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enforcement of the principles embodied by the recent constitutional amendments is vested by those amendments in the Congress of the United States, and we declare it to be the solemn obligation of the legislative and executive departments of the government to put into immediate and vigorous exercise all their constitutional powers for removing any just causes of discontent on the part of any class, and for securing to every American citizen complete liberty and exact equality in the exercise of all civil, political, and public rights. To this end we imperatively demand a Congress and a Chief Executive whose courage and fidelity to these duties shall not falter until these results are placed beyond dispute or recall.
15. We sincerely deprecate all sectional feeling and tendencies. feeling dep- We therefore note with deep solicitude that the Democratic party counts, as its chief hope of success, upon the electoral vote of a united South, secured through the efforts of those who were recently arrayed against the nation; and we invoke the earnest attention of the country to the grave truth that a success thus achieved would reopen sectional strife and imperil national honor and human rights.
in sympathy with
16. We charge the Democratic party with being the same in character and spirit as when it sympathized with treason; with making its control of the House of Representatives the triumph and opportunity of the nation's recent foes; with reasserting and applauding in the national Capitol the sentiments of unrepentant rebellion; with sending Union soldiers to the rear, and promoting Confederate soldiers to the front; with deliberately proposing to repudiate the plighted faith of the government; with being equally false and imbecile upon the overshadowing financial questions; with thwarting the ends of justice by its partisan mismanagement and obstruction of investigation; with proving itself, through the period of its ascendency in the lower House of Congress, utterly incompetent to administer the government; and we warn the country against trusting a party thus alike unworthy, recreant, and incapable. . . .
43. The Character of Democratic Opposition in 1884
The Democratic party, having gained strength by the restoration of white supremacy in the South, was quick to take advantage of the weaknesses in the Republican administration and, marshaling its own vote together with that of the discontented Republicans, was able to carry the election in 1884 principally upon a platform of protest, containing the following indictment of the opposing party:
The Republican party, so far as principle is concerned, is a reminiscence. In practice it is an organization for enriching those who control its machinery. The frauds and jobbery which have been brought to light in every department of the government are sufficient to have called for reform within the Republican party; yet those in authority, made reckless by the long possession of power, have succumbed to its corrupting influence, and have placed in nomination a ticket against which the independent portion of the party are in open revolt. Therefore a change is demanded. Such a change was alike necessary in 1876, but the will of the people was then defeated by a fraud which can never be forgotten nor condoned. Again, in 1880, the change demanded by the people was defeated by the lavish use of money contributed by unscrupulous contractors and shameless jobbers, who had bargained for unlawful profits or high office. The Republican party, during its legal, its stolen, and its bought tenures of power, has steadily decayed in moral character and political capacity.
Republican theory and practice.
Its platform promises are now a list of its past failures. It Republican demands the restoration of our navy; it has squandered hundreds performof millions to create a navy that does not exist. It calls upon Con- ances. gress to remove the burdens under which American shipping has been depressed; it imposed and has continued these burdens. It professes the policy of reserving the public lands for small holdings by actual settlers; it has given away the people's heritage, till now a few railroads and non-resident aliens, individual and corporate, possess a larger area than that of all our farms between the two seas. It professes a preference for free institutions; it
organized and tried to legalize a control of state elections by federal troops. It professes a desire to elevate labor; it subjected American workingmen to the competition of convict and imported contract labor. . . . It "accepts anew the duty of leading in the work of progress and reform;" its caught criminals are permitted to escape through contrived delays or actual connivance in the prosecution. Honey-combed with corruption, out-breaking exposures no longer shock its moral sense. Its honest members, its independent journals, no longer maintain a successful contest for authority in its canvasses or a veto upon bad nominations. That change is necessary is proved by an existing surplus of more than $100,000,000, which has yearly been collected from a suffering people. Unnecessary taxation is unjust taxation. We denounce the Republican party for having failed to relieve the people from crushing war taxes, which have paralyzed business, crippled industry, and deprived labor of employment and of just reward.
The Democracy pledges itself to purify the administration from corruption, to restore economy, to revive respect for law, and to reduce taxation to the lowest limit consistent with due regard to the preservation of the faith of the nation to its creditors and pensioners. Knowing full well, however, that legislation affecting the occupations of the people should be cautious and conservative in method, not in advance of public opinion, but responsive to its demands, the Democratic party is pledged to revise the tariff in a spirit of fairness to all interests. But, in making reduction in taxes, it is not proposed to injure any domestic industries, but rather to promote their healthy growth. From the foundation of this government, taxes collected at the custom-house have been the chief source of federal revenue. Such they must continue to be. Moreover, many industries have come to rely upon legislation for successful continuance, so that any change of law must be at every step regardful of the labor and capital thus involved. The process of reform must be subject in the execution to this plain dictate of justice: all taxation shall be limited to the requirements of economical government. The necessary reduction in taxation
can and must be effected without depriving American labor of the ability to compete successfully with foreign labor, and without imposing lower rates of duty than will be ample to cover any increased cost of production which may exist in consequence of the higher rate of wages prevailing in this country. Sufficient revenue to pay all the expenses of the federal government, economically administered, including pensions, interest and principal of the public debt, can be got under our present system of taxation from custom-house taxes on fewer imported articles, bearing heaviest on articles of luxury, and bearing lightest on articles of necessity. We therefore denounce the abuses of the existing tariff; and, subject to the preceding limitations, we demand that federal taxation shall be exclusively for public purposes, and shall not exceed the needs of the government economically administered. . . .
44. The Social Cleavage of 1896
A turning point came in American politics in 1896, when Mr. Bryan, in his famous speech before the Democratic convention in Chicago, swept aside the century-long sectional issues and made an appeal to the broad masses of the people to unite against the great financial and corporate interests.
. . . We stand here representing people who are the equals The before the law of the largest cities in the State of Massachusetts. When you come before us and tell us that we shall disturb your small merbusiness interests, we reply that you have disturbed our business interests by your action. We say to you that you have made too limited in its application the definition of a business man. The man who is employed for wages is as much a business man as his employer. The attorney in a country town is as much a business man as the corporation counsel in a great metropolis. The merchant at the cross-roads store is as much a business man as the merchant of New York. The farmer who goes forth in the morning and toils all day, begins in the spring and toils all summer, and by the application of brain and muscle to the natural resources of this country creates wealth, is as much a business man as the man who
Democratic party on
the side of the masses.
goes upon the Board of Trade and bets upon the price of grain. The miners who go a thousand feet into the earth or climb 2,000 feet upon the cliffs and bring forth from their hiding places the precious metals to be poured in the channels of trade are as much business men as the few financial magnates who in a back room corner the money of the world.
We come to speak for this broader class of business men. Ah, my friends, we say not one word against those who live upon the Atlantic coast; but those hardy pioneers who braved all the dangers of the wilderness, who have made the desert to blossom as the rose - those pioneers away out there, rearing their children near to nature's heart, where they can mingle their voices with the voices of the birds out there where they have erected school houses for the education of their children and churches where they praise their Creator, and the cemeteries where sleep the ashes of their dead are as deserving of the consideration of this party as any people in this country.
It is for these that we speak. We do not come as aggressors. Our war is not a war of conquest. We are fighting in the defense of our homes, our families and posterity. We have petitioned, and our petitions have been scorned. entreaties have been disregarded. mocked when our calamity came. no more; we petition no more. We defy them.
We have entreated and our We have begged and they have We beg no longer; we entreat
Mr. Carlisle said in 1878 that this was a struggle between the idle holders of idle capital and the struggling masses who produce the wealth and pay the taxes of the country; and my friends, it is simply a question that we shall decide upon which side shall the Democratic party fight. Upon the side of the idle holders of idle capital, or upon the side of the struggling masses? That is the question that the party must answer first; and then it must be answered by each individual hereafter. The sympathies of the Democratic party, as described by the platform, are on the side of the struggling masses, who have ever been the foundation of the Democratic party.