Fifty years ago the Republican party came into existence dedicated among other purposes to the great task of arresting the extension of human slavery. In 1860 it elected its first President. During twenty-four years of the forty-four which have elapsed since the election of Lincoln the Republican party has held complete control of the government. For eighteen more of the forty-four years it has held partial control through the possession of one or two branches of the government, while the Democratic party during the same period has had complete control for only two years. This long tenure of power by the Republican party is not due to chance. It is a demonstration that the Republican party has commanded the confidence of the American people for nearly two generations to a degree never equalled in our history, and has displayed a high capacity for rule and government which has been made even more conspicuous by the incapacity and infirmity of purpose shown by its opponents.
The Republican party entered upon its present period of complete supremacy in 1897. We have every right to congratulate ourselves upon the work since then accomplished, for it has added lustre even to the traditions of the party which carried the government through the storms of civil war.
We then found the country after four years of Democratic rule in evil plight, oppressed with misfortune, and doubtful of the future. Public credit had been lowered, the revenues were declining, the debt was growing, the administration's attitude toward Spain was feeble and mortifying, the standard of values was threatened and uncertain, labor was unemployed, business was sunk in the depression which had succeeded the panic of 1893, hope was faint and confidence was gone.
We met these unhappy conditions vigorously, effectively, and at once. We replaced a Democratic tariff law based on free trade principles and garnished with sectional protection by a consistent protective tariff, and industry, freed from oppression and stimulated by the encouragement of wise laws, has expanded to a degree never before known, has conquered new markets, and has created a volume of exports which has surpassed imagination Under the Dingley tariff labor has been fully employed, wages have risen, and all industries have revived and prospered.
We firmly established the gold standard which was then menaced with destruction. Confidence returned to business, and with confidence an unexampled prosperity.
For deficient revenues, supplemented by improvident issues of bonds, we gave the country an income which produced a large surplus and which enabled us only four years after the Spanish War had closed to remove over one hundred millions of annual war taxes, reduce the public debt, and lower the interest charges of the Government.
The public credit which had been so lowered that in time of peace a Democratic administration made large loans at extravagant rates of interest in order to pay current expenditures, rose under Republican administration to its highest point and enabled us to borrow at 2 per cent even in time of war.
We refuse to palter longer with the miseries of Cuba. We fought a quick and victorious war with Spain. We set Cuba free, governed the island for three years, and then gave it to the Cuban people with order restored, with ample revenues, with education and public health established, free from debt, and connected with the United States by wise provisions for our mutual interests.
We have organized the government of Porto Rico, and its people now enjoy peace, freedom, order, and prosperity.
In the Philippines we have suppressed insurrection, established order, and given to life and property a security never known there before. We have organized civil government, made it effective and strong in administration, and have conferred upon the people of those islands the largest civil liberty they have ever enjoyed.
By our possession of the Philippines we were enabled to take prompt and effective action in the relief of the legations at Peking and a decisive part in preventing the partition and preserving the integrity of China.
The possession of a route for an Isthmian canal, so long the dream of American statesmanship, is now an accomplished fact. The great work of connecting the Pacific and Atlantic by a canal is at last begun, and it is due to the Republican party.
We have passed laws which will bring the arid lands of the United States within the area of cultivation.
We have reorganized the army and put it in the highest state of efficiency.
We have passed laws for the improvement and support of the militia.
We have pushed forward the building of the navy, the defence and protection of our honor and our interests.
Our administration of the great departments of the Government has been honest and efficient, and wherever wrongdoing has been discovered, the Republican administration has not hesitated to probe the evil and bring offenders to justice without regard to party or political ties.
Laws enacted by the Republican party which the Democratic party failed to enforce and which were intended for the protection of the public against the united discrimination or the illegal encroachment of vast aggregations of capital, have been fearlessly enforced by a Republican President, and new laws insuring reasonable publicity as to the operations of great corporations, and providing additional remedies for the prevention of discrimination in freight rates, have been passed by a Republican Congress.
In this record of achievement during the past eight years may be read the pledges which the Republican party has fulfilled. We promise to continue these policies, and we declare our constant adherence to the following principles:
Protection, which guards and develops our industries, is a cardinal policy of the Republican party. The measure of protection should always at least equal the difference in the cost of production at home and abroad. We insist upon the maintenance of the principle of protection, and therefore rates of duty should be readjusted only when conditions have so changed that the public interest demands their alteration, but this work cannot safely be committed to any other hands than those of the Republican party. To intrust it to the Democratic party is to invite disaster. Whether, as in 1892, the Democratic party declares the protective tariff unconstitutional, or whether it demands tariff reform or tariff revision, its real object is always the destruction of the protective system. However specious the name, the purpose is ever the same. A Democratic tariff has always been followed by business adversity: a Republican tariff by business prosperity. To a Republican Congress and a Republican President this great question can be safely intrusted. When the only free trade country among the great nations agitates a return to protection, the chief protective country should not falter in maintaining it.
We have extended widely our foreign markets, and we believe in the adoption of all practicable methods for their further extension, including commercial reciprocity wherever reciprocal arrangements can be effected consistent with the principles of protection and without injury to American agriculture, American labor, or any American industry.
We believe it to be the duty of the Republican party to uphold the gold standard and the integrity and value of our national currency. The maintenance of the gold standard, established by the Republican party, cannot safely be committed to the Democratic party which resisted its adoption and has never given any proof since that time of belief in it or fidelity to it.
While every other industry has prospered under the fostering aid of Republican legislation, American shipping engaged in foreign trade in competition with the low cost of construction, low wages and heavy subsidies of foreign governments, has not for many years received from the Government of the United States adequate encouragement of any kind. We therefore favor legislation which will encourage and build up the American merchant marine, and we cordially approve the legislation of the last Congress which created the Merchant Marine Commission to investigate and report upon this subject.
A navy powerful enough to defend the United States against any attack, to uphold the Monroe Doctrine, and watch over our commerce, is essential to the safety and the welfare of the American people. To maintain such a navy is the fixed policy of the Republican party.
We cordially approve the attitude of President Roosevelt and Congress in regard to the exclusion of Chinese labor, and promise a continuance of the Republican policy in that direction.
The Civil Service Law was placed on the statute books by the Republican party, which has always sustained it, and we renew our former declarations that it shall be thoroughly and honestly enforced.
We are always mindful of the country's debt to the soldiers and sailors of the United States, and we believe in making ample provision for them, and in the liberal administration of the pension laws.
We favor the peaceful settlement of international differences by arbitration.
We commend the vigorous efforts made by the Administration to protect American citizens in foreign lands, and pledge ourselves to insist upon the just and equal protection of all of our citizens abroad. It is the unquestioned duty of the government to procure for all our citizens, without distinction, the rights of travel and sojourn in friendly countries, and we declare ourselves in favor of all proper efforts tending to that end.
Our great interests and our growing commerce in the Orient render the condition of China of high importance to the United States. We cordially commend the policy pursued in that direction by the administrations of President McKinley and President Roosevelt.
We favor such Congressional action as shall determine whether by special discrimination the elective franchise in any State has been unconstitutionally limited, and, if such is the case, we demand that representation in Congress and in the electoral college shall be proportionately reduced as directed by the Constitution of the United States.
Combinations of capital and of labor are the results of the economic movement of the age, but neither must be permitted to infringe upon the rights and interests of the people. Such combinations, when lawfully formed for lawful purposes, are alike entitled to the protection of the laws, but both are subject to the laws and neither can be permitted to break them.
The great statesman and patriotic American, William McKinley, who was re-elected by the Republican party to the Presidency four years ago, was assassinated just at the threshold of his second term. The entire nation mourned his untimely death and did that justice to his great qualities of mind and character which history will confirm and repeat.
The American people were fortunate in his successor, to whom they turned with a trust and confidence which have been fully justified. President Roosevelt brought to the great responsibilities thus sadly forced upon him a clear hand, a brave heart, and earnest patriotism, and high ideals of public duty and public service. True to the principles of the Republican party and to the policies which that party had declared, he has also shown himself ready for every emergency and has met new and vital questions with ability and with success.
The confidence of the people in his justice, inspired by his public career, enabled him to render personally an inestimable service to the country by bringing about a settlement of the coal strike, which threatened such disastrous results at the opening of Winter in 1902.
Our foreign policy under his administration has not only been able, vigorous, and dignified, but in the highest degree successful.
The complicated questions which arose in Venezuela were settled in such a way by President Roosevelt that the Monroe doctrine was signally vindicated, and the cause of peace and arbitration greatly advanced.
His prompt and vigorous action in Panama, which we commend in the highest terms, not only secured to us the canal route, but avoided foreign complications which might have been of a very serious character.
He has continued the policy of President McKinley in the Orient, and our position in China, signalized by our recent commercial treaty with that empire, has never been so high.
He secured the tribunal by which the vexed and perilous question of the Alaskan boundary was finally settled.
Whenever crimes against humanity have been perpetrated which have shocked our people, his protest has been made, and our good offices have been tendered, but always with due regard to international obligations.
Under his guidance we find ourselves at peace with all the world, and never were we more respected or our wishes more regarded by foreign nations.
Pre-eminently successful in regard to our foreign relations, he has been equally fortunate in dealing with domestic questions. The country has known that the public credit and the national currency were absolutely safe in the hands of his administration. In the enforcement of the laws he has shown not only courage, but the wisdom which understands that to permit laws to be violated or disregarded opens the door to anarchy, while the just enforcement of the law is the soundest conservatism. He has held firmly to the fundamental American doctrine that all men must obey the law; that there must be no distinction between rich and poor, between strong and weak, but that justice and equal protection under the law must be secured to every citizen without regard to race, creed, or condition.
His administration has been throughout vigorous and honorable, high minded and patriotic. We commend it without reservation to the considerate judgment of the American people.