Harper's Weekly Editorials on Carl Schurz/Mr. Schurz's Speech 3
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Mr. Schurz's Speech
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|From Harper's Weekly, November 1, 1890, p. 843. See also Carl Schurz's speech, The Tariff Question.|
Mr. Schurz's late speech before the Massachusetts Reform Club on the present aspects of public affairs, especially the question of the tariff, was one of those masterly generalizations which sum up whole debates and fix attention upon the essential points of controversy. The lucidity of the orator's perception, his comprehensive intelligence, his condor of statement, intellectual rectitude, and moral force, make one of his important speeches a public event. This campaign has been peculiarly interesting and prolific in addresses by eminent public men, but there has been none which appeals to the public mind with more incisive ability, directness, and fairness than this of Mr. Schurz.
In another way, also, the speech is very interesting. It expresses characteristically and satisfactorily the general view of a very large body of American citizens who are profoundly interested in public affairs, but who are not dragged at the wheels of party. They are, in fact, the tribunal to which all party orators appeal. When members of Congress and party orators speak of appealing to the country and invoking the verdict of the people, they do not mean people who vote according to the label of the package, but according to its contents. They mean those who do not vote as a party bids, but as their own judgment approves.
Mr. Schurz's audience is very large, because there are a great many such Americans. They are in parties, indeed, as well as out of them, and they ultimately decide elections. Even if they do not always agree with every view expressed by the orator, they agree wholly with the patriotism, the essential democracy, the wise, practical Americanism of his tone. But agreement with this speech will be very general. No recent address seems to us to present so well the true American view of the questions which it treats. It is a speech to affect opinion, and when Mr. Schurz had taken his seat, the Reform Club instantly and unanimously resolved to print it for the widest popular circulation.
|This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain).|