When interrogated on this subject at Chardon, he said: "When he received the nomination he had said that no black man who had received the right to vote under the 15th amendment ever could have it taken away. Repealing the 15th amendment would not take it away; that amendment is no more sacred, but just as sacred as any other part of the constitution; but repealing it could not take away a right." He was asked as to the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments: "Do you regard them as in the same sense and to the same extent parts of the constitution as other portions?" He answered: "Yes, certainly. Can not men see the difference between opposing the adoption of a measure and yielding when it has been adopted, and opposition has become useless?" He was asked: "Are these amendments never again to become political questions?" "I have no authority or power to answer such a question. How can I answer as to all the future? How can I tell what the Democracy of New York or any other State may do? But how can they become political questions, now that they are acquiesced in by almost the entire people of the country?"
Mr. Hubbard, the chairman of Colonel McCook's first meeting, said: "The Democrats did not dispute that this amendment, which was adopted by constitutional forms, was valid; but, while accepting it, call it a 'new departure.' If you please, we don't surrender the right to make such returns to the old constitution as we may deem expedient. It is a future question that we are not bound to discuss."
The gentleman who has the second place on the Democratic ticket, Mr. Hunt, says: "There is no reasoning, and certainly no circumstance, which can give the 13th amendment more binding force than either of the other two amendments. If the 13th amendment abolished slavery, then the title to vote under the 15th amendment is as perfect as the title to liberty. The fact that they have been declared a part of the constitution does not preclude any legitimate discussion as to their expediency. Proper action will never be barred, for the statute of limitation will run with the constitution itself. Experience may teach the necessity of a change in any provision of the organic law, and any legislation to be permanent must conform to the living sentiment of the people."
These paragraphs furnish no adequate reply to the questions which an intelligent and earnest Republican, who believes in the wisdom and value of the amendments, would put to these distinguished gentlemen, when they ask him for his vote. He would ask: "If the Democratic party shall obtain the controlling power in the general government, in its several departments, executive, legislative, and judicial, and in the State governments, what would it do? Would it faithfully execute these amendments, or would it not rather use its power to get rid of them—either by constitutional amendment, by judicial decision, by unfriendly legislation, or by a failure or refusal to legislate?" Before the "new departure" can gain Republican votes, its friends must answer satisfactorily these questions. The speeches I have quoted fail to furnish such answers. Colonel McCook objects to the 15th amendment, because "it contains a provision intended to confer power upon Congress which is dangerous to the liberties of the country." Now, what is this dangerous provision? It reads: "Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation." Each of the three recent amendments contains a similar provision. Without this provision, they would be inoperative in more than half of the late rebel States. The complaints made of these provisions warn us that in Democratic hands the legislation required to give force and effect to these provisions would be denied.
But the most significant part of these speeches are the passages which refer to the repeal of the amendments. Mr. Hubbard said: "We don't surrender the right to make such returns to the old constitution as we may deem expedient. It is a future question that we are not bound to discuss." Colonel McCook says: "How can I answer for all the future? How can I tell what the Democracy of New York or any other State may do?" Mr. Hunt says: "The fact that they have been declared a part of the constitution does not preclude any legitimate discussion as to their expediency. Proper action will never be barred." The meaning of all this is that the Democratic party will acquiesce in the amendments while it is out of power. Whether or not it will try to repeal them when it gets power is a question of the future which they are not bound to discuss. Or as another distinguished gentleman has it, this question is "beyond the range of profitable discussion." In reply to these gentlemen, the well-informed Republican citizen when asked to vote for the new departure, is very likely to adopt their own phraseology, and to say, Whether I shall vote your ticket or not is a question of the future which it is not now proper to discuss—"it is beyond the range of profitable discussion;" and if he has the Democratic veneration for Tammany hall, he will say with Colonel McCook, "How can I tell what the Democracy of New York may do?"
Notwithstanding the decision of the late convention, it is probable that the real sentiment of the Democracy of Ohio is truly stated by the Butler county Democrat:
"Our position then, is, that while we regard the so-called amendments as gross usurpation and base frauds—not a part of the Federal constitution de facto nor de jure—and, therefore, acts which are void, we will abide by them until a majority of the people of the States united shall, at the polls, put men in power who shall hold them to be null and of no effect. We adhere strictly, on this point, to the second resolution of Hon. L. D. Campbell, adopted at the Democratic convention held in this county last May; and to refresh the minds of our readers we reproduce it here:
"2. That now, as heretofore, we are opposed to all lawlessness and disorder, and for maintaining the supremacy of the constitution and laws as the only certain means of public safety, and will abide by all their provisions until the same shall be amended, abrogated, or repealed by the lawfully constituted authorities."
The new departure has certainly very little claim to the support of Republican citizens. What are its claims on honest Democrats?
Colonel McCook, to make the new departure palatable to his Democratic supporters, tells them that a repeal of the fifteenth Amendment would fail of its object. That the right to vote, once exercised by the black man, can not be taken away. Is this sound either in law or logic? By the fifteenth amendment no State can deny the right to vote to any citizens on account of race or color. Suppose that amendment was repealed; what would prevent Kentucky from denying suffrage to colored citizens? Plainly nothing. And in case of such repeal it is probable that in less than ninety days thereafter every Democratic State would deny suffrage to colored citizens, and the great body of Democratic voters would heartily applaud that result. The truth is, no sound argument can be made, showing or tending to show that the new departure is consistent with the Democratic record. Hitherto Democracy has taught that, as a question of law, the amendments were made by force and fraud, and are therefore void; that, as a question of principles, this is a white man's government, and that to confer suffrage on the colored races—on the African or Chinaman—would change the nature of the government and speedily destroy it. Now the new departure demands that Democrats shall accept the amendments as valid, and shall take a pledge "to secure equal rights to all persons, without distinction of race, color, or condition." Sincere Democrats will find it very difficult to take that pledge, unless they are now convinced that their whole political life has been a great mistake.
When an individual changes his political principles—turns his coat merely to catch votes—he is generally thought to be unworthy of support, I entertain no doubt that the people of Ohio, at the approaching election, will, upon that principle, by a large majority, condemn the Democratic party for its bold attempt to catch Republican votes by the new departure.
Speech of GENERAL R. B. HAYES, delivered at Marion, Lawrence County, Ohio, July 31, 1875.
Fellow-citizens of Lawrence County:
It is a gratification for which I wish to make my acknowledgments to the Republican committee of this county, to have the privilege of beginning, in behalf of the Republicans of Ohio, the oral discussions of this important political canvass before the people of Lawrence county. Although my residence is separated from yours by the whole breadth of the State, we are not strangers. We have met before on similar occasions, and some of you were my comrades in the Union army during a considerable part of the great civil conflict which ended ten years ago. Those who had the honor and the happiness to serve together during that memorable struggle are not likely to forget each other. We shall forever regard those four years as the most interesting period of our lives.
The great majority of the people of Lawrence county, citizens as well as soldiers, have also good reason to recall the events and scenes of that contest with satisfaction and pride.
The official records of the State show how well Lawrence county performed her part in the war for the Union. From the beginning to the end, with the ballot at home and with the musket in the field, this county stood among the foremost of all the communities in the United States in devotion to the good cause. And since the Nation's triumph, Lawrence county, sooner or later, but never too late to rejoice in the final and decisive victory, has supported every measure required to secure the legitimate results of that triumph. You have done your part forever to set at rest the great questions of the past. It is settled that the United States constitute a Nation, and that their government possesses ample power to maintain its authority over every part of its territory against all opposers. It is settled that no man under the American flag shall be a slave. It is settled that all men born or naturalized in the United States and within its jurisdiction shall be citizens thereof, and have equal civil and political rights. It is settled that the debt contracted to save the Nation is sacred, and shall be honestly paid. You may well be congratulated that on all of these questions you fought and voted on the right side.
Fortunately, there is still further cause for congratulation. Our adversaries, who were on the wrong side of all of these questions, and who opposed us on all of them to the very last, are now compelled to be silent in their platform on every one of them. Not a single one of their fourteen resolutions raises any question on any of these long-contested subjects. It is not strange that they are silent. I do not choose on this occasion to recall the predictions of evil which they so confidently made when discussing the measures to which I have referred. It is enough for my present purpose to point to the grand results. When the Republican party, with Abraham Lincoln as president, received the government from the hands of the Democratic party, fifteen years ago, the Union of the fathers was destroyed. A hostile Nation, dedicated to perpetual slavery, had been established south of the Potomac, and claimed jurisdiction over one-third of the people and territory of the Republic. These States were "dissevered, discordant, belligerent"—our land was rent with civil feud, and ready to be drenched in fraternal blood. Now, behold the change! The Union is re-established on firmer foundations than ever before. Brave men in the South, who were then in battle array against us, now stand side by side with Union soldiers, with no shadow of discord between them. Slavery, which was then an impassable gulf between the hostile sections, is now gone; and good men of the South unite with good men of the North in thanking God that it is forever a thing of the past. Then there was no freedom of speech or of the press—no friendly mingling together of the people of the two sections of the country. Now the people of the South receive and greet as a fellow-citizen and a friend the vice-president—a citizen of Massachusetts, and an anti-slavery man from his youth; and Maryland, Virginia, and South Carolina send their distinguished sons to celebrate with New England the centennial anniversaries of the early battles of the Revolution. The men of the North and the men of the South are now everywhere coming together in a spirit of harmony and friendship which this generation has not witnessed before, and which has not existed, until now, since Jefferson was startled by that "fire-ball in the night"—the Missouri question—more than fifty years ago.
In this era of good feeling and reconciliation a few men of morbid temperament, blind to what is passing before them, still talk of "bayonets" and "tyranny and cruelty to the South" and seek in vain to revive the prejudices and passions of the past. But there is barely enough of this angry dissent to remind us of the terrible scenes through which we have passed, and to fill us with gratitude that the house which was divided against itself is divided no longer, and that all of its inhabitants now have a fair start and an equal chance in the race of life.
Let us now proceed to the consideration of some of the questions which engage the attention of the people of Ohio. The war which the Democratic party and its doctrines brought upon the country left a large debt, heavy taxation, a depreciated currency, and an unhealthy condition of business, which resulted two years ago in a financial panic and depression, from which the country is now slowly recovering. With this condition of things the Democratic party in its recent State convention at Columbus undertook to deal.
The most important part—in fact the only part of their platform in Ohio this year which receives or deserves much attention, is that in which is proclaimed a radical departure on the subject of money from the teachings of all of the Democratic fathers. This Ohio Democratic doctrine inculcates the abandonment of gold and silver as a standard of value. Hereafter gold and silver are to be used as money only "where respect for the obligation of contracts requires payment in coin." The only currency for the people is to be paper money, issued directly by the general government, "its volume to be made and kept equal to the wants of trade," and with no provision whatever for its redemption in coin. The Democratic candidate for lieutenant-governor, who opened the canvass for his party, states the money issue substantially as I have. General Carey, in his Barnesville speech, says:
"Gold and silver, when used as money, are redeemable in any property there is for sale in the Nation; will pay taxes for any debt, public or private. This alone gives them their money value. If you had a hundred gold eagles, and you could not exchange them for the necessaries of life, they would be trash, and you would be glad to exchange them for greenbacks or anything else that you could use to purchase what you require. With an absolute paper money, stamped by the government and made a legal tender for all purposes, and its functions as money are as perfect as gold or silver can be!"
This is the financial scheme which the Democratic party asks the people of Ohio to approve at the election in October. The Republicans accept the issue. Whether considered as a permanent policy or as an expedient to mitigate present evils we are opposed to it. It is without warrant in the constitution, and it violates all sound financial principles.
The objections to an inflated and irredeemable paper currency are so many that I do not attempt to state them all. They are so obvious and so familiar that I need not elaborately present or argue them. All of the mischief which commonly follows inflated and inconvertible paper money may be expected from this plan, and in addition it has very dangerous tendencies, which are peculiarly its own. An irredeemable and inflated paper currency promotes speculation and extravagance, and at the same time discourages legitimate business, honest labor, and economy. It dries up the true sources of individual and public prosperity. Over-trading and fast living always go with it. It stimulates the desire to incur debt; it causes high rates of interest; it increases importations from abroad; it has no fixed value; it is liable to frequent and great fluctuations, thereby rendering every pecuniary engagement precarious and disturbing all existing contracts and expectations; it is the parent of panics. Every period of inflation is followed by a loss of confidence, a shrinkage of values, depression of business, panics, lack of employment, and widespread disaster and distress. The heaviest part of the calamity falls on those least able to bear it. The wholesale dealer, the middle-man, and the retailer always endeavor to cover the risks of the fickle standard of value by raising their prices. But the men of small means and the laborer are thrown out of employment, and want and suffering are liable soon to follow.
When government enters upon the experiment of issuing irredeemable paper money there can be no fixed limit to its volume. The amount will depend on the interest of leading politicians, on their whims, and on the excitement of the hour. It affords such facility for contracting debt that extravagant and corrupt government expenditure are the sure result. Under the name of public improvements, the wildest enterprises, contrived for private gain, are undertaken. Indefinite expansion becomes the rule, and in the end bankruptcy, ruin, and repudiation.
During the last few years a great deal has been said about the centralizing tendency of recent events in our history. The increasing power of the government at Washington has been a favorite theme for Democratic declamation. But where, since the foundation of the government, has a proposition been seriously entertained which would confer such monstrous and dangerous powers on the general government as this inflation scheme of the Ohio Democracy? During the war for the Union, solely on the ground of necessity, the government issued the legal tender, or greenback currency. But they accompanied it with a solemn pledge in the following words of the act of June 30, 1864:
"Nor shall the total amount of United States notes issued or to be issued ever exceed four hundred millions, and such additional sum, not exceeding fifty millions, as may be temporarily required for redemption of temporary loans."
But the Ohio inflationists, in a time of peace, on grounds of mere expediency, propose an inconvertible paper currency, with its volume limited only by the discretion or caprice of its issuers, or their judgment as to the wants of trade. The most distinguished gentleman whose name is associated with the subject once said "the process must be conducted with skill and caution, ... by men whose position will enable them to guard against any evil," and using a favorite illustration he said, "The secretary of the treasury ought to be able to judge. His hand is upon the pulse of the country. He can feel all the throbbings of the blood in the arteries. He can tell when the blood flows too fast and strong, and when the expansion should cease." This brings us face to face with the fundamental error of this dangerous policy. The trouble is the pulse of the patient will not so often decide the question as the interest of the doctor. No man, no government, no Congress is wise enough and pure enough to be trusted with this tremendous power over the business, and property, and labor of the country. That which concerns so intimately all business should be decided, if possible, on business principles, and not be left to depend on the exigencies of politics, the interests of party, or the ambition of public men. It will not do for property, for business, or for labor to be at the mercy of a few political leaders at Washington, either in or out of Congress. The best way to prevent it is to apply to paper money the old test sanctioned by the experience of all Nations—let it be convertible into coin. If it can respond to this test, it will, as nearly as possible, be sound, safe, and stable.
The Republicans of Ohio are in favor of no sudden or harsh measures. They do not propose to force resumption by a contraction of the currency. They see that the ship is headed in the right direction, and they do not wish to lose what has already been gained. They are satisfied to leave to the influences of time and the inherent energy and resources of the country the work that yet remains to be done to place our currency at par. We believe that what our country now needs to revive business and to give employment to labor, is a restoration of confidence. We need confidence in the stability and soundness of the financial policy of the government. That confidence has for many months past been slowly but steadily increasing. The Columbus Democratic platform comes in as a disturbing element, and gives a severe shock to reviving confidence. The country believed, and rejoiced to believe, that Senator Thurman expressed the sober judgment of Ohio, when he spoke last year in the Senate on this subject. The senator said, March 24, 1874:
"Never have I spoken in favor of that inflation of the currency, which, I think I see full well, means that there shall never be any resumption at all. That is the difference. It is one thing to contract the currency, with a view to the resumption of specie payment; it is another thing neither to contract nor enlarge it, but let resumption, come naturally and as soon as the business and production of the country will bring it about. But it is a very different thing indeed to inflate the currency with a view never in all time to redeem it at all. And that is precisely what this inflation means. It means demonetizing gold and silver in perpetuity, and substituting a currency of irredeemable paper, based wholly and entirely upon government credit, and depending upon the opinion and the interests of the members of Congress and their hopes of popularity, whether the volume of it shall be large or small. That is what this inflation means. Sir, I have never said anything in favor of that. I am too old-fashioned a Democrat for that. I can not give up the convictions of a life-time, whether they be popular or unpopular."
April 6th, when the Senate inflation bill was debated, he said:
"It simply means that no man of my age shall ever again see in this country that kind of currency which the framers of the constitution intended should be the currency of the Union; which every sound writer on political economy the world over says is the only currency that defrauds no man. It means that so long as I live, and possibly long after I shall be laid in the grave, this people shall have nothing but an irredeemable currency with which to transact their business—that currency which has been well described as the most effective invention that ever the wit of man devised to fertilize the rich man's field by the sweat of the poor man's brow. I will have nothing to do with it."
How great the shock which was given to returning confidence by the Democratic action at Columbus abundantly appears by the manner in which the platform is received by the Liberal and the English and the German Democratic press throughout the United States. The Liberal press and the German press, so far as I have observed, in the strongest terms condemn the platform. They speak of it as disturbing confidence, shaking credit, and threatening repudiation. A large part of the Democratic press of other States is hardly less emphatic. It would be strange, indeed, if this were otherwise. In Ohio, less than two years ago, the convention which nominated Governor Allen resolved, speaking of the Democratic party, that "it recognizes the evils of an irredeemable paper currency, but insists that in the return to specie payment care should be taken not to seriously disturb the business of the country or unjustly injure the debtor class." There was no inflation then. Now come the soft-money leaders of the Democratic party, and try to persuade the people that the promises of the United States should only be redeemed by other promises, and that it is sound policy to increase them.
The credit of the Nation depends on its ability and disposition to keep its promises. If it fails to keep them, and suffers them to depreciate, its credit is tainted, and it must pay high rates of interest on all of its loans. For many years we must be a borrower in the markets of the world. The interest-bearing debt is over seventeen hundred millions of dollars. If we could borrow money at the same rate with some of the great Nations of Europe, we could save perhaps two per cent per annum on this sum. Thirty or forty millions a year we are paying on account of tainted credit. The more promises to pay an individual issues, without redeeming them, the worse becomes his credit. It is the same with Nations. The legal tender note for five dollars is the promise of the United States to pay that sum in the money of the world, in coin. No time is fixed for its payment. It is therefore payable on presentation—on demand. It is not paid; it is past due; and it is depreciated to the extent of twelve per cent. The country recognizes the necessities of the situation, and waits, and is willing to wait, until the productive business of the country enables the government to redeem. But the Columbus financiers are not satisfied. They demand the issue of more promises. This is inflation. No man can doubt the result. The credit of the Nation will inevitably suffer. There will be further depreciation. A depreciation of ten per cent diminishes the value of the present paper currency from fifty to one hundred millions of dollars. Its effect on business would be disastrous in the extreme. The present legal tenders have a certain steadiness, because there is a limit fixed to their amount. Public opinion confides in that limit. But let that limit be broken down, and all is uncertainty. The authors of this scheme believe inflation is a good thing. When this subject was under discussion, a few years ago, the Cincinnati Enquirer said "the issue of two millions dollars of currency would only put it in the power of each voter to secure $400 for himself and family to spend in the course of a life-time. Is there any voter thinks that is too much—more than he will want?" This shows what the platform means. It means inflation without limit; and inflation is the downward path to repudiation. It means ruin to the Nation's credit, and to all individual credit. All the rest of the world have the same standard of value. Our promises are worthless as currency the moment you pass our boundary line. Even in this country, very extensive sections still use the money of the world. Texas, the most promising and flourishing State of the South, uses coin. California and the other Pacific States and Territories do the same. Look at their condition. Texas and California are not the least prosperous part of the United States. This scheme can not be adopted. The opinion of the civilized world is against it. The vast majority of the ablest newspapers of the country is against it. The best minds of the Democratic party are against it. The last three Democratic candidates for the presidency were against it. The German citizens of the United States, so distinguished for industry, for thrift, and for soundness of judgment in all practical money affairs, are a unit against it. The Republican party is against it. The people of Ohio will, I am confident, decide in October to have nothing to do with it.
Since the adoption of the inflation platform at Columbus, a great change has taken place in the feelings and views of its friends. Then they were confident—perhaps it is not too much to say that they were dictatorial and overbearing toward their hard money party associates. There was no doubt as to the intent and meaning of the platform. Its friends asserted that the country needed more money, and more money now. That the way to get it was to issue government legal tender notes liberally. But the storm of criticism and condemnation which burst upon the platform from the soundest Democrats in all quarters has alarmed its supporters. Many of them have been seized with a panic, and are now utterly stampeded and in full retreat. They say that they are not for inflation, not for inconvertible paper money, and that they never have been. That they are hard money men, and always have been. That they look forward to a return of specie payment, and that it must always be kept in view. Why what did they mean by their platform? Did they expect to make money plenty by an issue of more coin? Certainly not. By an issue of more paper redeemable in coin? Certainly not. They expected to issue more legal tender notes—notes irredeemable and depreciated. But public opinion as shown by the press is so decidedly against them, that Ohio inflationists now begin to desert their own platform. Even Mr. Pendleton is solicitous not to be held responsible for the Columbus scheme. He says, "I speak for myself alone. I do not assume to speak for the Democratic party. Its convention has spoken for it," and proceeds to interpret the platform as if it was for hard money. Senator Thurman did not so understand it. He thought the hard money men were beaten and felt disappointed. It now looks as if General Carey might be left almost alone before the canvass ends. If Judge Thurman could get that convention together again, it is evident that he could now in the same body rout the inflationists, horse, foot, and artillery. Nothing but a victory in Ohio can put inflation again on its legs. Let it be defeated in October, and the friends of a sound and honest currency will have a clear field for at least the life of the present generation.
Two years ago, the Democratic party came fully into power in Ohio, in the State legislature, and for the first time in twenty years, elected the executive of the State. They were also entrusted with the affairs of the leading cities, and a majority of the wealthiest and most populous counties in the State. It would be profitable in us to inquire how this came about, and what are the results. In the course of the canvass it is my purpose to show in detail how unfortunate their management of State affairs has been. It will appear, on investigation, that the interests of the State in the benevolent, penal, and reformatory institutions have been sacrificed to the spoils doctrine: how the cities, and especially the chief city of the State, has suffered by the corruption of its rulers; how public expenditures have been increased, until the aggregate of taxation in Ohio, in this time of money depression, is vastly larger than ever before; how the number of salaried officers was increased; how the members of the legislature were corrupted by bribery, notorious, and shameless; and how the dominant party utterly failed to deal with this corruption as duty and the good name of the State demanded. Fallacious and deceptive statements have been made as to the reduction of the levy for State taxes, and as to the appropriations. It is enough now to say that the aggregate taxation in Ohio in 1874, was over $27,000,000, a larger sum than was ever before collected by tax-gatherers in Ohio.
Altogether the most interesting questions in our State affairs are those which relate to the passage, by the last legislature, of the Geghan bill and the war which the sectarian wing of the Democratic party is now waging against the public schools. In the admirable speech made by Judge Taft at the Republican State Convention, he sounded the key-note to the canvass on this subject. He said "our motto must be universal liberty and universal suffrage, secured by universal education." Before we discuss these questions, it may be well, in order that there may be no excuse for further misrepresentation, to show by whom this subject was introduced into politics, and to state explicitly that we attack no sect and no man, either Protestant or Jew, Catholic or Unbeliever, on account of his conscientious convictions in regard to religion. Who began the agitation of this subject? Why is it agitated? All parties have taken hold of it. The Democratic party in their State convention make it the topic of their longest resolution. In their platform they gave it more space than to any other subject except the currency. Many of the Democratic county conventions also took action upon it.
The Republican State Convention passed resolutions on the question. It is stated that it was considered in about forty Republican county conventions. The State Teachers' Association, at their last meeting, passed unanimously the following resolution. Mr. Tappan, from the Committee on Resolutions, reported the following:
"Resolved, That we are in favor of a free, impartial, and unsectarian education to every child in the State, and that any division of the school fund or appropriation of any part thereof to any religious or private school would be injurious to education and the best interests of the church."
An able address by the Rev. Dr. Jeffers, of Cleveland, showing the "perils which threaten our public schools," was emphatically applauded by that intelligent body of citizens.
The assemblies of the different religious denominations in the State, which have recently been held, have generally, and I think without exception, passed similar resolutions. If blame is to attach to all who consider and discuss this question before the public, we have had a very large body of offenders. But I have not named all who are engaged in it. I have not named those who began it; those who for years have kept it up; those who in the press, on the platform, in the pulpit, in legislative bodies, in city councils, and in school boards, now unceasingly agitate the question. Everybody knows who they are; everybody knows that the sectarian wing of the Democratic party began this agitation, and that it is bent on the destruction of our free schools. If Republicans acting on the defensive discuss the subject, and express the opinion that the Democratic party can't safely be trusted, they are denounced in unmeasured terms. General Carey calls them "political knaves" and "fools" and "bigots." But it is very significant that no Democratic speaker denounces those who began the agitation. All their epithets are leveled at the men who are on the right side of the question. Agitation on the wrong side—agitation against the schools may go on. It meets no condemnation from leading Democratic candidates and speakers. The reason is plain. Those who mean to destroy the school system constitute a formidable part of the Democratic party, without whose support that party, as the legislature was told last Spring, can not carry the county, the city, nor the State.
The sectarian agitation against the public schools was begun many years ago. During the last few years, it has steadily and rapidly increased, and has been encouraged by various indications of possible success. It extends to all of the States where schools at the common expense have been long established. Its triumphs are mainly in the large towns and cities. It has already divided the schools, and in a considerable degree impaired and limited their usefulness. The glory of the American system of education has been that it was so cheap that the humblest citizen could afford to give his children its advantages, and so good that the man of wealth could nowhere provide for his children anything better. This gave the system its most conspicuous merit. It made it a Republican system. The young of all conditions of life are brought together and educated on terms of perfect equality. The tendency of this is to assimilate and to fuse together the various elements of our population, to promote unity, harmony, and general good will in our American society. But the enemies of the American system have begun the work of destroying it. They have forced away from the public schools, in many towns and cities, one-third or one-fourth of their pupils and sent them to schools which it is safe to say are no whit superior to those they have left. These youth are thus deprived of the associations and the education in practical Republicanism and American sentiments which they peculiarly need. Nobody questions their constitutional and legal right to do this, and to do it by denouncing the public schools. Sectarians have a lawful right to say that these schools are "a relict of paganism—that they are Godless," and that "the secular school system is a social cancer." But when having thus succeeded in dividing the schools, they make that a ground for abolishing school taxation, dividing the school fund, or otherwise destroying the system, it is time that its friends should rise up in its defense.
We all agree that neither the government nor political parties ought to interfere with religious sects. It is equally true that religious sects ought not to interfere with the government or with political parties. We believe that the cause of good government and the cause of religion both suffer by all such interference. But if Sectarians make demands for legislation of political parties, and threaten that party with opposition at the elections in case the required enactments are not passed, and if the political party yields to such threats, then those threats, those demands, and that action of the political party become a legitimate subject of political discussion, and the sectarians who thus interfere with the legislation of the State are alone responsible for the agitation which follows.
And now a few words as to the action of the last legislature on this subject. After an examination of the Geghan bill, we shall perhaps come to the conclusion that in itself it is not of great importance. I would not undervalue the conscientious scruples on the subject of religion of a convict in the penitentiary, or of any unfortunate person in any State institution. But the provision of the constitution of the State covers the whole ground. It needs no awkwardly framed statute of doubtful meaning, like the Geghan bill, to accomplish the object of the organic law. The old constitution of 1802, and the constitution now in force, of 1851, are substantially alike. Both declare (I quote section 7, article 1, constitution of 1851):
"All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience. No person shall be compelled to attend, erect, or support any place of worship, or maintain any form of worship against his consent; and no preference shall be given by law to any religious society; nor shall any interference with the right of conscience be permitted."
If the Geghan bill is merely a reenactment of this part of the bill of rights, it is a work of supererogation, and it is not strange that the legislature did not, when it was introduced, favor its passage. The author of the bill wrote, "the members claim that such a bill is not needed." The same opinion prevails in New Jersey, where a similar bill is said to have been defeated by a vote of three to one. But the sectarians of Ohio were resolved on the passage of this bill. Mr. Geghan, its author, wrote to Mr. Murphy, of Cincinnati:
"We have a prior claim upon the Democratic party. The elements composing the Democratic party in Ohio to-day are made up of Irish and German catholics, and they have always been loyal and faithful to the interests of the party. Hence the party is under obligations to us, and we have a perfect right to demand of them, as a party, inasmuch as they are in control of the State legislature and State government, and were by both our means and votes placed where they are to-day, that they should, as a party, redress our grievances."
The organ of the friends of the bill published this letter, and among other things said:
"The political party with which nine-tenths of the Catholic voters affiliate on account of past services that they will never forget, now controls the State. Withdraw the support which Catholics have given to it and it will fall in this city, county, and State, as speedily as it has risen to its long lost position and power. That party is now on trial. Mr. Geghan's bill will test the sincerity of its professions."
That threat was effectual. The bill was passed, and the sectarian organ therefore said:
"The unbroken solid vote of the Catholic citizens of the State will be given to the Democracy at the fall election."
In regard to those who voted against the bill, it said: "They have dug their political grave; it will not be our fault if they do not fill it. When any of them appear again in the political arena, we will put upon them a brand that every Catholic citizen will understand." No defense of this conduct of the last legislature has yet been attempted. The facts are beyond dispute. This is the first example of open and successful sectarian interference with legislation in Ohio. If the people are wise, they will give it such a rebuke in October that for many years, at least, it will be the last.
But it is claimed that the schools are in no danger. Now that public attention is aroused to the importance of the subject, it is probable that in Ohio they are safe. But their safety depends on the rebuke which the people shall give to the party which yielded last spring at Columbus to the threats of their enemies. It is said that no political party "desires the destruction of the schools." I reply, no political party "desired" the passage of the Geghan bill; but the power which hates the schools passed the bill. The sectarian wing of the Democratic party rules that party to-day in the great commercial metropolis of the Nation. It holds the balance of power in many of the large cities of the country. Without its votes, the Democratic party would lose every large city and county in Ohio and every Northern State. In the presidential canvass of 1864, it was claimed that General McClellan was as good a Union man as Abraham Lincoln, and that he was as much opposed to the rebellion. An eminent citizen of this State replied: "I learn from my adversaries. Who do the enemies of the Union want elected? The man they are for, I am against." So I would say to the friends of the public schools: "How do the enemies of universal education vote?" If the enemies of the free schools give their "unbroken, solid vote" to the Democratic ticket, the friends of the schools will make no mistake if they vote the Republican ticket.
The Republicans enter upon this important canvass with many advantages. Their adversaries are loaded down with the record of the last legislature. Democratic legislatures have not been fortunate in Ohio. Since the present division of parties, twenty years ago, no Democratic legislature has ever failed to bring defeat to its party. The people of Ohio have never been willing to venture on the experiment of two Democratic legislatures in succession. The Democratic inflation platform offends German Democrats, has driven off the Liberal Republicans, and is accepted by very few old-fashioned Democrats in its true intent and meaning. The Republicans are out of power in the cities and in the State, and are everywhere taking the offensive. If Democrats assail them on account of some affair of years ago, or in a distant Southern State, or at Washington, Republicans reply by pointing to what Democrats are now doing in their own cities, or have just done in the last legislature. The materials for such retort are abundant and ready at hand. The Republicans are embarrassed by no entangling alliance with the sectarian enemies of the public schools, and they have yielded to no sectarian demands or dictation in public affairs. We rejoice to see indications of an active canvass and a large vote at the election. Such a canvass and such a vote in Ohio never yet resulted in a Democratic victory. Our motto is honest money for all and free schools for all. There should be no inflation which will destroy the one, and no sectarian interference which will destroy the other.
Speech of GOVERNOR HAYES to his neighbors at Fremont, delivered June 25, 1876.
Mr. Mayor, Fellow-Citizens, Friends, and Neighbors:
I need not attempt to express the emotions I feel at the reception which the people of Fremont and this county have given me to-night. Under any circumstances, an assemblage of this sort at my home to welcome me would touch me, would excite the warmest emotions of gratitude; but what gives to this its distinctive character is the fact that those who are prominent in welcoming me home, I know, in the past, have not voted with me or for me, and they do not intend in the future to vote with me or for me. It is simply that, coming to my home, they rejoice that Ohio, that Sandusky county, that the town of Fremont has received at that National Convention high honor, and I thank you, Democrats, fellow-citizens, Independents, and Republicans, for this spontaneous and enthusiastic reception.
I trust that in the course of events the time will never come that you will have cause to regret what you do to-night. It is a very great responsibility that has been placed upon me—to be a representative of a party embracing twenty millions of people—a responsibility which I know I am not equal to. I understand very well that it was not by reason of ability or talents that I was chosen. But that which does rejoice me is that here, where I have been known from my childhood, there are those that come and rejoice at the result.
I trust, my friends, that as I run along in this desultory way—for you well know that since I learned that I was to be here to-night, the multitude of letters, and visits, and telegrams requiring attention have given me no time to prepare for a reception like this—you must, therefore, put up with hastily-formed sentences, very unfitly representing the sentiments appropriate to the occasion. Let me, if I may do it without too much egotism, recur to the history of my connection with Fremont. Forty-two years ago my uncle, Sardis Birchard, brought me to this place, and I rejoice, my friends, in the good taste and good feeling which have placed his portrait here to-night. He, having adopted me as his child, brought me to Fremont. I recollect well the appearance of the then Lower Sandusky, consisting of a few wooden buildings scattered along the river, with little paint on them, and these trees none of them grown, the old fort still having some of its earthworks remaining, so that it could be easily traced. A pleasant village this was for a boy to enjoy himself in. There was the fishing on the river, shooting water-fowls above the dam, at the islands and the lake. Perhaps no boy ever enjoyed his departure from home better than I did when I first came to Fremont.
But now see what this town is,—how it has grown. It has not increased to a first-class city, but it has become a pleasant home, so pleasant, so thriving that I rejoice to think that whatever may be the result next fall it will be pleasant to return to it when the contest is over. If defeated, I shall return to you oftener than if I go to the White House. If I go there I shall look forward with pleasure to the time when I shall be permitted to return to you, to be a neighbor with you again. And really we have cause to be satisfied with our home and the interests which the future has in store for us here. Larger cities always have strife and rivalry, from which we are free, and yet we are well situated between two commercial centers, the Eastern and Western, between which is the great highway of the world, and we can not but partake of their prosperity. Over the railroad passing through this place, or near it, will pass for all time to come the travel and trade of New York and San Francisco, of London and Pekin. Every town along this route partakes of the prosperity of this highway. Upper Sandusky, on the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railroad, and Tiffin, that thriving and beautiful city through which passes the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, south of us, while along the lake shore passes the great northern division of the Lake Shore Road, making this route, as it were, the great artery of the world's travel, and we can abide with the prosperity that is to come in the future. Those of our friends who travel in Europe return sometimes dissatisfied, because there is a rawness in this country not seen in England and the older countries of Europe. But then the greatest happiness, as all of us know, in preparing a garden or a home is to see the improvements growing up under our hands. This is what we enjoy; and the change in Fremont from the time I first knew it till to-day gives me very great pleasure.
There is another change which gives rise to mournful reflections. When I came here in the year 1834, I became acquainted with honored citizens who are no longer living. There was, Mr. Mayor, your father, Rudolphus Dickinson, Thomas I. Hawkins, Judge Olmsted, Judge Howland, and, among others, that marvel of business energy, George Grant; and I might go on giving name after name. But it is true that of all those I remember seeing on that first visit, not one is with us to-night. All who came with me, my uncle, my mother, and my sister, are gone. But this is the order of Providence. Events follow upon one another as wave follows wave upon the ocean. It is for each man to do what he can to make others happy. This is the prayer and this is the duty of life. Let us, my friends, in every position, undertake to perform this duty. For one, I have no reliance except that which Abraham Lincoln had when, on leaving Springfield, he said to his friends: "I go to Washington to assume a responsibility greater than that which has been devolved upon any one since the first president, and I beg you, my friends and neighbors, to pray that I may have that Divine assistance, without which I can not succeed, and with which I can not fail." In that spirit I ask you to deal with me. If it shall be the will of the people that this nomination shall be ratified, I know I shall have your good wishes and your prayers. If, on the other hand, it shall be the will of the people that another shall assume these great responsibilities, let us see to it that we who shall oppose him give him a fair trial.
My friends, I thank you for the interest you have taken in this reception, and that you have laid aside partisan feeling. There has been too much bitterness on such occasions in our land. Let us see to it that abuse and vituperation of the candidate that shall be named at St. Louis do not proceed from our lips. Let us, in this centennial year, as we enter upon this second century of our existence, set an example of what a free and intelligent people can do. There is gathered at Philadelphia an assemblage representing nearly all the Nations of the world, with their arts and manufactures. We have invited competition, and they have come to compete with us, and with each other. We find that America stands well with the works of the world, as there exhibited. Let us show, in electing a chief magistrate of the Nation—the officer that is to be the first of forty or forty-five millions—let us show all those who visit us how the American people can conduct themselves through a canvass of this kind. If it shall be in the spirit in which we have met to-night, if it shall be that justness and fairness shall be in all the discussions, it will commend free institutions to the world in a way which they have never been commended before.
Well, friends, I am detaining you too long. Therefore I close what I have to say by expressing the feelings of gratitude entertained by myself and family for the kindness and regard shown us by the people of Fremont.
About the middle of the war, General Sherman lost a boy, named after himself, aged about thirteen years. He supposed that he belonged to the Thirteenth Infantry, and when they went out to drill and dress parade, he dressed in the dress of a sergeant and marched with them. But he sickened and died. The regiment gathered about him, for he was to them a comrade—dear as the child is loved by men who are torn away from the associations of home. General Sherman, the great soldier, was touched by it. He said it would be idle for him to try to express the gratitude which he felt; but he said they held the key to the affections of himself and family, and if any of them should ever be in need, if they would mention that they belonged to the Thirteenth Infantry at the time his boy died, they would divide with him the last blanket, and last morsel of food. It is in this spirit that I wish to express my thanks to the people of Fremont for the welcome they have given me. I bid you, my friends, good night.