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THE SHIELD OF AMERICAN CITIZENSHIP,
Reform is necessary to correct the omissions of a Republican Congress, and · the errors of our treaties and our diplomacy, which have stripped our fellow citizens of foreign birth and kindred race recrossing the Atlantic, of the shield of American citizenship, and have exposed our brethren of the Pacific coast to the incursions of a race not sprung from the same great parent stock, and in fact now by law denied citizenship through naturalization as being neither accustomed to the traditions of a progressive civilization nor exercised in liberty under equal laws.
We denounce the policy which thus discards the liberty-loving German and tolerates the revival of the coolie trade in Mongolian women imported for immoral purposes, and Mongolian men, hired to perform servile labor contracts, and demand such a modification of the treaty with the Chinese Empire, or such legislation by Congress within con. stitutional limitations as shall prevent the further importation or immigration of the Mongolian race.
SECTARIAN STRIFE AND SECTIONAL HATE.
Reform.is necessary and can never be effected but by making it the controlling issue of the elections, and lifting it above the two false issues with which the officeholding class and the party in power seek to smother it.
1. The false issue with which they would enkindle sectarian strife in respect to the public schools, of which the establishment and support belong exclusively to the several States, and which the Democratic party has cherished from their foundation, and is resolved to maintain without prejudice or preference for any class, sect or creed, and without contributions from the treasury to any.
2. The false issue by which they seek to light anew the dying embers of sectional hate between kindred peoples once estranged, but now reunited in one indivisible republic and a common destiny,
Reform is necessary in the Civil Service. Experience proves that efficient, economical conduct of the govermental business is not possible if its civil service be subject to change at every election, be a prize fought for at the ballot-box, be a brief reward of party zeal, instead of posts of honor assigned for proved competency, and held for fidelity in the public employ: that the dispensing of patronage should neither be a tax upon the time of all our public men, nor the instrument of their ambition. Here again promises falsified in the performance attest that the party in power can work out no practical or salutary reform.
OFFICIAL CRIMES AND. MISDEMEANORS.
Reform is necessary even more in the higher grades of the public service. President, Vice President, Judges, Senators, Representatives, Cabinet officers, these and all others in authority are the people's servants. Their offices are not a private perquisite; they are a public trust.
When the annals of this Republic show the disgrace and censure of a Vice-President;
A late Speaker of the House of Representatives marketing his rulings as a presiding officer;
Three Senators profiting secretly by their votes as law-makers ;
Five chairmen of the leading committees of the late House of Representatives exposed in jobbery;
A late Secretary of the Treasury forcing balances in the public accounts;
A Secretary of the Navy enriched or enriching friends by percentages levied off the profits of contractors with his department;
A Minister to England censured in a dishonorable speculation ;
The President's Private Secretary barely escaping conviction upon trial for guilty complicity in frauds upon the revenue ;
A Secretary of War impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors ;
The demonstration is complete that the first step in reform must be the people's choice of honest men from another party, lest the disease of one political organization infect the body politic, and lest by making no change of men or parties we get no change of measures and no real reform.
REPUBLICAN REFORM IMPOSSIBLE.
All the abuses, wrongs and crimes, the product of sixteen years' ascendancy of the Republican party, create a necessity for reform confessed by Republicans themselves; but their reformers are voted down in Convention and displaced from the Cabinet. The party's mass of honest voters is powerless to resist the 80,000 officeholders, its leaders and guides.
A CIVIC REVOLUTION NECESSARY.
Reform can only be had by a peaceful Civil Revolution.
We demand a change of system, a change of administration, a change of parties, · that we may have a change of measures and of men.
ALBANY, July 31st, 1876, GENTLEMEN: When I had the honor to receive a personal delivery of your letter on behalf of the Democratic National Convention, held on the 28th of June, at St. Louis, advising me of my nomination as the candidate of the constituency represented by that body for the office of President of the United States, I answered that, at my earliest convenience, and in conformity with usage, I would prepare and transmit to you a formal acceptance. I now avail myself of the first interval in unavoidable oceupations to fulfill that engagement.
The Convention, before making its nominations, adopted a declaration of principles, which, as a whole, seems to me a wise exposition of the necessities of our country, and of the reforms needed to bring back the government to its true functions, to restore purity of administration and to renew the prosperity of the people. But some of these reforms are so urgent that they claim more than a passing approval.
REFORM IN PUBLIC EXPENSE,
The necessity of a reform “in the scale of public expense-Federal, State and Municipal,”—and“ in the modes of Federal taxation,” justifies all the prominence given to it in the Declaration of the St. Louis Convention.
The present depression in all the business and industries of the people, which is depriving labor of its employment, and carrying want into so many homes, has its principal cause in excessive governmental consumption. Under the illusions of a specious prosperity, engendered by the false policies of the federal government, a waste of capital has been going on ever since the peace of 1865, which could only end in universal disaster.
The federal taxes of the last eleven years reach the gigantic sum of 4,500 millions. Local taxation has amounted to two-thirds as much more. The vast aggregate is not less than 7,500 millions.
This enormous taxation followed a civil conflict that had greatly impaired our aggregate wealth, and had made a prompt reduction of expenses indispensable.
It was aggravated by most unscientific and ill-adjusted methods of taxation that increased the sacrifices of the people far beyond the receipts of the treasury.
It was aggravated, moreover, by a financial policy which tended to diminish the energy, skill and economy of production, and the frugality of private consumption, and induced miscalculation in business and an unremunerative use of capital and labor.
Even in prosperous times, the daily wants of industrious communities press closely upon their daily earnings. The margin of possible national savings is at best a small percentage of national earnings. Yet now for these eleven years governmental consumption has been a larger proportion of the national earnings than the whole people can possibly save even in prosperous times for all new investments..
The consequence of these errors are now a present public calamity. But they were never doubtful, never invisible. They were necessary and inevitable, and were foreseen and depicted when the waves of that fictitious prosperity ran highest. In a speech made by me on the 24th of September, 1868, it was said of these taxes:
“They bear heavily upon every man's income, upon every industry and every business in the country, and year by year they are destined to press still more heavily, unless we arrest the system that gives rise to them. It was comparatively easy when
values were doubling under repeated issues of legal tender paper money, to pay out of the froth of our growing and apparent wealth these taxes, but when values recede and sink towards their natural scale, the tax-gatherer takes from us not only our income, not only our profits, but also a portion of our capital. * * * I do not wish to exaggerate or alarm; I simply say that we cannot afford the costly and ruinous policy of the Radical majority of Congress. We cannot afford that policy towards the South. We cannot afford the magnificent and oppressive centralism into which our government is being converted. We cannot afford the present magnificent scale of taxation."
To the Secretary of the Treasury, I said, early in 1865:
“There is no royal road for a government more than for an individual or a corporation. What you want to do now is to cut down your expenses and live within your income. I would give all the legerdemain of finance and financiering—I would give the whole of it for the old, homely maxim, Live within your income.”
This reform will be resisted at every step, but it must be pressed persistently. We see to-day the immediate representatives of the people in one branch of Congress, while struggling to reduce expenditures, compelled to confront the menace of the Senate and the Executive that unless the objectionable appropriations be consented to, the operations of the government thereunder shall suffer detriment or cease. In' my judgment, an amendment of the Constitution ought to be devised separating into distinct bills the appropriations for the various departments of the public service, and excluding from each bill all appropriations for other objects, and all independent legislation. In that way alone can the revisory power of each of the two houses and of the Executive be preserved and exempted from the moral duress which often compels assent to objectionable appropriations, rather than stop the wheels of the government.
An accessory cause enhancing the distress in business is to be found in the systematic and insupportable misgovernment imposed on the States of the South. Besides the ordinary effects of ignorant and dishonest administration, it has inflicted upon them enormous issues of fraudulent bonds, the scanty avails of which were wasted or stolen, and the existence of which is a public discredit, tending to bankruptcy or repudiation. Taxes, generally oppressive, in some instances have confiscated the entire income of property, and totally destroyed its marketable value. It is impossible that these evils should not react upon the prosperity of the whole country.
The nobler motives of humanity concur with the material interests of all in requiring that every obstacle be removed, to a complete and durable reconciliation between kindred populations once unnaturally estranged, on the basis recognized by the St. Louis platform, of the “Constitution of the United States, with its amendments universally accepted as a final settlement of the controversies which engendered civil war."
But, in aid of a result so beneficent, the moral influence of every good citizen, as well as every governmental authority, ought to be exerted, not alone to maintain their just equality before the law, but likewise to establish a cordial fraternity and good will among citizens, whatever their race or color, who are now united in the one destiny of a common self-government. If the duty shall be assigned to me, I should not fail to exercise the powers with which the laws and the constitution of our country clothe its chief magistrate, to protect all its citizens, whatever their former condition, in every political and personal right.
“Reform is necessary," declares the St. Louis Convention, “to establish a sound currency, restore the public credit and maintain the national honor;" and it goes on to “demand a judicious system of preparation by public economies, by official retrenchments, and by wise finances, which shall enable the nation soon to assure the whole world of its perfect ability and its perfect readiness to meet any of its promises at the call of the creditor entitled to payment."
The object demanded by the Convention is a resumption of specie payments on the legal tender notes of the United States. That would not only “restore the public credit” and “maintain the national honor," but it•would“ establish a sound currency” for the people. . .
The methods by which this object is to be pursued, and the means by which it is to be attained, are disclosed by what the Convention demanded for the future, and .by what it denounced in the past.
BANK NOTE RESUMPTION.
Resumption of specie payments by the Government of the United States on its legal tender notes would establish specie payments by all the barks on all their notes. The official statement, made on the 12th of May, shows that the amount of the bank notes was 300 millions, less 20 millions held by themselves. Against these 280 millions of notes, the banks held 141 millions of legal tender notes, or a little more than fifty per cent. of their amount. But they also held on deposit in the Federal Treasury, as security for these notes, bonds of the United States, worth in gold, about 360 millions, available and current in all the foreign money markets. In resuming, the banks, even if it were possible for all their notes to be presented for payment, would have 500 millions of specie funds to pay 280 millions of notes, without contracting their loans to their customers, or calling on any private debtor for payment. Suspended banks undertaking io resume, bave usually been obliged to collect from needy borrowers the means to redeem excessive issues and to provide reserves. A vague idea of distress is, therefore, often associated with the process of resumption. But the conditions which caused distress in those former instances do not now exist.
The government has only to make good its own promises and the banks can take care ef themselves without distressing anybody. The government is, therefore, the sole delinquent.
The amount of the legal-tender notes of the United States now outstanding is less than 370 millions of dollars, besides 34 millions of dollars of fractional currency. How shall the government make these notes at all times as good as specie ?
It has to provide, in reference to the mass which would be kept in use by the wants of business, a central reservoir of coin, adequate to the adjustment of the tempo. rary fluctuations of international balances, and as a guaranty against transient drains artificially created by panic or by speculation.
It has also to provide for the payment in coin of such fractional currency as may be presented for redemption, and such inconsiderable portions of the legal tenders as individuals may, from time to time, desire to convert for special use, or in order to lay .by in coin their little stores of money.
RESUMPTION NOT DIFFICULT.
To make the coin now in the treasury available for the objects of this reserve, to gradually strengthen and enlarge that reserve, and to provide for such other exceptional demands for coin as may arise, does not seem to me a work of difficulty. If wisely planned and discreetly pursued, it ought not to cost any sacrifice to the business of the country. It should tend, on the contrary, to a revival of hope and confidence. The coin in the treasury on the 30th of June, including what is held against coin certificates amounted to nearly 74 millions. The current of precious metals which has flowed out of our country for the eleven years from July 1, 1865, to June 30, 1876, averaging nearly 76 millions a year was 832 millions in the whole period, of which 617 millions were the product of our own mines.
To ainass the requisite quantity, by intercepting from the current flowing out of the country, and by acquiring from the stocks which exist abroad without disturbing the equilibrium of foreign money markets, is a result to be easily worked out by practical knowledge and judgment.
With respect to whatever surplus of legal tenders the wants of business may fail to keep in use, and which, in order to save interest, will be returned for redemption, they can either be paid or they can be funded. Whether they continue as currency, or be absorbed into the vast mass of securities held as investments, is merely a question of the rate of interest they draw. Even if they were to remain in their present form, and the government were to agree to pay on them a rate of interest, making them desirable as investments, they would cease to circulate and take their place with government, state, municipal and other corporate and private bonds, of which thousands of millions exist among us.. In the perfect ease with which they can be changed from currency into investments lies the only danger to be guarded against in the adoption of general measures intended to remove a clearly ascertained surplus; that is, the withdrawal of any which are not a permanent excess beyond the wants of business. Even more mischievous would be any measure which affects the public imagination