|The American Presidency Project|
|• Warren G. Harding|
|Address Accepting the Republican Presidential Nomination|
|June 12, 1920|
|Chairman Lodge, Members of the Notification Committee, Members of the National Committee, Ladies and Gentlemen:
The message which you have formally conveyed brings to me a realization of responsibility which is not underestimated. It is a supreme task to interpret the covenant of a great political party, the activities of which are so woven into the history of this Republic, and a very sacred and solemn undertaking to utter the faith and aspirations of the many millions who adhere to that party. The party platform has charted the way, yet, somehow, we have come to expect that interpretation which voices the faith of nominees who must assume specific tasks.
Let me be understood clearly from the very beginning: I believe in party sponsorship in government. I believe in party government as distinguished from personal government, individual, dictatorial, autocratic or what not. In a citizenship of more than a hundred millions it is impossible to reach agreement upon all questions. Parties are formed by those who reach a consensus of opinion. It was the intent of the founding fathers to give to this Republic a dependable and enduring popular government, representative in form, and it was designed to make political parties, not only the preserving sponsors, but the effective agencies through which hopes and aspirations and convictions and conscience may be translated into public performance.
Popular government has been an inspiration of liberty since the dawn of civilizations. Republics have risen and fallen, and a transition from party to personal government has preceded every failure since the world began. Under the Constitution we have the charted way to security and perpetuity. We know it gave to us the safe path to a developing eminence which no people in the world ever rivalled. It has guaranteed the rule of intelligent, deliberate public opinion expressed through parties. Under this plan, a masterful leadership becomingly may manifest its influence, but a people's will still remains the supreme authority.
The American achievement under the plan of the fathers is nowhere disputed. On the contrary, the American example has been the model of every republic which glorifies the progress of liberty, and is everywhere the leaven of representative democracy which has expanded human freedom. It has been wrought through party government.
No man is big enough to run this great Republic. There never has been one. Such domination was never intended. Tranquillity, stability, dependability—all are assured in party sponsorship. and we mean to renew the assurances which were rended in the cataclysmal war.
It was not surprising that we went far afield from safe and prescribed paths amid the war anxieties. There was the unfortunate tendency before; there was the surrender of Congress to the growing assumption of the executive before the world-war imperilled all the practices we had learned to believe in; and in the war emergency every safeguard was swept away. In the name of democracy we established autocracy. We are not complaining at this extraordinary bestowal or assumption in war, it seemed temporarily necessary; our alarm is over the failure to restore the constitutional methods when the war emergency ended.
Our first committal is the restoration of representative popular government, under the Constitution, through the agency of the Republican Party. Our vision includes more than a Chief Executive; we believe in a Cabinet of highest capacity, equal to the responsibilities which our system contemplates, in whose councils the Vice President, second official of the Republic, shall be asked to participate. The same vision includes a cordial understanding and coordinated activities with a House of Congress, fresh from the people, voicing the convictions which members bring from direct contact with the electorate, and cordial co-operation along with the restored functions of the Senate, fit to be the greatest deliberative body of the world. Its members are the designated sentinels on the towers of constitutional Government. The resumption of the Senate's authority saved to this Republic its independent nationality, when autocracy misinterpreted the dream of a world experiment to be the vision of a world ideal.
It is not difficult, Chairman Lodge, to make ourselves clear on the question of international relationship. We Republicans of the Senate, conscious of our solemn oaths and mindful of our constitutional obligations, when we saw the structure of a world super-government taking visionary form, joined in a becoming warning of our devotion to this Republic. If the torch of constitutionalism had not been dimmed, the delayed peace of the world and the tragedy of disappointment and Europe's misunderstanding of America easily might have been avoided. The Republicans of the Senate halted the barter of independent American eminence and influence, which it was proposed to exchange for an obscure and unequal place in the merged government of the world. Our Party means to hold the heritage of American nationality unimpaired and unsurrendered.
The world will not misconstrue. We do not mean to hold aloof. We do not mean to shun a single responsibility of this Republic to world civilization. There is no hate in the American heart. We have no envy, no suspicion, no aversion for any people in the world. We hold to our rights, and mean to defend, aye, we mean to sustain the rights of this nation and our citizens alike, everywhere under the shining sun. Yet there is the concord of amity and sympathy and fraternity in every resolution. There is a genuine aspiration in every American breast for a tranquil friendship with all the world.
More we believe the unspeakable sorrows, the immeasurable sacrifices, the awakened convictions and the aspiring conscience of human kind must commit the nations of the earth to a new and better relationship. It need not be discussed now what motives plunged the world into war; it need not be inquired whether we asked the sons of this Republic to defend our national rights, as I believe we did, or to purge the old world of the accumulated ills of rivalry and greed, the sacrifices will be in vain if we cannot acclaim a new order, with added security to civilization and peace maintained.
One may readily sense the conscience of our America. I am sure I understand the purpose of the dominant group of the Senate. We were not seeking to defeat a world aspiration, we were resolved to safeguard America. We were resolved then, even as we are today, and will be tomorrow, to preserve this free and independent Republic. Let those now responsible, or seeking responsibility, propose the surrender, whether with interpretations, apologies or reluctant reservations— from which our rights are to be omitted—we welcome the referendum to the American people on the preservation of America, and the Republican Party pledges its defense of the preserved inheritance of national freedom.
In the call of the conscience of America is peace, peace that closes the gaping wound of world war, and silences the impassioned voices of international envy and distrust. Heeding this call and knowing as I do the disposition of Congress, I promise you formal and effective peace so quickly as a Republican Congress can pass its declaration for a Republican executive to sign. Then we may turn to our readjustment at home and proceed deliberately and reflectively to that hoped-for world relationship which shall satisfy both conscience and aspirations and still hold us free from menacing involvement.
I can hear in the call of conscience an insistent voice for the largely reduced armaments throughout the world, with attending reduction of burdens upon peace-loving humanity. We wish to give of American influence and example; we must give of American leadership to that invaluable accomplishment.
I can speak unreservedly of the American aspirations and the Republican committal for an association of nations, co-operating in sublime accord, to attain and preserve peace through justice rather than force, determined to add to security through international law, so clarified that no misconstruction can be possible without affronting world honor.
This Republic can never be unmindful of its power, and must never forget the force of its example. Possessor of might that admits no fear, America must stand foremost for the right. If the mistaken voice of America, spoken in unheeding haste, led Europe, in the hour of deepest anxiety, into a military alliance which menaces peace and threatens all freedom, instead of adding to their security, then we must speak the truth for America and express our hope for the fraternized conscience of nations.
It will avail nothing to discuss in detail the League Covenant, which was conceived for world super-government, negotiated in misunderstanding, and intolerantly urged and demanded by its administration sponsors, who resisted every effort to safeguard America, and who finally rejected it when such safeguards were inserted. If the supreme blunder has left European relationships inextricably interwoven in the League compact, our sympathy for Europe only magnifies our own good fortune in resisting involvement. It is better to be the free and disinterested agent of international justice and advancing civilization, with the covenant of conscience, than be shackled by a written compact which surrenders our freedom of action and gives a military alliance the right to proclaim America's duty to the world.
No surrender of rights to a world council or its military alliance, no assumed mandatory, however appealing, ever shall summon the sons of this Republic to war. Their supreme sacrifice shall only be asked for America and its call of honor. There is a sanctity in that right we will not delegate.
When the compact was being written, I do not know whether Europe asked or ambition insistently bestowed. It was so good to rejoice in the world's confidence in our unselfishness that I can believe our evident disinterestedness inspired Europe's wish for our association, quite as much as the selfish thought of enlisting American power and resources. Ours is an outstanding, influential example to the world, whether we cloak it in spoken modesty or magnify it in exaltation. We want to help; we mean to help; but we hold to our own interpretation of the American conscience as the very soul of our nationality.
Disposed as we are, the way is very simple. Let the failure attending assumption, obstinacy, impracticability and delay be recognized, and let us find the big, practical, unselfish way to do our part, neither covetous because of ambition nor hesitant through fear, but ready to serve ourselves, humanity and God. With a Senate advising as the Constitution contemplates, I would hopefully approach the nations of Europe and of the earth, proposing that understanding which makes us a willing participant in the consecration of nations to a new relationship, to commit the moral forces of the world, America included, to peace and international justice, still leaving America free, independent and self-reliant but offering friendship to all the world.
If men call for more specific details, I remind them that moral committals are broad and all-inclusive, and we are contemplating peoples in the concord of humanity's advancement. From our own viewpoint the program is specifically American, and we mean to be American first, to all the world.
Appraising preserved nationality as the first essential to the continued progress of the Republic, there is linked with it the supreme necessity of the restoration—let us say the revealment—of the Constitution, and our reconstruction as an industrial nation. Here is the transcending task. It concerns our common weal at home and will decide our future eminence in the world. More than these, this Republic, under constitutional liberties, has given to mankind the most fortunate conditions for human activity and attainment the world has ever noted, and we are today the world's reserve force in the great contest for liberty through security, and maintained equality of opportunity and its righteous rewards.
It is folly to close our eyes to outstanding facts. Humanity is restive, much of the world is in revolution, the agents of discord and destruction have wrought their tragedy in pathetic Russia, have lighted their torches among other peoples, and hope to see America as a part of the great Red conflagration. Ours is the temple of liberty under the law, and it is ours to call the Sons of Opportunity to its defense. America must not only save herself, but ours must be the appealing voice to sober the world.
More than all else the present-day world needs understanding. There can be no peace save through composed differences, and the submission of the individual to the will and weal of the many. Any other plan means anarchy and its rule of force.
It must be understood that toil alone makes for accomplishment and advancement, and righteous possession is the reward of toil, and its incentive. There is no progress except in the stimulus of competition.
When competition—natural, fair, impelling competition—is suppressed, whether by law, compact or conspiracy, we halt the march of progress, silence the voice of inspiration, and paralyze the will for achievement. These are but common sense truths of human development.
The chief trouble today is that the world war wrought the destruction of healthful competition, left our storehouses empty, and there is a minimum production when our need is maximum. Maximums, not minimums, is the call of America. It isn't a new story, because war never fails to leave depleted storehouses and always impairs the efficiency of production. War also establishes its higher standards for wages, and they abide. I wish the higher wage to abide, on one explicit condition—that the wage-earner will give full return for the wage received. It is the best assurance we can have for a reduced cost of living. Mark you, I am ready to acclaim the highest standard of pay, but I would be blind to the responsibilities that mark this fateful hour if I did not caution the wage-earners of America that mounting wages and decreased production can lead only to industrial and economic ruin.
I want, somehow, to appeal to the sons and daughters of the Republic, to every producer, to join hand and brain in production, more production, honest production, patriotic production, because patriotic production is no less a defense of our best civilization than that of armed force. Profiteering is a crime of commission, underproduction is a crime of omission. We must work our most and best, else the destructive reaction will come. We must stabilize and strive for normalcy, else the inevitable reaction will bring its train of sufferings, disappointments and reversals. We want to forestall such reaction, we want to hold all advanced ground, and fortify it with general good-fortune.
Let us return for a moment to the necessity for understanding, particularly that understanding which concerns ourselves at home. I decline to recognize any conflict of interest among the participants in industry. The destruction of one is the ruin of the other, the suspicion or rebellion of one unavoidably involves the other. In conflict is disaster, in understanding there is triumph. There is no issue relating to the foundation on which industry is builded, because industry is bigger than any element in its modern making. But the insistent call is for labor, management and capital to reach understanding.
The human element comes first, and I want the employers in industry to understand the aspirations, the convictions, the yearnings of the millions of American wage-earners, and I want the wage earners to understand the problems, the anxieties, the obligations of management and capital, and all of them must understand their relationship to the people and their obligation to the Republic. Out of this understanding will come the unanimous committal to economic justice, and in economic justice lies that social justice which is the highest essential to human happiness.
I am speaking as one who has counted the contents of the pay envelope from the viewpoint of the earner as well as the employer. No one pretends to deny the inequalities which are manifest in modern industrial life. They are less, in fact, than they were before organization and grouping on either side revealed the inequalities, and conscience has wrought more justice than statutes have compelled, but the ferment of the world rivets our thoughts on the necessity of progressive solution, else our generation will suffer the experiment which means chaos for our day to re-establish God's plan for the great tomorrow.
Speaking our sympathies, uttering the conscience of all the people, mindful of our right to dwell amid the good fortunes of rational, conscience-impelled advancement, we hold the majesty of righteous government, with liberty under the law, to be our avoidance of chaos, and we call upon every citizen of the Republic to hold fast to that which made us what we are, and we will have orderly government safeguard the onward march to all we ought to be.
The menacing tendency of the present day is not chargeable wholly to the unsettled and fevered conditions caused by the war. The manifest weakness in popular government lies in the temptation to appeal to grouped citizenship for political advantage. There is no greater peril. The Constitution contemplates no class and recognizes no group. It broadly includes all the people, with specific recognition for none, and the highest consecration we can make today is a committal of the Republican Party to that saving constitutionalism which contemplates all America as one people, and holds just government free from influence on the one hand and unmoved by intimidation on the other.
It would be the blindness of folly to ignore the activities in our own country which are aimed to destroy our economic system, and to commit us to the colossal tragedy which has both destroyed all freedom and made Russia impotent. This movement is not to be halted in throttled liberties. We must not abridge the freedom of speech, the freedom of press, or the freedom of assembly, because there is no promise in repression. These liberties are as sacred as the freedom of religious belief, as inviolable as the rights of life and the pursuit of happiness. We do hold to the right to crush sedition, to stifle a menacing contempt for law, to stamp out a peril to the safety of the Republic or its people, when emergency calls, because security and the majesty of the law are the first essentials of liberty. He who threatens destruction of the Government by force or flaunts his contempt for lawful authority, ceases to be a loyal citizen and forfeits his rights to the freedom of the Republic.
Let it be said to all of America that our plan of popular government contemplates such orderly changes as the crystallized intelligence of the majority of our people think best. There can be no modification of this underlying rule, but no majority shall abridge the rights of a minority. Men have a right to question our system in fullest freedom, but they must always remember that the rights of freedom impose the obligations which maintain it. Our policy is not of repression, but we make appeal today to American intelligence and patriotism, when the Republic is menaced from within, just as we trusted American patriotism when our rights were threatened from without.
We call on all America for steadiness, so that we may proceed deliberately to the readjustment which concerns all the people. Our party platform fairly expresses the conscience of Republicans on industrial relations. No party is indifferent to the welfare of the wage-earner. To us his good fortune is of deepest concern, and we seek to make that good fortune permanent. We do not oppose but approve collective bargaining, because that is an outstanding right, but we are unalterably insistent that its exercise must not destroy the equally sacred right of the individual, in his necessary pursuit of livelihood. Any American has the right to quit his employment, so has every American the right to seek employment. The group must not endanger the individual, and we must discourage groups preying upon one another, and none shall be allowed to forget that government's obligations are alike to all the people.
I hope we may do more than merely discourage the losses and sufferings attending industrial conflict. The strike against the Government is properly denied, for Government service involves none of the elements of profit which relate to competitive enterprise. There is progress in the establishment of official revealment of issues and conditions which lead to conflict, so that unerring public sentiment may speed the adjustment, but I hope for that concord of purpose, not forced but inspired by the common weal, which will give a regulated public service the fullest guaranty of continuity.
I am thinking of the railroads. In modern life they are the very base of all our activities and interchanges. For public protection we have enacted laws providing for a regulation of the charge for service, a limitation on the capital invested and a limitation on capital's earnings. There remains only competition of service, on which to base our hopes for an efficiency and expansion which meet our modern requirements. The railway workmen ought to be the best paid and know the best working conditions in the world. Theirs is an exceptional responsibility. They are not only essential to the life and health and all productive activities of the people, but they are directly responsible for the safety of traveling millions. The government which has assumed so much authority for the public good might well stamp railway employment with the sanctity of public service and guarantee to the railway employees that justice which voices the American conception of righteousness on the one hand, and assures continuity of service on the other.
The importance of the railway rehabilitation is so obvious that reference seems uncalled for. We are so confident that much of the present-day insufficiency and inefficiency of transportation are due to the withering hand of government operation that we emphasize anew our opposition to government ownership; we want to expedite the reparation, and make sure the mistake is not repeated.
It is little use to recite the story of development, exploitation, government experiment and its neglect, government operation and its failures. The inadequacy of trackage and terminal facilities, the insufficiency of equipment and the inefficiency of operation—all bear the blighting stamp of governmental incapacity during Federal operation. The work of rehabilitation under the restoration of private ownership deserves our best encouragement. Billions are needed in new equipment, not alone to meet the growing demand for service, but to restore the extraordinary depreciation due to the strained service of war. With restricted earnings, and with speculative profits removed, railway activities have come to the realm of conservative and constructive service, and the government which impaired must play its part in restoration. Manifestly the returns must be so gauged that necessary capital may so be enlisted, and we must foster as well as restrain.
We have no more pressing problem. A state of inadequate transportation facilities, mainly chargeable to the failure of governmental experiment, is losing millions to agriculture, it is hindering industry, it is menacing the American people with a fuel shortage little less than a peril. It emphasizes the present-day problem, and suggests that spirit of encouragement and assistance which commits all America to relieve such an emergency.
The one compensation amid attending anxieties is our new and needed realization of the vital part transportation plays in the complexities of modern life. We are not to think of rails alone, but highways from farm to market, from railway to farm, arteries of life-blood to present-day life, the quickened ways to communication and exchange, the answer of our people to the motor age. We believe in generous federal cooperation in construction, linked with assurances of maintenance that will put an end to criminal waste of public funds on the one hand and give a guaranty of upkept highways on the other.
Water transportation is inseparably linked with adequacy of facilities, and we favor American eminence on the seas, the practical development of inland waterways, the upbuilding and co-ordination of all to make them equal to and ready for every call of developing and widening American commerce. I like that recommittal to thoughts of America first which pledges the Panama Canal, and American creation, to the free use of American shipping. It will add to the American reawakening.
One cannot speak of industry and commerce, and the transportation on which they are dependent, without an earnest thought of the abnormal cost of living and the problems in its wake. It is easy to inveigh, but that avails nothing. And it is far too serious to dismiss with flaming but futile promises.
Eight years ago, in times of peace, the Democratic Party made it an issue, and when clothed with power that party came near to its accomplishment by destroying the people's capacity to buy. But that was a cure worse than the ailment. It is easy to understand the real causes, after which the patient must help to effect his own cure.
Gross expansion of currency and credit have depreciated the dollar just as expansion and inflation have discredited the coins of the world. We inflated in haste, we must deflate in deliberation. We debased the dollar in reckless finance, we must restore in honesty. Deflation on the one hand and restoration of the 100-cent dollar on the other ought to have begun on the day after the armistice, but plans were lacking or courage failed. The unpreparedness for peace was little less costly than unpreparedness for war.
We can promise no one remedy which will cure an ill of such wide proportions, but we do pledge that earnest and consistent attack which the party platform covenants. We will attempt intelligent and courageous deflation, and strike at government borrowing which enlarges the evil, and we will attack high cost of government with every energy and facility which attend Republican capacity. We promise that relief which will attend the halting of waste and extravagance, and the renewal of the practice of public economy, not alone because it will relieve tax burdens, but because it will be an example to stimulate thrift and economy in private life.
I have already alluded to the necessity for the fullness of production, and we need the fullness of service which attends the exchange of products. Let us speak the irrefutable truth—high wages and reduced cost of living are in utter contradiction unless we have the height of efficiency for wages received.
In all sincerity we promise the prevention of unreasonable profits, we challenge profiteering with all the moral force and the legal powers of government and people, but it is fair, aye, it is timely, to give reminder that law is not the sole corrective of our economic ills.
Let us call to all the people for thrift and economy, for denial and sacrifice, if need be, for a nation-wide drive against extravagance and luxury, to a recommittal to simplicity of living, to that prudent and normal plan of life which is the health of the Republic. There hasn't been a recovery from the waste and abnormalities of war since the story of mankind was first written, except through work and saving, through industry and denial, while needless spending and heedless extravagance have marked every decay in the history of nations. Give the assurance of that rugged simplicity of American life which marked the first century of amazing development, and this generation may underwrite a second century of surpassing accomplishment.
The Republican Party was founded by farmers, with the sensitive conscience born of their freedom and their simple lives. These founders sprang from the farms of the then Middle West. Our party has never failed in its realization that agriculture is essentially the foundation of our very existence, and it has ever been our policy purpose and performance, to protect and promote that essential industry.
New conditions, which attend amazing growth and extraordinary industrial development, call for a new and forward-looking program. The American farmer had a hundred and twenty millions to feed in the home market, and heard the cry of the world for food and answered it, though he faced an appalling task, amid handicaps never encountered before.
In the rise of price levels there have come increased appraisal, to his acres without adding to their value in fact, but which do add to his taxes and expenses without enhancing his returns. His helpers have yielded to the lure of shop and city, until, almost alone, he has met and borne the burden of the only insistent attempts to force down prices. It challenges both the wisdom and the justice of artificial drives on prices to recall that they were effective almost solely against his products in the hands of the producer, and never effective against the same products in passing to the consumer. Contemplating the defenselessness of the individual farmer to meet the organized buyers of his products, and the distributors of the things the farmer buys I hold that farmers should not only be permitted but encouraged to join in co-operative association to reap the just measure of reward merited by their arduous toil. Let us facilitate cooperation to insure against the risks attending agriculture, which the urban world so little understands, and a like co-operation to market their products as directly as possible with the consumer, in the interests of all. Upon such association and co-operation should be laid only such restrictions as will prevent arbitrary control of our food supply and the fixing of extortionate price upon it.
Our platform is an earnest pledge of renewed concern for this most essential and elemental industry, and in both appreciation and interest we pledge effective expression in law and practice. We will hail that co-operation which again will make profitable and desirable the ownership and operation of comparatively small farms intensively cultivated, and which will facilitate the caring for the products of farm and orchard without the lamentable waste under present conditions.
America would look with anxiety on the discouragement of farming activity, either through the Government's neglect or its paralysis by socialistic practices. A Republican administration will be committed to renewed regard for agriculture, and seek the participation of farmers in curing the ills justly complained of, and aim to place the American farm where it ought to be—highly ranked in American activities and fully sharing the highest good fortunes of American life.
Becomingly associated with this subject are the policies of irrigation and reclamation, so essential to agricultural expansion, and the continued development of the great and wonderful West. It is our purpose to continue and enlarge Federal aid, not in sectional partiality, but for the good of all America. We hold to that harmony of relationship between conservation and development which fittingly appraises our natural resources and makes them available to developing America of today, and still holds to the conserving thought for the America of tomorrow.
The Federal Government's relation to reclamation and development is too important to admit of ample discussion today. Alaska, alone, is rich in resources beyond all imagination, and needs only closer linking, through the lines of transportation, and a government policy that both safeguards and encourages development, to speed it to a foremost position as a commonwealth, rugged in citizenship and rich in materialized resources.
These things I can only mention. Within becoming limits one cannot say more. Indeed, for the present, many questions of vast importance must be hastily passed, reserving a fuller discussion to suitable occasion as the campaign advances.
I believe the budget system will effect a necessary, helpful reformation, and reveal business methods to government business.
I believe Federal department should be made more business-like and send back to productive effort thousands of Federal employees, who are either duplicating work or not essential at all.
I believe in the protective tariff policy and know we will be calling for its saving Americanism again.
I believe in a great merchant marine—I would have this Republic the leading maritime nation of the world.
I believe in a navy ample to protect it, and able to assure us dependable defense.
I believe in a small army, but best in the world, with a mindfulness for preparedness which will avoid the unutterable cost of our previous neglect.
I believe in our eminence in trade abroad, which the Government should aid in expanding, both in revealing markets and speeding cargoes.
I believe in established standards for immigration, which are concerned with the future citizenship of the republic, not with mere manpower in industry.
I believe that every man who dons the garb of American citizenship and walks in the light of American opportunity, must become American in heart and soul.
I believe in holding fast to every forward step in unshackling child-labor and elevating conditions of woman's employment.
I believe the Federal Government should stamp out lynching and remove that stain from the fair name of America.
I believe the Federal Government should give its effective aid in solving the problem of ample and becoming housing of its citizenship.
I believe this Government should make its Liberty and Victory bonds worth all that its patriotic citizens paid in purchasing them.
I believe the tax burdens imposed for the war emergency must be revised to the needs of peace, and in the interest of equity in distribution of the burden.
I believe the Negro citizens of America should be guaranteed the enjoyment of all their rights, that they have earned the full measure of citizenship bestowed, that their sacrifices in blood on the battlefields of the Republic have entitled them to all of freedom and opportunity, all of sympathy and aid that the American spirit of fairness and justice demands.
I believe there is an easy and open path to righteous relationship with Mexico. It has seemed to me that our undeveloped, uncertain and infirm policy has made us a culpable party to the governmental misfortunes in that land. Our relations ought to be both friendly and sympathetic; we would like to acclaim a stable government there, and offer a neighborly hand in pointing the way to greater progress. It will be simple to have a plain and neighborly understanding, merely an understanding about respecting our borders, about protecting the lives and possessions of Americans citizens lawfully within the Mexican dominions. There must be that understanding, else there can be no recognition, and then the understanding must be faithfully kept.
Many of these declarations deserve a fuller expression, with some suggestions of plans to emphasize the faith. Such expression will follow in due time, I promise you.
I believe in law-enforcement. If elected I mean to be a constitutional President, and it is impossible to ignore the Constitution, unthinkable to evade the law, when our every committal is to orderly government. People ever will differ about the wisdom of the enactment of a law—there is divided opinion respecting the Eighteenth Amendment and the laws enacted to make it operative—but there can be no difference of opinion about honest law-enforcement.
Neither government nor party can afford to cheat the American people. The laws of Congress must harmonize with the Constitution, else they soon are adjudged to be void; Congress enacts the laws, and the executive branch of the Government is charged with enforcement. We cannot nullify because of divided opinion, we cannot jeopardize orderly government with contempt for law-enforcement. Modification or repeal is the right of a free people whenever the deliberate and intelligent public sentiment commands, but perversion and evasion mark the paths to the failure of government itself.
Though not in any partisan sense, I must speak of the services of the men and women who rallied to the colors of the Republic in the World War. America realizes and appreciates the services rendered, the sacrifices made and the sufferings endured. There shall be no distinction between those who knew the perils and glories of the battle-front or the dangers of the sea, and those who were compelled to serve behind the lines, or those who constituted the great reserve of a grand army which awaited the call in camps at home.
All were brave, all were sacrificing, all were sharers of those ideals which sent our boys thrice-armed to war. Worthy sons and daughters, these, fit successors to those who christened our banners in the immortal beginning, worthy sons of those who saved the Union and nationality when Civil War wiped the ambiguity from the Constitution, ready sons of those who drew the sword for humanity's sake the first time in the world, in 1898.
The four million defenders on land and sea were worthy of the best traditions of a people never warlike in peace and never pacifist in war. They commanded our pride, they have our gratitude, which must have genuine expression. It is not only a duty, it is a privilege, to see that the sacrifices made shall be requited, and that those still suffering from casualties and disabilities shall be abundantly aided, and restored to the highest capabilities of citizenship and its enjoyment.
The womanhood of America, always its glory, its inspiration, and the potent uplifting force in its social and spiritual development, is about to be enfranchised. Insofar as Congress can go, the fact is already accomplished. By party edict, by my recorded vote, by personal conviction, I am committed to this measure of justice. It is my earnest hope, my sincere desire that the one needed State vote be quickly recorded in the affirmation of the right of equal suffrage and that the vote of every citizen shall be cast and counted in the approaching election.
Let us not share the apprehensions of many men and women as to the danger of this momentous extension of the franchise. Women have never been without influence in our political life. Enfranchisement will bring to the polls the votes of citizens who have been born upon our soil, or who have sought in faith and assurance the freedom and opportunities of our land. It will bring the women educated in our schools, trained in our customs and habits of thought, and sharers of our problems. It will bring the alert mind, the awakened conscience, the sure intuition, the abhorrence of tyranny or oppression, the wide and tender sympathy that distinguish the women of America. Surely there can be no danger there.
And to the great number of noble women who have opposed in conviction this tremendous change in the ancient relation of the sexes as applied to government, I venture to plead that they will accept the full responsibility of enlarged citizenship, and give to the best in the Republic their suffrage and support.
Much has been said of late about world ideals, but I prefer to think of the ideal for America. I like to think there is something more than the patriotism and practical wisdom of the founding fathers. It is good to believe that maybe destiny held this New World Republic to be the supreme example of representative democracy and orderly liberty by which humanity is inspired to higher achievement. It is idle to think we have attained perfection, but there is the satisfying knowledge that we hold orderly processes for making our government reflect the heart and mind of the Republic. Ours is not only a fortunate people but a very common-sensical people, with vision high, but their feet on the earth, with belief in themselves and faith in God. Whether enemies threaten from without or menaces arise from within, there is some indefinable voice saying, "Have confidence in the Republic! America will go on!"
Here is a temple of liberty no storms may shake, here are the altars of freedom no passions shall destroy. It was American in conception, American in its building, it shall be American in the fulfillment. Sectional once, we are all American now, and we mean to be all Americans to all the world.
Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, my countrymen all: I would not be my natural self if I did not utter my consciousness of my limited ability to meet your full expectations, or to realize the aspirations within my own breast, but I will gladly give all that is in me, all of heart, soul and mind and abiding love of country, to service in our common cause. I can only pray to the Omnipotent God that I may be as worthy in service as I know myself to be faithful in thought and purpose. One can not give more.
Mindful of the vast responsibilities, I must be frankly humble, but I have that confidence in the consideration and support of all true Americans which makes me wholly unafraid. With an unalterable faith and in a hopeful spirit, with a hymn of service in my heart, I pledge fidelity to our country and to God, and accept the nominations of the Republican Party for the Presidency of the United States.
|Citation: Warren G. Harding: "Address Accepting the Republican Presidential Nomination", June 12, 1920. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=76198.|
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