Address Accepting the Democratic Presidential Nomination in Dayton, Ohio
Chairman Robinson, and members of the Notification Committee:
The message which you bring from the great conference of progressive thought assembled under the formal auspices of the Democratic Party inspires within me a pride and an appreciation which I cannot voice. At the same time I am mindful of the responsibility which this function now officially places upon me. As I measure my own limitations the task ahead of us should be approached with more than a feeling of diffidence if I were not strengthened arid reassured by the faith that one has only to practice true fidelity to conscience.
It is not the difficult thing to know what we ought to do; the sense of right and wrong has been given with Divine equality. The mistakes of history are the result of weakness in the face of tempting interests. I thank God, there fore, that I take up the standard of Democracy a free man, unfettered by promises and happy in the consciousness of untrammeled opportunity to render a service in the name of government that will hold for it the confidence which it deserves.
We are in a time which calls for straight thinking, straight talking and straight acting. This is no time for wabbling. Never in all our history has more been done for Government. Never was sacrifice more sublime. The most precious things of heart and home were given up in a spirit which guarantees the perpetuity of our institutions—if the faith is kept with those who served and suffered. The altar of our Republic is drenched in blood and tears, and he who turns away from the tragedies and obligations of the war, not consecrated to a sense of honor and of duty which resists every base suggestion of personal or political expediency, is unworthy of the esteem of his countrymen.
The men and women who by expressed policy at the San Francisco Convention charted our course in the open seas of the future sensed the spirit of the hour and phrased it with clarity and courage. It is not necessary, to read and reread the Democratic platform to know its meaning. It is a document clear in its analysis of conditions and plain in the pledge of service made to the public. It carries honesty of word and intent.
Proud of the leadership and achievement of the party in war, Democracy faces unafraid the problems of peace. Indeed, its pronouncement has but to be read along with the platform framed by Republican leaders in order that both spirit and purpose as they dominate the opposing organizations may be contrasted. On the one hand we see pride expressed in the nation's glory and a promise of service easily understood. On the other a captious, unhappy spirit and the treatment of subjects vital to the present and the future, in terms that have completely confused the public mind.
It was clear that the Senatorial oligarchy had been given its own way in the selection of the Presidential candidate, but it was surprising that it was able to fasten into the party platform the creed of hate and bitterness and the vacillating policy that possesses it.
In the midst of war the present Senatorial cabal, led by Senators Lodge, Penrose and Smoot, was formed. Superficial evidence of loyalty to the was deliberate in order that the great rank and file of their party, faithful and patriotic to the very core, might not be offended. But underneath this misleading exterior, conspirators planned and plotted with bigoted zeal.
With victory to our arms they delayed and obstructed. the works of peace. If deemed useful to the work in hand no artifice for interfering with our constitutional peacemaking authority was rejected.
Before the country knew, yea, before these men themselves knew the details of the composite plan formed at the peace table they declared their opposition to it. Before the treaty was submitted to the Senate in the manner the Constitution provides, they violated every custom and every consideration of decency by presenting a copy of the document, procured unblushingly from enemy hands, and passed it into the printed record of Senatorial proceedings.
From that hour dated the enterprise of throwing the whole subject into a technical discussion. In order that the nubile might be confused. The plan has never changed in its objective, but the method has.
At the outset there was the careful insistence that there was no desire to interfere with the principle evolved and formalized at Versailles. Later, it was the form and not the substance that professedly inspired attack. But pretense was futile when proposals later came forth that clearly emasculated the basic principle of the whole peace plan.
It is not necessary to recall the details of the controversy in the Senate. Senator Lodge finally crystallized his ideas "Into what were known as the Lodge reservations, and when Congress adjourned these reservations held the support of the so-called regular Republican leaders.
From that time the processes have been interesting. Political expediency in its truest sense dwarfed every consideration either of the public interest or Of the maintenance of the honor of a great political party. The exclusive question was how to avoid a rupture in the Republican organization.
The country received with interest, to say the least, the announcement from Chicago, where the national convention was assembled, that a platform plank, dealing with the subject of world peace, had been drawn, leaving out the Lodge reservations, and yet remaining agreeable to all interests, meaning there by the Lodge reservationists, the mild reservationists and the group of Republican Senators that openly opposed the League of Nations in any form.
As the platform made no definite committal of policy and was, in fact, so artfully phrased as to make almost any deduction possible, it passed through the convention with practical unanimity. Senator Johnson, however, whose position has been consistent and whose op position to the League in any shape is well known, withheld his support of the convention's choice until the candidate had stated the meaning of the platform and announced definitely the policy that would be his if elected.
The Republican candidate has spoken, and his utterance calls forth the following approval from Senator Johnson:
"Yesterday in his speech of acceptance Senator Harding unequivocally took his stand upon the paramount issue in this campaign—the League of Nations. The Republican Party stands committed by its platform. Its standard bearer has now accentuated that platform. There can be no misunderstanding his words."
Senator Harding, as the candidate of the party, arid Senator Johnson are as one on this question, and, as the latter expresses it, the Republican Party is committed both by platform in the abstract and by its candidate in specification. The threatened revolt among leaders of the party is averted, but the minority position as expressed in the Senate prevails as that of the party. In short, principle, as avowed in support of the Lodge reservations, or of the so-called mild reservations, has been surrendered to expediency.
Senator Harding makes this new pledge of policy in behalf of his party: "I promise you formal and effective peace so quickly as a Republican Congress can pass its declaration for a Republican Executive to sign."
This means but one thing—a separate peace with Germany.
This would be the most disheartening event in civilization since the Russians made their separate peace with Ger many, and infinitely more unworthy on our part than it was on that of the Russians. They were threatened with starvation and revolution had swept their country.
Our soldiers fought side by side with the Allies. So complete was the coalition of strength and purpose that General Foch was given supreme command, and every soldier in the allied cause no matter what flag he followed, recognized him as his chief. We fought the war together, and now before the thing is through it is proposed to enter into a separate peace with Germany.
In good faith we pledged our strength with our associates for the enforcement of terms upon offending powers, and now it is suggested that this be withdrawn.
The preservation of foodstuffs by cold storage is a boon to .humanity, and it should be encouraged. However, the time has come for it's vigilant regulation and inasmuch as it becomes a part of interstate commerce, the responsibility is with the Federal Government. Supplies are gathered in from the farm in times of plenty. They can easily be fed out to the consumer in such manner as to keep the demand in excess of that part of the supply which is released from storage. This is an unfair practice and should be stopped. Besides, there should be a time limit beyond which perishable foodstuffs should not be stored
Suppose Germany, recognizing the first break in the Allies, proposes some thing we cannot accept. Does Senator Harding intend to send an army to Germany to press .her to our terms? Certainly the allied army could not be expected to render aid. If, on the other hand, Germany should accept the chance we offered of breaking the bond it would be for the express purpose of insuring a German-American alliance, recognizing that the Allies—in fact, no nation in good standing—would have anything to do with either of us.
This plan would not only be a piece of bungling diplomacy, but plain, unadulterated dishonesty, as well.
No less an authority than Senator Lodge said, before the heat of recent controversy, that to make peace except in company with the Allies would "brand us everlastingly with dishonor and bring ruin to us."
And then after peace is made with Germany, Senator Harding would, he says, "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."
In short, America, refusing to enter the League of Nations (now already established by twenty-nine nations) and bearing and deserving the contempt of the world, would submit an entirely new project. This act would either be regarded as arrant madness or attempted international bossism.
The plain truth is, that the Republican leaders, obsessed with a determination to win the Presidential election, have attempted to satisfy too many divergent views. Inconsistencies, inevitable under the circumstances, rise to haunt them on every hand, and they find them selves arrayed in public thought at least, against a great principle. More than that, their conduct is opposed to the idealism upon which their party prospered in other days.
Illustrating these observations by concrete facts, let it be remembered that those now inveighing against an interest in affairs outside of America, criticised President Wilson in unmeasured terms for not resenting the invasion of Belgium in 1914.
They term the League of Nations a military alliance, which, except for their opposition, would envelop our country, when, as a matter of truth, the subject of a League of Nations has claimed the best thought of America for years, and the League to Enforce Peace was presided over by so distinguished a Re publican as Ex-President Taft, who, be fore audiences in every section advocated the principle and the, plan of the present league.
They charge experimentation, when we have as historical precedent the Monroe Doctrine, which is the very essence of Article X. of the Versailles covenant. Skeptics viewed Monroe's mandate with alarm, predicting recur ring wars in defense of Central and South American States, whose guardians they allege we need not be. And yet not a shot has been fired in almost one hundred years in preserving sovereign rights on this hemisphere.
They hypocritically claim that the League of Nations will result in our boys being drawn into military service, but they fail to realize that every high school youngster in the land knows that no treaty can override our Constitution, which reserves to Congress, and to Congress alone, the power to declare war.
They preach Americanism with a meaning of their own invention, and artfully appeal to a selfish and provincial spirit, forgetting that Lincoln fought a war over the purely moral question of slavery, and that McKinley broke the fetters of our boundary lines, spoke the freedom of Cuba, and carried the torch of American idealism to the benighted Philippines. They lose memory of Gar field's prophecy that America, under the blessings of God-given opportunity, would by her moral leadership and co operation become a Messiah among the nations of the earth.
These are fateful times. Organized government has a definite duty all over the world. The house of civilization is to be put in order. The supreme issue of the century is before us and the nation that halts arid delays is playing with fire. The finest impulses of humanity. rising above national lines, merely seek to make another horrible war impossible.
Under the old order of international anarchy war came overnight, and the world was on fire before we knew it. It sickens our senses to think of another. We saw one conflict into which modem science brought new forms of destruction in great guns, submarines, airships, and poison gases.
It is no secret that our chemists had perfected, when the contest came to a precipitate close, gases so deadly that whole cities could be wiped out, armies destroyed, and the crews of battleships smothered. The public prints are filled with the opinions of military men that in future wars the method, more effective than gases or bombs, will be the employment of the germs of diseases, carrying pestilence and destruction. Any nation prepared under these conditions, as Germany was equipped in 1914, could conquer the world in a year.
It is planned now to make this impossible. A definite plan has been agreed upon. The League of Nations is it operation. A very important work, under its control, just completed, was participated in by the Hon. Elihu Root, Secretary of State under the Roosevelt Administration. At a meeting of the Council of the League of Nations, Feb 11, an organizing committee of twelve of the most eminent jurists in the world was selected. The duty of this group was to devise a plan for the establishment of a Permanent Court of International Justice, as a branch of the League. This assignment has been concluded by unanimous action. This augurs well for world progress.
The question is whether we shall or shall not join in this practical and humane movement. President Wilson, as our representative at the peace table, entered the League in our name, in so far as the executive authority permit ted. Senator Harding, as the Republican candidate for the Presidency, pro poses in plain words that we remain out of it. As the Democratic candidate I favor going in.
Let us analyze Senator Harding's plan of making a German-American peace and then calling for a "new relation ship among nations," assuming for the purpose of argument only that the perfidious hand that dealt with Germany would possess the power or influence to draw twenty-nine nations away from a plan already at work and induce them to retrace every step and make a new be ginning. This would entail our appointing another commission to assemble with those selected by the other powers. With the Versailles instrument discarded, the whole subject of partitions and divisions of territory on new lines would be reopened. The difficulties in this regard, as any fair blind appreciates, would be greater than they were at the peace session and we must not attempt to convince ourselves that they did not try the genius, patience and diplomacy of states men at that time. History will say that great as was the allied triumph in war, no less a victory was achieved at the peace table.
The Republican proposal means dishonor, world confusion and delay. It would keep us in permanent company with Germany, Russia, Turkey and Mexico. It would entail, in the ultimate, more real injury than the war itself.
The Democratic position on the question, as expressed in the platform, is: "We advocate immediate ratification of the treaty without reservations which would impair its essential integrity, but do not oppose the acceptance of Any reservation making clearer or more specific the obligations of the United States to the League associates."
The first duty of the new administration clearly will be the ratification of the treaty. The matter should be approached without thought of the bitterness of the past. The public verdict will have been rendered, and I am confident that the friends of world peace as it will be promoted by the League, will have in numbers the constitutional requisite to favorable Senatorial action.
The captious may say that our platform reference to reservations is vague and indefinite. Its meaning, in brief, is that we shall state our interpretation b£ the covenant as a matter of good faith to our associates and as a precaution against any misunderstanding in the future.
The point is, that after the people shall have spoken, the League will be in the hands of its friends in the Senate, and a safe index as to what they will do is supplied by what reservations they have proposed in the past.
Some months ago, in a contributed article to THE NEW YORK TIMES, I expressed my own opinion of the situation as it then was. I reproduce it here:
There can be no doubt but that some Senators have been conscientious in their desire to clarify the provisions of the treaty. Two things apparently have disturbed them: First, they wanted to make sure that the League was not to be an alliance, and that its basic purpose was peace and not controversy. Second, they wanted the other powers signing the instrument to understand our constitutional limitations beyond which the treaty-making power cannot go. Dealing with these two questions in order, it has always seemed to me that, the interpretation of the function of the League might have been stated in these words:
"In giving its assent to this treaty the Senate has in mind the fact that the. League of Nations, which it em bodies, was devised for the sole purpose of maintaining peace and comity among the nations of the earth and preventing the recurrence of such destructive conflicts as that through which the world has just passed. The co-operation of the United States with the League and its continuance as a member thereof, will naturally depend upon the adherence of the League to that fundamental purpose."
Such a declaration would at least express the view of the United States and justify the course which our nation would unquestionably follow if the basic purpose of the League were at any time distorted. It would also appear to be a simpler matter to provide against any misunderstanding in the future and at the same time to meet the objections of those who believe that we might be inviting a controversy over our constitutional rights by making a Senatorial addition in words something like these:
"It will of course be understood that in carrying out the purpose of the League the Government of the United States must at all times act in strict harmony with the terms and intent of the United States Constitution, which cannot in any way be altered by the treaty-making power."
Unquestioned friends of the League have made other proposals. Our plat form clearly lays no bar against any additions that will be helpful, but it speaks in. a firm resolution to stand against anything that disturbs the vital principle.
We hear it said that interpretations are unnecessary. That may be true, but they will at least be reassuring to many of our citizens, who feel that in signing the treaty there should be no mental reservations that are not expressed in plain words, as a matter of good faith to our associates. Such interpretations possess the further virtue of supplying a base upon which agreement can be reached, and agreement, without injury to the covenant, is now of pressing importance.
It was the desire to get things started that prompted some members of the Senate to vote for the Lodge reservations. Those who conscientiously voted for them in the final roll calls realized, however, that they acted under duress, in that a politically bigoted minority was exercising the arbitrary power of its position to enforce drastic conditions.
Happily the voters of the Republic, under our system of government, can remedy that situation, and I have the faith that they win, at the election this Fall. Then organized government will be enabled to combine impulse and facility in the making of better world conditions. The agencies of exchange will automatically adjust themselves to the opportunities of commercial freedom. New life and renewed hope will take hold of every nation. Mankind will press a resolute shoulder to the task of readjustment, and a new era will have dawned upon the earth.
We have domestic problems to be settled. They are most pressing. Many conditions growing out of the war will not and should not continue. The work of readjustment will call for our best energy, ingenuity, unselfishness and devotion to the idea that it is the general welfare we must promote.
One of the first things to be done is the repeal of war taxes. The entry of America into the World War projected our people into 'an unparalleled financial emergency, which was faced with a de termination to make every sacrifice necessary to victory. Billions in Liberty loans subscribed by patriots regardless of their financial condition were instantly placed at the disposal of the Government, and other billions were gladly paid into the Treasury through many forms of taxation. To have paid by current taxes more than one-third of the expense of the greatest war in the history of mankind is a reflection on the high sense of national duty with which we of America view the obligations of this generation.
Immediately following the armistice, measures to modify onerous and annoying taxation should have been taken arid the Republican Congress in Which all tax laws must originate, and which for almost two years has exclusively held the power to ameliorate this condition, has not made a single effort or passed a single law to lift from the American people a load of war taxation that cannot be tolerated in a time of peace. Federal taxation must be heavily reduced, and it will be done at once, if a Democratic administration is chosen in November.
Without hampering essential national administrative departments, by the elimination of all others and strict economy, everywhere, national taxes can be reduced in excess of $2,000,000,000 yearly. Annoying consumption taxes, once willingly borne, now unjustified, should be repealed. The incomes from war-made fortunes, those of non-producers and those derived from industries that exist by unfair privilege,, may be able to carry their, present load, but taxes on the earnings of the wage earner, of the salaried and professional man, of the agricultural producer and of the small tradesman should be sharply modified.
I believe that a better form of taxation than the so-called excess profits tax may be found, and I suggest a small tax, probably 1 to 1½ per cent., on the total business of every going concern. It is to be understood that the term "business" as used does not include income received by wage earners, salaried men, agriculturists and the small business man, who should be exempt from this tax. The profiteer and some of the highly capitalized units have used the excess profits tax as a favorite excuse for loading on the consumer by means of highly inflated selling prices many times the amount actually paid the Government.
A necessary condition to. the national contentment arid sound business is a just proportion between fair profits to business and fair prices to the consumer. It is unquestioned that the enormous expansion of public and private credit made necessary as a part of war financing, the diversion of the products of many industries from their usual channels, as well as the disturbance to general business caused by the withdrawal of millions of men from producing fields, all contributed to the rise in prices. Re version of these various agencies to a more stable condition will tend toward a recession in the enormously inflated present prices of many commodities and property values and there are now evidences that a sane adjustment is not far distant.
Deep patriotic sentiment enthralled our people during the war and slight attention was given to the' enormous economic changes that were then in progress and when observed these changes were generally accepted as one of the trials necessary to be endured, and they were submerged in the thought and purpose /or victory.
While millions of free men, regardless of wealth or condition, were giving of their blood and substance, many corporations and men seized the very hour that civilization lay prostrate to secure for themselves fortunes wrung from the public and from the Government, by the levying of prices that in many cases were a crime. Under present taxation laws much capital is drawing out of industry and finding investment in non-taxable securities. This will cease if the changes suggested are made.
In the analysis of Government, as the events of today enable us to penetrate the subject, we see the difference be tween the old and the progressive kinds of thinking. The belief of the reactionaries is that Government should not function more widely than it did in the past, but they seem to forget that the fundamental of our plan is equal rights for all and special privileges for none.
Modern life has developed new problems. Civilization continues to build along the same basic lines and, altruistic as we may all be disposed to be, the fact remains that except for the exchange of products between individuals, commercial units and nations, our development would be slow. All of this growth goes on under the protection of and with the encouragement of Government. The least, therefore, that might be rendered unto Government for this continuous service is a policy of fair dealing.
Too often. the genius of man prompts him to play for governmental advantage, and the success which has been achieved in this particular has led to the formation of groups which seek this very advantage. We tire a busy people, preoccupied in too large degree with purely commercial considerations, and we have not recognized as we should that the failure of Government to prevent inequalities has made it possible for mischievous spirits to develop prejudice against the institutions of Government, rather than against administrative policy.
There is a very important difference here. This difference bears directly on profiteering, which is today the most sinister influence in American life. It is not a new thing in America. The tribe of profiteers has simply multiplied under the favoring circumstances of war. For years large contributions have been made to the Republican campaign fund for no purpose except to buy a governmental underhold and to make illegal profits as the result of preference. Such largesses are today a great menace to our contentment and our institutions than the countless temporary profiteers who are making a mockery of honest business, but who can live and fatten only in time of disturbed prices.
If I am called to service as President, means will be found, if they do not al ready exist, for compelling these exceptions to the great mass of square-dealing American business men to use the same yardstick of honesty that govern most of us in our dealings with our fellow-men or in language that they may understand, to suffer the penalty of criminal law.
There is another reason for the fabulous contributions to the present Republican campaign fund. Much money, of course, has been subscribed in proper partisan zeal, but the great bulk has been given with the definite idea of .gaining service in return.
Many captains of industry, guided by a most dangerous industrial philosophy, believe that in controversy between employer and employe their will should be enforced, even at the point of the bayonet. I speak knowingly. I have parsed through many serious industrial troubles. I know something of their psychology, the stages through which they pass, arid the dangerous attempts that are sometimes made to end them.
Disputes between labor and capital are inevitable. The disposition to gain the best bargain possible characterizes the whole field of exchange, whether it be product for product or labor for money. If strikes are prolonged public opinion always settles them. Public opinion should determine results in America. Public opinion is the most interesting characteristic of a democracy, and it is the real safety valve to the institutions of a free government. It may at times be necessary for the Government to inquire into the facts of a tieup, but facts, arid not conclusions, should be submitted.
The determining form of unprejudiced thought will do the rest. During this process, governmental agencies. must give a vigilant eye to the protection 6f life arid property, and maintain firmness but absolute impartiality. This is always the real test, but if official conduct combines courage and fairness our governmental institutions come out of these affairs untarnished by distrust.
This is not an academic observation. It is the mere recital of experience. Unrest has been reinforced in no small degree by the great mass of unassimilated aliens. Attracted by an unprecedented demand for labor, they have come to our shores by the thousands. As they have become acquainted with the customs and opportunities of American life thousands of them have become citizens, And are owners of their own homes. However, the work of assimilation too long was merely automatic. One million six hundred thousand foreign-born in this country cannot read or write our language. Our interest in them in the main has been simply as laborers, assembled in the great trade centres, to meet the demand of the hour. Without home or community ties, many have been more of less nomadic, creating the problem of excessive turnover, which has perplexed manufacturing plants.
But this has not been the worst phase of the situation. Unfamiliar with law, having no understanding of the principles of our Government, they have fallen an easy prey to. unpatriotic and de signing persons. Public opinion has had no influence upon them, because they have been isolated from the currents of opinion, all due to their not being able to read or write our language. It is the duty of the Federal Government to stimulate the work of Americanization on the part of church, school, community agencies. State Governments arid industry itself.
In the past, many industries that have suffered from chronic restlessness have been the chief contributors to their own troubles. The foreigner with European standards of living was welcomed, but too often no attempt was made to educate him to domestic ideals, for the simple reason that it adversely affected the ledger. It has been my observation that the man who learns our language yields to a controlling public opinion and respects our laws; besides, In proportion as his devotion to American life develops, his interest in the impulsive processes of revolution diminishes.
We must be patient in the work of assimilation and studiously avoid oppressive measures in the face of mere evidence of misunderstanding. We have a composite nation. The Almighty doubt less intended it to be such. We will not, however, develop patriotism unless we demonstrate the difference between despotism and democracy.
The necessity for the drastic laws of war days is not present now, and we should return at the earliest opportunity to the statutory provisions passed in time of peace for the general welfare. There is no condition now that warrants any infringement on the right of free speech and assembly nor on the liberty of the press. The greatest measure of individual freedom consistent with the safety of our institutions should be given. Excessive regulation causes manifestations that compel restraint. The police power, therefore, is called to action because the legislative authority acted unwisely.
A forbearing policy is not the proper one for the deliberate enemy of our institutions. He is of the kind that knows conditions abroad and here. The difference between autocracy and democracy is well marked in his mind. He is opposed to government in any form, and he hates ours because it appeals to those whom he would convert to his creed. Any policy of terrorism is fuel to his flame of anarchy. Those whom he seeks to arouse, in time, realize the difference between his and their, mental attitude, so that when the law lays hand upon his willful menace to government, the purpose of it becomes plain to them.
Official contempt for the law is a harmful exhibition to our people. It is difficult to follow the reasoning of any one who would seek to make an issue of the question of law enforcement. The Executive obligation, both national and State, oh assuming the oath of office is to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." The Constitution, in its essence, is the license and limitation given to and placed upon the law-making body. The legislative branch of government is subjected to the rule of the majority.
The public official who fails to enforce the law is an enemy both to the Constitution and to the American principle of majority rule. It would seem quite unnecessary for any candidate for the Presidency to say that he does not intend to violate his' oath of office. Any one who is false to that oath is more unworthy than the law violator himself.
Morals cannot easily be produced by statute. The writ of injunction should not be abused. Intended as a safeguard to person and property, it could easily by abuse cease to be the protective device it was intended to be.
Capital develops into large units with out violence to public sentiment or injury to public interest-the same principle should not be denied to labor. Collective bargaining through the means of representatives selected by the employer and employe respectively will be helpful rather than harmful to the general interest. Besides, there is no ethical objection that can be raised to it.
We should not, by law, abridge a man's right either to labor or to quit his employment. However, neither labor nor capital should at any time or in any circumstances take action that would put in jeopardy the public welfare.
We need a definite and precise statement of policy as to what business men and workingmen may do and may not do by way of combination and collective action. The law is now so nebulous that it almost turns upon the economic predilections of judge or jury. This does not make for confidence in the courts nor respect for the laws, nor for a healthy activity in production and distribution. There surely will be found ways by which co-operation may be encouraged without the destruction of enterprise. The rules of business should be made more certain so that oh a stable basis men may move with confidence.
Government, however, should provide the means in the treatment of its employes, to keep in touch with conditions and to rectify wrong. It is needless to say that, in order to be consistent, facts should at all times justify the pre-supposition that the Government employes are properly compensated.
The child life of the nation should be conserved; if labor in immature years is permitted by one generation it is practicing unfairness to the next.
Agriculture is but another form of industry. In fact, it is the basis of industry because upon it depends the food supply. The drift from countryside into the city carries disquieting portents. If our growth in manufacturing in the next few years holds its present momentum, it will be necessary for America to import foodstuffs. It therefore devolves upon government, through intensive scientific co-operation, to help in maintaining .as nearly as possible the existing balance between food production and consumption. Farming will not inspire individual effort unless profits, all things considered, are equal to those in other activities.
An additional check to depleted ranks in the fields would be the establishment of modern State rural school codes. The Federal Government should maintain active sponsorship of this. Rural pa rents would be lacking in the element which makes civilization enduring if they did not desire for their children educational opportunities comparable to those in the cities.
The price the consumer pays for food stuffs is no indication of what the producer receives. There are too many turnovers between, the two. Society and Government, particularly local and State, have been remiss in not modernizing local marketing facilities. Municipalities must in large measure interest themselves in, if not directly control, community markets. This is a matter of such importance that the Federal Government can profitably expend money and effort in helping to evolve methods and to show their virtues.
The farmer raises his crop, arid the price which he receives is determined by supply and demand. His products in beef and pork and produce pass into cold storage, and ordinarily when they reach the consumer the law of supply and demand does not obtain.
Every successful modern business enterprise has its purchasing, producing and selling departments. The farmer has maintained only one, the producing department. It is not only fair that he be enabled both to purchase and to sell advantageously, but it is absolutely necessary because he has become a competitor with the manufacturer for labor. He has been unable to compete in the past and his help in consequence has been insufficient. Therefore the right of co-operative purchasing and selling, in the modern view, should be removed from all question.
Agricultural through has not been sufficiently represented in affairs of government. Many of the branches of the Government which deal remotely or directly with the soil and its problems and its possibilities would be more valuable to the general welfare if the practical experience of the farmer were an element in their administration.
To be specific, the Interstate Commerce Commission, the Federal Reserve Board, the ' Federal Trade Commission and the United States Tariff Commission are administered by business men. Does any one contribute more to the making and success of railroads than the farmer or to the creation and prosperity of the banks, or to the stability of manufacturing and trade units, or to the agencies interested in exporting?
Our objective should be a decreased tenantry. With the period of occupancy uncertain, the renter strips land .of its fertile elements, and each year diminishes our national assets. Under the operation of the Federal Reserve and the Farm Loan acts, encouragement has come to thousands who find that industry, character and intelligence are a golden security to the people's banker, the Government of the United States.
Multiply our homeowners, and you will make the way of the seditious agitator more difficult. Bring into the picture of American life more families having a plot of garden and flowers all their own and you will find new streams running into the national current of patriotism.
Help to equalize the burdens of taxation by making the holders of hidden wealth pay their share with those whose property is in sight. In short, remove the penalty imposed upon home-building thrift, and thousands of contended households under the shelter of their own roof will look upon government with affection, recognizing that in protecting it they protect themselves.
There are more home owners in America than ever before. The prosperity of the country under Democratic rule has been widely diffused. Never, before has the great mass of the people shared in the blessings of plenty. There is much to be done, however, in multiplying our home owners. Nothing will bring more golden return to the welfare of the Republic.
Common prudence would suggest that we increase to our utmost our area, of tillable land. The race between increased consumption and added acreage has been an unequal one. Modern methods of soil treatment have been helpful, but they have their limitations.
There are still vast empires in extent, in our country, performing no service to humanity. They require only the applied genius of men to cover them with the bloom and harvest of human necessities. The Government should turn its best engineering talent to the task of irrigation projects. Every dollar spent will yield compensating results.
Any discussion of the question of food supply leads very quickly to the closely related matter of transportation. There is no one thing which brings us so intermittently to critical conditions than the insufficiency of our transportation facilities. Both the railroads and the public are to blame. There has been no material addition to the total mileage in the last ten years, and the increase in terminals has been much less than required.
At the beginning of the war the rolling stock was sadly reduced and inadequate. The public had not given in pay for service sufficient revenues on which credit could be allowed by the banks. Moral assistance was withheld because of railroad policies that did not bring approval. Many of these corporations had made themselves a part of political activities, local, State and national.
Then there were more or less sporadic instances of stock-watering operations and the exploitation of utility properties for personal gain. Abuses were not general, but they were sufficient to bring the entire railroad Systems of the country in disrepute. The good suffered with the evil.
When the transportation lines were taken over by the Government they were barely able to limp through the task of the day. Unity in operation, the elimination of the long haul and the merging of every mile of track and terminal and every car and engine into a co-ordinated plan of operation enabled the Government to transport troops arid supplies, at the same time affording, under great stress, a satisfactory outlet for our industries.
It should be remembered in this connection that except for the motor truck, which supplemented transportation by rail, and except for the great pipe lines, which conveyed oil for commercial purposes, we should not. In all probability, have been able to throw our deciding strength into the balance and win the war.
Any attempt to discredit the Federal operation of railroads during the years of grave emergency is unfair. In the case of those who know the facts it is insincere. Too much cannot be said in praise of those who directed this work, nor of the men who physically operated the lines under the discouraging conditions of poor equipment.
But all of this is water over the wheel. The problem of the railroads is still with us. The Government and the public should render every co-operation in the utmost good faith, to give thorough test to private ownership. The railroads have had their lesson. Government regulation is accepted now as not only a safeguard to the public, but as a conserving process to the utility. Financial credit is necessary to physical rehabilitation and it should be sufficient for the periods of maximum demand.
We should not lose sight, however, of the vast possibilities of supplementary service by water. The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence navigation project, particularly, should claim the interest of the Government. About one-third of our States would be supplied with an outlet for every ton of their exports. The opportunity to make of the lake harbors great ocean ports of' entry is inspiring to contemplate.
In the crop-moving period, the call on the railroads is staggering. Grain piles up in the elevators. With stagnation more or less general, the farmer sells his product under the most unfavorable conditions. The trackage and the terminals in Middle States particularly. are clogged with this traffic and interference with local movements of freight is inevitable. The solution would be simplified by utilizing the waterways.
Aside from this, the accruing gain from every crop would be a consideration, for the reason that the pride of grain in this country is made by the Chicago market and it is determined by the London quotations. The price in the British metropolis is a stated figure less the cost of transportation. The routing of these commodities by water would effect a saving of approximately 8 cents a bushel, which moans that American grain would net just that much more.
For more than forty years before Woodrow Wilson was elected President in 1912, a reform of our banking and currency system had been almost universally demanded, arid had been year after year deferred or refused by the stand-pat element of the Republican Party in obedience to orders. The control of money and interest rates had long been held by favored groups, who were thus able to dominate markets, regulate prices, favor friends, destroy rivals, precipitate and end panics, and. in short, through their financial, social and political outposts, be the real rulers of America.
The Federal Reserve act was originated, advocated and made a law by a Democratic President and Congress against the bitter protests of the Re publican stand-patters, who almost with out exception voted against it. Among these men are the familiar names of Senators Lodge, Penrose and Smoot, the inside Senate cabal responsible for the existing status in the leadership of their party.
The Federal Reserve Act is admitted to be the most constructive monetary legislation in history. At a stroke it transferred the power over money and credit and all they represent from one financial district out into the keeping of the people themselves, and instead of one centre to which all paid tribute there are twelve citadels of financial freedom where every citizen has an equal right and where the principle that the credit of American business shall be free is the basis of administration.
Every citizen should be alert to guard this great institution, which is his guarantee of credit independence. It should be kept from the hands of those who have never been its friends, and who by changes in a few obscure phrases could translate it into a greater power for evil than it ever has been for good.
It is almost unnecessary to speak of the Federal Reserve system in connection with the winning of the war, as, next to the consecration of our manhood and womanhood itself, the greatest factor was the marshaling into one unit through the Federal Reserve banks of the stupendous wealth of America.
To those of vision who look out beyond our shores into that commercial domain where we are so justly entitled to enter in a time of peace, latent power of the Federal Reserve system can be seen promoting in every quarter of the globe an ever-widening flow of American commerce. We will soon have a merchant marine fleet of 11,000,000 tons aggregate, every ship flying the American flag and carrying in American bottoms the products of mill and mine and factory and farm. This would seem to be a guarantee of continued prosperity.
Our facilities for exchange and credit, however, in foreign parts, should be enlarged and under the Federal Reserve system banks should be established in important trading centres.
I am impressed also with the importance of improving, if not reorganizing, our Consular service. The certain in crease in foreign trade would seem to demand it.
This suggests another change. Our Ambassadors to foreign countries have had assigned to them a military and a naval attaché. The staff should be enlarged, so as to include an officer of the Government whose exclusive duty would be to make observation and report development and improvement in educational and social problems generally.
Government bureaus during the war had close contact with the business organization of the country. That experience revealed the modern need of reorganization along purely business lines. The advantages of a democracy in government need not be recounted. It has been held by experts that it involves the disadvantage of disbursements, authorized by the lawmaking power with out sufficient knowledge of the need of the service or the possibilities of extravagance.
The answer to this is the budget system. No successful business enterprise of any size can operate without it. For a hundred years the Federal unit, and the States as well, made appropriations without determining the difference be tween department need and caprice, at the same time paying little attention to the relation as between income and expense. Many of the States have adopted a budget system, and with success that carries no exception. Efficiency has been improved—departmental responsibility has been centered, and economies have been effected. The same can be done by the Federal Government.
The system will reveal at once, as it did in the States, a vast surplusage of employes. It awakens individual interest, encourages greater effort and gives opportunity for talent to assert itself. The normal course of least resistance develops in Government bureaus and hardpan which retards progress. When the reorganization is made, pay should be commensurate with service. Many Federal departments, whose ramifications touch the country generally, have lost valuable men to business. This has badly crippled Post Offices, the Railway Mail Service and other branches.
I am convinced, after considerable study of the subject, that the expense of the Government can, without loss of efficiency, be reduced to a maximum of $4,000,000,000, including sinking fund and. interest on the national debt.
When we enter the League of Nations, we should at the same time diminish our cost for armament. To continue expenditures in either the War or the Navy Department on a vast scale once our membership in the League is assured, would seem to be a very definite refutation of the advantages of the world plan which we believe it possesses.
An appealing fundamental in the League method is the reduction of armaments. We cannot afford to do it until other nations do likewise. If we do not enter the League, hundreds of millions of dollars must be spent for armaments. If we go in—and I believe the people will insist on it—then we can count on economies.
Since the last national conventions of the two great parties a world war has been fought, historic, unprecedented. For many, many months civilization hung in the balance. In the despair of dark hours it seemed as though a world dictator was inevitable, and that hence forth men and women who had lived in freedom would stand at attention in the face of the drawn sword of military autocracy.
The very soul of America was touched as never before with a fear that our liberties were to be taken away. What America did needs no reiteration here. It is known of all men. History will acclaim it; poets will find it an inspiration throughout the ages.
And yet there is not a line in the Re publican platform that breathes an emotion of pride or recites our national achievement. In fact. if a man from Mars were to depend upon the Republican platform or its spoken interpretation by, the candidate of that party as his first means of information he would not find a syllable telling him that the war had been won and that America had saved the world.
How ungenerous, how ungracious all of tills is; how unfair that a mere group of leaders should so demean themselves in the name of the party of Lincoln arid McKinley and Roosevelt.
The discourtesy to the President is an affair of political intrigue. History will make it odious. As well might it be directed at a wounded soldier of the war. One fell in the trench; the strength of the other was broken in the enormous labors of his office.
But others were ignored—the men and women who labored at home with an industry and a skill that words cannot recount!
What of the hands that moved the lathe by day and the needle by night?
What of the organizations, superbly effective, that conserved food arid fed the world—that carried nourishment to the very front trench in the face of hell's furies—that nursed the wounded back to life—that buried the dead in the dark shelter of the night—that inspired business meh and artisans of all parties to work in harmony?
What of the millions of men, women and children of all creeds, religious and otherwise, who stood in the ranks as firm as. soldiers overseas, undivided by things they once quarreled about?
What of the Government itself—confirming the faith of our fathers as sufficient to meet the storms of time?
Why the sneer at labor with the veiled charge that it was a mere slacker?
The spectacle is sufficient to convince any unprejudiced man that the Republican leaders who have taken charge of their party and nominated its candidate are no more possessed of the spirit of the hour than they were in 1912 when they precipitated a revolution within the rank and file of a great organization. If further proof were needed, the action of the present Congress supplies it. Not a constructive law can be cited, Money and time were wasted in seeking to make a military triumph an odious chapter in history—and yet is it not significant that after two years of sleuthful inquiry, there was nothing revealed in that vast enterprise, carrying billions of dollars in expense, upon which they could base even a whisper of dishonesty?
The Mexican situation, trying to our patience for years, begins to show signs of improvement. Not the least of the things that have contributed to it is a realization by the people of that country that we have neither the lust for their domain nor disposition to disturb their sovereign rights. Peace smiles upon the border and incentive to individual effort seems to be making a national aspiration.
Many elements have made our Republic enduring; not the least of which is a sustained gratitude. The richest traditions of our land are woven from historic threads that tell the bravery of our soldiers of every war. They make the first impressions of history upon the minds of our children and bind the hearts of generations together.
Never in all time will the performance of our soldiers in the late war be surpassed. From farm, forest and factory they gathered together in the training camps—from country-side and city—men whose hands were calloused by labor, others whose shoulders showed the stoop of office task—the blood of many nations flowing in their veins—and the same impulse ran from the front trench in Europe back to the first day in training.
We must not forget that war breaks into the plans of young men. and their first chart of life is in a sense more important than any calculation later on. In college and shop—in every calling, they were building the base for their careers. Thousands of them by the circumstances of injury or the disturbance of domestic conditions which war always brings were compelled to change their whole course of life.
We owe a debt to those who died, and to those the honored dead left dependent. We owe a debt to the wounded; but we must realize that considerable compensation is due those also who lost much by the break in their material hopes and aspirations. The genius of the nation's mind and the sympathy of its heart must inspire intensive thoughtful effort to assist those who saved our all.
I feel deeply that the rehabilitation of the disabled soldiers of the recent war is one of the most vital issues before the people, and I, as a candidate, pledge myself and my party to those young Americans to do all in my power to secure for them without unnecessary delay the immediate training which is so necessary to fit them to compete in their struggle to overcome that physical handicap incurred while in the service of their Government. I believe also that the Federal Board of Vocational Rehabilitation as far as possible should employ disabled soldiers themselves to supervise the rehabilitation of disabled soldiers, because of their known sympathy and understanding. The board itself and all agencies under it should be burdened with the care of securing for the disabled soldier who has finished his training, adequate employment. These men will inspire future generations no less than they have themselves been inspired by the heroes of the past.
No greater force for patriotic effort Was found when we were drawn into the late conflict than the example and activity of our veterans of previous wars. Under the colors they loved gathered the soldiers of the past, bringing quickly to their support the new army of the republic. Response in the Southland by veterans who wore the gray inspired the youth with a zeal which aided greatly in the quick mobilization of our forces.
The women of America, in emotion and constructive service, measured up during the war to every requirement, and emergency exacted much of them. Their initiative, their enthusiasm and their sustained industry, which carried many of them to the heavy burdens of toil, form an undying page in the annals of the time, while the touch of the mother heart in camp and hospital gave a sacred color to the tragic picture that . feeble words should not even attempt to portray. They demonstrated not only willingness but capacity. They helped win the war, and they are entitled to a voice in the readjustment now at hand.
Their intuition, their sense of the humanitarian in government, their unquestioned progressive spirit will be helpful in problems that require public judgment. Therefore they are entitled to the privilege of voting as a matter of right and because they will be helpful in maintaining wholesome and patriotic policy. It requires but one more State to ratify the national amendment and thus bring a long-delayed justice. I have the same earnest hope as our platform expresses, that some one of the remaining States will promptly take favorable action.
Senator Harding's theory of the great office to which he aspires, putting a thoroughly fair interpretation on his own words, is that the Government of this country, so far as it is embodied in the Executive, should be what he is pleased to call "government by party," as in contrast with the exercise by the President of his own best final judgment under the responsibility assumed by his solemn oath of office, taking into consideration the views of others, of course, in arriving at that final judgment, but recognizing no group of any kind, not sworn, as he is, to the faithful performance of the particular duties in question, and not subject to impeachment, as he is, in case of serious malfeasance in the performance of those duties.
The latter is the conception of the Presidency held by Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson in initiating our great experiment in political and personal freedom under the Constitution. It is the conception held by Lincoln and Roosevelt, by Cleveland and Wilson, and all other Presidents of the past to whom history has assigned a significant place in the normal growth of our free institutions. It is the conception of the Presidency to which, in case of success of the Democratic Party in the coming election, my own best efforts will be dedicated, with a solemn sense of responsibility to the Power above, to the people of the United States as a whole, and to the sacred oath of allegiance to the Constitution and the laws.
There is, and will always be. a useful place for parties in the conduct of a free Government; but any theory of a "government by party," which must weaken this solemn sense of personal responsibility, or alter its traditional direction and turn it toward party or faction, can only accentuate the possible evils of party and thwart its possible advantages.
I am sincerely grateful to the Democratic Party for the opportunities of public service which it has brought to me in the past, and for the willingness which it has shown to extend those opportunities to a still greater field; but I am glad to say that it has always recognized that my official duties were to the people as a whole, and has in no case attempted to interfere under pretext of party responsibility, with my right of personal judgment, under oath, in the performance of those duties.
There must be an awakened interest in education. The assumption that things are all right is an error. There is more or less of a general idea that because our school system generally is satisfactory and in most instances excellent, sufficient progress is being made. The plain fact reveals two startling things, one, a growing decimation in the ranks of teachers and the other, the existence of 5,500,000 illiterates. It is true that 1,600,000 of these are foreign born. The army of instructors has been more or less demoralized through financial temptation from other activities which pay much better. We owe too much to the next generation to be remiss in this matter.
Very satisfactory progress is being made in several States in the teaching of native born illiterates. The moonlight school in Kentucky has, in fact, become a historic institution. The practice has spread into other Commonwealths, and bands of noble men and women are rendering great service.
There should be no encroachment by the Federal Government on local control. It is the healthful, reasonable individualism of American national life that has enabled the citizens of this republic, to think for themselves, and, besides, State and community initiative would be impaired by anything approaching dependence. The Central Government, however, can inventory the possibilities of progressive education, and in helpful manner create an enlarged public interest in this subject.
There will be no attempt in this campaign to compete by dollars with our opposition. So many people have been in the money-gathering business for the reactionary cause that the millions already in hand are more or less a matter of general information. All that we ask is that both parties deal in the utmost good faith with the electorate and tell the plain truth as to the amounts received, the contributors and the items of disbursements. The public judgment in elections should be rendered after the fullest hearing possible. Each side has the right to properly present its case. This is a legitimate expense.
There is no narrow-dividing line between the legitimate and illegitimate in political campaigns. One contemplates the organization and maintenance of such facilities as are necessary to advise the people of the facts bearing upon the issues; the other carries the deliberate purpose to interfere with the honest rendering of a verdict.
How misguided some of our people are! Recognizing that readjustment must be made, they believe that they will fare better if they cast their fortunes with those with whom they dealt on the base of campaign contributions in days gone by. They do not sense the dangers that threaten.
The sort of readjustment which will appeal to our selfrespect and ultimately to our general prosperity is the honest readjustment Any unfair adjustment simply delays the ultimate process, and we should remember the lesson of history that one extreme usually leads to another.
We desire industrial peace. We want our people to have an abiding confidence in government, but no readjustment made under reactionary auspices will carry with it the confidence of the country. If I were asked to name in these trying days the first essential overshadowing every other consideration, the response would be confidence in government.
It would be nothing less than a calamity if the next administration were elected under corrupt auspices. There is unrest in the country; our people have passed through a trying experience. The European war before it engulfed us aroused every racial throb in a nation of composite citizenship. The conflict in which we participated carried anxieties into every community and thousands upon thousands of homes were touched by tragedy.
The inconveniences incident to the war have been disquieting; the failure of the Republican Congress to repeal annoying taxes has added to our troubles. The natural impulse is to forget the past, to develop new interests, to create a refreshened and refreshing atmosphere in life.
We want to forget war and be free from the troubling thought of its possibility in the future.
We want the dawn and the dews of a new morning.
We want happiness in the land, the feeling that the square deal among men and between men and Government is not to be interfered with' by a purchased preference.
We want a change from the old world of yesterday, where international intrigue made the people mere pawns in the chessboard of war.
We want a change from the old industrial world where, a man who toiled was assured "a full dinner pail" as his only lot and portion.
But how are we to make the change? Which way shall we go?
We stand at the forks of the road and must choose which to follow. One leads to a higher citizenship, a freer expression of the individual and a fuller life for all. The other leads to reaction, the rule of the few over the many, and the restriction of the average man's chances to grow upward. Cunning devices backed by unlimited prodigal expenditures will be used to confuse and lure.
But I have an abiding faith that the pitfalls will be avoided and the right road chosen. The leaders opposed to democracy promise to put the country "back to normal." This can only mean the so-called normal of former reactionary administrations, the outstanding feature of which was a pittance for farm produce and a small wage for a long day of labor.
My vision does not turn backward to the "normal" desired by the Senatorial oligarchy, but to a future in which all shall have a normal opportunity to cultivate a higher stature amidst better environment than that of the past.
Our view is toward the sunrise of tomorrow with its progress and its eternal promise of better things. The opposition stands in the skyline of the setting sun, looking backward, to the old days of reaction.
I accept the nomination of our party, obedient to the Divine Sovereign of all peoples, and hopeful that by trust in Him the way will be shown for helpful service.
Note: This was at Dayton Fair Grounds “before a large and enthusiastic assemblage.” Before the speech there was a great parade for two miles through the Streets of Dayton, at the head of which marched Gov. Cox and the Vice-Presidential candidate, Franklin D. Roosevelt.” The Financial Chronicle says the “address is of unusual length”and thus “few are likely to read it”.
Source: The Commercial & Financial Chronicle...A Weekly Newspaper Representing the Industrial Interests of the United States. Volume 111, Part 1.
James M. Cox, Address Accepting the Democratic Presidential Nomination in Dayton, Ohio Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/353601