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It requires little discernment to see the danger into which a different practice would lead. We impose by this bill a certain per cent of duties upon goods passing between that island and this country. How long will it be before some powerful interests will demand that they be recognized The representatives of these interests vote and elect members of Congress. The Porto Ricans do not vote. Can there be any doubt that the taxes will be levied more and more for the benefit of great interests in this country, and that this hapless people who were told by our generals that they were to receive the glorious blessings of American liberty, who crowned our soldiers with wreaths, will become the victims of our extortion rather than the sharers in our freedom?
How was Spain treating them-selfish, heartless, cruel Spain? At the time of their deliverance they had sixteen representatives and four senators in the Spanish Cortes and helped to make the laws for the whole Spanish empire. They had a ten per cent duty upon goods passing between the two countries, and it was decreed that at the end of the year 1898 these duties were to disappear. They had almost complete autonomy for their own local affairs and a million and a half in the treasury.
Consider, too, for a moment how this differential tariff will operate. Upon a territory smaller than Connecticut there are crowded a million people. The great question with them is the food question. Upon many articles of food our duties are high, but as we are large exporters the price is not increased to our people. But for every bag of flour and every barrel of pork that goes to Porto Rico one fourth of these high duties must be paid, and either the cost of necessary, articles of food is increased to them or the American producer gets so much less for his product. The cost to them
will almost certainly be increased. Upon the importations of rice I am told the duties will amount to nearly $400,000 a year. Is this the feast of liberty to which you have invited those trusting people ?
Remember that if the race from which our institutions sprang has great virtues it has great faults as well. It may not be cruel like the Spanish race; but is it free from cupidity? Do you want an instance from its history which may, show you whither you are drifting? To the west of England there rises from the sea an island larger but not more beautiful than Porto Rico-Ireland. English statesmen thought their country needed protection against her products, and the linen and other great industries of Ireland were taxed and legislated almost out of existence for the benefit of the taxing country, and the people of Ireland were beggared. That system has been abandoned, and to-day a British citizen in Ireland has equal rights with a British citizen in any other part of the empire, even in England itself; but generations will not obliterate the bitter memories of the oppression and wrong which rankle in the hearts of the Irish people.
Do you want to make Porto Rico our Ireland ? I say far wiser will it be if, instead of entering upon a policy which will make her happy, sunny-hearted children the mere chattels of this government, we follow the humane recommendation of the President and lay the foundations of our empire deep in the hearts of those people. If you will not regard the question from the standpoint of their interests, look at it somewhat broadly from the standpoint of your own. Our injustice will react upon ourselves.
Our nation was founded and has prospered upon the doctrine of constitutional liberty. Do you not see that you are degrading that liberty from a high principle? If so, how
long can you expect it to survive at home? We restrain our own power when it may be exerted upon ourselves.
ourselves. You demand now that it shall be absolute and despotic when it may be exerted upon others. If restraint is to be removed, it can more safely be dispensed with when they who wield the power are likely to suffer.
I do not care to see our flag emblazon the principle of liberty at home and tyranny abroad. Sir, I brand with all my energy this hateful notion, bred somewhere in the heathenish recesses of Asia, that one man may exercise absolute dominion over another man or one nation over another nation. That notion comports very little with my idea of American liberty. It was resisted to the last extremity by the heroes who fought at Bunker Hill and starved at Valley Forge. It fell before the gleaming sabres of our troopers at Five Forks and Winchester. It was shot to death by our guns at Gettysburg and Appomattox. A half-million men gave up their lives that their country might stand forth clothed in the resplendent robes of constitutional liberty and that we might have a government of laws and not of men for every man beneath the shining folds of the flag. All the sweet voices of our history plead with us for that great cause to-day. And I do not believe, sir, that this nation will tolerate any abandonment of that principle which has made her morally, as she is physically, without a peer among nations,
HARLES E. LITTLEFIELD, an American politician, was born at
Lebanon, York county, Maine, June 21, 1851. He was educated in the common schools, and, after pursuing the study of law, was admitted to the bar in 1876. He entered the lower house of the Maine legislature in 1885, and was Speaker of the House in 1887, and from 1889-93 filled the post of. Attorney General of Maine. In 1899 he was elected to the Fifty-sixth Congress to fill the vacancy in the House of Representatives caused by the death of the Republican representative, Nelson Dingley.
THE PEARL OF THE ANTILLES, THE EVER-FAITHFUL ISLE
SPEECH DELIVERED IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
FEBRUARY 23, 1900
R. CHAIRMAN AND GENTLEMEN OF THE
COMMITTEE, I believe that the pending bill is
un-Republican, un-American, unwarranted, unpredecented, and unconstitutional. Inasmuch as I am in the painful position of differing with a large majority of my political brethren, and as I believe this measure is one of vast importance, of far reaching consequence, involving results that perhaps none of us can now anticipate, I feel that I should, perhaps, render the reasons for my position.
I concede, and I gladly concede, the right of leadership to the distinguished men who, by their long experience and great abilities, have the responsibility and the honor of leading the Republicans in this House. The leaders of the Republican party will find me, upon all measures that involve Republican policy, following loyally in their footsteps. When an issue, however, arises that involves, in my judgment, grave questions of right and wrong, great questions of prin
ciple, I feel, and I have no doubt they feel, that every
individual member of the Republican party must be allowed to think, speak, and act for himself.
Upon such questions I believe it to be the duty of every Republican, and every Democrat, to do the right, as God gives him to see the right.
Profoundly impressed with this view of the case, I shall submit to the House some of the reasons why I believe the pending measure should not receive the approval of the Republican party.
Before I enter at any length upon the discussion of the questions involved in this bill—and I shall discuss the bill somewhat in detail—I invite the attention of the House to the condition of the people, for whom, we are about to legislate...
But I ask attention to a few other suggestions and considerations in relation to this island, in order that we may intelligently appreciate its condition, and situation, and that of the people living thereon.
It is inhabited by about 1,000,000 people. Of these 70,000 are dark-skinned people; 100,000 of them are of mixed blood; 830,000 of those living upon that island are white, Caucasian people, made up of Spanish, French, Italian, Portugese, English, American, Scotch, and Irish. Its area is about 3,650 square miles, giving, say, 273 persons to the
The intelligence of these people is not measured (as was suggested, I have no doubt, with honest intent as to accuracy) by the assumption that only ten per cent are able to read or write. The result of the last census, taken under the authority of the United States by Colonel Dingman, who returned to this country within three weeks, shows that about twenty