Page images



United States Senator FLETCHER. Mr. Commander.
The CHAIRMAN. Senator Fletcher.

Senator FLETCHER. Ladies and gentlemen, I observe that you have quite a full program this morning and that there are a number of speakers to follow, and, since the time is limited, I shall confine myself to just a few brief observations.

You have had formal welcome extended with more than usual earnestness and cordiality. You observe, however, beyond all ex. pressions that may come from this platform in your contact with the good people of this community that evidence of good will and hospitality and of courtesy more abundant and more impressive than any remarks we may make on the subject. I think you will find that you made a wise selection when you concluded to hold this convention in this beautiful State, sometimes called the greatest State in the Union, and in this beautiful city, commonly known as the Sunshine City. This you will find for several reasons: In the first place you are in harmony with that thrill and throb and spirit which exists in all parts of this country prompting people to move toward Florida. Now, I will try not to enlarge upon the opportunities and advantages and attractiveness of this splendid city. But you will, I know, forgive some few allusions perhaps to them and will excuse some remarks I may make regarding Florida, on the ground of a spirit of loyalty which exists in this great State. We seek to be loyal in Florida, and, without dwelling upon that point, I may illustrate it by a very short story: A young man once upon a time got married and located in New York. A few weeks after his marriage he was notified by his house that he must take a trip that would last some three days, a trip that had to be made in the performance of his duties. He told his wife of this and expressed his deep regret that he had to be away three or four days, but there seemed to be no escape from it. She deplored the circumstance, and she pleaded with him to see if he could not have the trip canceled, and finally on the morning of the day of departure she told him once more to plead with his employers, but assuring him that she would have his grip packed for him should he really have to go away and leave her. She did want him to at least get the trip postponed. He agreed to do what he could. In the afternoon he returned home, but his wife was away to a card party and he left a note saying it was impossible for him to get out of this trip and that he was obliged to make it, adding, “I will be gone about three days and expect to spend the night with John."

Well, the young bride worried a good deal during the night. What John," she asked herself," is he going to spend the night with?” During the evening and the night she thought of all the Johns she had ever heard her husband mention. She revolved the subject in her mind and she finally put down the names and addresses of the various “ Johns” she had heard her husband mention or claim as a friend. The next morning she sat down and wrote a telegram to each one. The telegram read, “ Did my husband spend last night with you?” Promptly, within an hour, came replies

” from all 10 Johns, each reading, “ Yes; your husband spent last

[ocr errors]

night with me." [Laughter.] That is the kind of loyalty we try to cultivate in Florida.

You may ask what it is that brings the people from all parts of the country, the financiers, the captains of industry, the expert business men, the modest home seeker, the workers in construction work—those who cast their lot and destiny in this State to engage in agriculture, horticulture, mining, commerce, trade, industry of every sort? What brings them to Florida ? you ask. You can answer that question in a few simple words, all quite true, and that is that the people from every State in this great Nation, including the District of Columbia and Canada, find in Florida the things they want which they can not find anywhere else. [Applause.] That is the whole story.

Nature has been kind to this blessed State. We stand on what you find in St. Petersburg, just as certain to endure, and we know it, because we know to-morrow morning the sun will rise and the tides will ebb and flow on our shores, because they have been doing that for a good many thousands of years. We can point with just and glorious pride to the natural resources of this great State: One thousand two hundred and twenty-one miles of coast line on the Atlantic; 2,530 miles, according to the Geodedic Survey, along the Gulf; 3,751 miles of coast line, a seventh of all the coast line of all the 19 States of the Union bordering on salt water. We have inland lakes and navigable streams and waterways, and in all these waters are sea food of every variety, to be found in great abundance. The citrus fruits are unexcelled-I say that deliberately, for you in California may say it. [Applause.] I won't use the word "superior,” but rather the term "unexcelled," and, for the sake of California, I will say that the northern line of Florida is south of the southern line of California. We have 35,000,000 acres of area, with only 2,500,000 under cultivation, and off these we take crops filling 100,000 cars every season, sent to markets outside the State. We have in Florida 87 per cent of the phosphate mines of the Nation. We have timber woods of every variety you can think of, naval stores, and other great industries. But I won't undertake to give you a complete catalogue of these great natural resources just now being unfolded. You will find that the blossoming days of this State have come and have come to stay. People from all parts of the country, good people, splendid people, people from everywhere, are flowing here in an unprecedented way, the most unprecedented known in American history. And they are coming to stay.

Another reason why this is a well-selected place for your convention is because in this vicinity, in this region, was played an important part in the great events connected with the Spanish-American War. Great masses disembarked from Tampa to Cuba-men whose names have gone down into history and with whom you are all well familiar. I need not refer to these further, even, other than to say that the results following the sinking of the Maine and the recognition of the Republic of Cuba by the United States Government gave civilization its final foothold on the American Continent, giving that oppressed little island, Cuba, its self-determination and freedom from oppression and justified all the sacrifice and effort made because of it. [Applause.] When the United States Government made its assurances to the Republic of Cuba, chancellors of foreign nations smiled; they had heard those promises before. But you know that the United States of America has a record for keeping faith in her international agreements. She has been liberal, splendid, generous, noble in her treatment of all other countries. Witness her payments for territory; the splendid help given little republics lying south of us. All these doings have planted her on a solid foundation for a future, a glorious career.

You have demonstrated, you veterans, you comrades, my friends, that faith, that courage, and that loyalty which proves that you stand ready to serve your country in times of peace as well as in times of war. You have shown what it means to live in a land where opportunity is the synonym of liberty and where every man is set free to do his best and to do as he pleases. [Applause.]

We have national problems, but I dare not detain you with a detailed discussion of these. Yes; we have them. But I am inclined to think that even in discussing them we magnify them. There is an infinite amount of wisdom in what Jefferson said, “That

66 country is governed best which is governed least." There is a dan

” ger of too much government, and yet there are people to-day trying to amend the Constitution to create more bureaus, commissions, and departments, all the time forgetting that to-day there are 200 different bureaus, commissions, and boards in the executive department alone employing several hundred thousand people. Some people seem to be almost bureau crazy. We must watch that.

Another important question, of course, to come before us at the next Congress will be the question of taxation. Everybody is interested in that. Quite a good deal might be said on that timely subject, but I will limit my remarks to merely observing that it is quite evident there will be a reduction, a substantial reduction, in both the normal and the surtax rates. There will be a reduction of taxation accomplished by the revenue act. Of course no government has any right to take from a people more than is absolutely necessary to economically administer the affairs of the government. [Applause.] There are two ways by which revenue may be derived by a government: One through taxation, the revenue bureau, and the other through customs. We raise to-day over $3,000,000,000 every year from the taxes of the people of this country, and we ought to endeavor to reduce that sum. It is almost impossible to comprehend what that means. If you put silver dollars standing on end along a column stretching from New York to Key West you would have just $1,000,000,000. We collect from the people of this country three of those columns every year now to build up the affairs of the Government. There ought to be a reduction in taxation and expenditure, because, of course, we must balance the budget. We are in favor of doing away with the estate tax or inheritance tax. An estate tax is not directly an inheritance tax; it is an impost on property levied before the estate passes from the dead to the living. It is unsound because it is founded on the accident of death and places a tax on capital and not on profit.

The right of every sovereignty in all worlds has always been recognized to tax the people and the property of citizens, but you must keep in mind the fact that the sovereign laws, the laws of other countries, have no relation to our scheme of Government here, and

[ocr errors]

that the Federal Government was created by the States, and that the States are the sovereigns, and that the sovereign right is in the State to prescribe laws of descent and distribution

and to determine what shall become of the citizen's property and what shall be taxed. There is no authority in the Constitution of the United States vesting in the Federal Government the right to levy taxes directly on the people or to exercise the powers of sovereignty. The sovereign rights depend upon the States and not upon the Federal Government. Since all laws which describe how property may pass on the death of a citizen are State laws, the Federal Government has no power, in my judgment, and no authority to impose an inheritance or estate tax. The highest amount derived from that source was in 1921 when we collected $154,000,000; in 1924 it was one hundred and two millions, and last year it was one hundred and one millions of dollars. I say we ought to do away entirely, so far as the Federal Government is concerned, with estate or an inheritance tax and we ought to repeal the gift tax law and section 222-a, which provides for reaching incomes from corporations intending to prevent escape from income taxes. But I will not dwell longer on that.

The next question which will concern Congress will be, What shall we do about the International Court of Justice? You know that under Article XIV of the covenant of the League of Nations an International Court of Justice was established and we are invited to become a part of that court. There have been some recommendations made by Mr. Hughes when he was Secretary of State, and some made by President Harding and by President Coolidge, certain recommendations that to some seem to be entirely reasonable and proper. Other people say, “No; keep out. It is simply a way to enter the League of Nations through the back door. Let alone the International Court of Justice and pass resolutions outlawing war and get other nations to join with you, and any nation that hereafter declares war will do an unlawful act." That is all very nice, but nobody knows more than those who have been through war that you can not abolish war by passing resolutions. No one knows the horrors of war, the value of war, no one hates war more than the men who have been through war. We all wish to end this terrible thing, this sin and weakness of the human race which resulted in the last war with 10,000,000 soldier dead, 3,000,000 presumably dead, 20,000,000 wounded, 9,000,000 war shocked, 5,000,000 war widows, and 13,000,000 refugees. No. We want to end that if we can, and, while it is true, we are already a part of the League of Nations [applause]—

(The audience applauded; the speaker failed to conclude this sentence.)

Now, if we wish to go in as part of this International Court of Justice is a question that soon is to be determined and I know that

(The audience again interrupted the speaker.)

You know that war is an effect and not a cause and that you are going to abolish war by reaching the cause of war and

(The audience again interrupted the speaker.)

You know that peace is an effect and not a cause and that you can not have peace by simply declaring you will have it or by passing a resolution to have peace. Peace is the fountain

ask you

(The audience again interrupted the speaker.) Peace is the fountain of righteousness and duty. Witness, I (The audience again interrupted the speaker.)

Senator Fletcher discontinued his address and resumed his seat on the platform.)

The CHAIRMAN. We are very sorry to announce this morning that the junior Senator of Florida, Park Trammell, can not be with us to address us, but in his stead the Governor of Alabama, William Brandon-Bill Brandon he has asked me to call himhas kindly consented to make a few remarks. He is familiarly known as Bill Brandon," and, as such, he wants me to introduce him to you. Comrade Bill Brandon. [Applause.]



Governor BRANDON. Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, until a moment ago I was not appraised of the fact that Florida desired a substitute in the Senate of the United States, but, since I have been called as a substitute for the junior Senator from Florida, believing that Alabama is closer to Florida than any other State, I am willing to be the “pinch hitter” in this game this morning. . [Applause.] Inasmuch as everybody seems to be coming to Florida and my term of office as governor will soon expire in Alabama, if Florida desires a substitute in the Senate, I will take it. [Applause.] And Florida owes much to me [laughter] and to you, because six months of the hardest work that I have ever done along with many of you was in 1898 in cleaning up Miami so it might become a decent place in which to live, and it was the Seventh Army Corps that made it possible, Senator [addressing Senator Fletcher] for anything to grow in Florida in 1898. [Applause.]

Memories of old days flood me. I am not a scarred veteran. The only wounds my countrymen along with me, comrades, that I received in 1898, were from Florida mosquitoes—and we drove them out. [Applause.] I feel since that is all over and Florida has developed into a land of flowers and so many of my friends with whom I have served have left their eastern and western homes to locate in this balmy, salubrious atmosphere, I feel, having once been back to Florida and hearing all this, very much like the old maid did, ladies, that got married in my State. [Laughter.] You need not laugh-old maids do get married in my State. She was the village organist, nigh on to 40 years, and had done yeoman service in that capacity; she had taught the boys and the girls of the village choir how to sing, and, as she stood in the vestibule of the little village church, her tender arm through the strong arm of the man who was to protect her through life's struggle, bridal veil about her, cheeks aglow with pleasure, the girls of the choir ran out and said, “Miss Sally, we love you; we appreciate you; and we want to show you our esteem for you by singing your favorite song as you come down the isle to get married. What shall it be ? " And she said, “Girls, that's the very thing. Just sing that old,

[ocr errors]

« PreviousContinue »