, that made merchants bankrupt and starved labor into discontent and slavery, while capital added house to house and field to field, and gathered into its miserly hands all the wealth left in a ruined land.
The first question, therefore, in an industrial nation is, where ought control of the currency to rest? In whose hands can this almost omnipotent power be trusted? Every writer of political economy, from Aristotle to Adam Smith, allows that a change in the currency alters the price of every ounce and yard of merchandise and every foot of land. Whom can we trust with this despotism? At present the banks and the money kings wield this power. They own the yardstick, and can make it longer or shorter, as they please. They own every pound weight, and can make it heavier or lighter as they choose. This explains the riddle, so mysterious to common people, that those who trade in money always grow rich, even while those who trade in other things go into bankruptcy.
That is the language of Wendell Phillips, and Wendell Phillips, who uttered those words, will live in history when your financiers are forgotten and their money is scattered to the winds.
Some of your people are afraid that the masses are not competent to govern themselves. Some of the people who speak here through your press and through pamphlets seem to be very much afraid that you have among you an unthinking class, and that that unthinking class is lawless in disposition and
cannot be trusted to exercise wisely the right to vote. Let me read you what Phillips said on that subject. Speaking of this contest he said:
It began when Congress declared all men equal; it will never end until it is settled that the people are the source of all power and safely to be trusted with its exercise over every interest and in every direction. On the one side stand the Tories and the cowards, those who hate the people and those who honestly doubt their capacity and discretion; on the other side we see the men who still believe in the declaration of independence and are resolved that this shall be, as Lincoln said, a "government for the people, by the people, and for the people."
And then he added:
I believe in the people, in universal suffrage as fitted to secure the best results that human nature leaves possible. If corruption seems rolling over us like a flood, it is not the corruption of the humbler classes-it is millionaires, who steal banks, mills and railways; it is defaulters, who live in palaces and make way with millions; it is money kings, who buy up Congress; it is the demagogues and editors in purple and fine linen, who bid $50,000 for the Presidency itself.
My friends, Wendell Phillips believed in the people. The advocates of the gold standard are not willing to submit their cause to the people and fight an open fight on that issue.
Emerson, whom the people of Massachusetts will have as much reason to remember as they will have to remember any of their financiers, also spoke on this subject. He expressed his ideas as to the capacity of the people for selfgovernment. Let me read to you what he said:
I will have never a noble, no lineage counted great;
He was not afraid to trust the affairs of government in the hands of those who contribute with brain and muscle to the nation's wealth.
If your financiers were to rewrite that poem, how do you suppose they would write it? I think about this way:
We will have dukes, lords and nobles, with lineage counted great;
My friends, no question was ever settled in this country until it was settled by the great mass of the people. Financiers never settled a question. Politicians never settled a question. Bosses never settled a question. The voters themselves are the only ones who can settle or who will settle any great question.
And for the first time this money question has been submitted to the vote of the American people. Heretofore the two great parties have adopted platforms very similar, and where they did not get their platforms exactly alike they corrected the mistake by getting their candidates exactly alike.
The same influences have controlled both party conventions, and have nominated men who thought the same on platforms substantially alike.
They tried it this year. They went to St. Louis and they wrote a platform. Your newspapers had declared that gold was the money of civilization. Your newspapers had declared that we had outgrown silver; your newspapers had declared that there could not be two yardsticks; your newspapers had declared that bimetallism was simply the trick of the man who owed money and wanted to pay a debt in cheap dollars, that it was simply the device of the mine owner who wanted to raise the value of his silver bullion, and that it was the doctrine of the demagogue, who advocated it to get votes.