« PreviousContinue »
against him, and the whole matter was transferred to the United States Senate for adjudication. There the charges fell to the ground. They had grown largely from personal hatred and old political feuds, and that principle in Kansas politics that no man shall be allowed to hold a place if he can be defeated, no matter what his worth to the State or Nation. The famous interview in which Ingalls said the purification of politics was an iridescent dream was a plain statement of fact about the conditions in Kansas applied to the politics of the country at large.
The victory of Ingalls was complete, and in the exultation consequent upon his vindication he came home and delivered the most remarkable speech ever heard on Kansas soil. Its delivery was set for a certain day, and extensive arrangements were made to have a large attendance. Special trains from various points carried thousands to Atchison. Flambeau Clubs marched by the light of red fire, and “Glee Clubs” and “Modocs” sang like larks. The streets were congested with the throngs that gathered. All these, however, were trifling incidents. The main event was the speech of Ingalls. It was known that he intended to flay his adversaries, and nothing gives the true Kansan more pleasure than to see a political adversary dissected alive. In Kansas, politics are always and altogether personal matters. Principle is rarely involved. Blind adherence to national party platitudes is the only guiding-star, in most instances, of the factions of all political parties. And these weak utterances are interpreted by each fellow and his faction to suit their own interests, the bosses swearing that they alone can properly construe them, and the boss-busters swearing by the Great Horn Spoon that the bosses are grafters, robbers and traitors. In this they are usually nearly right, the only delinquency being their failure to include themselves in the same category, which is always remedied by the retaliating bosses. These conditions have always prevailed in Kansas, and this is why Kansas politics have always been rotten and corrupt, and why they have always borne a spectacular aspect.
In this address to his constituency Ingalls had designed to speak from a manuscript which he had prepared with care. But the great demonstration in his honor carried him off his feet.
In no other place in the world is the “band wagon" in such demand as in Kansas politics. In the hosts passing in review before Ingalls were hundreds of obscure and forsworn culprits who burrowed like rats in filth to effect his defeat, but now hilariously demonstrative in their allegiance, each detailing how he had labored diligently in season and out of season for the election of the man in whose interest they were assembled and how he had aided in the downfall of the base calumniators, thieves and traitors, as he was pleased to denominate his former friends and coworkers, because they had failed.
Ingalls threw his set speech to the winds and became the incarnation of burning, corroding, blistering sarcasm and scathing denunciation. The scimitar of his wrath glittered and flashed and his foes fell many never to rise again politically in Kansas. Only the manuscript speech survives. It bears no more resemblance to the one delivered than does the baleful light of a tallow candle to the lightning-flash that illumines the midnight heavens. But the best that can be done is to set it out here:
There are probably one million people in Kan
I should be unjust to the bravest, noblest and most intelligent constituency that ever honored a public servant with their confidence, if I did not avail myself of the earliest opportunity afforded me to declare, with emphasis, my belief that there cannot be found one hundred reputable citizens of the state, black or white, Democrats or Republicans, male or female, who have credited the accusations, or certainly sympathized with the nefarious proceedings against me. Those who have prosecuted the charges and contributed the thousands of dollars required to carry on the conspiracy are less than a score. I know them all from the poor catspaws, Eggers and Stumbaugh, down through Martin, Cross, Leland and Martindale, to Horton, Guthrie, Pomeroy and Clarke.
The majority of those who opposed my election acquiesced in the result. Many who were borne along by the cyclone of malice, hatred and perfidy that raged against me, regretted their action, and would have recalled it if possible. The courage, the conscience, the convictions of the people irrespective of the party, were with me from the outset. The Republican press had always been largely in favor of my return to the Senate, and the more reputable organs of the Democracy preferred me to any of my rivals. Arrayed against me from the beginning have been the degraded elements in our politics, the debris, the outcasts, the machine men, the implacables ; reinforced by two pretended newspapers in Missouri; one edited in his brief and casual intervals of sobriety by a drunken political tramp from Kansas; the other by a long-haired hermaphrodite, who has as much idea of decent journalism as the scarlet woman of Babylon would have of the immaculate conception.
These are the creatures that have revolted at the immoralities of my campaign; the insects that have buzzed, and bit and stung. They are the vermin of politics; like the noxious parasites that prey on the human frame. I have seen it intimated in some quarters that I had returned to Kansas on a mission of vengeance and retribution. Sensible men never get angry with flies and mosquitoes. The only emotions that animate me are those which inspire the affectionate mother, who, having found in the tresses of her offspring the pediculus humanus, cracks it on her thumb-nail, or the prudent husbandman who sifts Paris green on the Colorado beetles and squash bugs that infest his vines, or the vigilant housewife who pursues that enemy of repose, the cimex lectularius, into the crevices of the couch with corrosive sublimate and a feather!
The character of a cause may be judged and measured by the character of its advocates. To