Silver Restoration the Duty of the Republican Party (Classic Reprint)

Silver Restoration the Duty of the Republican Party (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from Silver Restoration the Duty of the Republican Party

Its constant reiteration shows a decline in the ancient and salutary standards of self-government.

Our institutions are founded upon and presuppose the fullest investigation, the genuineness of opinions, fair, free, and fearless discussion. Had men in the past neglected to exemplify these requirements and to insist upon their guaranty, what would have been the history of liberty? To what unhappy condition would not mankind have been reduced had John Hampden been afraid to arraign his king for the unconstitutional exactions of ship money; had Sam Adams and Patrick Henry been obsequiously silent as to the stamp duty, or hesitated to affirm the great principle of "no taxation without representation;" had Thomas Jefferson permitted himself to entertain politic doubts whether "all men are created equal;" had Washington deemed it safer to submit to British tyranny than to defy it; had Garrison, Lovejoy, and Phillips been frightened from their high purpose by the calling of hard names and threats of personal violence; had Sumner, Seward, and Lincoln thought it indiscreet to denounce the treatment of Kansas as a crime, to assert that the conflict between freedom and slavery was "irrepressible," and to make a new application of the old proverb that "a house divided against itself cannot stand." [Applause.]

No, sir; let us not abandon our duty. Let us stand to it like men. Said Daniel Webster, in answer to a similar argument sixty years ago:

If any evil arises to destroy or endanger this medium or this currency, our duty is to meet it, not to retreat from it - to remedy it, not to let it alone. We are to control and correct the mischief, not to submit to it.

Moreover, a question of this magnitude and significance ought to be discussed in a spirit and manner appropriate to so high a theme. To treat it as if it were the claim of a small private interest seeking an avenue for self-aggrandizement at the expense of the general good, is to show a grave incompetence to weigh and handle the momentuous concerns of the people. That so many in this House are unable to grasp the higher and only real issues involved, is not complimentary to the standard of American statesmanship. Similar but much severer strictures must be drawn upon a considerable part of the public press. To call one's opponent in an argument "fool," "crank," "lunatic," "traitor," is as unprofitable as it is impolite. People are apt to suspect one who "doth protest too much." Better answer your antagonist's argument than abuse him; and if he really be a fool his argument ought to be easly answered. Nor can you escape the ordeal of critical examination by merely pasting a label on your faith. Calling it "honest" and "sound" does not by any means make it so. It only begs the question. Nobody contends for unsound and dishonest money. I will permit no man to call me dishonest, nor shall he affix such a brand upon any proposal of mine.

The people can not be deceived. They are studying this question as never before. Epithets can not deter them from penetrating to its mystery. The "craze" may have passed, but the era of sober and deliberate investigation has begun, nay, is already far advanced; and I warn gentlemen that there never has been so much interest in this great question as there is now. "What is 'honest money?'" men are asking. "Have we it now? If not, how shall we obtain it?" These questions must be answered by arguments, not by adjectives.

Nor, sir, on the other hand, does this discussion give proper place to wild talk of revolution, secession and bloodshed. Sir, that kind of declaration has no justification in this forum or in any other in the United States. This is a government of the people. It is the highest form yet known of that kind of government which a great commentator has called "a government by discussion;" and it is by orderly, sane, passionless,
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