Page images
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][graphic]
[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

that I have brought here a sturdy partisanship and a devoted attachment to the principles of true Democracy. I should, however, not be here to make this declaration if by partisanship I meant adherence to a party organization merely for the purpose of compassing government control and the distribution of the spoils of party victory among greedy claimants. The partisanship I mention means the support of certain principles and theories of government, and a co-operation and association in political efforts and activity with others who believe in the same theories and principles, for the purpose of accomplishing their practical application and enforcement. Out of such an association grew party discipline and organization. They are necessary and useful as the servants of political principles, but should never be its unquestioned masters. The limits of their proper operation are easily fixed, and it is an impeachment of the intelligence of the members of any political association to say that party management and discipline should at all times command implicit obedience, even when such obedience leads to the abandonment or radical perversion of party principle. I have ventured to speak of the political creed and organization of my attachment as true Democracy. This definition tells the story of a party of noble origin and tradition, identified with the councils of the nation from its earliest day, and whose glorious achievements are written on every page of our country's history. Always the people's friend, seeking to lighten their burdens and protect their rights, true Democracy has eonstantly taught conservatism, American fraternity and obedience to law. The people to whom it acknowledges a duty are no more confined to any station in life than to any section of the country. It enjoins the utmost personal liberty consistent with peace and order. It defends the humble toiler against oppressive exactions in his home, and invites him to the fullest enjoyment of the fruits of industry, economy and thrift; and in his interest, and in the interest of all, where all are equal, true Democracy denies that in the American scheme of equality before the law there is a limit beyond which the legitimate results and accumulations of effort and enterprise should be denounced as intrinsically criminal, and their possessors be treated as proper objects of governmental discrimination and condemnation. The people whom true Democracy would serve are all the people of the land. Those whom it would restrain are on the one hand the vicious and turbulent who defy the laws, and on the other hand those who with conscienceless greed and in abuse of their opportunity wrongfully oppress their fellows and eat out their substance. Above all things, true Democracy insists that the money of the people should be sound and stable, neither shrivelling in purchasing power in the hands of the poor, nor by its uncertain value driving enterprise and productive energy into hiding. I do not fear that I shall be accused of sinister designs, unfitted to the atmosphere of this occasion, if I insist that the path of duty and the best hope of safety lie in an immediate and earnest attempt to accomplish the rehabilitation and regeneration of the Democratic party, and to return to the principles of true Democracy. Let us devise means to break through the influence of the mischievous leadership that surrounds them, and without arrogantly assuming that no wrongs or hardships afflict them, and that no reforms in their condition are needed, let us meet our countrymen face to face in argument and counsel.

We shall find in every locality able, heroic men willing to struggle against the tide of misconception. Let us hold up their hands by organized effort and timely assistance. Let true Democrats meet the passion and bitterness of their former associates who have assumed the leadership of antiDemocratic wanderings with firm expostulation, reminding them that Democratic convictions and the Democratic conscience cannot be forced to follow false lights, however held aloft, and let us at the same time entreat them, in the name of honorable political comradeship, and in the memory of glorious victories won by a united Democracy, to turn from the way that leads to party defeat and destruction.

The task is not an easy one, but surely it is not hopeless. The better we appreciate its magnitude the less will be the danger of ineffective and misguided effort. The work has already been inaugurated by the creation of an organization founded upon a declaration of Democratic principles so sound, so clear, and so patriotic that they should rally to their support every true Democrat and supply an inspiration forbidding defeat. With such a beginning, and with the incentive to zealous effort which the transcendent importance of our cause affords, we should confidently look for the approaching dawn when true Democracy, “redeemed, regenerated and disenthralled,” will bring us peace and national safety.

But if relief under the restored flag of true Democracy is late in coming, we will not despair, but will remember that a just cause is never lost; and on our camping ground we will work and wait, with approving conscience and constant faith, declaring, like the sturdy old unrecanting German reformer: “Here we stand—we cannot do otherwise; God help us.”

« PreviousContinue »