SPEECH AT THE OHIO STATE FAIR
September 18, 1890
This is an assemblage in the interests of the farmer—a great interest in Ohio. It is not our only interest. Ohio is a commercial State as well as an agricultural State. We are happily located for commerce. Too much, perhaps, the people of the United States have been in the habit of thinking that commerce was an affair solely with foreigners, an affair upon the ocean, but they are beginning to learn that this great water-way on which Ohio is located is one of the greatest highways of commerce to be found any where on the globe. Here we are, as a State, with over two hundred miles upon the best internal water-way to be found any where on earth; over two hundred miles with harbors like Cleveland and Toledo, like Sandusky and Ashtabula, and very many others, from which are shipped great cargoes of our coal, building stone, and manufactures; harbors which receive immense amounts of the wealth of the northwest in the shape of its agricultural products. So we are a commercial people. We are also a mining people. We have mines, from which every day vast amounts of minerals are carried all over this country; where coal and iron are mined, worked up and sent away. We are also beginning to be a manufacturing State. The State’s commercial, mining and manufacturing interests are great. But at the foundation of all the prosperity of this country is that interest, represented here today by the farmers of the State, the agricultural interests. To promote that, is to promote the happiness and the welfare of the whole population of our State. When the farming interest is prosperous, when the farmer is happy, when there is a smile on his face, then the whole people of Ohio are prosperous and happy, and a broad smile may be found on the face of all; and on the other hand, if anything occurs to depress the farmer, to depress agriculture, the whole people feel it. Therefore, it is with commendable wisdom that the general government or the people represented in Congress have seen fit to make that which before was only a bureau, a department—the department of agriculture—and to put at the head of it one who is to be the adviser of the chief magistrate and who is to indicate to Congress and to the people that which will be of benefit to the farming people of the country. We rejoice that every measure that is calculated to enlist the power of the general government in behalf of the farmer, can now be properly brought before Congress; we rejoice also that those having the power under the new arrangement, have seen fit to place in that department one altogether worthy to have charge of a department that deals with the very foundation of the prosperity in the United States.
The governor of a State, as my friend Governor Campbell is finding out, has a great variety of duties to perform, and yet as a rule they are duties that do not carry his name and fame and memory to any large extent ordinarily outside the bounds of his own State. Now and then it happens that a governor has a chance in performing his duties to do that which attracts the attention and the admiration of the people of all the States. Perhaps it is not improper that I should say that there is now a governor in one of the States that does attract the sympathy and the admiration of all by what he is doing in his own State. Governor Nichols, of Louisiana, is standing up against a measure which he believes will demoralize his own State and people of the whole country, does, indeed, for the time being, attract the admiration and the good will of all the good people throughout the United States.
It was the good fortune of Governor Rusk, in a time of great crisis, of great difficulty and great importance to the State of Wisconsin, to stand up for a plain principle, which gained for him also the respect and admiration of all law-abiding citizens of the United States. The popular will, in this country, expressed by statute passed by the proper legislature, is to be obeyed; as long as the law exists it is our popular system that the law is to be enforced. One of the happiest and best things that Gen. Grant ever gave us was, if a law is bad then let it be enforced, and the enforcement of the law will secure its repeal. That principle never perhaps any where in a more signal manner, was established and enforced than by Gov. Rusk of Wisconsin, and therefore it is in this country that we recognize him as the representative of Republican and Democratic law in the United States.