Great Leaders and National Issues of 1896/Chapter 11
XI. The Republican Platform
The Republican PlatformEdit
Adopted at St. Louis, June 18th, 1896
The Republicans of the United States, assembled by their representatives in National Convention, appealing for the popular and historical justification of their claims to the matchless achievements of thirty years of Republican rule, earnestly and confidently address themselves to the awakened intelligence, experience and conscience of their countrymen in the following declaration of facts and principles:
For the first time since the Civil War the American people have witnessed the calamitous consequences of full and unrestricted Democratic control of the Government. It has been a record of unparalleled incapacity, dishonor and disaster. In administrative management it has ruthlessly sacrificed indispensable revenue, entailed an unceasing deficit, eked out ordinary current expenses with borrowed money, piled up the public debt by $262,000,000 in time of peace, forced an adverse balance of trade, kept a perpetual menace hanging over the redemption fund, pawned American credit to alien syndicates, and reversed all the measures and results of successful Republican rule. In the broad effect of its policy it has precipitated panic, blighted industry and trade with prolonged depression, closed factories, reduced work and wages, halted enterprise and crippled American production, while stimulating foreign production for the American market. Every consideration of public safety and individual interest demands that the Government shall be rescued from the hands of those who have shown themselves incapable of conducting it without disaster at home and dishonor abroad, and shall be restored to the party which for thirty years administered it with unequalled success and prosperity. And in this connection we heartily endorse the wisdom, patriotism and the success of the Administration of President Harrison.
Allegiance to Protection RenewedEdit
We renew and emphasize our allegiance to the policy of Protection as the bulwark of American industrial independence and the foundation of American development and prosperity. This true American policy taxes foreign products and encourages home industry; it puts the burden of revenue on foreign goods; it secures the American market for the American producer; it upholds the American standard of wages for the American workingman; it puts the factory by the side of the farm, and makes the American farmer less dependent on foreign demand and prices; it diffuses general thrift and founds the strength of all on the strength of each. In its reasonable application it is just, fair and impartial, equally opposed to foreign control and domestic monopoly, to sectional discrimination and individual favoritism.
We denounce the present Democratic tariff as sectional, injurious to the public credit and destructive to business enterprise. We demand such an equitable tariff on foreign imports which come into competition with American products, as will not only furnish adequate revenue for the necessary expenses of the Government, but will protect American labor from degradation to the wage level of other lands. We are not pledged to any particular schedules. The question of rates is a practical question, to be governed by the conditions of the time and of production; the ruling and uncompromising principle is the protection and development of American labor and industry. The country demands a right settlement, and then it wants rest.
We believe the repeal of the reciprocity arrangements negotiated by the last Republican Administration was a national calamity, and we demand their renewal and extension on such terms as will equalize our trade with other nations, remove the restrictions which now obstruct the sale of American products in the ports of other countries, and secure enlarged markets for the products of our farms, forests and factories.
Protection and reciprocity are twin measures of Republican policy and go hand in hand. Democratic rule has recklessly struck down both, and both must be re-established. Protection for what we produce; free admission for the necessaries of life which we do not produce; reciprocal agreements of mutual interest which gain open markets for us in return for our open market to others. Protection builds up domestic industry and trade and secures our own market for ourselves; reciprocity builds up foreign trade and finds an outlet for our surplus.
We condemn the present Administration for not keeping faith with the sugar producers of this country; the Republican party favors such protection as will lead to the production on American soil of all the sugar which the American people use and for which they pay other countries more than $100,000,000 annually. To all our products—to those of the mine and the field, as well as those of the shop and the factory—to hemp, to wool, the product of the great industry of sheep husbandry, as well as to the finished woolens of the mill—we promise the most ample protection.
We favor restoring the early American policy of discriminating duties for the upbuilding of our merchant marine and the protection of our shipping in the foreign carrying trade, so that American ships—the product of American labor, employed in American shipyards, sailing under the Stars and Stripes, and manned, officered and owned by Americans—may regain the carrying of our foreign commerce.
The Currency PlankEdit
The Republican party is unreservedly for sound money. It caused the enactment of the law providing for the resumption of specie payment in 1879; since then every dollar has been as good as gold.
We are unalterably opposed to every measure calculated to debase our currency or impair the credit of our country. We are, therefore, opposed to the free coinage of silver, except by international agreement with the leading commercial nations of the world, which we pledge ourselves to promote; and until such agreement can be obtained, the existing gold standard must be preserved. All our silver and paper currency must be maintained at parity with gold, and we favor all measures designed to maintain inviolable the obligations of the United States and all our money, whether coin or paper, at the present standard, the standard of the most enlightened nations of the earth.
Justice to VeteransEdit
The veterans of the Union armies deserve and should receive fair treatment and generous recognition. Whenever practicable, they should be given the preference in the matter of employment, and they are entitled to the enactment of such laws as are best calculated to secure the fulfilment of the pledges made to them in the dark days of the country's peril. We denounce the practice in the Pension Bureau, so recklessly and unjustly carried on by the present administration, of reducing pensions and arbitrarily dropping names from the rolls, as deserving the severest condemnation of the American people.
Our foreign policy should be at all times firm, vigorous and dignified, and all our interests in the Western hemisphere carefully watched and guarded. The Hawaiian Islands should be controlled by the United States, and no foreign Power should be permitted to interfere with them; the Nicaragua Canal should be built, owned and operated by the United States, and by the purchase of the Danish Islands, we should secure a proper and much-needed naval station in the West Indies.
The massacres in Armenia have aroused the deep sympathy and just indignation of the American people, and we believe that the United States should exercise all the influence it can properly exert to bring these atrocities to an end. In Turkey, American residents have been exposed to the gravest dangers, and American property destroyed. There, and everywhere, American citizens and American property must be absolutely protected at all hazards and at any cost.
We reassert the Monroe Doctrine in its full extent, and we reaffirm the right of the United States to give the doctrine effect by responding to the appeals of any American State for friendly intervention in case of European encroachment. We have not interfered, and shall not interfere, with the existing possessions of any European Power in this hemisphere, but those possessions must not, on any pretext, be extended. We hopefully look forward to the eventual withdrawal of the European Powers from this hemisphere, and to the ultimate union of all of the English-speaking part of the continent by the free consent of its inhabitants.
From the hour of achieving their own independence, the people of the United States have regarded with sympathy the struggles of other American peoples to free themselves from European domination. We watch with deep and abiding interest the heroic battle of the Cuban patriots against cruelty and oppression, and our best hopes go out for the full success of their determined contest for liberty. The Government of Spain, having lost control of Cuba, and being unable to protect the property or lives of resident American citizens, or to comply with its treaty obligations, we believe that the Government of the United States should actively use its influence and good offices to restore peace and give independence to the island.
The peace and security of the Republic, and the maintenance of its rightful influence among the nations of the earth, demand a naval power commensurate with its position and responsibility. We therefore favor the continued enlargement of the navy and a complete system of harbor and seacoast defences.
For the protection of the equality of our American citizenship and of the wages of our workingmen against the fatal competition of low-priced labor, we demand that the immigration laws be thoroughly enforced and so extended as to exclude from entrance to the United States those who can neither read nor write.
The Civil Service law was placed on the statute book by the Republican party, which has always sustained it, and we renew our repeated declarations that it shall be thoroughly and honestly enforced and extended wherever practicable.
We demand that every citizen of the United States shall be allowed to cast one free and unrestricted ballot, and that such ballot shall be counted and returned as cast.
We proclaim our unqualified condemnation of the uncivilized and barbarous practices well known as lynching and killing of human beings, suspected or charged with crime, without process of law.
We favor the creation of a National Board of Arbitration to settle and adjust differences which may arise between employers and employed engaged in inter-State commerce.
We believe in an immediate return to the free homestead policy of the Republican party, and urge the passage by Congress of the satisfactory free homestead measure which has already passed the House and is now pending in the Senate.
We favor the admission of the remaining Territories at the earliest practicable date, having due regard to the interests of the people of the Territories and of the United States. All the Federal officers appointed for the Territories should be selected from bona fide residents thereof, and the right of self-government should be accorded as far as practicable.
We believe the citizens of Alaska should have representation in the Congress of the United States, to the end that needful legislation may be intelligently enacted.
Temperance and Rights of WomenEdit
We sympathize with all wise and legitimate efforts to lessen and prevent the evils of intemperance and promote morality.
The Republican party is mindful of the rights and interests of women. Protection of American industries includes equal opportunities, equal pay for equal work, and protection to the home. We favor the admission of women to wider spheres of usefulness, and welcome their co-operation in rescuing the country from Democratic and Populistic mismanagement and misrule.
Such are the principles and policies of the Republican party. By these principles we will abide, and these policies we will put into execution. We ask for them the considerate judgment of the American people. Confident alike in the history of our great party and in the justice of our cause, we present our platform and our candidates in the full assurance that the election will bring victory to the Republican party and prosperity to the people of the United States.