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R E P E A L

O F

T H E

S H E R M A N

L A W .

REMARKS
OF

HON. WM. H. B R A W L E Y ,
OF

SOUTH

CAROLINA,

IN T H E

HOUSE




OF

REPRESENTATIVES,

FRIDAY, AUGUST 25, 1893.

WASHINGTON.

1893.




REMARKS
OF

HON.

WM.

H.

BRAWLEY.

TheHouse having under consideration the bill (H. R. 1) to repeal a part of
an act, approved July 14, 1890, entitled "An act directing the purchase of
silver bullion and the issue of Treasury notes thereon, and for other purposes"—

Mr. B R A W L E Y said:
Mr. SPEAKER: The history of legislation is the history of the
repealing of bad laws. A list of the mistakes of legislators, of
the evils produced or intensified by lawmaking unguided by adequate knowledge, of the statutes whose remote and indirect
effects were the converse of those expected when they were enacted would abate the hopes of those fervid spirits who, believing in the plenary inspiration of majorities, would extend the
limits of governmental interference; and it ought also, says
Buckle, " to moderate the presumption of legislators and teach
them that their best measures are but temporary expedients
which it will be the business of a later and riper age to efface."
In the nature of the case this must be so, for politics is not an
ex'ict science, and in the rapidly shifting changes in our social
and economic conditions, the best that we can do is to adapt
temporary expedients to the exigencies that confront us.
The druggist's clerk who mistakes calomel for quinine and
mixes a prescription which kills instead of cures is held guilty
of manslaughter. Our mistakes are more leniently judged, and
although they may bring no legal penalty, the consequences may
be so serious and far-reaching that we can not devote too much
care and thought to the consideration of every measure which is
proposed to be put upon the statute book.
The immediate question now before us is whether we shall
repeal the Sherman act. I have listened for two weeks to this
coo
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discussion and have not heard one word in its favor on either
side of this Chamber. By universal admission it is conceded to
have been a failure in all the purposes for which it was intended.
No single voice has been raised in its defense, and although
opinions differ as to the extent of the evils to be properly attributed to this act, there is no difference of opinion as to its
injurious effects and as to the propriety of repealing it. Its
putative father disowns it. It has no defender. Our party has
in express terms demanded its repeal. The Republican party
does not sustain it. The great business interests of the country
believing* it to be the main cause of their distress, appeal to us,
and our President recommends that it be wiped from the statute
book as a necessary step to the restoration of confidence in the
fabric of our public credit. The remedy proposed seems so simple that it is amazing that there should be one moment's hesitation in applying it.
Its very simplicity is urged as an argument against its effectiveness. So it was with Naaman when, sorely afflicted with leprosy, he went to the house of Elisha. " Go and wash in Jordan
seven times and thou shalt be clean." He was wroth, and said
to the prophet, " Are not Abana and Pharpar Rivers of Damascus better than all the waters of Israel? May I not wash in them
and b$ clean?" So he went away in a rage, but his servants
said, " My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great
thing, wouldst thou not have done i t ? "
The repeal of the Sherman act may be no " great thing," but
in the opinion of many it will be effectual to restore " confidence,"
that elusive thing, the loss of which has brought us to this pass.
The very fact that people think so will in itself tend to work the
cure, our disease being of the mind rather than of the body.
But our opponents say that they will oppose this repeal unless
something favorable to silver is given in its stead, that they will
use this act—misbegotten, hateful, and injurious—as a club to extort terms. One would think that the disastrous failure of all
previous efforts in the supposed interest of silver would abate
something of the confidence and silence the loquacity of its
" friends," but writers on mental hallucinations tell us that there
are certain forms of insanity where fixed delusions seize upon
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the mind and generate a firmer belief than any sane person is
capable of.
That silver may by some legislative alchemy be transmuted
into gold at a fixed ratio is a notion vociferously expressed by
gentlemen who seem to be in all other respects sane and whose
honesty is beyond question. The steady recurrence of this
phenomenon would seem to indicate that it is due to some permanent cause, and the fact that this belief is strongest in those
parts of our country that are in a backward stage of industrial
development has led to the opinion, in some quarters, that it is
due to the desire of debtor communities to get rid of their obligations on easy terms. This is unjust and untrue.
The time allotted to me does not suffice to allow any satisfactory analysis of the causes of the prevailing discontent.
An obscure difficulty is a pervading evil, and the essential
condition of its removal is to make it clear. Trained and experienced thinking on monetary subjects is something rare in all
communities, and there are certain erroneous opinions floating
like a vague mist in the intellectual air which obscure and distort the vision.
CERTAIN P R E V A L E N T DELUSIONS.

The first delusion is that all the available money of the country is in the hands of a comparatively few rich men and that
their interest is to contract its volume in order to enhance its
value. This error arises from the confounding of capital with
currency; and men reading of the enormous wealth of a few individuals are told by those whose interest is apparently advanced by such deceptions that there is a conspiracy on the part
of these rich people to oppress them by making money scarce.
The truth is, that the wealth of the Yanderbilts, the Astors, the
Goulds, and the like, is in property and not in money, and that
nearly all of the available loanable capital of the country is in savings banks, insurance and trust companies, and belongs to the
frugal poor and to people of moderate means.
The second delusion is that the maintenance of the gold
standard tends to make money dear and that a double standard
or a lower standard would make money more abundant. The
truth is that the question of the standard has no relevancy in
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itself to the volume of the currency, and there is no quantitative
relation between the volume of transactions and the standard
that measures them. From 1834 to the suspension of specie payments in 1861 we had the gold standard, in effect, while the volume of currency was regulated by the States. The act of 1873
only enacted into law what was already a well recognized fact.
As evidence of this we know that from the foundation of the
Government up to that date only about eight millions of silver
dollars had been put in circulation.
The third delusion is, that inasmuch as it appears that the
gold and silver coinage of the world is about equal in volume,
the discontinuance of purchases of silver would strike down onehalf of the money of the world, thus doubling the wealth of the
rich and doubling the debts of the poor. The truth is that the
bill before us does not propose to drive out of circulation any of
our silver coin. On the contrary, all of it is to be maintained
with the pledge of the Government to keep i t at par with gold—
just as is the case in France, where a large amount of silver remains in circulation, notwithstanding the fact that for about
fifteen years the coinage of five-franc pieces has ceased.
The fourth delusion is that England adopted the gold standard
because she is a creditor nation, and that it is disadvantageous
and unpatrio icfor us to maintain such standard. Appeals to the
" spirit of*'76 " have been unceasingly rung to resist this domination.
The truth is that England adopted the gold standard before
the close of the last century, but in the stress of the Napoleonic
wars she could not carry it into effect until 1816, when, so far
from being a creditor nation, she was in the throes of a gigantic
debt. The United States is the only rival for the larger commerce of the world that England has to fear, and she has more
to gain than has any other nation from our abandonment of that
standard of value which all the civilized people have accepted.
The fifth delusion, which finds the widest acceptance in the
South, is that there is some occult relation between the price of
silver, the product of the e irth in Nevada and Colorado, and
the price of cotton, the staple product of the South. W h y cotton should be linked with silver rather than with gold, no one
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can intelligently explain. W e were told last year when the antioption bill was under discussion that the main cause of the low
price of cotton was due to the dealing in futures, but the great
rise in price during the later months of that year, and the intelligent discussion of that measure exploded that fallacy. It
was shown by figures which were indisputable that the range of
prices from 1850 to 1860 was on the average 10.35 cents per pound
and the average prices from 1880 to 1890 were 10.24 cents per
pound.
The great increase of production, mainly due to the extension
of its cultivation over the vast fields of the South and to the increased use of commercial fertilizers, would sufficiently account
for a great fall in prices. The cotton crop of 1860-'61 was less
than 4,000,000 bales, the crop of 1890-'91 was over 9,000,000 bales,
and as everybody knows the bales of to-day are much heavier
than they were thirty years ago.
If prices were affected by the quantity of silver money in circulation they would be greatly higher now than thirty years ago,
for there is nearly fifty times more silver dollars in the country
now than then. If they were determined by the amount of currency in circulation, as would seem to be natural, prices should
be higher now than in 1873, when the alleged " crime against silver" was committed, for the circulation per capita in 1873 was
$18.04, while in 1893 the circulation per capita is $23.80.
These facts, which can not be disputed, ought to teach us to look
to other causes than to the alleged demonetization of silver or
to the alleged contraction of the currency for the lack of prosperity among our agricultural people, which unhappily is a fact
beyond dispute. While it is true that a large body of our people are greatly benefited by having cheap food and cheap clothing and that our farmers can buy a larger amount of those things
which conduce to comfort with their products even at present
low prices than ever before, yet the fact stares us in the face
that they are not prosperous, and that the low range of prices
for agricultural produce is one of the elements of their misfortunes.
The question of prices is one of the most interesting and difficult of problems, and no general theory on the subject is satis200




II
factory.

Until the commencement of the present financial dis-

turbances the rate of interest on money has been abnormally
low; wages have been high, agricultural products have been
low, rents in cities have been high, all the products in which
machinery and mere brute labor were important factors have
brought low prices, while the products of intellectual effort
have commanded higher rewards than ever before.
There has been no period in the history of the world when a
great writer, a great painter, a great doctor, a great lawyer, a
great preacher, a great engineer, a great inventor, could command such prin cely incomes for the product of his brain and hand.
Nor are these very high prices confined exclusively to what may
be called intellectual products. Fine butter, fine wine, fine fruits,
in fact excellent things from the studio3 from the workshop,
or from the fields, all will bring to-day larger returns than ever
before.
A few years ago a plain laboring man, a Frenchman, discovered that the low-lying lands around Charleston were well
adapted to the cultivation of asparagus, which had not before
been successfully cultivated in that latitude.

He has lately re-

tired with an ample fortune as the result of his acumen and industry.

These illustrations are given for the purpose of show-

ing that the standard of value or the volume of currency are
not the only or chief factors in determining prices.
The sixth delusion is that there is a creditor class in this
country seeking to oppress the debtor class.

The common

opinion is that this creditor class is in combination with the
corporations for the purpose of reducing the remainder of the
people to poverty and slavery.

This belief rests upon pure ig-

norance, and prejudice which is the outgrowth of ignorance.
The truth is that the railroad corporations, the manufacturing
and industrial corporations, are the largest borrowers of money.
Their interest is that money should be abundant and easy to obtain at low rates of interest, and their interest, too, is that the
farmer should have plenty of money to buy their goods and ship
them and travel over their roads.
It is not my purpose to say anything in behalf of the money
lender.
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I know that he is a very unpopular person, always




II
spoken evil of and held in great disfavor. It has been always
so. In the drama, in novels, and in real life our admiration
is rather for the fellow who spends money than for those who
save it. The spendthrift is always the hero. It is true that
when we want to borrow money the man who lends it is looked
upon as a friend and benefactor; but when the money is gone
and the evil hour of reckoning arrives he is the tyrant and the
oppressor. Hateful as may be the man who saves, he is useful;
therefore iet him live in order that we may borrow from him.
Demosthenes, in his oration against Phormio, says:
In the Athenian laws are many well-devised securities for the protection
of the creditor, for commerce proceeds not from the borrowers, but from
the lenders, without whom no vessel, no navigator, no traveler could depart from port.

I make no pretensions to be a financier or political economist,
for my way of life has led me into other fields, and I have very
little hope that I can add anything of value to this discussion. I
therefore hesitated long before I concluded to take part in it,
feeling that I could well apply to myself a story told of Napoleon.
On one occasion, when a great battle was imminent, he was reviewing the Imperial Guard, and a soldier in the ranks, carried
away by his enthusiasm, shouted, "Forward!" " I t is not for
you, young man," said the Emperor, " to cast the die of battles."
I have always felt that the business of making laws was a very
serious one, and realize the unavoidable uncertainty which attends upon every measure of legislation, and I know that the
multitudinous facts of all recorded experience tend to dispel
the notion so vociferously expressed nowadays that all the sufferings of our people are removable, and that 'it is the duty of
somebody to remove them. The hard-worked and overburdened
people of our land are looking to us with eager faith. Their
passions and desires have been inflamed. The builders of political air-castles have dilated upon the possibilities of relief, find
have developed delusive expectations and groundless hopes.
Men who have once tasted the flattery of knaves are ill-disposed to
listen to those who, somewhat acquainted with the laws which
govern human affairs, are habituated to consider their mandates
and their limitations.
If there was ever a time when men should be tolerant with
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each other's opinions it should be now, for this is an age of
doubt and uncertainty. The whole world seems out of joint.
In the material world the vast changes wrought by the new inventions, with the accompanying displacement of labor and dislocation of capital, have unsettled everything; while in the moral
world the foundations of religious belief have been shaken, and
throughout Christendom there is an anxious sense of impending
change. What is to be the character of the subsidence of these
moral and material revolutions it is not given to us to know.
One of the wisest of men said,many generations ago: " I f we
begin with certainties we shall end in doubts; but if we begin
with doubts we shall end in certainties."
Remembering, then, that intensity of belief is no sign of truth,
and that it prevails most strongly among those who differ most,
let us confine ourselves to the attempt to provide a temporary
relief for an impending evil.
Amid the cloud of conflicting opinions one fact stands out
clear, and that is that under the operation of the Sherman law
gold has been driven out of our currency as silver has been infused
into it, and that what any sagacious man acquainted with monetary questions would naturally expect to happen has happened, and
by reason of this operation we are brought perilously near to the
silver standard. The gold in the Treasury upon which the
whole superstructure of our currency rests has steadily been
going down, and the only source from which it can be replenished—the customs duties—has dried up. The following table
of the receipts at the New York custom-house for the dates
named tells the story:
Gold.

January, 1889.
January. 1890.
January, 1891.
January, 1892.
July, 1892
January, 1893..
February, 1893.
March, 1893....
April, 1893
May, 1893
June (20 days)
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Silver.

United
States
notes.

Treasury
notes.

Per cent. Per cent. Per cent. Per cent.
83.1
6.3
10.6
92. 6
2. 9
4. 6
88.6
2.1
4.1
5.2
66.2
4.3
15.0
14.5
13.9
15.5
28.4
42.2
8.9
15.8
42.1
33.2
9.2
20.7
33.3
36.8
7.8
15.7
28.0
48.5
3.0
23.3
41.0
32.7
0.1
37.8
26.2
35.9
0.0
15.0
54.0
31.0

II
It is not surprising that, with the steady disappearance of geld
receipts and the steady decline of the gold reserve, the public
confidence in the ability of the Government to maintain gold
payments has been shaken, and that this distrust in the integrity
of our currency system should have spread in other directions.
That there is real danger that the country will slip from the
gold to the silver standard, unless something is done to avoid it,
is a fact so patent that no one here, so far as I have heard, has
ventured to dispute it. We have listened to harangues against
the money power, against England, against Wall street, against
"gold-bugs," against everybody who is not supposed to be a
" friend of silver," but the crucial question has not been touched.
W e have h d much declamation and more or less turgid
rhetoric in favor of " bimetallism," but that is far and away
from the real danger which impends, which is, that we are descending steadily from the gold to the silver standard—that we
will have silver monometallism. Now, everybody knows, from
the experience of other nations, that a great deal of silver remains in circulation when gold is the standard of value, while
no gold remains in those countries where silver is the standard.
If we should sink to the silver standard all of our gold will disappear and the currency will not only be contracted to that extent, which of itself would be an enormous evil in a country
where it is claimed that the circulating medium is insufficient,
but the still greater disaster would follow that the currency remaining would, in its purchasing power, shrivel up to accord
with the intrinsic value of the silver dollar; the wages of labor,
the deposits in savings banks, the policies of life insurance companies, would all be payable then in silver dollars, worth between
fifty and sixty cents.
No words can exaggerate the magnitude of this calamity. The
present troubles would be as a zephyr to a cyclone. Bimetallism is not, at this juncture, a practical question, for there is no
proposition before the House which tends towards securing it.
No one whose opinion is of any authority believes that bimetallism can be secured by the free coinage of silver in this country
alone at the ratio of sixteen to one or of twenty to one.
There is a great confusion of ideas on this subject.
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To some,

II
bimetallism means simply the use of both gold and silver in the
currency. In that sense every country which has a gold standard
is bimetallic, for all of them have more or less of silver, and in
that sense everybody favors it; but bimetallism proper means a
fixed relation established and maintained by law whereby both
gold and silver may be coined without discrimination at a certain fixed ratio. In this sense, there is no nation to-day, either
civilized or uncivilized, which is bimetallic. There is no reason
inherent in the metal itself why the price of silver should be
uniform any more than the price of copper or the price of iron.
Wherever and whenever bimetallism, properly so called, has
existed, it has been due to the artificial regulations and manipulations of governments; and so long as there was comparative
stability in the production and price of the two metals, the greater
part of the world adhered to the bimetallic system, and this adherence tended to preserve comparative steadiness in the price
of the two metals; but this stability in price, being due mainly to
the action of governments, ceased when this practice ceased, and
will not revive, and from the nature of things can not revive,
until that practice revives, and it is this bimetallism that the
Democratic party pledged itself to in its platform as I conceive
that platform.
According to this pledge, we as Democrats are bound to make
honest efforts to secure a bimetallic system, either through international agreement or by such "safeguards of legislation"
as will secure that end. Our honor and our interest demands
that we make an honest effort to secure this end, and I am much
mistaken and shall be greatly disappointed if some well-digested
plan is not proposed before the expiration of our term of service.
When it is proposed it should be considered without passion and
without prejudice. I do not conceal from myself the enormous
difficulty in the way of its accomplishment, for the trend of events
in the last twenty years has been against it, for it is precisely
during this period that there has been such great economic
changes that we may be said to live in a new world, and the appearances are that this new industrial world prefers silver to
gold.
The exact date when the world began to discard silver for gold
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can not be fixed with absolute precision. Like all evolutionary
processes, it was gradual in its operation. It is difficult to mark the
exact line of demarcation which separates the animal from the
vegetable world. There are many animals, amid the lower forms
and types, that are apparently as devoid of volition and free movement as the higher plants, and so far as regards organic structure and mode of life, there is no absolute criterion which marks
off the animal kingdom from the vegetable kingdom. The simple cell of contractile protoplasm affords the starting point equally
for all organisms, vegetable and animal.
Equal <'ebt paying power was for many years the quality of
silver and gold alike; it was the only quality common to each,
but just as surely as there has been a constant stream of tendency from the lower to the higher forms, so surely has the
economic world been seeking after gold, th.3 higher metal, and
discarding silver. Our friends on the other side are constantly
harping on the "scramble for gold" among the nations, and they
predict great evils therefrom. The nations seek it because they
want it. They want it because it is the "money of the world."
W e hear of no "scramble" for silver, and this is a bad omen for
the cause of bimetallism. The most civilized nations do not
"scramble" for it because they do not want it. Why should we
seek to load ourselves down with that which other nations discard?
Are we not as good as they, and entitled to the best? It is our
pride and our boast that we have the best of e very thing else; why,
then, should we not have the best money? Nobody disputes that
gold is the best money—best for our men of business, because we
are no longer an isolated people; the ancient modifying circumstances which separated us from the great commonwealth of nations have fallen away and we are among them as equals and as
rivals for the world's commerce, and gold is the money of the
world. It is best for the laboring man, for it is the wages of his
toil.
We needs must love the highest when we see ifr
Not Launceiot nor another.

In the old days there was no question about it among our fathers. The gold standard was discussed and accepted as a proper
monetary measure. Those who favored it were not vilipended as
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traitors to their country. There were no " silver kings " in those
days who made life a burden with their harangues. Finding our
people in the South and West suffering from real grievances, arising from causes which, although they lie upon the surface, are
little comprehended, for we are a simple people. not much versed
in monetary science, they have by constant iteration, by sophistries and falsehoods, propagated delusions which have so taken
possession of their minds that they honestly believe that the
alleged demonetization is the prime cause of all their troubles.
Many of those who ought to know better were dupes at first and
are now impostors, for finding the silver cult so firmly established
they prefer to be its priests, and to perpetuate ignorance, lest
they should be discredited when the people awaken to the tr uth.
Or I should rather call it a fetish worship than a religion, for
it has its analogue among the savage tribes. Baslian, the German anthropologist, tells us that in Guinea a sick native who
causes the fetish to lie by not recovering promptly is put to death,
and anyone who is so audacious as to question the power of the
fetish is sacrificed. And now any of us who speak direspectfully
of this political fetish are reviled and threatened with political
extinction.
Such and so curious are the anfractuosities of the human
mind.
It is loudly proclaimed that the public opinion of this country
is overwhelmingly in favor of the free coinage of silver, and
that it is now aroused and will sweep out of power the party or
the man who opposes it. An enlightened public opinion is irresistible. It would be foolish to disregard it. That opinion in
this country undoubtedly favors a bimetallic system, to be secured by international agreement, or by the safeguards of legislation. It does not favor the abandonment of that standard of
value which has prevailed in this country for more than a half
century and which prevails to-day among all the civilized nations, and the substitution in its stead of an inferior, an uncertain, and a fluctuating standard.
That there is an uninstracted public opinion that clamors for
free coinage at any hazard; that men, blinded by extremes of
misery, are ready for any desperate measures that promise relief,
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and that self-seeking demagogues are stimulating their passions
to such a degree that their reason is, for the time, in abeyance
is, unhappily, too true, and it is not without some peril that men
resist these demands when (he public mind is in a fever and ferment. But it is only the base and timid that are frightened by
the threats that have been uttered here.
Majorities are not always right. It was the voice of the majority that cried Crucify Him! Crucify Him! Give us Barabbas!" It was the majority that sent Aristides into exile and
gave Socrates hemlock for his supper.
It is the minority, according to Him, who are the salt of the
earth and who go in at the straight gate of wisdom and goodness.
My people are a borrowing people. They need capital to unlock the stores of nature, to develop to the highest degree their
agricultural resources, to build factories, and to multiply all
those industrial pursuits which in this day are the apparatus of
civilization. The capital they need must come from the older
communities. To obtain it we can not afford to juggle with the
currency. Least of all can we afford to separate ourselves from
the great nations where the greater part of our products find a
market.
There is among those nations large accumulations of capital
seeking investment. There is an international loan fund that
goes wherever it is wanted, as mobile as beads of quicksilver.
It belongs to no particular country. It went to Argentine, to
Egypt, to Australia. It is going now to the heart of Africa. It
will go wherever there is the best promise of profit. But frightened now by repeated and disastrous experiences it demands,
above all things else, security. Any possibility of repayment in
money of less value than that which was loaned will drive it
from us. It would fly as men are flying to-day from plaguestricken Brunswick.
My people are by tradition and habit an honest people. They
want no man's money without an equivalent.
They have suffered as few people have from the oppressions,
the unjust discriminations, and the intolerable exactions of this
Government, but their crowning misfortune would be the imposition of an unsound, a fluctuating, and a vitiated currency.
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I know that there is a strong opinion among them opposed to
the views that I entertain, and that my course here means either
retirement from public life or another hard and bitter contest,
and I am weary of conflicts.
But the duty seems to me so plain that I can not hesitate to
save them if I can, in spite of themselves, trusting to time to
moderate their harsh judgment of me. In the consciousness of
such ultimate vindication I can, in my feebleness, adopt the language of the mighty Luther: "If there were as many devils in
Worms as there are tiles upon the housetops I would go on," and
when I render them my account I will say, as he did before the
council: "Here I stand! I can not do otherwise. God help me.
Amen!"
If I needed any other inspiration to right conduct than my own
self-respect, I would find it in the example of our great leader.
While other men were weakly yielding to what seemed a popular movement toward free coinage, he has always set his face
against it. Rich in saving common sense, he has pointed out its
follies and its dangers. Amid the stream of fluctuating opinions
and conflicting views he has remained steadfast, immovable.
When others cowered before the storm he stood "four-square
to all the winds that blow." As Barnard Bee held his broken
columns at Manassas by pointing to our immortal soldier—"See
how Jackson stands like a stone wall "—so he has been the rallying-point for all the conservative forces of the country.
Holding duty to his country as higher than party or personal
fortunes, the awakened judgment and conscience of his party has
called him to its leadership, and his country, trusting the man,
has heaped rich honors on the patriot.
So let his great example stand, that the faint-hearted among
our public men may learn that truth and courage are often the
highest statesmanship, and that our young men may know
that—
Because right is right, to follow right
Were wisdom in the scorn of consequence.

[Loud and continued applause.]
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