The New York Times/Citizens' Ticket Ratified
|Citizens' Ticket Ratified
|From The New York Times of October 7, 1897. Remarks of Henry Weissman and speakers at simultaneous rallies outside the hall are also noted.|
CITIZENS' TICKET RATIFIED
A Mass Meeting in Cooper Union
Indorses the Platform and
DEMOCRATS JOIN THE PARTY
Senator Guy Appears as an Envoy
from the Purroy Faction — Mr. Low
Enthusiastically Received at
His First Appearance in
For the second time this week Cooper Union was packed last night by a monster mass meeting. Only an inspection of the audience revealed any marked difference from the crowd of the evening before. On both occasions, the hall and all available space about it was jammed with people.
By 7 o'clock the hall was more than comfortably filled. By 8 it was suffocatingly crowded. The police supervision, however, was vigilant and abundant, and there was no confusion.
At 7:45 Mrs. Seth Low appeared on the platform, and was recognized and greeted by a ripple of applause.
The first real applause of the evening was given to Carl Schurz, who was at once recognized by the audience. His speech was also liberally cheered, and was listened to with every show of deference and interest.
Gen. Wager Swayne and Joseph Larocque were also cheered as they came on the platform, and several other members of the Union who were known were received with applause.
The cheering throughout the evening lacked enthusiasm, except when Mr. Low arose to speak and at the close of the meeting, when it warmed almost to white heat. Except on these two occasions the applause came from a few persons at a time, and lost its effect in the great crowd and big hall.
When Mr. Low rose, however, there was vociferous and ardent cheering for upward of a minute and a half. Persons stood up in the chairs and shouted and waved their hats. The number of ladies in the audience added to this demonstration as they waved their handkerchiefs and caused a rustling noise that sounded like the waving of flags.
A still warmer demonstration followed the close of the meeting. As soon as Gen. Swayne's motion to adjourn was carried, everybody on the platform rushed at Mr. Low. At least half of the audience still remaining in the hall, probably 100 persons, clambered over the front of the stage anxious, as they shouted, to shake hands with the “first Mayor of Greater New York.” Mr. Low shook hands with everybody, and came near to being mobbed by his friends, until Inspector Cross and a couple of policemen escorted him into the committee room behind the stage.
Another curious crowd was awaiting him there and the formula of handshaking was gone through with again. At last Mr. Low escaped and left the hall by the Ninth Street entrance, walking across the street to where his carriage was waiting for him.
The audience came out to hear and see Mr. Low. It was impatient until he spoke and as soon as he concluded his brief speech it began to disperse. A third of the audience left immediately, and when Mr. Schumann spoke he faced only a half or a third of the original crowd.
A great deal of dissatisfaction was expressed at the way in which the Committee on Speaking had conducted the meeting. Amid a long programme of speeches, lasting from 8:10 to 11:40, the three candidates had to content themselves with brief speeches of five minutes each.
CHARLES STEWART SMITH.
As Temporary Chairman He Called
the Meeting to Order and Named
Charles Stewart Smith, acting as temporary Chairman, called the meeting to order. He said:
“I feel it incumbent upon me here tonight to acknowledge the presence of the large number of ladies whom I see before me. During the campaign of the Committee of Seventy, which resulted in the election of Mayor Strong, we were often indebted to them for their presence. I hold it to be an augury of victory that in this large audience so many ladies have honored us with their presence. Ladies generally accomplish what they undertake, and I am sure that Seth Low will be the first Mayor of Greater New York. [Applause]
In the absence of Mr. R. Fulton Cutting, the duty has devolved upon me of calling this meeting to order and of naming its Chairman. Before I call upon the distinguished citizen who will occupy the chair, I shall ask your permission to ask and answer some questions which have been prominent in the public mind, and concerning which it is proper that an authoritative reply should be made.
First. Will Seth Low withdraw? [“No, no, no!”]
Second. Why did the Citizens' Union refuse to confer with Mr. Quigg? [Cry from the audience, “Didn't want no machine boss.”]
Third. A question privately asked, will any candidate upon the Citizens' Union ticket be expected to make pecuniary contribution to the funds for the campaign?
I will dispose of the last question first, because the first two are somewhat connected in what I have to say. I am instructed by my friend, Mr. Tod, the Treasurer of the Finance Committee, to say that no candidate will be asked, expected, or permitted to give one cent, [cheers,] and, furthermore, a public audit will be made of his accounts, and that he will tell the public how much money he has received and how and for what purposes it was expended, and let the public judge if he has done well. [Cheers.] This you know, gentlemen, will be a new departure in political management, and I hope it will be a good example for certain men who have deposited party funds, collected from their followers, in their own names, and sent their individual checks to their friends without accounting to the members even of their own committees.
In answer to the question, Will Mr. Low withdraw? I recently replied to this question that “nothing but sudden death will cause Mr. Low's withdrawal.” Mr. Low's presence here is a confirmation of that statement.
“I hold that the public is entitled to a reasonable answer to the question, why the Citizens' Union did not confer with Mr. Quigg. [A voice: “You mean with Platt.”] In all times of grave crisis, either in public or private affairs, conferences are in order unless there are grave and convincing reasons why such conferences should not be held. If a man robs me of my pocketbook I should not be expected to confer with him as to the justice or propriety of the ownership of the pocketbook.
“The Citizens' Union is the logical outgrowth of the late Constitutional Convention, in which the party that has recently nominated Mr. Tracy was dominant.”
The signers of the address accompanying the submission of the Constitution, one of whom was Mr. Edward Lauterbach himself, said:
“We seek to separate in the larger cities municipal elections from State and National elections, to the end that the business affairs of our great municipal corporations may be managed upon their own merits, uncontrolled by National and State politics, and to the end also that the great issues of National and State politics may be determined upon their merits, free from the disturbing and often demoralizing effect of local contests.”
Joseph H. Choate and Elihu Root, two of the members of the Citizens' Union, joined in signing the address, and Mr. Root was also largely the author of the platform of the Citizens' Union.
No better statement could be made of the objects of the Union, but the organization which placed Mr. Tracy in nomination has in its well-known representative public utterances reversed and trampled upon the principles contained in the address emanating from the Constitutional Convention. It is attempted to rob the citizens of the Greater New York of the rights and privileges conferred upon them by the Constitutional amendments and to perpetuate boss rule, which has been the disgrace of our municipal civilization. Besides the invitation to confer was that of the “spider to the fly.” The Republican organization never had the slightest intention of accepting Mr. Low as its candidate, nor any other man who would not distribute the patronage of his office in accordance with the dictation of the machine.
A well-known friend of the Republican boss said to me recently: “We never could have accepted Mr. Low. We got next to nothing from Strong, and with Low, what would there be for the boys?”
Now suppose for a moment the Citizens' Union had been weak enough to have conferred as desired with Mr. Quigg. The result would have been the absolute rejection of Mr. Low, the loss to our ticket of all independent support, [applause,] of the entire German vote, and the betrayal of the trust of 130,000 voters. [Applause.] We called upon the people and asked them, “Do you want Low for Mayor?” One hundred and thirty-one thousand said they did. We were bound in honor and conscience to respect that verdict.
In concluding, Mr. Smith nominated Joseph Larocque for permanent Chairman, saying:
“I have a great pleasure in calling upon a gentleman to preside at this meeting who has always been a reformer in municipal politics.”
Mr. Larocque was unanimously elected.
MR. LAROCQUE'S REMARKS.
He Gives a General Presentation of
the Purposes of the
Mr. Larocque, as Permanent Chairman, made an address setting forth the principles of the Citizens' Union. He said:
Three years ago I had the honor of addressing you in this hall in support of the platform of the Committee of Seventy on which Mr. Strong was nominated and elected to the office of Mayor. His term is now about expiring, and you have an opportunity of seeing what reforms have been accomplished by an administration conducted in the interests of the city and not in the interests of any party.
You will find the Police Justices of Tammany Hall replaced by a respectable and upright body of City Magistrates. Our citizens who are brought in contact with those officials are now treated as human beings and not as serfs.
If you look at the work of the Board of Education you will find that the interests of the education of the youth of this great metropolis have been receiving such attention as they never received before. [Applause.]
If you will look at the sanitary conditions of this great City of New York, you will find that it is so administered that the death rate has been less during the last year than ever before in the history of the city. [Applause.]
Look at the condition of your streets. You will find a condition of cleanliness that never was seen and never was dreamed of before by the oldest inhabitant of New York. [Applause.] Excepting those streets which have been torn up by that official who has recently thrown himself into the arms of the Republican machine. [Laughter and applause.]
We are now on the eve of the first municipal election under the amended Constitution. The importance of the crisis is magnified by the fact that the municipal officers to be elected at the coming election will have the care of the business interests of the great municipality created by the new charter, their administration extending over a greatly enlarged territory, and their constituents being a population numbering upward of three millions of souls. The importance of the selection of proper officers for the management of the affairs of this imperial city cannot be exaggerated. The question presented for the suffrages of the citizens is whether the business affairs of the city should be managed by men selected on account of their fitness for the positions for which they are put in nomination, in the sole interest of the citizens at large, or whether they shall be managed by men selected on account of their devotion to party organizations in the interest, not of the city at large, but of the political organizations which have put them in nomination.
The evils resulting from the latter method of government have been so accentuated in the past experience of the present city of New York under the rule of Tammany Hall that it is not proposed at this time to enter at large upon that subject. Those evils were seen and appreciated by the Constitutional Convention of 1894, a convention controlled by the Republican Party of the State, whose delegates in that convention were in the majority and the deliberations of which were controlled by a presiding officer and by the Chairmen and majorities in the principal committees who were selected by the delegates of the Republican Party. So grievous were these evils that their consideration occupied an important part of the deliberations of the convention, and the result was an amendment framed for the purpose of securing the management of the business affairs of our great corporations uncontrolled by National or State politics. This amended Constitution was submitted to the people, accompanied by an address by the delegates to the convention explanatory of their work, in which they say:
“We seek to separate in the larger cities municipal elections from State and National elections, to the end that the business affairs of our great municipal corporations may be managed upon their own merits, uncontrolled by National and State politics, and to the end, also, that the great issues of National and State politics may be determined upon their merits, free from the disturbing and often demoralizing effect of local contests.”
In order to avail of the opportunity thus afforded by the amended constitution, the movement for the organization of the Citizens' Union was started, and has been carried on. Its platform declares that the Union was formed to carry into effect the principles that the business affairs of municipal corporations should be managed upon their own merits, uncontrolled by National or State politics, and it demands that the affairs of the City of New York be administered independently of National and State politics, and that local officers be chosen solely with reference to their qualifications, and it declares that the Union will nominate no candidate unless his character and record are such as to justify public confidence in his assurance that if elected he will not use his office or permit it to be used for the benefit of any political organization, but will administer it in all respects in accordance with the principles of that declaration.
The Union was not formed to make war upon political parties as such. It recognized the value of political parties to deal with questions affecting Federal or State policy, but it appeals to citizens of all political parties to unite with them for the purpose of placing the management of the business affairs of the municipality in the hands of agents selected on account of their character and qualifications for the positions to which they may be assigned, and whose sole object shall be to accomplish the best results for the city at large, acting in the interests of all citizens, without respect to party, and not using their offices for the aggrandizement or advantage of any political organization.
They separated the municipal from State and Federal elections, and so amended the Constitution that the election for municipal officers should be held in years when there were no State or Federal officers to be elected. As Mr. Smith has stated to you, that convention was controlled by the Republican Party. Its Chairman was a Republican and its President was a Republican; the Chairman and the majority of every committee was Republican. They submitted the result of their labors to the people, and pointed out the change that had been obtained and stated their object to have been to secure the management of municipal affairs in the interests of the municipality and uncontrolled or unaffected by National and State politics.
But before I go further I must call your attention to another thing. This same principle had been acted upon by the Republicans before this amendment to the Constitution. In 1883 there was in the office of Mayor of the City of Brooklyn (which is to be a part of the City of New York after the 1st of January, 1898,) an officer whose term was expiring. He had been elected by people of all parties upon a platform such as is offered to the people now by the Citizens' Union.
The Republicans held their convention for the purpose of nominating a candidate for Mayor and seven Aldermen. In that convention they adopted certain resolutions and set forth certain propositions as emphatic, and if you will permit I will read to you what was the opinion of the Republican Party at that time:
First — Questions of National or State politics have to-day no proper place in the selection of candidates for our municipal offices, nor in the practical administration of our municipal business.
Second — The successful conduct of the affairs of our city depends upon the election to office of men of tried integrity and proved capacity who will not use the power and patronage attached to their positions for factional or partisan ends, but manage the public business according to essentially the same methods they would employ in the honest and efficient conduct of their private business; therefore
Resolved, That the delegates to this convention, in voting for candidates for the offices named, do so with the distinct understanding that such candidates, in accepting their nomination, pledge themselves unreservedly to support and promote these fundamental principles.
They concluded their pronunciamento with the declaration that the Mayor then in office “in the administration of his high office has been in hearty and entire accord with the principles here enunciated,” and closed with a cordial indorsement of his administration.
As is perfectly understood by every one, in a division of mere party lines the Republican Party is and always has been in a hopeless minority in the City of New York. [Cheers.] In a campaign conducted on party lines in the interest of good government, it is perfectly evident that no Republican candidate nominated upon a partisan platform ever had the ghost of a chance of success.
The Citizens' Union declared it would nominate no man whose character and record were not such as to assure the people that, if elected, he would administer his office for the people.
And, having laid out the lines of their campaign, their first step was to find a man who would measure up to their standard and carry out the principles of our declarations.
Their choice fell upon a man in the prime of life, who had been born within the limits of the City of New York as it is to be after Jan. 1; the first part of whose life was spent in Brooklyn, and the latter part on this side of the river; a man of liberal education and liberal views; a man with adequate means for the support of his family without going into politics; [continued applause;] a man of experience in municipal affairs, who had twice by the suffrages of the voters of Brooklyn, independently of party, filled the office of Mayor of Brooklyn, [applause;] a man upon whom the encomiums of the Republican Convention of 1883 were passed as I have read; a man who was known on both sides of the river as a man of public spirit, holding the esteem and respect of men of all classes, the artisan, the man of trade, and the professional man; a man as to whose uprightness no breath of suspicion has ever been suggested by a living soul; [continued applause;] a man who, on account of his character and attainments, had been selected to preside over our grand old institution of learning; a man who had been selected by the Republican Legislature of the State of New York to assist in framing the Constitution of Greater New York; a Republican in politics, but a man of the people, and a defender of the people's rights. [Applause.]
The logical candidate for the time and for the people. [Applause.]
And that choice was Seth Low. [Great applause.]
Well, now, gentlemen, to go back a little you will keep in mind that in view of the Republican minority it was necessary — in order to elect a candidate — that he should have the co-operation of all parties. That co-operation would be given only to a man up to the standard that we had set and who was put in nomination by the people of all parties. If there had been a suspicion that that nomination was made in pursuance of a deal with this or that or the other political machine, it would have prevented that support. It was necessary, therefore, that the nomination should be made public before there could be a suggestion that it was made in pursuance of any understanding or any deal with any one.
Before Mr. Low was selected as the standard bearer of this movement it was understood that his duties as the head of a great educational institution were such that he could not be brought to lay them aside, unless he was convinced that it was his public duty to yield to the solicitations of his fellow citizens to lead them in the interest of honest government. Well, the people were in this Citizens' Union because they believed in it. They were in it to stay. [Applause.]
They thought they had the ideal candidate, the propriety of whose nomination would convince every citizen who looked to the good of the community and not of the party. Accordingly a canvass of the city was made to see what the public mind was. In the course of a very few days they had received the signatures of more than 100,000 citizens of New York, asking for Mr. Low as a candidate for Mayor of Greater New York, which is soon to be.
With that backing, Mr. Low was again called upon to consent to the wishes of the public and take the position of standard bearer in the fight and carry the banner to victory. The evidence was so overwhelming that he could no longer resist, and he gave his assent to meet the views of his fellow-citizens. There was every reason to suppose that when the Republican Party took the course which they took and declared that the corporation should be uncontrolled by National issues, they would give their adhesion and support to the movement which the Citizens' Union had set on foot.
But early in the season we had notice that they were not to be relied upon. In a public speech delivered by the Chairman of the Republican County Committee, the representative of the boss within the limits of the City of New York declared that the organization would insist upon the nomination and election of a straight Republican candidate, and that if that could not be secured, then they would prefer the election of a straight Democratic candidate, a Tammany Democrat if need be, rather than permit the citizens to select and appoint their own officers to manage their own affairs. [Applause and hisses.] From that day to this, this has been the declared policy of the Republican organization in the City of New York, and every step that they have taken has been in accordance with that policy.
And now, gentlemen, the issue before you is this: Will you by your suffrages stand by the right of citizens to have their municipal business managed by agents of their own selection in their interest, for the good of the whole city, or will you by your suffrages give support to the arrogant claim of the machine bosses that no man shall be elected Mayor of the City of New York unless he is first pledged to the support of an organization, and that his office shall be administered in the interest of the organization first and the public last? Are you prepared to put on the collar? [Cries of “No! no!”] Are you freemen? [“Yes!”] Then go to the polls and vote for Seth Low on election day! [Cheers.]
This position taken by the Republican Party has had the effect already of disrupting their organization in the City of New York and the City of Brooklyn. Respectable Republicans realize that the position is contrary to the declared principles of the party and a violation of faith; that they are thereby relieved from allegiance to party organization, and day by day the attitude of the Citizens' Union and of its candidates is attracting to the support of the ticket men of all political beliefs.
Hour by hour they are pouring in, and there is only this one thing that I wish you to keep in mind: Don't be persuaded that in order to prevent the enthusiasts who are followers of George and the corruptionists who are followers of Croker from winning, you should cast a ballot for the Platt machine. Every ballot cast in support of that ticket is cast in support of the proposition enunciated by Mr. Lauterbach, that as they cannot have their own man they would rather have a Tammany man. [Applause, cries of “Low! Low!” and hisses.] I have to announce to you that Mr. Low, Mr. Fairchild, and Mr. Schumann, the candidates on the municipal ticket of the Citizens' Union, will all address you later on. [Cries of “Now!” hisses, and calls of “Order!”]
At the conclusion of his own speech, Mr. Larocque introduced Carl Schurz as “a gentleman who always receives undivided attention from any audience whom he addresses, who is the standard bearer of the reform of the civil service, [Applause] a gentleman whose voice is always put forward in the interest of good government. I present to you the Hon. Carl Schurz.” [Cheers.]
CARL SCHURZ'S ADDRESS.
Says That Mr. Low Will Lead the
Friends of Good Government
Mr. Schurz, on being introduced by Chairman Larocque, was received with long and cordial cheering. He spoke from a manuscript after the first few sentences, although only glancing occasionally at his paper. He said:
“A few days ago it was thirty-seven years from the time that I stood upon this platform for the first time. I then advocated the election of Abraham Lincoln to the Presidency. [Cheers.] It was in that great movement preparatory to the emancipation of 4,000,000 of bondsmen from slavery. To-day I stand here to advocate a cause no less good and great — namely, the emancipation of the people from the thralldom of boss rule. [Cheers.]
“Permit me now to address to you a few very plain and sober remarks. There are certain truths and precepts which, whenever you state them, seem so very simple, self-evident, and commanding that nobody dares to contradict them, but which are so easily and so quickly overlooked and forgotten that they cannot be repeated too earnestly and too often. One of them is that the citizen who puts his vote into the ballot box performs an act which affects not only his own interests but the interests of his neighbors, his fellow-beings, sometimes thousands and millions of them, for weal or woe; whether he exercises the power thus intrusted to him against his own convictions as to what is best for the common good, or exercises it thoughtlessly, inconsiderately, without taking the trouble of satisfying himself to the best of his power and opportunity as to what is best for the common good, he is faithless to his highest duty as a citizen, for he commits an act which is in the last degree unprincipled and immoral — a flagrant offense against the community. [Applause.]
Let us look at the duty before us from this point of view. Here is this new creation of Greater New York, not only the greatest city in the republic, but one of the greatest in the world in point of extent, population, wealth, commercial importance, &c. Greater New York is now to receive at our hands its first municipal government. It will be one of the most important and most conspicuous experiments in municipal government on a large scale, based upon universal suffrage.
As the republic of the United States received, in a large sense, its first character through the election of its first President, George Washington, so this new municipality will receive its first character through its first municipal government, with the first Mayor of Greater New York at the head of it. The election of this government is to show, so far as one election can show it, how much the people of this great city are capable of governing themselves well. That first government will for a series of years have to take care, so far as a government can, of the health, the comfort, the public education; in short, of those interests which are nearest to the persons and hearts of more than 3,000,000 people, hundreds of thousands of whom hardly ever see the green fields outside, their whole lives being spent on these city streets, within these city walls.
The trust power exercised by the voter in helping to give this great city its first government is therefore an uncommonly grave one. He who votes this or that ticket without conscientiously weighing for himself the reasons for and against, merely because some one has ordered him to do thus and so, or merely because he wants to be one of this or that crowd, violates his duty in a situation of extraordinary gravity, and commits an uncommonly heinous offense against himself and his fellow-citizens.
If ever, the most unprejudiced, candid, and careful consideration of all the circumstances surrounding us is now imposed upon us as a sacred and solemn obligation. There is an unusual abundance of tickets presented for our choice. In choosing between them we shall, as prudent men, consider not only what they promise to do and profess to be, but what they really are, whom they represent, what company they keep. [Applause.] When we know that, we shall be able to tell what kind of government they will likely give us if elected.
There are four sets of candidates demanding serious consideration. Look at the Tammany ticket first. The men on that ticket, I take it, are personally unknown to most of us. But we do know whom they represent and what company they keep. We do know that Tammany Hall has given the old city of New York a series of the most inefficient, corrupt, and rapacious municipal governments the world has ever seen. We do know that Tammany Hall would not give the city good government without ceasing to exist, for the simple reason that Tammany Hall is, to express it mildly, an association of politicians for united support at the public expense, and for the enrichment of its leaders by blackmail and public plunder. This is practically the substance of Tammany's being, notwithstanding all the elaborate political platforms, promises, and professions it puts forth. Such an organization might put forward the Angel Gabriel to govern the city with Tammany men upon Tammany principles, and the result would be virtually always the same. It would only be a question of degrees.
In putting the names of well known good men upon its ticket, Tammany would only try to deceive the public. But this time Tammany seems not even to have tried. If the Tammany nominees are mere menials of the Tammany bosses, as such, if elected, they will consider it their principal duty to furnish, at the expense of the people of Greater New York, the largest possible quantity of provender for the Tammany menagerie. In fact, a great many of the Tammany braves have themselves become seriously frightened at the evident significance of the Tammany nominations. They think it was not expedient to proclaim quite so defiantly that Greater New York is, in case of a Tammany victory, to be merely an enlarged pasture for the Tammany crowd. But the mischief is done, the intention is clear, and no change of candidate would mend the Tammany case. Every citizen of New York who has eyes to see or a mind to understand knows that every vote for the Tammany ticket is a vote to deliver Greater New York bound hand and foot to the tender mercies of Richard Croker, John C. Sheehan, and their mercenaries, who are now all the more hungry, as for years they have been on short rations.
How could such an organization as Tammany Hall, in spite of its character and reputation, so frequently succeed in getting control of the Municipal Government? We remember it well. The Democratic Party had a large majority in this city, and Tammany managed to be the regular organization of the Democratic Party. It called upon all Democrats for support as Democrats. Many thousands of Democrats not belonging to Tammany gave it that support as Democrats, and Tammany then used the power obtained by that support for its own selfish ends. Thus the strength and prestige and party spirit of the Democratic Party as a National organization were used to put and keep a ring of unscrupulous politicians and their mercenaries in place to misgovern and plunder this long-suffering community.
It must be said, however, that the Tammany of New York has not been the only organization of the kind in this country to carry on such outrageous doings. Look around you and you will find that what has been done by Tammany here in the name of Democracy has been done by similar rings of politicians in Philadelphia and other places in the name of Republicanism. In fact, you will find that wherever National politics is infused into the management of the affairs of large municipalities, municipal employments, with their powers and opportunities, always are misused for other than municipal purposes and interests, and misgovernment and corruption are always the result. Tammany has achieved in this line the worst reputation, because in this great and rich city it has had the greatest opportunities. [Applause and hisses.] It is the most shocking illustration of the system. Its party label is merely accidental. You give the Republican or any other party that same large majority in the city, and elect the municipal officers upon National party lines, and you will finally have the same outcome as they have it in Philadelphia and elsewhere. It is only a difference of name and degree. The substance is the same. Municipal Governments elected for reasons and for purposes other than the honest and efficient business management of municipal affairs will always in the course of time drift the same way, into inefficiency and corruption, no matter what the party name may be. The system will always lead to the quartering of party workers, the bad as well as the good, upon the public purse. You cannot run a livery stable or a shoe shop upon such a principle without eventually demoralizing and bankrupting it. This is universal experience.
It was in view of this incontestable fact that our late Constitutional Convention separated the municipal elections from National and State elections, and that the Republican majority of that convention, led by some of the best men of the State, earnestly commended the separation to popular acceptance on the very ground that National party divisions had nothing to do with municipal affairs, and would, if mixed with them, produce only mischief. It was the same view that caused public-spirited citizens of New York last Winter to form the Citizens' Union for the purpose of carrying the intent of our new Constitution into practical effect; that is, for the purpose of securing to the citizens of Greater New York the opportunity to elect to the municipal offices men who, to whatever National party they might belong, would, as municipal officers, recognize no other duty or obligation than to do the business of the municipality with a single eye to the interests of all the people, without being distracted by any consideration of partisan advantage. [Applause.] And to this end the Citizens' Union invited the support and co-operation of all citizens without distinction of party. The outcome of the labors of the Citizens' Union we have before us in the shape of a list of candidates for the municipal offices. Apply to these candidates the tests I have proposed. Who are the men? I can confidently leave the answer to this question to an intelligent community.
I will defy any one, be he friend or foe, to show me the name of any man ever nominated for the Mayor's office in New York, or for that matter anywhere, who in point of character, rectitude, ability, temperament, liberality of mind, public spirit, knowledge of municipal affairs, experience of municipal affairs — in short, in that combination of qualities which we wish our Mayor to possess — excelled Mr. Low. (Long applause.) This has been so universally recognized that at the moment when the charter for Greater New York was adopted those whose principal aim was good government for the new municipality, without distinction of party, instinctively turned to Mr. Low as the natural candidate, and that the only question was whether he would accept the office. It is a matter of general congratulation that he will. As to the rest of the ticket, Mr. Fairchild, the ideal Controller; Mr. Schumann, a highly respected business man, who has meritoriously discharged public duties before, and their associates match the character of the leader.
Secondly, what do these candidates represent? What company do they keep? I ask you to read the words of the men composing the body that made the nominations, and compare them with the names on the roll of the Tammany convention, or of the Republican convention, or of the Democratic organization that brought forward Mr. Henry George. Ask yourself the simple question to which of these bodies would you be most willing to confide your goods and interests in the municipal, as well as in the private sense? In which are all classes, high and low, most honorably represented? Has anybody seen, or can anybody remember, a political convention of higher character?
And can there be the slightest doubt that behind it among the 130,000 citizens who indorsed Mr. Low's nomination with their signatures, stands the best part of our professional, working, and business population? This is the company these candidates and these are the people they represent.
Finally, what are the names and what the purposes for which they have been nominated? The purposes are enumerated in the platform of the Citizens' Union. They may be summed up in one sentence: Good government — that is, government not for the benefit of the office holders, not for the benefit of any political party, not for the benefit of any corporations, but wholly and solely for the benefit of the people. Such good government these men, if elected, are to secure. [Applause.] And they were nominated not for the reason that they were individually Republicans or Democrats, but simply for the reason that they were thought fit to perform the duties to be performed, and that they had now in the community positions respectable enough to entitle them to the confidence of their fellow-citizens.
Such are the candidates of the Citizens' Union. Their candidate for Mayor was first in the field. But he was not formally nominated and did not accept that nomination until to a call for a popular expression as to whether his candidacy was desired, far more than 100,000 citizens had responded in the affirmative with their signatures. Republicans, Democrats, and independents. This was accordingly a direct expression of the popular mind. It was expected by some that the Republican organization, too, would take him as its candidate, as so many thousands of individual Republicans had done.
But the Republican organization, although professing to be intensely hostile to Tammany Hall, acted otherwise. It nominated a ticket of its own. At its head stands Gen. Tracy. And of him as of the man of first importance on it I will speak. Let the same test as to the candidates of other parties be applied to him. Who is he? A gentleman of high respectability, of many excellent qualities, and a fine record of public service. But what does he represent? It is said that he represents the Republican Party. I deny it. On many other occasions he might honorably represent the Republican Party in the best sense, but in this instance he represents only the power that made him a candidate, and that power is not the Republican Party, but the man at the head of the Republican machine, Senator Thomas C. Platt. I affirm here only what everybody knows.
There was no popular call for Gen. Tracy. Mr. Platt, who had before selected another gentleman for whom he had made the whole Republican machine shout, substituted Mr. Tracy a few days before the Republican Convention and put his nomination through in the most approved machine fashion. I risk nothing in saying that had Mr. Platt and his machine permitted the real sentiment of the Republican rank and file to have a free voice in the Republican Convention, Mr. Low's nomination would have been carried in it with enthusiasm. As it is, a most respectable part of the Republican Party with the most important part of the Republican press stands by Mr. Lowe to-day.
For what purpose, then, has Mr. Platt nominated Gen. Tracy? For the purpose for which a candidate is ordinarily nominated — the purpose of electing him? I deny it. In the face of the number of Republicans supporting Mr. Low, he can certainly have no such expectation. I know Mr. Platt says he has, for it will not do for him to speak otherwise. Some days ago Mr. Platt declared he wished he was as sure of salvation as he was that Gen. Tracy would be the first Mayor of Greater New York. It is quite possible that Mr. Platt is as sure of the one thing as of the other. Still, a few days later he began to hedge, saying that he would stake all his worldly possessions on Mr. Tracy's election if the conditions now existing remained so until election day. I suppose he will go on hedging until he arrives at the proposition that he will wager his immortal soul as well as his bottom dollar on Mr. Tracy's election if Mr. Tracy gets more votes than anybody else. That will be a perfectly safe prediction.
No, Mr. Tracy was not nominated by Mr. Platt with any expectation of his being elected. Why, in the very convention in which Mr. Tracy was nominated Mr. Platt's mouthpiece openly confessed that Mr. Tracy would be withdrawn in certain contingencies — that is, if Mr. Low would leave the field, too, and the Citizens' Union would consult Mr. Platt as to a new candidate to be nominated in his place. It was announced that Mr. Tracy would remain candidate only when Mr. Platt himself could no longer doubt that Seth Low, conscious of fighting a good fight, would stand by his colors to the end — a thing which in fact was never doubtful.
For what purpose, then, was Mr. Tracy nominated? Not to defeat Tammany, but to force Mr. Low off the field, or, if he would not go, to beat him by indirectly helping Tammany to carry the election and to get the City of Greater New York in its tiger claws for the next four years.
Do I say this without proof? Why you need only read Mr. Platt's inspired organ. [Cries: The Sun.] Yes, The Sun, to find in every issue ten articles savagely assailing Seth Low to one faint whisper against Tammany Hall. Is not that proof enough? Anything to beat Low! is the Platt cry. Why, then, does Mr. Platt so eagerly seek to defeat Mr. Low at the cost of turning over the city to Tammany rule? Simply because Mr. Low has been nominated for Mayor by the public-spirited citizens of New York in a manner which does not put him under obligations to Mr. Platt. Simply because Mr. Low, if elected, will be entirely independent of any influence of Mr. Platt, as well as of any other party machine. With Tammany Mr. Platt can trade, with Mr. Low he cannot. [Cheers.] That is all. What was all his talk about the Citizens' Union discourteously declining to confer about nominations with Mr. Platt's agents which disturbed many well-meaning persons so much? Every Republican, as well as every Democratic citizen of New York City was at perfect liberty to enter the Citizens' Union and to exercise his influence upon its councils, if he only accepted the principle of non-partisan political government. [Cheers.]
I predict that when Gen. Tracy, worthy man as he is, at the end of a long life distinguished by public service, surveys his career, he will find the part which Mr. Platt has made him play in the contest to have been the thing least to be proud of. Nor will it be any consolation to him that he meant to do a service to his party. For surely the Republican Party cannot gain in public confidence or in prestige by an attempt to restore the pirates of Tammany Hall to power in order to defeat one of the best possible candidates for municipal office that any constituency has ever seen. Much better will the Republican Party be served by those thousands of honest Republicans who, while their party machine is bent upon mischief, prove that the honest Republican rank and file manfully stand by Seth Low and good government. For the saying is and will always remain true that he serves his party best who serves his country best. [Applause.]
The fourth ticket claiming consideration is that headed by Mr. Henry George. [Cheers and hand-clapping.] It owes its origin to the fact that Tammany Hall did not make its bad cause still worse by reaffirming the free silver heresy of the Chicago platform. Had Tammany Hall done that, the dissatisfied Democratic organization would not have rebelled against it and Mr. George would not be in the field. He is an honest theorist, and will no doubt be joined by a number of workingmen allured to his standard by vague expectations which cannot be fulfilled, even by him, while the real good that can be done for the benefit of the laboring men is much more apt to be effected under a wise administration such as Mr. Low would give the city, than under a policy of venturesome experiments such as Mr. George would be likely to inaugurate. Moreover, the Democratic organizations which are the sponsors of Mr. George's candidacy would form for him, if he were elected, a very unhealthy atmosphere to live in. Being largely recruited from the spoils-hunting class, they would very soon seek to build up their own machines, and to run the municipal administrations by new political rings. But is there any prospect of Mr. George's obtaining votes enough to become a serious contestant in the election? [Cries of “No, no!” and “Yes, yes!” and cheers and hisses.] Indeed, he predicts his own success. But it must not be forgotten, it ought well to be remembered, that last year, after a careful survey of the campaign, he confidently foretold a majority of 200,000 for Bryan in the State of New York. I therefore venture to say as a prophet his credit is somewhat impaired by a sanguine temperament. [Laughter.]
“These are the four tickets between which we have to choose when giving the City of Greater New York its first Municipal Government. Can any good citizen who has the public welfare and the honor of this great municipality sincerely at heart be seriously doubtful? I have lived through many campaigns and helped to decide many elections, and I may say to you that during my whole experience I have never seen an electoral contest in which the cause of political morals and of the public good was more manifestly and more completely on the side of one contestant than it is in this instance by the candidates of the Citizens' Union. I have never been inspired by a clear consciousness of being right. Here there is nothing to conceal, nothing to defend, nothing to apologize for. I confidently predict that this ticket will be triumphantly elected if every voter should calmly and candidly examine the character of the candidates and the cause they stand for, and then have courage enough to vote according to his honest conclusions.
It cannot be that the patriotic and self-respecting Republicans of New York will consent to sacrifice the welfare and the honor of their great city and compromise the honor of their own party to the scheming ambition of one man, who has only a blind, selfish, partisan spirit to appeal to. It cannot be that the patriotic and self-respecting Democrats of New York should be so benumbed by partisan prejudice as to deliver with their eyes open the city into the hands of a piratical organization which has long been a disgrace and an incubus to their party. The importance of this crisis for the future of New York cannot be overestimated. It is not a mere hackneyed phrase, but it is the sober truth to say that the eyes of the country are directed upon this contest, and also the eyes of thousands of the friends of free institutions throughout the world are upon this contest. Shame upon him who now yields to paltry considerations of partisan pride or advantage! The question has been artfully raised whether Seth Low is really a unifying power among the friends of good government. Who, when looking at this assemblage, and when listening to the voice of the people, will deny that he is? And I fervently hope and trust — aye, I feel it in the atmosphere surrounding us — that he will lead the united friends of good government to triumph.” [Long cheering.]
SENATOR GUY'S STATEMENT.
He Pledges the Allegiance of the
Home Rule Democracy to the
Before Mr. Schurz had sat down, Mr. Larocque stepped forward and said: “A gentleman has arrived on this floor to make an announcement which may affect those conditions. I have the honor to present to you Senator Guy, who comes on behalf of the Home Rule Democracy.” [Applause.]
Senator Guy then spoke as follows:
In connection with the suggestion of Police Justice Murray and the Hon. Mr. McManus, and others, I have been appointed to notify the Chairman of this meeting and the citizens here assembled that the Home Rule Democracy, representing many thousands of Democrats who have thrown off the yoke of machine tyranny and believe in honest and clean government, and who believe that the future welfare of this metropolis is the paramount issue of this campaign, have to-night indorsed the nomination of Mr. Seth Low for Mayor of Greater New York. [Long-continued applause.]
Fellow-citizens, a few weeks since a plain citizen of this metropolis, on the invitation of 130,000 voters, had the hardihood without consulting the personal wishes of any political dictator to accept that nomination and fired the gun heard around the world. [Applause.] It precipitated a conflict from which there can be no withdrawal and the end of which must mean either the utter degradation of American citizenship or the carrying out of the wishes of the people through his triumphant election at the polls.
The issues raised are those which are accepted wherever honor, dignity, self-respect, are recognized throughout the universe. The issue raised is so plain that it cannot be misunderstood. It is the foundation of free government. No great question of National policy enters into it. It simply involves the right of free thought, free speech, and free action on the part of a free people.
The issue in this campaign which overrides all others is this: Shall the right of franchise which underlies our institutions, and is guaranteed by the Constitution of our country, be exercised only by the satellites of a political boss, and on the terms and conditions he sees fit to impose? There can be no mistake about this issue as one of great magnitude. The candidate presented is admitted to be one of the foremost citizens of our great city; capable, honest, intelligent, practical, of proved efficiency, and unshakable integrity.
For five months since his name was first suggested for the Mayoralty his enemies have tried in vain to pick a flaw in his character. One objection after another has been raised by them, but they have all proved utterly unsubstantial and without foundation. It is all summed up in this one objection, which remains, to his eternal honor, that he is not susceptible to the Republican machine.
That is the only substantial objection, the only impediment to his being to-day the only candidate of all factions which pretend to oppose Tammany Hall. You should be surprised at that objection on the part of the representatives of political personal machines. You might as well expect his satanic Majesty to enjoy being sprinkled with holy water, or the culprit upon the scaffold to seize with joy the hand of his executioner as to expect those who believe in government of bosses, for bosses, and by bosses to approve of the candidacy of the Hon. Seth Low for Mayor of Greater New York. [Applause.]
But the people will approve of it, and they will register that approval on election day if there is a drop of honest manhood in the veins of the citizens of New York. [Applause.] Shall the will of the people prevail, or shall the will of the political machine prevail? Shall the government of this great city, the second in the civilized world in population and importance, be handed over to the chosen representative of the people or be handed over to the agent of a corrupt political machine spoilation?
Already thousands of Democrats have arisen in revolt against the creation of the Democratic machine, against their betrayal of the people's interest, and announce their readiness to follow the standard of Seth Low in the cause of honest government. The city stands like a stone wall for Seth Low and sound government. The presence in this audience to-night of hundreds, I may say thousands, of Republicans shows that the Republican voters of the city also stand ready to follow his high and honorable attitude and leadership.
If they are, as I think, ready to do battle in this just cause, to follow where he has the manhood and courage to lead, then indeed the cause of good government will triumph and we shall have in the person of Mr. Low as the first Mayor of our great new city one who will reflect credit and honor upon the community, who will conduct its government firmly on the lines of decency and order, and whose election and administration will be for years to come the highest vindication of the right of self-government by enlightened, intelligent American people. [Applause and cries for Low.]
Chairman Larocque, as soon as Senator Guy concluded his speech, introduced Mr. Low as follows:
“Now, gentlemen, if you will be quiet we will grant you your request. [Applause.] I have the privilege of presenting to you the next Mayor of New York, the first Mayor of the great city which is to be on the 1st of January, 1898 — the Hon. Seth Low.” [Great cheering.]
SETH LOW'S SPEECH.
He Says That the Ticket Stands for
the Independence of the
Mr. Low did not deliver all of the speech he had prepared, and which is given below. When he walked to the front of the platform, after long calls for him, he said:
“I thank you for your hearty welcome. I had almost hoped to thank you for not asking me to speak. As it is, I think I shall ask leave to print, so as not to tire you.”
He then took up his prepared speech at the paragraph beginning, “There is one point, however, as to which Tammany, the Republican organization,” &c., and concluded with the paragraph ending, “I make that appeal now to the people of New York, in their own behalf and in behalf of free government, to elect this year officials who will be responsible directly to them, and not indirectly to some person whom they cannot get at.” The speech in full, as it was prepared by Mr. Low, follows:
Mr. Chairman and Fellow-Citizens: From the point of view of the Citizens' Union, this campaign has only one object, namely, to secure good government for the City of New York. I know that it is considered audacious in some quarters to appear before a constituency comprising more than half a million of voters with a programme so simple. Many men, I know, find it hard to believe that a cause of this character is capable of evoking a spirit of self-sacrifice in any of our citizens. But let us look at the facts. On the 1st day of January the charters of three cities — New York, Brooklyn, and Long Island City — the first two the largest and the fourth largest cities on the continent, and of I do not know how many towns and villages, are to be replaced by the Greater New York charter.
This does not mean simply that the personnel of all these various city, town, and village governments is to change on the 1st of January, but it means that the actual agencies of government throughout the entire territory affected are to be supplanted by new governmental agencies — in many instances of an entirely different character. The problem before the voters of New York, therefore, at this election is not simply to secure capable and honest administration of a governmental organization already in operation, but it is to install, over an immense territory, an entirely new City Government; to unify and harmonize interests that have hitherto been separate and more or less conflicting, and to make the new agencies of government as efficient as those which they supplant throughout the length and breadth of the territory affected.
Evidently here is a municipal problem of the first magnitude. There never had been a greater problem presented to the people of any city in this country or abroad. When it is considered that it affects the homes and the business interests of more than three millions and a quarter of people, it is evident that, in its municipal aspect, pure and simple, this canvass lacks not one element of consequence to the voters of the City of New York.
It seems to me to go without saying that this problem cannot be successfully dealt with by any man who goes into the Mayor's office with a double object in view. It will tax to the utmost the resources of any one whose only object it is to deal with this problem successfully and on its own merits. But if the Mayor of the people's choice is elected under such conditions that his primary obligation is toward some other object, a successful installation and administration of the new charter is simply out of the question. If the City Government, by the consent of the voters, is to be treated as party spoil, history is full of illustrations of what is to be expected. The city's work will be done after a fashion; and the work of building up the party, or the faction, of the powers that be, will be done with the utmost thoroughness.
Now let us see the form that this contest has taken. There are four tickets in the field. Two of them, the ticket headed by Gen. Tracy and the ticket headed by Henry George, openly proclaim the doctrine that in the solution of this tremendous municipal problem that confronts the City of New York, National issues and not the local issues ought to dominate in the mind of the voters. Gen. Tracy or the platform on which he stands says that the general issue is Bryanism, with a free coinage of silver at 16 to 1, and all that that implies. Henry George in the main agrees with him as to the issue, and brings into the canvass the Chicago platform of the Democratic Party; only Gen. Tracy is against Bryanism, and Henry George is for it. Both of these gentlemen propose certain things for the city, of course. Even a partisan of the strictest sect would hardly undertake to say in a purely municipal election like this, that the city “is not in it at all.” Nevertheless, they do say, both of them, that the city's interests are not the paramount issue, and that the voter ought to cast his ballot primarily with reference to National issues. This is the voter's privilege, undoubtedly, if he wishes to do so; but, if he does do it, he must not be disappointed if he does not get good city government.
No man can serve two masters; and if the people of the city elect a Mayor because of the views he entertains on the free coinage of silver and all the rest, they must not be surprised if the Mayor they elect subordinates the interests of the city to the exigencies of the party to which he belongs, in its strenuous effort to use the city for the advantage of the party in all succeeding elections. Translated into plain English, this means that appointments will be made to strengthen the party, and that the patronage of the city, wherever possible, will be used for the same purpose. Every intelligent citizen of New York knows what this means, for he has seen the effect of it with his own eyes. The Street Cleaning Department under Col. Waring's administration is an illustration of what it means to have the departments of the city administered in the city's interest alone. Any one who will recall the condition of the streets under the immediate predecessor of Col. Waring will understand the inevitable effect of mingling party politics with the administration of the city.
Such considerations as these led Gov. Tilden long ago to say that one of the essential conditions for local self-government was “that in voting upon the administration of public affairs, the popular attention and the popular will be freed as far as possible from disturbing elements, especially from complications with State and National politics.” And this alone is why the recent State Constitutional Convention controlled by the Republican Party, provided for the separate city elections which we enjoy for the first time this year. The Committee of the Constitutional Convention in reporting the amendment upon this subject, which was subsequently adopted by the people, used these words: "Such a Constitutional provision, your committee believes, would be very beneficial to cities, both in its direct effect and in its announcement by the people of the State that the government of great cities is no longer to be secondary to matters of the State or the Nation." The Citizens' Union and its candidates in this contest, and they alone, stand for that doctrine, and in doing so they are emphasizing one of the most fundamental of the conditions upon which good city government depends.
Curiously enough in this campaign, Tammany Hall, in its platform, has confined itself as strictly to local issues as the Citizens' Union. But everybody understands that Tammany has done this only because it has not dared to come out either for the Chicago platform of its party or against it. The sincerity of Tammany's platform utterances is easily tested. It is fairly eloquent on the subject of home rule. I ask you, therefore, to consider the illustration of home rule which the Tammany organization is affording at this juncture. Its whole ticket has been named by a man nominally out of politics, who has spent most of his time in England during the last three years, racing horses.
On the 12th of August, or thereabout, The New York World offered a prize of $100 to the man who should correctly guess the Tammany candidate for Mayor. Not a single person guessed the name of Judge Van Wyek. I do not know whether this is a greater tribute to the inscrutable operations of Mr. Croker's mind or to the undiscovered popularity of his candidate. But this, at least, is certain, that a more offensive violation both of the letter and of the spirit of home rule never was afforded even in the City of New York. Candidate apart, however, I cannot believe that many people who have high ideals of City Government will look to Tammany for their realization, under its present management. That organization is too intimately associated with our municipal dishonor in the past to be deliberately intrusted by the people of the city with the solution of the great problem involved in the installation of the new government of the City of New York. There may be men who are inclined to vote the Tammany ticket, either from long habit or for other reasons, with that hope in their hearts, but it is certainly hoping against hope to export good City Government at the hands of Tammany under the conditions that prevail in that organization at the present time.
There is one point, however, as to which Tammany, the Republican organization, and the adherents of Henry George are all agreed. With one voice they proclaim the doctrine that the administration of the city ought to be responsible to some party, as they put it, and not directly to the people themselves. If a party were to represent the final judgment of a vast body of people there might be something to say for this proposition; though even then, for such business as the city demands of its officials, I think it would be open to question. But what are you going to say when a party becomes an organization, and the organization becomes a machine that responds absolutely to the will of one man. That has been the fundamental difficulty with Tammany Hall for many a year. It never was more open to this criticism than at this moment. And I am sorry to believe this is also the fundamental difficulty with the Republican Party of the City of New York to-day.
In both cases you have one-man power illustrated in its most absolute form; and, as I think, in its most dangerous form, because it is absolutely irresponsible. Against that idea I stand for direct and continuous responsibility on the part of the city officials to the people themselves. I know of nothing more important to the safe conduct of great affairs than that the man who is in a position where he must take the nominal responsibility should also be obliged to take the actual responsibility. A keen sense of personal responsibility to the people is the only safeguard for the city official who is called upon to discharge great public duties. I am not discussing now the relation of National parties toward National affairs. I understand very well the different elements that are involved in the consideration of that problem. I am simply stating my belief that so far as good city government is concerned, it is far more likely to be had from officials whose sense of responsibility to the public is keen and overwhelming than from those who feel that some organization must accept the blame for their mistakes of judgment, and even for their misdeeds.
Besides, there are embarrassments in this theory of responsibility to the party, under existing conditions. Perhaps you recall the scene in the Old Testament where Elijah taunts the prophets of Baal, because Baal does not respond to their prayers. The prophet calls upon them to shout aloud, because peradventure their Lord sleepeth or he goes a-hunting, or what not. Imagine now a Mayor of the City of New York responsible to Tammany Hall. Then suppose that some question should arise in regard to which he felt obliged to ascertain the judgment of the party who is to be responsible for him. Under the conditions of the last three years you will readily perceive that this would necessitate a cable to England, and the answer might be returned that the responsible party was at the Derby and New York must wait.
Or, if we are to have a Mayor responsible to the Republican Party of to-day, unless, indeed, he be man enough to shatter this theory into atoms and be his own master, we encounter difficulties of another kind. The responsible party, in that case, is a very busy man. It must be admitted that he attends to the business of being responsible for his party much more assiduously than the actual leader of Tammany Hall has done for the last three years. Nevertheless, the Republican leader has already a great deal on his hands. He has official relations with the Government of the United States, and he has unofficial relations with the Government of the State. If to all of these is added responsibility for the conduct of the City of New York, under the new conditions about to prevail, is there not some fear this theory of party responsibility will result in somebody's being overtaxed?
No, no, gentlemen, when party organizations have become political machines that respond absolutely to the will of a single man, the very fabric of free government is in peril. We might almost appeal against such a condition of things to the General Government at Washington, to make good in our behalf the Constitutional guarantee of a republican form of government in all the States. Happily, a better appeal still is available, and that is, to the people of the city. I make that appeal now to the people of New York, in their own behalf and in behalf of free government, to elect this year officials who will be responsible directly to them, and not indirectly to some person whom they cannot get at.
Every intelligent American knows that our institutions have had their smallest measure of success in relation to the government of cities. Nowhere else have there been so many and such serious scandals. Nowhere else have there been such frequent failures to secure the good results for which all government exists. This is a matter of common observation on the part of all our public men. It is stated with constant and mortifying reiteration by every publicist, native and foreign. Conventions without number have been held for the discussion of the problem of city government in the United States. Despite every criticism that has been made, I firmly believe the tendency is to improve, and not to grow worse; but this is chiefly because the problem of late years has come to be so widely recognized. Formerly few people gave it thought. Slowly it has been dawning on the popular mind that one chief cause of our failure to secure good government in cities is traceable to the fact that we have never tried to get it, except in the most indirect way; or, rather, if you please, to the fact that the people have almost never made the good government of their city the uppermost thought in their minds in municipal elections.
Our cities have been used almost from the beginning as pawns in the game of party politics. In the early part of this century the Mayor of New York was an appointive officer. He was appointed by the State Council of Appointment, which, at that time, consisted of the Governor and of four Senators, chosen every year by the Assembly. In 1814, so considerable a man as De Witt Clinton, who had been a Senator of the United States, was removed from the office of Mayor of New York by the State Council of Appointment, in execution of a plan by which the then President of the Tammany Society was made Mayor of the city, to hold office for a few months, when he was to be appointed by the President of the United States Surveyor of the Port, and another gentleman was to be appointed Mayor. This plan ultimately was carried out in all its details. The incident is especially significant in its bearing upon the reasons for the frequent failure on the part of cities in the United States to obtain good city government. It shows how deep-seated has been the tendency to administer a city not for its own sake, but for the purpose of accomplishing some ulterior object. On the other hand, it also makes clear how fundamental is the demand now formally made by the Citizens' Union at this first separate municipal election under the new Constitution, that the officers of the city should be chosen by the people with reference to their obligations to the city alone, and not with reference to any outside or irrelevant object whatever.
The removal of De Witt Clinton in 1814 and other incidents like this, as I read history, produced very great discontent. Men said, “If the city should select its own Mayor, such things could not be don.” Accordingly, in 1821, when the State Constitution was amended, the power to appoint the Mayor of New York was taken away from the State Council of Appointment and it was lodged in the Common Council of the city. But, unless I am mistaken, the same spirit survived in the Common Council, so that at last men said, “If the people were to choose their own Mayor, then the city's interests would not be made secondary to anything.” Accordingly, in 1834, or thereabout, the people of the city were given the right to elect their own Mayor. But from that time on the people have done very much the same thing. They have marched to the polls, year after year, and voted for the most part from the point of view of National issues rather than with an eye single to the good of the city.
There have been years in which, under the stress of some great momentary emergency, men of all parties have united to elect this or that man Mayor. But this is the first time that a ticket has been placed before the voters of the city on a municipal platform pure and simple, which embodies an explicit and positive demand that the city should be administered for its own sake, and for its own sake only, without regard to outside interests of any kind whatever. It is a significant fact in the history of city government in the United States that such a demand should now be made at such a moment in the history of the City of New York. If this appeal to the people of the city to disregard outside questions and to vote from the point of view of the city's interests alone should result in the election of the ticket named by the Citizens' Union, it would do more to advance the cause of good city government in the United States than any single event that could be imagined, and this, I trust, will be an added motive in the minds of the people for electing the ticket of the Citizens' Union.
As the campaign progresses there will be abundant opportunity to discuss the details of the situation. To-night I have only tried to make plain the broad and general issues involved in this canvass. Especially I shall try to show why I think officers elected upon the platform of the Citizens' Union are more likely to be able to act courageously and independently for the protection of the public franchises and in dealing with the difficult problems that will come before the City Government than men whose backing is to be found principally in organizations allied to all sorts of different interests that are not always coincident with the interests of the city.
Briefly, I think our ticket stands in this campaign — first, for the independence of the city; secondly, for the responsibility of the city official after his election directly to the people, and, thirdly, for the independence of the citizen in naming the candidate for whom he wishes to vote. Upon this platform I shall submit our case fearlessly to the people of the City of New York.
CHARLES S. FAIRCHILD.
The Candidate for Controller Tells
Why he Welcomes the
The Chairman introduced Charles S. Fairchild as the candidate for Controller. He called attention to the fact that Mr. Fairchild had served the State as Attorney General and the Nation as Secretary of the Treasury.
Mr. Fairchild said:
Your candidate for Mayor has expressed with great wit and great clearness a thought that for years has animated me in political conduct in the City of New York and determined my political duty in the City of New York. Some years ago I came to realize in all its magnitude the dangers that came from the system of which he has spoken. Gentlemen, do you know that the real apology that is made by men for that system is the assertion that our popular government has broken down and cannot be trusted? This is the defense of it that is made by men of property, by men of substance; that they can no longer trust the people, and that it is better in effect to abolish the government that is approved by our Constitution and our laws, and set up somewhere a real despotism.
And what is the result? It may not always be at once bad government; it may not at once be corrupt. It may not at once be inefficient government. Often power in the hands of one individual is very effective and made very honest. But our position as citizens under it is that we get what we get as favors and not as rights. We wish to stand before government and the officers of government on our feet, pressing our causes as we may have them, whether we be rich or whether we be poor — whatever our condition in life. We wish to be able to go to our government as a thing that belongs to us, and get our cause heard upon its merits and as a matter of right, not as a matter of favoritism granted by some one unknown to us. [Applause.] That, in my mind, is the core of this whole situation.
That has been the situation for years past, and out of that position have come the evils of which we complain. Now, however good the man may be, a system by which he breaks down our Constitutional Government and our legal Government, and makes our public officers mere puppets or men of straw, taking all dignity from their positions, because all responsibility and authority is gone, produces in the end in the public mind a contempt for government, and creates a condition where the temptation to wrong is irresistible. I tell you that you are creating a condition of things which, in the end, will overwhelm you and all that you have.
You have got to show the people of these great cities that you trust them; that the government that you elect is the real government, or the time will come when what you say will be true and our system will break down, but in a way little anticipated by us.
Actuated by these feelings I welcome this movement which is now headed by our candidate for Mayor. I was told that if I would accept the nomination for the office of Controller I could in some degree aid in carrying out to success that which had been so well begun. I could not myself see that I could contribute much to this end. But this thing was so much in my soul that I felt that I would not dare to stand before the people of this city, before by own conscience, before my God in the future, if I felt that I had not done my utmost to break down the machine rule and to invest our real government with the dignity and the authority and responsibility to the people which is our only safety in the end. For that reason and that reason alone I stand before you to-night as a candidate for your suffrage.
JOHN H. SCHUMANN'S WORDS.
The Candidate for President of the
Council Introduces Himself
to the Public.
John H. Schumann, nominee for President of the Council, was introduced by the Chairman, and spoke as follows:
I stand before you as an entire stranger to most of you, and having since my nomination been often asked, especially by the public press, to give them a biography of my life. I think this time most opportune as an introduction to your good selves and the public at large, so you may know what company you are keeping and what kind and character of a man is asking for your franchise in the next election to the high position of President of the Council.
I was born in Nedernheim, a small village in the Duchy of Nassau, Germany. I received a good common school education in the Cities of Offenbach and Frankfort, and emigrated with my father in 1863 to this country, my mother and the rest of our family following a year later. Father receiving employment in Brooklyn, this city was selected as our home. I was then but thirteen years old.
My first occupation was picking beans and peas for the farmers of Long Island for a livelihood. The Summer months of June and July soon passed, when I took a three years' course of apprenticeship with a most respectable family to learn the tailor trade. The ordinary working hours at this time were eighteen per day; some days, however, only from 5 in the morning until 12 at noon; no holidays except Christmas. After serving my three years faithfully, I received a position as man-of-all-work and office boy in the clothing house of Davis & Jackson, 64 Vesey Street, at a great total salary of 300 cents per week.
This house manufacturing clothing for their New Orleans store only, so when the war broke out your humble servant, John Henry, was left high and dry on the beach, but when the fanatics of the South bombarded Fort Sumter and the immortal Lincoln called for troops I joined the ranks as a volunteer high private in the Twenty-eighth Regiment of National Guards.
In 1862 I connected myself with the varnish business, [laughter,] corner of Fletcher and Water Streets; again as a maid of all work, this time at a gross reward per week of 350 cents. As there was not sufficient work for even me alone, I requested Mr. Harry Lewis, then the proprietor of the establishment, to permit me to sell goods, for which service I demanded, as a voluntary compensation was not forthcoming, an extra reward in the shape of a commission of 5 per cent, which was readily granted. [“Good boy.”]
In the Fall of 1863 I connected myself with the firm of Moller & Naepp as junior partner. The firm had started in August of the same year as varnish manufacturers, but Mr. Moller, Sr., had already become tired of the business, and one of the conditions of my entering the business was that he would put in his place his oldest son. Our total capital (three partners) amounted to just $1,200. Two years later Moller & Schumann purchased the interest of Mr. Naepp, and since then my business career in the varnish business is open history to any one who desires to look into it.
The two gentlemen, Moller and Schumann who entered into business life in 1863, are the same men who are the head of the firm at this moment.
I never forgot when in 1863 I received the first credit from the People's Bank in Canal Street, by them discounting small notes for me from twenty-five to one hundred dollars — notes from small business men now — and no doubt then considered cats and dogs.
I realized then what help and assistance a bank president was to an honest, willing young man, and I made up my mind then that if health, time, and ability permitted and chance was given me I would place myself in a position which would enable me to treat a worthy fellow-man in the same manner as I was treated by the President of the People's Bank in 1863. Thus I connected myself when time and opportunity offered with the German Savings Bank and the Broadway Bank of Brooklyn, and the Manufacturers' Trust Company of the same city.
“In public life I held but one office, and that as Civil Service Commissioner, by appointment, under his Honor, Seth Low, when Mayor of Brooklyn. [Cheers.] You are permitted, and it is your duty before you cast your vote, to throw your searchlight on my public as well as my private life, make up your minds after your findings, and cast your vote accordingly for the very best man in the race. [Cheers.]
Never before has the public mind been attracted to the question of municipal government as at this time. By the Constitution of our State passed in 1894 it was decreed that municipal elections should no longer be held with State and National, in order that Municipal Government might be lifted out of the low and most contemptible condition it had fallen into by improper attention, being overshadowed by State and National issues; and no one who thinks for a moment on this subject and who has the welfare of this Commonwealth at heart, can fail to sympathize with our efforts to make our city's issues all important in our coming canvass. National and State matter cannot enter here.
The politician who always takes care of himself first, his party second, and his city and the taxpayers last, if at all, must take a back seat this time if our reasoning is correct.
It seems to me, gentlemen, that the independent citizens who constitute this large assemblage to-night, who constitute the Citizens' Union proper, and more than both of these combined, the large, silent vote of both great parties, can well afford to trust with the reins of the first Government of Greater New York, particularly with that stanch leader, Seth Low, who knows no fear nor compromise, and who stands for purity of purpose and ability without a peer.
Personally I did not seek the honor you have conferred in selecting me as candidate for presiding officer of the Council, an office which carries with it such great responsibilities. Should the choice of the people, however, fall to my lot, your platform and its declared principles, his Honor Seth Low and his declared principles on municipal government will find in me the strongest support.
C. C. BEAMAN'S POSITION.
He Tells Why, Although a Republican,
He Opposes the Candidacy
of Gen. Tracy.
Mr. Larocque next introduced Charles C. Beaman, who said:
“The only word by which I shall address you to-night is 'Citizens.' I don't even address you as 'Fellow-Citizens,' for I have learned by experience at home that there is not only a men's Citizens' Union, but a woman's Citizens' Union. The Sun calls us for short, sometimes, 'Cits.' But citizen isn't a term of reproach. Citizens mean inhabitants of a city, and to-day it means men who are banded together for just one purpose, to select men to govern us who shall be freemen.
And now, citizens, men and women, there is just one thought that, it seems to me, has been omitted here to-night.
Here am I, a Republican — an earnest Republican, as I always have been — here I am in favor of this movement, not simply because I believe that citizens should manage their own affairs, not simply beause I believe that bosses should not manage either city affairs, State affairs, or National affairs, but because I believe more than all that the separation of city elections from State and National politics is not only a good thing for cities, but a good thing for States, and a good thing for nations. [Applause.]
As a Republican I stand here opposed to the candidate whom my party has put up, and to the platform which it has adopted. Primarily I am against it, because they say: “We Republicans in this election indorse President McKinley, we indorse Gov. Black, we indorse the tariff bill.” I say that that indorsement has no place in a city election. [Applause.]
I stand here to-night with my friend Senator Guy. I marched up Broadway last year in the McKinley ranks. He voted in the Bryan ranks. He is just as welcome here on this platform and behind Seth Low as I am. [Applause.] I want the citizens of New York to feel that this isn't the fight we had last year. It isn't the fight we had before, it isn't the fight for the same principle, it isn't the same question, and we are bound not to fight each other. We who believe in Seth Low are bound to stand here and back Seth Low against all organizations and against all State and National parties.
If we are enthusiastic we can make the citizens enthusiastic, if we can once convince them that it isn't last year's fight. The defeat of Judge Maynard swept the Republican candidates into the Constitutional Convention, and they were in a large majority. Men were there like Root, a party men like De Lancey Nicoll, a party man; like Choate, [applause] a party man. All agreed, and the records will show you that they were unanimous that they wanted separate elections in city matters from State and National matters. And what did they do? They changed the Constitution for the purpose.
And when we were fighting for Strong three years ago what questions were before us? The question was not simply Strong. We were also called upon to vote as to who should be Governor, and we didn't divide equally on that. Men who stood on our platform for Strong also stood on the platform for Hill. Hill carried the city by 2,000 majority. Strong carried it by 50,000 majority.
I stood here when Mr. Root was here advocating the adoption of that Constitution. We carried it here in the City of New York by some 16,000 majority. We carried it, we Republicans, in the State by 80,000 majority. Democrats were in favor of this principle. There were other things in the Constitution that were distasteful to Democrats, but we carried it. Strong's term was made three years instead of two.
This election for Mayor of New York was carried into a year when there could not possibly be any State or National election, except, as it happens, an election for Judge of the Court of Appeals. And here we are now, we Republicans, right with this constitutional amendment which was part of our platform, and we are told to line up for our machine and for a platform which says, “We indorse McKinley, we indorse Black, we stand by the St. Louis platform” — and not a word about good government! [Applause.]
I appeal to the Republicans everywhere, as Republicans, not to repudiate their past, but to stand by their past and repudiate the present false position in which we are placed. [Applause.] I ask them to aid us for the good of their party, for the good of this great city. We are asked to repudiate our own child, our own Constitution. I think it was my friend, Mr. Lauterbach — lawyers are all friends [laughter] — who reported the resolutions at the convention, starting them with all these indorsements of National and State politics, and said:
“The cause of good Government (meaning thereby honest and intelligent administration) can never be divorced from the Republican Party.” [Laughter. A voice: “The other half of him was talking that time!”] Did Mr. Lauterbach know what he meant? I myself do not know. [Laughter.] Did he mean an absolute divorce or a limited divorce? [Laughter.] So far as I am concerned. I deny that proposition. If the Republican Party has consorted with that kind of Government that has infused in it State and National politics, it can no longer live with an honest administration, and there should be a limited divorce; and lots of our Republicans intend to divorce it. [Applause.]
I don't mean by this that when a National election comes up again you won't find my friend Larocque and myself on different sides. I don't mean that you won't find my friend Larocque and my friend Senator Guy on the same side. I expect that will happen. But, gentlemen, let us get together whenever we can. Don't let old issues that are not now before us govern our actions when we are working to get good government.
Look where we are. Sheehan and Croker, or Croker and Sheehan, or somebody, nominates Van Wyck for Mayor. Sheehan writes to this Governor and that Governor, “Give us your indorsement.” He telegraphs to the members of the National Committee. They not only bring the city machine, but the State and National machine, all in combination to crush us. And what does George do? I don't say he asks for it, but men who are his friends telegraph him: 'We are with you; keep up the old fight of last year.'
And Platt — I don't know what he is doing. [A voice: “Doing everybody!” and great laughter.] No, my friend there is wrong. He isn't doing ex-President Harrison. You won't hear Harrison make a speech from this platform to-morrow night. [Applause.] He isn't going to do President McKinley, or, if he does, Mr. McKinley will be more or less dead. He isn't doing Cornelius Bliss. [Applause.] I don't say he isn't trying to. The National Republican who steps in here is a National Republican we don't want.
It is none of their business. [Applause.] We don't want to hear them about things that they don't know about, and when we want to hear them talk about what they do know about, we will ask them.
These are the general principles on which I stand.
HENRY WEISSMAN'S ADDRESS.
Henry Weissman, the general Secretary of the International Bakers' Union, followed Mr. Beaman. He was introduced by the Chairman as having an important resolution to present, and the statement prevented a stampede. The audience had seen the candidates and had laughed with Mr. Beaman, and they had apparently little further interest in the proceedings. Mr. Weissman offered a resolution indorsing the principles of the Citizens' Union platform and ratifying the candidates named.
The resolution was adopted with a roar, and then Mr. Weissman said he had a few words to say, and he spoke for nearly half an hour. By the time he had finished speaking there were less that 200 persons in the body of the hall.
He said among other things that it was the second time within the past four years that he had had the pleasure of standing on the same platform with the gentleman who was to be the standardbearer of the citizens of Greater New York for the Mayoralty of New York. He continued:
The last time I stood on the same platform with Mr. Low it was not amid surroundings such as these. There were few ladies decked with finery there. There were but few gentlemen classed among the upper ten thousand, but there were 20,000 idle workingmen.
On March 14, 1894, in the days of the greatest idleness and the most intense want that the working people of New York have known for a generation, when we went to the Legislature of our State to induce them to prosecute the public work so that the unemployed could be put to work, we found among the upper ten thousand a man who was prepared to throw the weight of his influence and to plead for them.
Seth Low was the first speaker at the great mass meeting of labor, and though I never saw him before that night, I was so deeply impressed with him and with the aid that he has rendered in the settlement of strikes and the adjustment of labor difficulties, thus keeping the wolf from thousands of doors, that he has been deeply endeared to me and he is my candidate for Mayor.
When a committee of laboring men went to Thomas F. Gilroy, and one of them represented to him that it was in the interest of public safety that work should be given to the unemployed, he puffed out his chest and asked them if they meant to threaten him. That was the kind of reception the laboring men got from Tammany Hall; and if you laboring men here to-night vote for Tammany candidates, you vote for a return of the same sort of treatment.
When Seth Low and the Citizens' Union promise to stand by the eight-hour law so far as municipal employes are concerned they are able to carry out their promises. Henry George and his party would not be equal to the job, however well they may mean.
I believe that the election of Seth Low will purify our entire municipal life and redeem the city from boss rule. Our example in electing him will find general emulation throughout the country. Our city is the artery of the public life as well as the industrial life of the land, and the election of Mr. Low means the general purification of our political body.
Gen. Wager Swayne, who was on the programme to make the last speech of the evening, did not speak. It was 11:30 o'clock when Mr. Weissman left the rostrum, and the people in the house and on the platform were showing signs of impatience. Without giving the Chairman an opportunity to call upon him Gen. Swayne moved an adjournment, which was promptly carried.
Then everybody on and off the platform pressed forward to shake hands with Mr. Low. As soon as he left the hall the janitor turned out the lights, Inspector Cross dismissed his men, and the stragglers who had waited around to see the last of Mr. Low went home.
THE OVERFLOW MEETINGS.
A Great Concourse of People Listen
to Speeches in the Open Air.
As early as 7 o'clock a great concourse of people had assembled outside of Cooper Union, patiently waiting for the doors to open. The condition of things was greatly aggravated by the torn-up condition of the streets around the hall, although later several of the small mountains of crushed granite piled in front of the Union were used as vantage grounds from which to see the overflow meetings.
The doors were opened at 7:30 o'clock and a great rush began. Police Capt. Herlihy ranged his men in files at the stairways and by main force they kept the crowd from overwhelming them and forced them to enter singly. Even under this rule the hall was packed in every available part before 8 o'clock. The word was received that no more persons would be admitted to the hall, which order was strictly enforced. Every sort of argument was used by late-comers to coax the policemen into admitting them, and when the bluecoats remained firm threats of dire consequences were used, but these availed no more than the coaxing.
When the crowd finally came to the conclusion that they were barred out they quickly gathered about the four temporary platforms erected in the street fronting the hall, and soon orators were firing red-hot arguments at the crowds, who rewarded their efforts with much applause and enthusiasm.
Another overflow meeting was also started on the steps of Peter Cooper's statue, and fully 5,000 persons attended these outside meetings. A number of peddlers with Seth Low buttons did a thriving business for awhile.
Among the speakers at the overflow meetings were William H. Fearns, Chairman of the Eleventh Assembly District; Col. W. C. Plummer, John Brooks Leavitt, J. J. Judge, Charles Abbott, J. D. Merriman, James Wilson, and James Mason. John Brooks Leavitt made the principal address at the outside meetings, and his attacks on Platt and Croker were much applauded. He said that for the first time in our generation the people were presented with a full municipal ticket which was clean and honest and free from political hacks.
“You read in the papers,” said Mr. Leavitt, "how our Lieutenant Governor, Platt's lieutenant also, Tim Woodruff, in speaking at the Republican Convention last week, stated openly that while in Brooklyn the Republicans run their conventions by steam, in New York they run them by electricity; that Platt pressed the button and the convention did the rest. We have it, therefore, on the best authority that the Republican ticket is a Platt ticket. When a man admits he is a slave we may believe him. You know that the Tammany ticket is a Croker ticket. It is called a 'yellow dog ticket.' When Croker adds Tom Grady to it then the yellow dog will have a tin can tied to its tail and go yelping through the streets. The only possible explanation of the Tammany ticket is that Croker has sold out to Platt. In fact, it looks as if there were a sort of tripartite agreement between Croker, Platt, and the Metropolitan Street Railway Company. If Croker is as smart as they give him credit for, he will take good care to get his part of the bargain in spot cash before election day."
From time to time persons came out of the crowded hall and took part in the overflow meetings, preferring to get their arguments in the open air. Some one stuck a lot of red-light torches in the piles of rock heaped in the streets, and altogether the overflow meetings presented a gala appearance and were quite as successful in their way as the larger affair in the Union.
- Facsimile at query.nytimes.com