September 13, 1878
Chicago, Illinois

Mr. President and Gentlemen: I need not say that it is a great gratification to meet, and be so greeted by such an important assembly of business men of the United States – such an important assembly, I may say, of the business men of the world. It is not my purpose to enter upon the discussion of any of the important questions or subjects that interest you as business men. A few plain words as to our present condition may perhaps be acceptable. We have passed through a period of business depression during the last five years. For more than a year past it has been my impression that the cause of that depression had gradually disappeared and that indications of better times could be seen; and it is my impression to-day that, that which has postponed a restoration of business activity in the country during the last year or year and a half has largely been, not any real cause for depression, but lack of confidence in the business community in the stability of legislation; that if a year ago there could have been among business men in this country everywhere confidence as to what would be the policy of the Government, we should have had better times to-day.

Then, my friends, the few plain words I wish to say are these: Let us now, let us for the coming, the immediate future, do all that we can to inspire hope and confidence in the business community, and if any instability of the legislation or any apprehension of instability of legislation, is keeping us back, let us do all we can to see that those who are charged with legislation in this country have the wisdom to let the business of the country alone. Now, you and I, gentlemen, may not agree – we probably do not agree. Hundreds of those present do not agree with me as to the wisdom, for example, of the Resumption Act. Many of you, would not have voted on that question as I would vote, but it is now a thing of the past. We have gone through whatever evil belongs to that act. We have come to a point where coin and paper are abreast of each other. Let us then for the remaining part of this transaction, let well enough alone – not by entering anew upon schemes untried, have another such period to go through. The gentleman associated with me in Government who has special charge of this matter – I allude to the Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. John Sherman – has undertaken, as I think, to be square and frank and open with the businessmen of the country. You may not agree with him, but his merit seems to me, may be claimed for him. He has had in this matter no secrets; what he was doing he has endeavored to inform the country about; he has been open with it, and will continue to be so in the future. If I understand my own wish in the matter, it is that you may know exactly what to count upon; and this in all business transaction, as you understand better than I do, is more than half the battle. But I have detained you too long. I do not propose then to say a word in favor of any other policy than this. Let us not undertake in this important matter to regulate the currency to tinker too much; too much legislation on that subject, as indeed upon all other subjects, is one of the evils of our time in America. I leave off as I began; let us see in the gradual approach to the coin standard of the paper circulating as money in the United States signs of hope. The march of events, if undisturbed, will plainly lead us on to better times.

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