Grover Cleveland

Remarks to the Notification Committee of the Democratic National Convention Accepting the Presidential Nomination

June 26, 1888

I cannot but be profoundly impressed when I see about me the messengers of the National Democracy, bearing its summons to duty. The political party to which I owe allegiance, both honors and commands me. It places in my hand its proud standard, and bids me bear it high at the front in a battle which it wages bravely, because conscious of right, confidently, because its trust is in the people, and soberly, because it comprehends the obligations which success imposes.

The message which you bring awakens within me the liveliest sense of personal gratitude and satisfaction, and the honor which you tender me is in itself so great that there might well be no room for any other sentiment. And yet I cannot rid myself of grave and serious thoughts when I remember that party supremacy is not alone involved in the conflict which presses upon us, but that we struggle to secure and save the cherished institutions, the welfare and the happiness of a nation of freemen.

Familiarity with the great office which I hold has but added to my apprehension of its sacred character and the consecration demanded of him who assumes its immense responsibilities. It is the repository of the people's will and power. Within its vision should be the protection and welfare of the humblest citizen; and with quick ear it should catch from the remotest corner of the land, the plea of the people for justice and for right.

For the sake of the people, he who holds this office of theirs, should resist every encroachment upon its legitimate functions; and for the sake of the integrity and usefulness of the office, it should be kept near to the people and be administered in full sympathy with their wants and needs.

This occasion reminds me most vividly of the scene, when, four years ago, I received a message from my party, similar to that which you now deliver. With all that has passed since that day, I can truly say that the feeling of awe with which I heard the summons then is intensified many fold when it is repeated now.

Four years ago, I knew that our chief executive office, if not carefully guarded, might drift little by little away from the people to whom it belonged, and become a perversion of all it ought to be; but I did not know how much its moorings had already been loosened, I knew, four years ago, how well devised were the principles of true Democracy for the successful operation of a government by the people and for the people; but I did not know how absolutely necessary their application then was for the restoration to the people of their safety and prosperity. I knew then that abuses and extravagances had crept into the management of public affairs; but I did not know their numerous forms, nor the tenacity of their grasp. I knew then something of the bitterness of partisan obstruction; but I did not know how bitter, how reckless, and how shameless it could be. I knew, too, that the American people were patriotic and just; but I did not know how grandly they loved their country, nor how noble and generous they were.

I shall not dwell upon the acts and the policy of the administration now drawing to its close. Its record is open to every citizen of the land.

And yet I will not be denied the privilege of asserting at this time, that in the exercise of the functions of the high trust confided to me, I have yielded obedience only to the Constitution and the solemn obligation of my oath of office — I have done those things which, in the light of the understanding God has given me, seemed most conducive to the welfare of my countrymen, and the promotion of good government. I would not, if I could, for myself nor for you, avoid a single consequence of a fair interpretation of my course.

It but remains for me to say to you, and through you to the Democracy of the Nation, that I accept the nomination with which they have honored me, and that I will, in due time, signify such acceptance in the usual formal manner.

Grover Cleveland, Remarks to the Notification Committee of the Democratic National Convention Accepting the Presidential Nomination Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project