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United States Mortgage & Trust Co.,
59 CEDAR STREET, NEW YORK
Transacts a General Banking Business
Allows interest on Deposits subject to check
Buys and Sells Foreign Exchange
Loans Money on Bond and Mortgage
Transacts a General Trust Business
.2d Vice-President ARTHUR TURNBULL.. 3d Vice-President CLARK WILLIAMS
Treasurer WILLIAM P. ELLIOTT.
Secretary RICHARD M. HURD.
Asst. Secretary CALVERT BREWER.
Asst. Treasurer ALEXANDER PHILLIPS.......Man'g For'n Dept.
1920sht 1900, by THE NORTH AMERICAN
JUN 6 1900
NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW.
THE ISSUE IN THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN.
BY W. J. BRYAN.
The issue presented in the campaign of 1900 is the issue between plutocracy and democracy. All the questions under discussion will, in their last analysis, disclose the conflict between the dollar and the man—a conflict as old as the human race, and one which will continue as long as the human race endures.
The struggle for American independence was a culmination of the protest of the people living in America against measures which subordinated their rights to the interests of English traders. The correspondence between Lord Howe and Benjamin Franklin, about the time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, shows that the main object of England's colonial policy was to control American trade.
In June, 1776, the former addressed a letter to Franklin, from which the following extract is taken:
“But if the deep-rooted prejudices of America and the necessity of preventing her trade from passing into foreign channels must keep us still a divided people, I shall, from every public, as well as private, motive, most heartily lament that this is not the invment wherein those great objects of my ambition are to be attained, and that I am to be longer deprived of an opportunity to assure you, personally, of the regard with which I am, etc." To this letter Franklin immediately replied: VOL. CLXX-NO. 523
48 Copyright, 1900, by THE NORTH AMERICAN REView PUBLISHING COMPANY. All rights reserved.
"The well-founded esteem and, permit me to say, affection, which I shall always have for your Lordship make it painful to me to see you engaged in conducting a war, the great ground of which (as described in your letter) is 'the necessity of preventing the American trade from passing into foreign channels.' To me it seems that neither the obtaining nor retaining any trade, how valuable soever, is an object for which men may justly spill each other's blood; that the true and sure means of extending and securing commerce are the goodness and cheapness of commodities; and that the profits of no trade can ever be equal to the expense of compelling it and holding it by fleets and armies. I consider this war against us, therefore, as both unjust and unwise; and I am persuaded that cool and dispassionate posterity will condemn to infamy those who advised it; and that even success will not save from some degree of dishonor those who voluntarily engaged to conduct it."*
The Declaration of Independence set before the world four great truths which were declared to be self-evident: first, that all men are created equal; second, that they are endowed with inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; third, that governments are instituted among men to secure these rights; fourth, that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.
Upon these four pillars, quarried from the mountain of eternal truth, all free government must forever rest.
Then followed the War of the Revolution, with its sacrifices and its sacred memories, with its trials and its triumphs, establishing a government dedicated to liberty.
But before a generation had passed, wealth, represented by Hamilton, began to assert itself, and contempt for the rights of man and distrust of the people themselves began to be manifest. Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, undertook the task of arousing the friends of human rights and civil liberty, and he led them to victory in 1800. The impetus given to American Democracy by its first success in the forum of politics carried it through several Presidential terms.
During Jackson's administration another battle was fought between the capitalistic classes and the people at large. The National Bank marshalled an almost irresistible army of financiers, business men, newspapers and politicians in defense of a gigantic monopoly.
Jackson sounded the alarm, rallied the hosts of Democracy,
* This correspondence can be found in the third volume of a work entitled, “Modern British Essayists," published by Carey & Hart, of Philadelphia, in 1857.
and, in a contest seldom, if ever, equalled in bitterness, won the second peaceful victory for human rights against inhuman greed.
Jackson is generally spoken of as a warrior rather than as a political philosopher. His courage and perseverance have been praised more than his logic or his rhetoric; and yet what orator or statesman has more clearly defined the purpose and scope of government than he ?
In the message which accompanied his veto of the National Bank Act he said:
"It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes. Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government. Equality of talents, of education, or of wealth, cannot be produced by human institutions. In the full enjoyment of the gifts of Heaven and the fruits of superior industry, economy, and virtue, every man is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the law undertakes to add to these natural and just advantages artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society-the farmers, mechanics, and laborers—who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their government. There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses. If it would confine itself to equal protection, and, as Heaven does its rain, shower its favors alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing."
Benton, in estimating the work of Jackson, said that in overthrowing the bank conspiracy he saved America, as Cicero saved Rome by overthrowing the conspiracy of Catiline. No one can read the history of the country from 1845 to 1860 without recognizing the impending struggle between slavery, as an institution, and the abolition of slavery. Every important measure brought before Congress was scrutinized, and its possible bearing on the slavery question was considered, by both friends and opponents.
In 1858 Abraham Lincoln made a speech which attracted public attention to him as the leader of the anti-slavery sentiment. Taking from the Bible one of its strongest passages, he applied it to the question then paramount:
"A house divided against itself cannot stand.' I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved; I do not expect the house to fall, but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other."
In 1859 Lincoln wrote a letter to the Republicans of Boston, who were celebrating the birthday of Thomas Jefferson. (Think of it, Republicans celebrating the birthday of Jefferson!) In that letter he paid to Jefferson a high tribute. In the same letter, Lincoln, in discussing the relation which should exist between the man and the dollar, said that the Republicans were “both for the man and the dollar, but, in case of conflict, the man before the dollar.” Man, the handiwork of God, comes first; the dollar, the handiwork of man, comes afterwards.
During his first administration Lincoln pointed out the attempt, then in its beginning, to place money, the thing accumulated, above the individual by whose toil it was accumulated, and warned his countrymen that the exaltation of matter and the degradation of man threatened the very existence of the Republic. Here are his words:
"Monarchy itself is sometimes hinted at as a possible refuge from the power of the people. In my present position, I could scarcely be justified were I to omit raising a warning voice against this approach of returning despotism. It is not needed nor fitting here that a general argument should be made in favor of popular institutions, but there is one point, with its connections, not so hackneyed as most others, to which I ask a brief attention. It is the effort to place capital on an equal footing with, if not above, labor in the structure of government.”
I have quoted at length from these eminent authorities in order to convince the reader that those who, at this time, speak out against the methods and purposes of plutocracy are not sounding new and groundless alarms, but are merely reiterating the warnings which have been necessary during each successive generation.
For many years after the close of the Civil War the Republicans held undisputed control of the federal government, and an appeal to the prejudices and passions aroused by that great conflict was sufficient answer to any criticism or complaint coming from the party out of power. During this period class legislation became the order of the day, and wealth not only sought favors from the government, but secured exemption from just burdens. When war taxes were to be reduced, the taxes bearing upon the rich were taken off first. When the income tax was repealed, Senator Sherman, of Ohio, placed his protest on record in the following language:
"I hope that, after full discussion, nobody will vote for striking