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"Well," says my inquiring friend, "what of that? Suppose the Court itself does become Democratic; if you have honest Judges it makes no difference about their politics." No, but when you come to that great class of political cases in which are points relative to upholding the reconstruction of the Southern States, the upholding of the Constitutional Amendments, in which are garnered up and preserved the fruits of the war upon all these questions such Judges would be as inevitably and as radically wrong as the men who fought in the ranks of the rebel army. I beg you to remember that the Democrats after 1834 bent all their energies to building up a Supreme Court that would uphold the State Rights theory, and the first fruits of it was the Dred Scott decision of 1857, in which slavery was made national. Do not believe for one moment that you may intrust the Supreme Court to such men, though they are honest men. I may say their honesty is the trouble. They believe in these doctrines, and it is this which makes them so powerful for mischief.
I will tell you another thing that will happen if Hancock is elected. We shall have a thorough overhauling of the whole revenue and financial system of the United States. . . . I ask you to look back at the prosperity of the last twenty years and then say if you are willing to put the whole of it to the hazard of an experiment of trying a new theory with new men? I could detain you until morning in recording instances of how the prosperity of the American people has been so enormously developed by reason of a protective tariff, but it is useless at this late date to ask the value of protection.
Another thing that will happen if Hancock is elected and I only speak of those things publicly vouched as the policy of the party — will arise from a vindication of the theory of States Rights, the underlying principle and guiding inspiration of the Democratic party. If he comes into power, in accordance with bills that have been perpetually renewed in Congress for the last eight years, the old State bank system will be renewed, and the "shin-plaster" currency will be revived. If, outside of the humanitarian achievement of the Republican party there was but this one thing the abolition of State banks-upon which the party could pride itself, that should be sufficient to entitle it to the country's gratitude. In abolishing this system the Republican party abolished bad money. There has not been a bad bill in circulation since the National Bank system was established.
See how it will clog trade and paralyze industry, all for the sake of
an experiment to vindicate State rights. I must call your attention to one or two other things in the history of the past ten years. One is, that the Republican party has been held up to the scorn and indignation of the country by the Democratic party on account of its harsh and cruel treatment of the South, as they say. Well, ten years have gone by, and we have reached the year of the decennial enumeration . . . this Southern census will disclose, and will intentionally disclose-it is not for me to say who the intender is, who plotted the plan- the fact that there are one and a half to two millions in the South who are not therenames of men in the grave and babes which are not yet born.
Now take four and a half millions of negroes in the South who don't have anything more to do with the Government of the United States than they do with the Government of Great Britain; endowed with American citizenship and yet as capable of exercising the right of franchise as if they were in the moon. Take four and a half millions of these men, and what do we see? . . . In Mississippi there are 225,000 colored men to 100,000 white men that is nine to four. In Mississippi to-day four soldiers of the Confederate army will exercise as much power in electing Hancock, by throwing their votes for him, as nine Union soldiers in New-York or New-Jersey will exercise by voting for Garfield. I don't know whether you relish that or not; I don't. And now on the top of the four and a half millions of actual men of flesh and blood deprived entirely of their power as a political element in the Government, we have a million [and] a half of imaginary men to overcome : there are seven millions which are counted on the other side before we start in the race. I say that this sort of thing must be stopped.
We shall not fight over this to-morrow, or next day or next year, but I repeat in another form what I have said, that you cannot continue the Government of the United States when the party in power bases itself on the joint operation of fraud and violence.
Now, gentlemen . . . if you comprehend these issues as coming to your own doors and firesides, that you throw your Supreme Court and your tariff and your financial system and your currency all into the scale of a new experiment to be wrought out by incompetent and dangerous. men, I have no doubt of the result. If you believe, as believe every reflecting man must, that the safe thing for this people to do is to stand still while we stand well; that the wise thing for this people to do is to stand by that which has proved itself so stable and so true; if you believe in the policy of the Republican party, which has brought the country
through a great revolution of blood and through another great revolution of distress and finance; if you believe that party is to be trusted again, it is for New-Jersey as much as that of any State in the Union, upon this great industrial and financial system, to do her duty. . .
New York Tribune, September 24, 1880.
161. Change of Party (1884)
BY EBENEZER HANNAFORD
Hannaford served in the ranks of the 6th Ohio Regiment for three years during the Civil War, and saw service in most of the campaigns of the Army of the Cumberland; later he was adjutant in the 197th Ohio Regiment. The campaign of 1884 was noted not only for the first Democratic victory since 1856, but also for a wide severance of previous political affiliation. This is a letter from Hannaford to the Nation. Bibliography: Edward Stanwood, History of the Presidency, ch. xxvii.
HARPER'S WEEKLY is no doubt right in saying that the
ultimate effects of Cleveland's election cannot yet be foreseen- so multitudinous and diverse are the interests through which these effects will ramify. But it seems to me impossible not to feel that its effects on the future of the Republican party depend in no minor degree on the course of the Republican leaders and the Republican press during the next six, or at most twelve, months. Among the many "lessons of the election" is not this an obvious one, that the American people are ready to smooth out and iron down "the bloody shirt," do it up with care and camphor, and put it away in the back closet of party politics? Not that the nation's heart for one moment throbs less true to the Union or the cause of universal freedom than it did twelve, sixteen, or twenty years ago, but simply that the plain, practical men who make up (as may they long continue to make up) the great mass of our voters, have come to regard the settlement of the war issues as safe beyond the possibility of undoing; and, further, to require of political parties that their aspirations and endeavors "fall in" with the soul of Capt. John Brown, and keep marching on.
That this, at any rate, is the attitude of mind in which most Independent Republicans find themselves, the morning after victory, is, I think, very certain. They are satisfied that in no shape whatever is the principle of secession any more an issue in American politics than the
"peculiar institution" is a factor in American industry or a problem in American sociology. With all their heart they believe in progress — a movement straightforward, that is, and not round and round in a circle, like the wheelings of a hunted ostrich, or the wanderings of some lost wretch in a snowstorm. They have their convictions, and the "courage of them" too. Nobody crusades more vigorously than they. But it is against the living hordes of despoiling infidels that they demand to be led, not against those elder evaporated infidels, the mummies of the Pharaohs.
In forecasting the future of the Republican party no one can with reason shut his eyes to two things. One is that for the party to forfeit permanently the confidence of its "Independent" element would be a fatal blow to its every prospect of recovered ascendancy. The other is that the influential and steadily increasing class of voters in question can never be rallied around the ghost of a dead past. They will, as heretofore, fight in the front rank, but they will insist on being placed face to face with existing verities, real issues, living questions. The party that leaves them the most free, and gives them the best opportunity for working out what they believe to be their own and the country's salvation, is the party they will support, the party which their decisive vote will place or maintain in power.
Will that party be the Republican? Will its doctors of the law and Talmud-wise scribes be able to discern the signs of the times? Is it capable of "rising on stepping-stones of its dead self to higher things"? I, for one, shall await the unfolding of its plans and policy in the new sphere of "the opposition" with solicitous interest.
Meanwhile, what shall we say to the Mumbo-Jumbos of journalism in New York, in Chicago, in Cincinnati, who are still loudly mouthing "the Solid South" and "the Rebel yell," as though these outworn catch phrases embodied the profoundest and the saintliest of human wisdom, instead of being, in their present application, little better than mere gibberish? This much at least: "Such veteran Nimrods in the field of politics as you are, ought to show more skill. You should better know the habits of your game. They are too old birds, these Independents, to be caught with chaff from a thrice-beaten sheaf, or frightened by a scarecrow rigged out in their own discarded feathers."
The Nation, November 20, 1884 (New York), XXXIX, 435.
162. The American Railway System (1865)
BY SIR SAMUEL MORTON PETO, BART., M.P.
Peto became very prominent in England as a constructor of railways both at home and abroad. He visited the United States in 1865, and incorporated his observations in the book from which this extract is taken. English capitalists held much of the stock of American railroads. Bibliography: Brookings and Ringwalt, Briefs for Debate, Nos. xlvii, lii; Library of Leland Stanford Junior University, Catalogue of the Hopkins Railway Library.
In America . . . every one in the country has felt, from the first
As a rule, nothing has been easier than to obtain from the legislative authority of a State in America a concession, or as it is there styled, a "charter," to lay down a road. The land in many cases, especially where it belonged to the public, has been freely given for the line; in other cases, where landed proprietors were affected, comparatively small compensations have sufficed to satisfy their claims. The citizens residing in the towns and populous places of the different districts, have hailed the approach of a railroad as a blessing. Under certain regulations, lines have been permitted to be laid down in the main streets and thoroughfares of the cities, so that the trains may traverse them at prescribed speeds, and so that goods may be put upon trucks at the very doors of the warehouses and shops.
The influence of railroads on the value of real estates along their lines, and in the cities in which they terminate, is so well understood in America, as to have afforded important financial facilities to their construction. It is not the public who are invited in America to take railway shares; they are subscribed for in a wholly different manner. In order to promote the construction of a line, not only does the State which it traverses frequently afford it facilities with respect to land, but pecuniary