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ever in our financial system, improving our banking laws, buttressing our credit, and refunding the public debt at 2 per cent interest, the lowest rate in the world.
It was a great work well done. The only argument the Democrats can advance to-day in their own behalf on the money question is that a Republican Senate, in the event of Democratic success, would not permit the repeal of a Republican law. This is a specious argument when looked at with considerate eyes, and quite worthy of the intellects which produced it. Apply it generally. Upon this theory, because we have defeated the soldiers of Spain and sunk her ships we can with safety dispense with the army and navy which did the work.
Take another example. There has been a fire in a great city; it has been checked and extinguished, therefore let us abolish the fire department and cease to insure our homes. Distrust in our currency, the dread of change, the deadly fear of a debased standard were raging four years ago, and business lay prostrate before them. Republican supremacy and Republican legislation have extinguished the fires of doubt and fear, and business has risen triumphant from the ashes. Therefore abolish your fire department, turn out the Republicans and put in power the incendiaries who lighted the flames and trust to what remains of Republican control to avert fresh disaster.
The proposition is its own refutation. The supremacy of the party that has saved the standard of sound money and guarded it by law is as necessary for its security and for the existence of honest wages and of business confidence now as it was in 1896.
The moment the Republican Party passes from power, and the party of free silver and fiat paper comes in, stable cur
rency and the gold standard, the standard of the civilized world, are in imminent and deadly peril. Sound currency and a steady standard of value are to-day safe only in Republican hands.
But there were still other questions in 1896. We had already thwarted the efforts of the Cleveland Administration to throw the Hawaiian Islands back to their dethroned Queen and to give England a foothold for her cables in the group. We then said that we would settle finally the Hawaiian question. We have done so. The traditional American policy has been carried out. The flag of the Union floats to-day over the crossroads of the Pacific.
We promised to deal with the Cuban question. Again comes the reply, we have done so. The long agony of the island is over. Cuba is free. But this great work brought with it events and issues which no man had foreseen, for which no party creed had provided a policy. The crisis came, bringing war in its train.
The Republican President and the Republican Congress met the new trial in the old spirit. We fought the war with Spain. The result is history known of all men. We have the perspective now of only a short two years, and yet how clear and bright the great facts stand out, like mountain peaks against the sky, while the gathering darkness of a just oblivion is creeping fast over the low grounds, where lie forgotten the trivial and unimportant things, the criticisms and the fault findings which seemed too huge when we still lingered among them.
Here they are, these great facts: A war of a hundred days, with many victories and no defeats, with no prisoners taken from us and no advance stayed, with a triumphant outcome startling in its completeness and in its worldwide mean
ing. Was ever a war more justly entered upon, more quickly fought, more fully won, more thorough in its results? Cuba is free. Spain has been driven from the Western Hemisphere. Fresh glory has come to our arms and crowned our flag.
It was the work of the American people, but the Republican Party was their instrument. Have we not the right to say that here, too, even as in the days of Abraham Lincoln, we have fought a good fight, we have kept the faith, we have finished the work?
War, however, is ever like the sword of Alexander. It cuts the knots. It is a great solvent and brings many results not to be foreseen. The world forces unchained in war perform in hours the work of years of quiet.
Spain sued for peace. How was that peace to be made? The answer to this great question had to be given by the President of the United States. We were victorious in Cuba, in Porto Rico, in the Philippines. Should we give those islands back to Spain? "Never!" was the President's reply. Would any American wish that he had answered otherwise? Should we hand them over to some other Power? "Never!" was again the answer.
Would our pride and self-respect as a nation have submitted to any other reply? Should we turn the islands, where we had destroyed all existing sovereignty, loose upon the world to be a prey to domestic anarchy and the helpless spoil of some other nation? Again the inevitable negative. Again the President answered as the nation he represented would have had him answer.
He boldly took the islands, took them knowing well the burden and responsibility, took them from a deep sense of duty to ourselves and others, guided by a just foresight as to
our future in the East, and with an entire faith in the ability of the American people to grapple with the new task. When future conventions point to the deeds by which the Republican Party has made history, they will proclaim with especial pride that under a Republican Administration the War of 1898 was fought, and that the peace with Spain was the work of William McKinley.
So much for the past. We are proud of it, but we do not expect to live upon it, for the Republican Party is pre-eminently the party of action, and its march is ever forward. We are not so made that we can be content to retreat or to mark time. The traditions of the early days of our party are sacred to us, and are hostages given to the American people that we will not be unworthy of the great leaders who have gone.
The deeds of yesterday are in their turn a pledge and a proof that what we promise we perform, and that the people who put faith in our declarations in 1896 were not deceived, and may place the same trust in us in 1900. But our pathway has never lain among dead issues, nor have we won our victories and made history by delving in political graveyards.
We are the party of to-day, with cheerful yesterdays and confident to-morrows. The living present is ours, the present of prosperity and activity in business, of good wages and quick payments, of labor employed and capital invested, of sunshine in the market place, and the stir of abounding life in the workshop and on the farm. It is with this that we have replaced the depression, the doubts, the low wages, the idle labor, the frightened capital, the dark clouds which overhung industry and agriculture in 1896. This is what we would preserve, so far as sound government and wise legisla
tion can do it. This is what we brought to the country four years ago. This is what we offer now.
Again we promise that the protective system shall be maintained, and that our great industrial interests shall go on their way unshaken by the dire fear of tariff agitation and of changing duties. Again we declare that we will guard the national credit, uphold a sound currency, based upon gold, and keep the wages of the workingman and the enterprise of the man of business free from that most deadly of all evils, a flucutating standard of value.
The deficit which made this great country in a time of profound peace a borrower of money to meet its current expenditures has been replaced by abundant revenue, bringing a surplus, due alike to prosperity and to wise legislation, so ample that we can now safely promise a large reduction of taxation without imperilling our credit or risking a resort to loans.
We are prepared to take steps to revive and build up our merchant marine, and thus put into American pockets the money paid for carrying American freights. Out of the abundant resources which our financial legislation has brought us we will build the Isthmian Canal, and lay the cables which will help to turn the current of eastern trade to the Golden Gate. We are on good terms with all nations, and mean to remain so, while we promise to insure our peace and safety by maintaining the Monroe Doctrine, by ample coast defences, and by building up a navy which no one can challenge with impunity.
The new problems brought by the war we face with confidence in ourselves, and a still deeper confidence in the American people, who will deal justly and rightly with the ́islands which have come into their charge. The outcry