We are searching data for your request:
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.
WE stand to-day upon an eminence which overlooks a hundred years of national life—a century crowded with perils, but crowned with the triumphs of liberty and law. Before continuing the onward march let us pause on this height for a moment to strengthen our faith and renew our hope by a glance at the pathway along which our people have traveled. It is now three days more than a hundred years since the adoption of the first written constitution of the United States—the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. The new Republic was then beset with danger on every hand. It had not conquered a place in the family of nations. The decisive battle of the war for independence, whose centennial anniversary will soon be gratefully celebrated at Yorktown, had not yet been fought. The colonists were struggling not only against the armies of a great nation, but against the settled opinions of mankind; for the world did not then believe that the supreme authority of government could be safely intrusted to the guardianship of the people themselves. We can not overestimate the fervent love of liberty, the intelligent courage, and the sum of common sense with which our fathers made the great experiment of self-government. When they found, after a short trial, that the confederacy of States, was too weak to meet the necessities of a vigorous and expanding republic, they boldly set it aside, and in its stead established a National Union, founded directly upon the will of the people, endowed with full power of self-preservation and ample authority for the accomplishment of its great object. Under this Constitution the boundaries of freedom have been enlarged, the foundations of order and peace have been strengthened, and the growth of our people in all the better elements of national life has indicated the wisdom of the founders and given new hope to their descendants. Under this Constitution our people long ago made themselves safe against danger from without and secured for their mariners and flag equality of rights on all the seas. Under this Constitution twenty-five States have been added to the Union, with constitutions and laws, framed and enforced by their own citizens, to secure the manifold blessings of local self-government. The jurisdiction of this Constitution now covers an area fifty times greater than that of the original thirteen States and a population twenty times greater than that of 1780.
The supreme trial of the Constitution came at last under the tremendous pressure of civil war. We ourselves are witnesses that the Union emerged from the blood and fire of that conflict purified and made stronger for all the beneficent purposes of good government.
And now, at the close of this first century of growth, with the inspirations of its history in their hearts, our people have lately reviewed the condition of the nation, passed judgment upon the conduct and opinions of political parties, and have registered their will concerning the future administration of the Government. To interpret and to execute that will in accordance with the Constitution is the paramount duty of the Executive.
Even from this brief review it is manifest that the nation is resolutely facing to the front, resolved to employ its best energies in developing the great possibilities of the future. Sacredly preserving whatever has been gained to liberty and good government during the century, our people are determined to leave behind them all those bitter controversies concerning things which have been irrevocably settled, and the further discussion of which can only stir up strife and delay the onward march. The supremacy of the nation and its laws should be no longer a subject of debate. That discussion, which for half a century threatened the existence of the Union, was closed at last in the high court of war by a decree from which there is no appeal—that the Constitution and the laws made in pursuance thereof are and shall continue to be the supreme law of the land, binding alike upon the States and the people. This decree does not disturb the autonomy of the States nor interfere with any of their necessary rights of local self-government, but it does fix and establish the permanent supremacy of the Union. The will of the nation, speaking with the voice of battle and through the amended Constitution, has fulfilled the great promise of 1776 by proclaiming "liberty throughout the land to all the inhabitants thereof." The elevation of the negro race from slavery to the full rights of citizenship is the most important political change we have known since the adoption of the Constitution of 1787. NO thoughtful man can fail to appreciate its beneficent effect upon our institutions and people. It has freed us from the perpetual danger of war and dissolution. It has added immensely to the moral and industrial forces of our people. It has liberated the master as well as the slave from a relation which wronged and enfeebled both. It has surrendered to their own guardianship the manhood of more than 5,000,000 people, and has opened to each one of them a career of freedom and usefulness. It has given new inspiration to the power of self-help in both races by making labor more honorable to the one and more necessary to the other. The influence of this force will grow greater and bear richer fruit with the coming years. No doubt this great change has caused serious disturbance to our Southern communities. This is to be deplored, though it was perhaps unavoidable. But those who resisted the change should remember that under our institutions there was no middle ground for the negro race between slavery and equal citizenship. There can be no permanent disfranchised peasantry in the United States. Freedom can never yield its fullness of blessings so long as the law or its administration places the smallest obstacle in the pathway of any virtuous citizen. The emancipated race has already made remarkable progress. With unquestioning devotion to the Union, with a patience and gentleness not born of fear, they have "followed the light as God gave them to see the light." They are rapidly laying the material foundations of self-support, widening their circle of intelligence, and beginning to enjoy the blessings that gather around the homes of the industrious poor. They deserve the generous encouragement of all good men. So far as my authority can lawfully extend they shall enjoy the full and equal protection of the Constitution and the laws.
The free enjoyment of equal suffrage is still in question, and a frank statement of the issue may aid its solution. It is alleged that in many communities negro citizens are practically denied the freedom of the ballot. In so far as the truth of this allegation is admitted, it is answered that in many places honest local government is impossible if the mass of uneducated negroes are allowed to vote. These are grave allegations. So far as the latter is true, it is the only palliation that can be offered for opposing the freedom of the ballot. Bad local government is certainly a great evil, which ought to be prevented; but to violate the freedom and sanctities of the suffrage is more than an evil. It is a crime which, if persisted in, will destroy the Government itself. Suicide is not a remedy. If in other lands it be high treason to compass the death of the king, it shall be counted no less a crime here to strangle our sovereign power and stifle its voice. It has been said that unsettled questions have no pity for the repose of nations. It should be said with the utmost emphasis that this question of the suffrage will never give repose or safety to the States or to the nation until each, within its own jurisdiction, makes and keeps the ballot free and pure by the strong sanctions of the law. But the danger which arises from ignorance in the voter can not be denied. It covers a field far wider than that of negro suffrage and the present condition of the race. It is a danger that lurks and hides in the sources and fountains of power in every state. We have no standard by which to measure the disaster that may be brought upon us by ignorance and vice in the citizens when joined to corruption and fraud in the suffrage.
The voters of the Union, who make and unmake constitutions, and upon whose will hang the destinies of our governments, can transmit their supreme authority to no successors save the coming generation of voters, who are the sole heirs of sovereign power. If that generation comes to its inheritance blinded by ignorance and corrupted by vice, the fall of the Republic will be certain and remediless. The census has already sounded the alarm in the appalling figures which mark how dangerously high the tide of illiteracy has risen among our voters and their children.
To the South this question is of supreme importance. But the responsibility for the existence of slavery did not rest upon the South alone. The nation itself is responsible for the extension of the suffrage, and is under special obligations to aid in removing the illiteracy which it has added to the voting population. For the North and South alike there is but one remedy. All the constitutional power of the nation and of the States and all the volunteer forces of the people should be surrendered to meet this danger by the savory influence of universal education. It is the high privilege and sacred duty of those now living to educate their successors and fit them, by intelligence and virtue, for the inheritance which awaits them. In this beneficent work sections and races should be forgotten and partisanship should be unknown. Let our people find a new meaning in the divine oracle which declares that "a little child shall lead them," for our own little children will soon control the destinies of the Republic. My countrymen, we do not now differ in our judgment concerning the controversies of past generations, and fifty years hence our children will not be divided in their opinions concerning our controversies. They will surely bless their fathers and their fathers' God that the Union was preserved, that slavery was overthrown, and that both races were made equal before the law. We may hasten or we may retard, but we can not prevent, the final reconciliation. Is it not possible for us now to make a truce with time by anticipating and accepting its inevitable verdict? Enterprises of the highest importance to our moral and material well-being unite us and offer ample employment of our best powers. Let all our people, leaving behind them the battlefields of dead issues, move forward and in their strength of liberty and the restored Union win the grander victories of peace. The prosperity which now prevails is without parallel in our history. Fruitful seasons have done much to secure it, but they have not done all. The preservation of the public credit and the resumption of specie payments, so successfully attained by the Administration of my predecessors, have enabled our people to secure the blessings which the seasons brought. By the experience of commercial nations in all ages it has been found that gold and silver afford the only safe foundation for a monetary system. Confusion has recently been created by variations in the relative value of the two metals, but I confidently believe that arrangements can be made between the leading commercial nations which will secure the general use of both metals. Congress should provide that the compulsory coinage of silver now required by law may not disturb our monetary system by driving either metal out of circulation. If possible, such an adjustment should be made that the purchasing power of every coined dollar will be exactly equal to its debt-paying power in all the markets of the world. The chief duty of the National Government in connection with the currency of the country is to coin money and declare its value. Grave doubts have been entertained whether Congress is authorized by the Constitution to make any form of paper money legal tender. The present issue of United States notes has been sustained by the necessities of war; but such paper should depend for its value and currency upon its convenience in use and its prompt redemption in coin at the will of the holder, and not upon its compulsory circulation. These notes are not money, but promises to pay money. If the holders demand it, the promise should be kept. The refunding of the national debt at a lower rate of interest should be accomplished without compelling the withdrawal of the national-bank notes, and thus disturbing the business of the country. I venture to refer to the position I have occupied on financial questions during a long service in Congress, and to say that time and experience have strengthened the opinions I have so often expressed on these subjects. The finances of the Government shall suffer no detriment which it may be possible for my Administration to prevent. The interests of agriculture deserve more attention from the Government than they have yet received. The farms of the United States afford homes and employment for more than one-half our people, and furnish much the largest part of all our exports. As the Government lights our coasts for the protection of mariners and the benefit of commerce, so it should give to the tillers of the soil the best lights of practical science and experience.
Our manufacturers are rapidly making us industrially independent, and are opening to capital and labor new and profitable fields of employment. Their steady and healthy growth should still be matured. Our facilities for transportation should be promoted by the continued improvement of our harbors and great interior waterways and by the increase of our tonnage on the ocean. The development of the world's commerce has led to an urgent demand for shortening the great sea voyage around Cape Horn by constructing ship canals or railways across the isthmus which unites the continents. Various plans to this end have been suggested and will need consideration, but none of them has been sufficiently matured to warrant the United States in extending pecuniary aid. The subject, however, is one which will immediately engage the attention of the Government with a view to a thorough protection to American interests. We will urge no narrow policy nor seek peculiar or exclusive privileges in any commercial route; but, in the language of my predecessor, I believe it to be the right "and duty of the United States to assert and maintain such supervision and authority over any interoceanic canal across the isthmus that connects North and South America as will protect our national interest." The Constitution guarantees absolute religious freedom. Congress is prohibited from making any law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The Territories of the United States are subject to the direct legislative authority of Congress, and hence the General Government is responsible for any violation of the Constitution in any of them. It is therefore a reproach to the Government that in the most populous of the Territories the constitutional guaranty is not enjoyed by the people and the authority of Congress is set at naught. The Mormon Church not only offends the moral sense of manhood by sanctioning polygamy, but prevents the administration of justice through ordinary instrumentalities of law. In my judgment it is the duty of Congress, while respecting to the uttermost the conscientious convictions and religious scruples of every citizen, to prohibit within its jurisdiction all criminal practices, especially of that class which destroy the family relations and endanger social order. Nor can any ecclesiastical organization be safely permitted to usurp in the smallest degree the functions and powers of the National Government. The civil service can never be placed on a satisfactory basis until it is regulated by law. For the good of the service itself, for the protection of those who are intrusted with the appointing power against the waste of time and obstruction to the public business caused by the inordinate pressure for place, and for the protection of incumbents against intrigue and wrong, I shall at the proper time ask Congress to fix the tenure of the minor offices of the several Executive Departments and prescribe the grounds upon which removals shall be made during the terms for which incumbents have been appointed. Finally, acting always within the authority and limitations of the Constitution, invading neither the rights of the States nor the reserved rights of the people, it will be the purpose of my Administration to maintain the authority of the nation in all places within its jurisdiction; to enforce obedience to all the laws of the Union in the interests of the people; to demand rigid economy in all the expenditures of the Government, and to require the honest and faithful service of all executive officers, remembering that the offices were created, not for the benefit of incumbents or their supporters, but for the service of the Government. And now, fellow-citizens, I am about to assume the great trust which you have committed to my hands. I appeal to you for that earnest and thoughtful support which makes this Government in fact, as it is in law, a government of the people.
I shall greatly rely upon the wisdom and patriotism of Congress and of those who may share with me the responsibilities and duties of administration, and, above all, upon our efforts to promote the welfare of this great people and their Government I reverently invoke the support and blessings of Almighty God.
First Words: James Garfield, March 4, 1881
The inaugural address of James Garfield certainly falls into the category of “speeches lost to history.” It dovetails nicely with the addresses previously examined in this series. Harrison’s inaugural is more known for the fact that it probably killed him than for its content. Buchanan’s is overshadowed by a presidency infamous for his inability to prevent (and respond to) the onset of civil war. James Garfield falls into neither of those categories. His speech is lost to history because his presidency is lost to history. His most distinctive attribute is that a former supporter who was mentally ill assassinated him less than a hundred days after his inauguration. This end is all the more unfortunate when considered in the context of his inaugural address, which is surprisingly substantive and inspiring--especially for one of the “forgotten” presidents.
Garfield, a man who rose to public office largely due to his renown as hero of the Civil War, began by saying: “We ourselves are witnesses that the Union emerged from the blood and fire of that conflict purified and made stronger for all the beneficent purposes of good government.” Garfield believed that the conflict had foreclosed one of the most divisive issues in American political history:
The supremacy of the nation and its laws should be no longer a subject of debate. That discussion, which for half a century threatened the existence of the Union, was closed at last in the high court of war by a decree from which there is no appeal--that the Constitution and the laws made in pursuance thereof are and shall continue to be the supreme law of the land, binding alike upon the States and the people.
A considerable portion of the speech is dedicated to discussing the plight of newly freed slaves. Garfield said that the enfranchisement and self-sufficiency of freed persons was a force that would “grow greater and bear richer fruit with the coming years.” Garfield went on to say:
[T]hose who resisted the change should remember that under our institutions there was no middle ground for the negro race between slavery and equal citizenship. There can be no permanent disfranchised peasantry in the United States. Freedom can never yield its fullness of blessings so long as the law or its administration places the smallest obstacle in the pathway of any virtuous citizen.
Garfield warned Southern communities seeking to disenfranchise newly freed slaves that their actions would “destroy the government itself.” He posed a poignant question: “We may hasten or we may retard, but we can not prevent, the final reconciliation. Is it not possible for us now to make a truce with time by anticipating and accepting its inevitable verdict?”
For Garfield, the integration of freed men and women into economic, political, and social life was a fixed course. It was a profound symbol of that “purified,” stronger Union. The road to the realization of that Union was (and is) an uneven, windy one. But Garfield's Inaugural recognizes the ultimate direction in a way that is unexpected--and worth remembering.
A Tour of Lesser-Known Presidential Inaugural Sites
Federal Hall, New York City, circa 1789 the first capitol building of the United States. George Washington took the oath of office in this building in April 1789. Trinity Church is visible in the distance.
Six years after he bade farewell to his fellow Continental Army officers in New York City, George Washington returned to America’s newly minted capital for the first inauguration. On April 30, 1789, 10,000 people shoehorned into Wall and Broad streets to watch Washington take the presidential oath on the balcony of Federal Hall. After the swearing-in ceremony, Washington delivered the first inaugural address in the Senate chamber and then led a procession of delegates up Broadway to an Episcopalian prayer service at St. Paul’s Chapel. The original Federal Hall was demolished, but its successor, fronted by a statue of Washington, still stands steps away from the New York Stock Exchange.
2. Congress Hall, Philadelphia
George Washington&aposs inauguration at Congress Hall in Philadelphia, March 4, 1793.
Universal History Archive/Getty Images
Shortly after Washington assumed the presidency, the federal capital moved south to Philadelphia. Congress Hall was the setting for two inaugurations: Washington was sworn in for his second term in the Senate chamber, while his successor, John Adams, took the oath in the House chamber. The Georgian-style structure, adjacent to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, is open to visitors as part of Independence National Historical Park.
3. 123 Lexington Avenue, New York City
The inauguration of Chester Alan Arthur, 21st President of the United States, c. 1881.
Photo12/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
Presidential inaugurations, such as the one for Chester A. Arthur, have not always been festive affairs. In the early morning hours of September 20, 1881, Vice President Arthur, who had just received word at his Manhattan brownstone that President James Garfield had finally succumbed to his gunshot wounds after lingering for 80 days, took the oath of office in his parlor, with the green blinds drawn to block the view of the newsmen swarming outside. The apartment house, which was also the home of publisher William Randolph Hearst, is still a private residence, and the ground floors are now home to an Indian supermarket.
4. Ansley Wilcox Residence, Buffalo
Ansley Wilcox residence, decorated with banners and the American flag, where President Theodore Roosevelt took his oath of office, Buffalo, New York, September 14, 1901.
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
After President William McKinley took a turn for the worse following his shooting at Buffalo’s Pan-American Exposition, Theodore Roosevelt was summoned from a vacation in the Adirondack wilderness. By the time the vice president arrived in Buffalo, McKinley was dead. On September 14, 1901, as McKinley’s body lied a mile away, Roosevelt was sworn in at the home of his friend Ansley Wilcox. The residence is now the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site.
5. Calvin Coolidge Homestead, Plymouth Notch, Vermont
The first inauguration of Calvin Coolidge as the 30th President of the United States was held on Friday, August 3, 1923 at the Coolidge Homestead in Plymouth Notch, Vermont, following the death of President Warren G. Harding the previous evening.
Universal History Archive/Getty Images
When President Warren Harding died unexpectedly in San Francisco, Vice President Calvin Coolidge was vacationing 3,000 miles away at his family’s humble homestead. After news of the president’s passing arrived in the Green Mountain hamlet of Plymouth Notch, population 29, Coolidge took the oath from his father, a notary public and justice of the peace, by the soft glow of a kerosene lamp in the wee hours of August 3, 1923. The homestead, along with iconic Vermont structures such as a one-room schoolhouse and cheese factory, is open to the public as part of the President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site.
6. Air Force One
Vice President Lyndon Johnson taking oath of office from Judge Sarah Hughes (back to camera) after President Kennedy&aposs assassination aboard Air Force One.
Cecil Stoughton/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images
Just hours after President John F. Kennedy was gunned down yards away from him in Dallas, Lyndon Johnson, with a grieving Jackie Kennedy at his side, was sworn in as president inside the cramped cabin of Air Force One at Love Field. The Boeing VC-137C known as SAM (Special Air Mission) 26000 is on display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.
7. Washington, D.C., but not the Capitol
James Monroe&aposs inauguration as the fifth President following the War of 1812.
Bettmann Archive/Getty Images
Not all inaugurations in the nation’s capital have taken place at the Capitol. With World War II still raging, Franklin Roosevelt was sworn in for his fourth term in 1945 in a low-key ceremony held on the White House’s South Portico. Less than three months later, after Roosevelt’s sudden death, Harry Truman took the oath of office in the White House Cabinet Room. The East Room was the setting for Gerald Ford’s 1974 swearing-in ceremony following the resignation of Richard Nixon.
James Garfield Inaugural Ball 1881
The West Hall looking towards the Rotunda of the new United States National Museum, now the Arts and Industries Building, decorated for President James A. Garfield and Vice President Chester A. Arthur's Inaugural Ball, March 4, 1881. This was the first event held in the new building, before the exhibits were installed. A temporary wooden floor was laid for the event, two electric lights were placed in the Rotunda, 10,000 bins for hats and coats were erected, 3,000 gas lights were installed, and festive buntings, state flags and seals decorated the halls. A colossal "Statue of America" stood in the Rotunda, illustrative of peace, justice and liberty, grasping in her uplifted hand an electric light "indicative of the skill, genius, progress, and civilization" of America in the 19th century. The stencil work in the Rotunda can be seen. The building opened to the public in October 1881.
Garfield began serving in the House in December 1863, and would remain in Congress until 1881. During this time, he served on a number of important congressional committees. However, his career was not without its challenges. In a political period marked by scandal and corruption, Garfield’s ethics were called into question when he was accused (but never found guilty) of accepting bribes in the Crຝit Mobilier scandal of 1872.
A moderate Republican, Garfield had to appease both wings of his own party: the Stalwarts, who were the conservative, old-guard Republicans, and the Half-Breeds, who were moving toward progressivism. This was especially difficult maneuvering when Garfield served on the congressional committee charged with settling the disputed Rutherford B. Hayes (1822-93)-Samuel Tilden (1814-86) presidential election of 1876. Despite his challenges in the House, Garfield was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1880. He never took his seat, however, because of the events that transpired at the Republican convention in 1880.
Party Like It’s 1881: President Garfield’s Inaugural Ball
Nothing says, “Welcome, Mr. President,” like 3,000 gas lights and a big hulking statue. At least, that is what America decided in 1881, the year James Garfield was sworn into office. On a snowy March 4, the Smithsonian’s spanking new Arts and Industries Building hosted an inaugural ball for the country’s 20th president after he won the seat by a slim margin over Democratic candidate Winfield Scott Hancock. Though the weather kept many people from witnessing the inauguration itself (including Garfield’s lengthy inaugural address), more than 7,000 well-dressed citizens still trekked to the big party. Decorations included elaborate flag displays, garlands of lights strung from the ceiling, a temporary wooden floor, 10,000 bins for hats and coats and, in the museum’s rotunda, a huge female “Statue of America.”
According to a flyer for the ball (pictured below), the decor was “artistic, munificent, and attractive, embellished by the coats-of-arms of the different States, handsomely festooned with State flags and seals.”
The lady America, the flyer notes, was “illustrative of peace, justice, and liberty.” The statue’s uplifted hand held an electric light, which was “indicative of the skill, genius, progress, and civilization of the 19th century.”
The ball was not only an important political event, but a significant milestone in the Smithsonian’s history. It was the first public event ever held at the iconic museum, which was undergoing the final stages of construction for its opening in October (The Arts and Industries Building is currently closed and undergoing a major renovation.). Exhibits had yet to be installed in the museum, so no one had to worry about relocating priceless artifacts so that Garfield could spend an evening dancing.
Smithsonian museums have since hosted inaugural balls for Presidents Nixon, Reagan, G.H.W. Bush and Clinton, as well as “unofficial” balls for Presidents G.W. Bush and Obama. (The building that is now the American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery also hosted a ball for Lincoln’s second term in 1864.) The styles of these celebrations have changed with the times, so check out the pictures below from Smithsonian’s photo archives to see the late 19th century’s patriotic zeal for a president who, sadly–thanks to an assassination attempt and some poor doctors—would only remain in office for only 200 days.
The “Statue of America” in the building’s rotunda. Her light is ”indicative of the skill, genius, progress, and civilization of the 19th century.” Image courtesy of Smithsonian Institution Archives.
The southeast balcony. Carved plaques decorate the entrance to a very patriotic spiral staircase. Image Courtesy of Smithsonian Institution Archives.
An engraving of the event by architects Cluss and Schulze. Image courtesy of Smithsonian Institution Archives.
A flyer, or “broadside,” for “The Grand Fete to Garfield and Arthur at the National Museum Building.” The top image is a plat of the building and its grounds, and the bottom is an image of the building’s exterior. Image courtesy of Smithsonian Institution Archives.
About Paul Bisceglio
Paul Bisceglio is an editorial fellow at Pacific Standard and co-editor of the website "Land That I Live." He was previously the editorial intern for Smithsonian magazine. Follow him on Twitter @PaulBisceglio
March 4, 1857: Inaugural Address
I appear before you this day to take the solemn oath "that I will faithfullyexecute the office of President of the United States and will to the bestof my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the UnitedStates."
In entering upon this great office I must humbly invoke the God of ourfathers for wisdom and firmness to execute its high and responsible dutiesin such a manner as to restore harmony and ancient friendship among thepeople of the several States and to preserve our free institutions throughoutmany generations. Convinced that I owe my election to the inherent lovefor the Constitution and the Union which still animates the hearts of theAmerican people, let me earnestly ask their powerful support in sustainingall just measures calculated to perpetuate these, the richest politicalblessings which Heaven has ever bestowed upon any nation. Having determinednot to become a candidate for reelection, I shall have no motive to influencemy conduct in administering the Government except the desire ably and faithfullyto serve my country and to live in grateful memory of my countrymen.
We have recently passed through a Presidential contest in which thepassions of our fellow-citizens were excited to the highest degree by questionsof deep and vital importance but when the people proclaimed their willthe tempest at once subsided and all was calm.
The voice of the majority, speaking in the manner prescribed by theConstitution, was heard, and instant submission followed. Our own countrycould alone have exhibited so grand and striking a spectacle of the capacityof man for self-government.
What a happy conception, then, was it for Congress to apply this simplerule, that the will of the majority shall govern, to the settlement ofthe question of domestic slavery in the Territories. Congress is neither"to legislate slavery into any Territory or State nor to exclude it therefrom,but to leave the people thereof perfectly free to form and regulate theirdomestic institutions in their own way, subject only to the Constitutionof the United States."
As a natural consequence, Congress has also prescribed that when theTerritory of Kansas shall be admitted as a State it "shall be receivedinto the Union with or without slavery, as their constitution may prescribeat the time of their admission." A difference of opinion has arisen inregard to the point of time when the people of a Territory shall decidethis question for themselves.
This is, happily, a matter of but little practical importance. Besides,it is a judicial question, which legitimately belongs to the Supreme Courtof the United States, before whom it is now pending, and will, it is understood,be speedily and finally settled. To their decision, in common with allgood citizens, I shall cheerfully submit, whatever this may be, thoughit has ever been my individual opinion that under the Nebraska-Kansas actthe appropriate period will be when the number of actual residents in theTerritory shall justify the formation of a constitution with a view toits admission as a State into the Union. But be this as it may, it is theimperative and indispensable duty of the Government of the United Statesto secure to every resident inhabitant the free and independent expressionof his opinion by his vote. This sacred right of each individual must bepreserved. That being accomplished, nothing can be fairer than to leavethe people of a Territory free from all foreign interference to decidetheir own destiny for themselves, subject only to the Constitution of theUnited States.
The whole Territorial question being thus settled upon the principleof popular sovereignty--a principle as ancient as free government itself--everythingof a practical nature has been decided. No other question remains for adjustment,because all agree that under the Constitution slavery in the States isbeyond the reach of any human power except that of the respective Statesthemselves wherein it exists. May we not, then, hope that the long agitationon this subject is approaching its end, and that the geographical partiesto which it has given birth, so much dreaded by the Father of his Country,will speedily become extinct? Most happy will it be for the country whenthe public mind shall be diverted from this question to others of morepressing and practical importance. Throughout the whole progress of thisagitation, which has scarcely known any intermission for more than twentyyears, whilst it has been productive of no positive good to any human beingit has been the prolific source of great evils to the master, to the slave,and to the whole country. It has alienated and estranged the people ofthe sister States from each other, and has even seriously endangered thevery existence of the Union. Nor has the danger yet entirely ceased. Underour system there is a remedy for all mere political evils in the soundsense and sober judgment of the people. Time is a great corrective. Politicalsubjects which but a few years ago excited and exasperated the public mindhave passed away and are now nearly forgotten. But this question of domesticslavery is of far graver importance than any mere political question, becauseshould the agitation continue it may eventually endanger the personal safetyof a large portion of our countrymen where the institution exists. In thatevent no form of government, however admirable in itself and however productiveof material benefits, can compensate for the loss of peace and domesticsecurity around the family altar. Let every Union-loving man, therefore,exert his best influence to suppress this agitation, which since the recentlegislation of Congress is without any legitimate object.
It is an evil omen of the times that men have undertaken to calculatethe mere material value of the Union. Reasoned estimates have been presentedof the pecuniary profits and local advantages which would result to differentStates and sections from its dissolution and of the comparative injurieswhich such an event would inflict on other States and sections. Even descendingto this low and narrow view of the mighty question, all such calculationsare at fault. The bare reference to a single consideration will be conclusiveon this point. We at present enjoy a free trade throughout our extensiveand expanding country such as the world has never witnessed. This tradeis conducted on railroads and canals, on noble rivers and arms of the sea,which bind together the North and the South, the East and the West, ofour Confederacy. Annihilate this trade, arrest its free progress by thegeographical lines of jealous and hostile States, and you destroy the prosperityand onward march of the whole and every part and involve all in one commonruin. But such considerations, important as they are in themselves, sinkinto insignificance when we reflect on the terrific evils which would resultfrom disunion to every portion of the Confederacy--to the North, not morethan to the South, to the East not more than to the West. These I shallnot attempt to portray, because I feel an humble confidence that the kindProvidence which inspired our fathers with wisdom to frame the most perfectform of government and union ever devised by man will not suffer it toperish until it shall have been peacefully instrumental by its examplein the extension of civil and religious liberty throughout the world.
Next in importance to the maintenance of the Constitution and the Unionis the duty of preserving the Government free from the taint or even thesuspicion of corruption. Public virtue is the vital spirit of republics,and history proves that when this has decayed and the love of money hasusurped its place, although the forms of free government may remain fora season, the substance has departed forever.
Our present financial condition is without a parallel in history. Nonation has ever before been embarrassed from too large a surplus in itstreasury. This almost necessarily gives birth to extravagant legislation.It produces wild schemes of expenditure and begets a race of speculatorsand jobbers, whose ingenuity is exerted in contriving and promoting expedientsto obtain public money. The purity of official agents, whether rightfullyor wrongfully, is suspected, and the character of the government suffersin the estimation of the people. This is in itself a very great evil.
The natural mode of relief from this embarrassment is to appropriatethe surplus in the Treasury to great national objects for which a clearwarrant can be found in the Constitution. Among these I might mention theextinguishment of the public debt, a reasonable increase of the Navy, whichis at present inadequate to the protection of our vast tonnage afloat,now greater than that of any other nation, as well as to the defense ofour extended seacoast.
It is beyond all question the true principle that no more revenue oughtto be collected from the people than the amount necessary to defray theexpenses of a wise, economical, and efficient administration of the Government.To reach this point it was necessary to resort to a modification of thetariff, and this has, I trust, been accomplished in such a manner as todo as little injury as may have been practicable to our domestic manufactures,especially those necessary for the defense of the country. Any discriminationagainst a particular branch for the purpose of benefiting favored corporations,individuals, or interests would have been unjust to the rest of the communityand inconsistent with that spirit of fairness and equality which oughtto govern in the adjustment of a revenue tariff.
But the squandering of the public money sinks into comparative insignificanceas a temptation to corruption when compared with the squandering of thepublic lands.
No nation in the tide of time has ever been blessed with so rich andnoble an inheritance as we enjoy in the public lands. In administeringthis important trust, whilst it may be wise to grant portions of them forthe improvement of the remainder, yet we should never forget that it isour cardinal policy to reserve these lands, as much as may be, for actualsettlers, and this at moderate prices. We shall thus not only best promotethe prosperity of the new States and Territories, by furnishing them ahardy and independent race of honest and industrious citizens, but shallsecure homes for our children and our children's children, as well as forthose exiles from foreign shores who may seek in this country to improvetheir condition and to enjoy the blessings of civil and religious liberty.Such emigrants have done much to promote the growth and prosperity of thecountry. They have proved faithful both in peace and in war. After becomingcitizens they are entitled, under the Constitution and laws, to be placedon a perfect equality with native-born citizens, and in this characterthey should ever be kindly recognized.
The Federal Constitution is a grant from the States to Congress of certainspecific powers, and the question whether this grant should be liberallyor strictly construed has more or less divided political parties from thebeginning. Without entering into the argument, I desire to state at thecommencement of my Administration that long experience and observationhave convinced me that a strict construction of the powers of the Governmentis the only true, as well as the only safe, theory of the Constitution.Whenever in our past history doubtful powers have been exercised by Congress,these have never failed to produce injurious and unhappy consequences.Many such instances might be adduced if this were the proper occasion.Neither is it necessary for the public service to strain the language ofthe Constitution, because all the great and useful powers required fora successful administration of the Government, both in peace and in war,have been granted, either in express terms or by the plainest implication.
Whilst deeply convinced of these truths, I yet consider it clear thatunder the war-making power Congress may appropriate money toward the constructionof a military road when this is absolutely necessary for the defense ofany State or Territory of the Union against foreign invasion. Under theConstitution Congress has power "to declare war," "to raise and supportarmies," "to provide and maintain a navy," and to call forth the militiato "repel invasions." Thus endowed, in an ample manner, with the war-makingpower, the corresponding duty is required that "the United States shallprotect each of them the States] against invasion." Now, how is it possibleto afford this protection to California and our Pacific possessions exceptby means of a military road through the Territories of the United States,over which men and munitions of war may be speedily transported from theAtlantic States to meet and to repel the invader? In the event of a warwith a naval power much stronger than our own we should then have no otheravailable access to the Pacific Coast, because such a power would instantlyclose the route across the isthmus of Central America. It is impossibleto conceive that whilst the Constitution has expressly required Congressto defend all the States it should yet deny to them, by any fair construction,the only possible means by which one of these States can be defended. Besides,the Government, ever since its origin, has been in the constant practiceof constructing military roads. It might also be wise to consider whetherthe love for the Union which now animates our fellow-citizens on the PacificCoast may not be impaired by our neglect or refusal to provide for them,in their remote and isolated condition, the only means by which the powerof the States on this side of the Rocky Mountains can reach them in sufficienttime to "protect" them "against invasion." I forbear for the present fromexpressing an opinion as to the wisest and most economical mode in whichthe Government can lend its aid in accomplishing this great and necessarywork. I believe that many of the difficulties in the way, which now appearformidable, will in a great degree vanish as soon as the nearest and bestroute shall have been satisfactorily ascertained.
It may be proper that on this occasion I should make some brief remarksin regard to our rights and duties as a member of the great family of nations.In our intercourse with them there are some plain principles, approvedby our own experience, from which we should never depart. We ought to cultivatepeace, commerce, and friendship with all nations, and this not merely asthe best means of promoting our own material interests, but in a spiritof Christian benevolence toward our fellow-men, wherever their lot maybe cast. Our diplomacy should be direct and frank, neither seeking to obtainmore nor accepting less than is our due. We ought to cherish a sacred regardfor the independence of all nations, and never attempt to interfere inthe domestic concerns of any unless this shall be imperatively requiredby the great law of self-preservation. To avoid entangling alliances hasbeen a maxim of our policy ever since the days of Washington, and its wisdom'sno one will attempt to dispute. In short, we ought to do justice in a kindlyspirit to all nations and require justice from them in return.
It is our glory that whilst other nations have extended their dominionsby the sword we have never acquired any territory except by fair purchaseor, as in the case of Texas, by the voluntary determination of a brave,kindred, and independent people to blend their destinies with our own.Even our acquisitions from Mexico form no exception. Unwilling to takeadvantage of the fortune of war against a sister republic, we purchasedthese possessions under the treaty of peace for a sum which was consideredat the time a fair equivalent. Our past history forbids that we shall inthe future acquire territory unless this be sanctioned by the laws of justiceand honor. Acting on this principle, no nation will have a right to interfereor to complain if in the progress of events we shall still further extendour possessions. Hitherto in all our acquisitions the people, under theprotection of the American flag, have enjoyed civil and religious liberty,as well as equal and just laws, and have been contented, prosperous, andhappy. Their trade with the rest of the world has rapidly increased, andthus every commercial nation has shared largely in their successful progress.
I shall now proceed to take the oath prescribed by the Constitution,whilst humbly invoking the blessing of Divine Providence on this greatpeople.
Why Mormons Were Mentioned in a Presidential Inaugural Address
When James A. Garfield took the oath of office as the new president of the United States of America in 1881, Mormonism was a heavily contested topic in much of the nation. As one of the largest territories in the nation at the time, Utah kept pushing for acceptance as a state, but many Americans feared the "peculiar" Mormons and their practices—including polygamy.
But this view was not unique to America. In 1910, twenty years after the Church ended the practice of polygamy, LDS missionaries were expelled from Germany for the fear they were trying to convert or kidnap women to provide more wives for Mormon men back in Utah. In fact, during the early 1900s, Sir Winston Churchill, then Secretary of the Home Department, was appointed by British Parliament to head up an investigation of LDS missionaries.
Tensions regarding polygamy rose in the United States when the Supreme Court ruled anti-polygamy laws passed decades earlier were constitutional. According to the Church's Gospel Topics Essay on polygamy, "federal officials began prosecuting polygamous husbands and wives during the 1880s. Believing these laws to be unjust, Latter-day Saints engaged in civil disobedience by continuing to practice plural marriage and by attempting to avoid arrest by moving to the homes of friends or family or by hiding under assumed names."
It was during this time of contention and suspicion of the Church and its leaders that James A. Garfield gave his inaugural address on March 4, 1881. In it, he stated:
While President Garfield's concerns might be understood given the context, it's interesting that he attacked the Mormon church in defense of the family. Throughout its history, the LDS Church has always defended the family and focused on building strong, eternal families. In fact, the doctrine of the family is one of our most fundamental and beloved doctrines.
While we might not understand the full reasons polygamy was reinstituted in the Church under Joseph Smith, the Church's Gospel Topics Essay explains this:
It turns out when James A. Garfield was speaking of the need for religious freedom, of strong families, and of unity in diversity, he had more in common with the Mormons than he might have thought.
Inaugural Address of President Garfield [March 4, 1881] - History
O ne bullet grazed his elbow, but a second lodged in the back of President James Garfield, who was shot JULY 2, 1881, as he waited in a Washington, D.C., train station.
The assassin was Charles Guiteau, a free-love polygamist who had been a member the communist cult called "Oneida Community."
President James Garfield had been in office only four months.
Though not wounded seriously, unsterile medical practices trying to remove the bullet resulted in an infection.
Alexander Graham Bell devised a metal detector to locate the bullet, but the metal bed frame confused the instrument.
Two months before his 50th birthday, Garfield died on September 19, 1881.
The next day, Secretary of State James Blaine wrote James Russell Lowell, U.S. Minister in London:
" James A. Garfield, President of the United States, died .
For nearly eighty days he suffered great pain, and during the entire period exhibited extraordinary patience, fortitude, and Christian resignation. Fifty millions of people stand as mourners by his bier."
Vice-President Chester Arthur assumed the Presidency and declared a National Day of Mourning, September 22, 1881:
"In His inscrutable wisdom it has pleased God to remove from us the illustrious head of the nation, James A. Garfield, late President of the United States .
It is fitting that the deep grief which fills all hearts should manifest itself with one accord toward the Throne of Infinite Grace . that we should bow before the Almighty . in our affliction."
James Garfield had been a Disciples of Christ preacher at Franklin Circle Christian Church in Cleveland, 1857-58.
Biographer Frank H Mason wrote in "The Life and Public Services of James A. Garfield, Twentieth President of the United States" (Bret Harte Publisher: London, Trübner & Co., 1881):
"(Garfield) delivered his powerful and convincing sermons from the pulpit with the consent and encouragement of the Church authorities."
Garfield was principal of Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (Hiram College), 1857-1860, during which time he defended creation in a debate against evolution.
Mason wrote that Garfield:
"completely overwhelmed his opponent, who, after that defeat, abandoned his theory and gave up the fight against the inspiration of the Bible."
Garfield became a lawyer in 1861, and a Major General during the Civil War.
Elected to Congress, Garfield despised fiat paper "Greenbacks," supporting instead gold-silver backed currency.
Elected a U.S. Senator, James Garfield gave a stirring speech at the 1880 Republican National Convention opposing the rule that all delegates from each State were required to vote for the candidate with the majority of delegates:
"There never can be a convention . that shall bind my vote against my will on any question whatever."
Garfield won the crowd. In an unprecedented move, after 34 ballots, he was chosen as the Republican Presidential nominee over Ulysses S. Grant seeking a 3rd term.
James Garfield stated in his Inaugural Address, March 4, 1881, just 200 days before his death:
"Let our people find a new meaning in the divine oracle which declares that 'a little child shall lead them,' for our own little children will soon control the destinies of the Republic .
Our children . will surely bless their fathers and their fathers' God that the Union was preserved, that slavery was overthrown, and that both races were made equal before the law."
Republican President James Garfield appointed African-Americans to prominent positions:
*Frederick Douglass, recorder of deeds in Washington
*Robert Brown Elliot, special agent to the U.S. Treasury
*John M. Langston, Haitian minister and
*Blanche K. Bruce, register to the U.S. Treasury.
Garfield appointed as U.S. Minister to Turkey the Civil War General Lew Wallace, author of the famous novel Ben-Hur-A Tale of Christ.
Garfield described Otto von Bismark, who united German and served at its first Chancellor, 1871-1890:
"I am struck with the fact that Otto von Bismarck, the great statesman of Germany, probably the foremost man in Europe today, stated as an unquestioned principle, that the support, the defense, and propagation of the Christian Gospel is the central object of the German government."
Otto von Bismark saw the danger of socialism and instituted Germany's Anti-Socialist Laws in 1878.
When Kaiser Wilhelm II forced Bismark to resign it precipitated World War I.
As a Congressman, James Garfield had stated at the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1876:
"Now more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress.
If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption.
If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature .
If the next centennial does not find us a great nation . it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces." Ellen Brown offers this bogus quotation from President James Garfield. Whosoever controls the volume of money in any country is absolute master of all industry and commerce . . . And when you realize that the entire system is very easily controlled, one way or another, by a few powerful men at the top, you will not have to be told how periods of inflation and depression originate.
Historical Error #20: A Bogus Quotation from President Garfield
In 1881, James Garfield became President. He boldly took a stand against the bankers, charging:
Ellen Brown offers this bogus quotation from President James Garfield.
Whosoever controls the volume of money in any country is absolute master of all industry and commerce . . . And when you realize that the entire system is very easily controlled, one way or another, by a few powerful men at the top, you will not have to be told how periods of inflation and depression originate.
President Garfield was murdered not long after releasing this statement, when he was less than four months into his presidency. [Web of Debt, p. 96]
She cites no source. Neither do the 123,000 versions of this on Google. If he did say this, it would be easy to locate the source. His Presidency did not last long: 100 days.
Here is what he did say, in his inaugural address (1881).
The prosperity which now prevails is without parallel in our history. Fruitful seasons have done much to secure it, but they have not done all. The preservation of the public credit and the resumption of specie payments, so successfully attained by the Administration of my predecessors, have enabled our people to secure the blessings which the seasons brought.
By the experience of commercial nations in all ages it has been found that gold and silver afford the only safe foundation for a monetary system. Confusion has recently been created by variations in the relative value of the two metals, but I confidently believe that arrangements can be made between the leading commercial nations which will secure the general use of both metals. Congress should provide that the compulsory coinage of silver now required by law may not disturb our monetary system by driving either metal out of circulation. If possible, such an adjustment should be made that the purchasing power of every coined dollar will be exactly equal to its debt-paying power in all the markets of the world.
The chief duty of the National Government in connection with the currency of the country is to coin money and declare its value. Grave doubts have been entertained whether Congress is authorized by the Constitution to make any form of paper money legal tender. The present issue of United States notes has been sustained by the necessities of war but such paper should depend for its value and currency upon its convenience in use and its prompt redemption in coin at the will of the holder, and not upon its compulsory circulation. These notes are not money, but promises to pay money. If the holders demand it, the promise should be kept.
He was a gold standard man from the beginning. He was known as an expert in finance. He went on to say in his inaugural address, "I venture to refer to the position I have occupied on financial questions during a long service in Congress, and to say that time and experience have strengthened the opinions I have so often expressed on these subjects." He made his position clear: " The finances of the Government shall suffer no detriment which it may be possible for my Administration to prevent."
To imply that bankers had him killed is preposterous. It is far easier to believe that Greenbackers hired the killer.