PRESIDENTIAL MIDWESTERN TOUR

 

September 26, 1879

Dodge City, KS

 

FELLOW-CITIZENS OF KANSAS: I am very glad to meet you here to-day. It is pleasant to me to meet the people of the United States in the different parts of the country under a great variety of circumstances. Audiences appear before me in all sorts of places, and greetings and welcomes are given under all sorts of circumstances. It is a mode of exhibiting the attachment to our free government. This coming out to see those prominently connected with it is not particularly a compliment to anybody; it belongs to your loyalty, your patriotism and your attachment to the flag of the republic and its grand history; therefore, I can talk about it as a looker-on. It does not mean simply the individual man; it means respect and hope for the institutions under which we live. With this general view of it I must add one other. It is one which I have occasionally mentioned since I have been in Kansas; and that is, this American idea of appearing to gather out of any subject, whether business or pleasure, some good advertising. I suspect that the President of the United States especially if he differs a little with his best friend, comes to be about the best advertised man in the United States. He is advertised by what he has said against him; I don’t know which advertisement is the most valuable, if I had to pay for it. So, my friends, we are here to have a few moments conversation together. As I said before, we are meeting large assemblages of people like this on our journey; but I wish to assure you that I have met no assemblage on my travels more interesting to me than this, in view of all the circumstances. The gentleman who addressed me at the cars told me that this was but a five-year old settlement; that this county and town are but five years old. As I look around upon the surface of things, I don’t see anything that appears to be more than five years old. I see men here and women here, and I think it is no disrespect to a woman to say she is more than five years old. Here you are settled in this new country and beginning your settlement at the right place. If the new settlements in the world were built upon the same cornerstone that you build the structure of your society upon, the future of those settlements would be far more hopeful and far more prosperous than many of them are. I see what is your cornerstone. It is popular education; it is free schools. The first institution that you have to exhibit to the stranger is your popular system of free school education. This is the popular American method of building up communities fit for self-government, fit for posterity and fit for all people to be proud of. I assure you that the people of the older States of this country and those connected with the government in all capacities are emphatically impressed by the character of the settlements made on the frontier of the State of Kansas. They are full of hope, glory, and encouragement and of the increasing general prosperity throughout the country. I think we can’t bring to you words of encouragement from the older States. After five or six years of business depression, at last it is the judgment of the best informed men that we have struck, to use a common and popular phrase, ‘hard pan’ and are beginning to go up and that we are rapidly ascending that grade called ‘hard times’ to a more favorable condition. I will not detain you with figures, statistics, or facts; it’s enough to say that this is the general judgment of the United States. Before starting on this tour I thought to gather certain facts that I might present to my audiences on this subject; but I will name but two. I wrote to a very intelligent gentleman in Pittsburgh. I knew that Pittsburgh, the great iron manufactory of this country, had suffered severely from the hard times, perhaps, than any other great city. The reply I got from him was this: He had written to twenty of the great iron and glass manufactories and they replied in twenty letters full of hope and encouragement. Not for the capitalist alone; not for the business man alone, but for the laborer as well; showing that profitable employment for labor and capital or for business enterprise had again reached that great manufacturing shop. That is but a specimen of what is going on all over the East. It reaches to the West, and whether it is here yet or not I do not know; but it is coming. You are to share in it. The feeling of all the people who are here with us is for it. Our sympathies go out for the men who are here to combat with the difficulties and hardships of a new country. General Sherman and myself happened to be born too late to be pioneers of our good State of Ohio; but our fathers and our mothers were pioneer settlers of that great State. Our feeling is in your behalf, and our prayer is that God will bless you all.

 

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