September 30-October 1, 1880
MR. PRESIDENT, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: I would be glad if circumstances had permitted me to prepare a suitable reply to the elaborate, full in intelligent address to which we have just listened. But traveling as we have from town to town and meeting constantly with audiences who have desired us to say a few words, no matter how little considered or how hastily spoken, I have found it entirely out of the question to make preparations for addressing the vast audience that has presented itself before me. In reference to the favorable judgment declared by the speaker upon this administration, I have only this to say: that it has been from the beginning, is now and will be to the end, my object and my earnest desire to so conduct public affairs, as far as on me depends, the best interest of all sections and all classes of inhabitants. In regard to that portion of the address to which we have just listened which refers to your present and future, all I can speak is language of congratulation. The Western coast of the United States has long been a favorite subject of study and consideration, and I want to truthfully say to this audience that however favorable may have been the impression received from what I have heard and read of the Pacific Coast, the observation of the past few weeks has confirmed this impression in every particular. You hold 1200 miles on the Pacific coast. The people of the western continent control that part which is most fit for civilization and settlement. It has a climate friendly to labor, and belongs to just that part of the globe which is fitted for civilization. I do not undertake to reflect upon tropical climate or frigid zones, but all history teaches that the best civilization of the world is in the temperate zones. You posses the best climate on the American continent, and in possessing that you have the best part, I think, of the temperate zone on either side of the globe. In comparing your portion with that of other portions of the American people I have been in the habit of saying that there is no difficulty in seeing that it will influence the destiny of our republic.
Here on this coast there are a million and a quarter of people. It should be inhabited by ten or twenty millions. The people here are able to control the power and the prestige which belongs to the Pacific coast. This statement I do not propose to argue or debate. It is my judgment that the wealth is untold, that belongs to those who control the Pacific Coast. So much in general. Let me come a little nearer home.
You are citizens of the State of Oregon, a state destined to be an agricultural state, a commercial state, a manufacturing state. You have all the means convenient to make you each one of these three important parts of a great community. In manufacturing of course you have not made great progress. I see in the lumber yards and workshops evidences that you have already laid the foundations for this great branch of industry. A state that possesses the water power of Oregon cannot fail in this particular. Already ships from every important part of the globe find their way to Portland. Agriculturally, you are not only able to feed yourselves, but have a large surplus for foreign nations. Oregon, then, has not long to wait for the population which my friend, Mr. Dolph, wished for. I was a little surprised when he ran over the sentence, that he did not stammer. When I look around the vast audience and se the means for increasing this population, I cannot help but think that Oregon’s last need is facilities for increasing population.
Passing over the United States to Oregon congratulation and encouragement is all that I can speak in addressing the citizens of Portland. Standing to-day in the cupola of the customs-house where I could see all parts of the city, I must confess my amusement and surprise, notwithstanding all I had heard about them, at seeing your churches, schoolhouses, stores and dwellings and at the thought that you had accomplished what had taken other cities one hundred years in less than a quarter of a century. My friends, I can heartily and honestly congratulate you on the lot which falls to you and on the prosperous condition of this state and city, A still more prosperous future awaits you.
This afternoon it was my happiness to have the schools of your city exhibited before me. They are the foundation stones of greatness which have been laid by you. I feel safe in predicting that Oregon and the city of Portland will forever be remembered and regarded by the people of the United States with satisfaction and pride. Certain I am that to the latest day of my life I will recollect with pleasure all the days and hours I have spent with you. Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to introduce the Secretary of War, Mr. Ramsey.