September 11, 1879

Cincinnati, Ohio


Friends: I am very glad to meet this large assemblage of the business men of Cincinnati. As business men you do not want your time wasted and it so happens that the committee which has charge of me is composed of business men, and they have marked out the term of my visit in such a way that I must act by business principles and business methods during my stay with you. In the position which I hold it has been my desire to do something to bring it about that the Government should be administered upon by business principles and business methods. I can see plainly, as you do, and as all my friendly and unfriendly critics do, the short comings and failures, and perhaps I see them more clearly than others do; but my steady purpose has been to go forward in the right direction. Though the movement has been slow still I can say to my friends in Cincinnati, I have honestly tried to keep my face in the right direction. One year ago I took a trip to the Northwestern States. This month I propose to do a little visiting, for recreation and health in the Western States. A year ago I found people gloomy and despondent. There were few who were hopeful and very few who were confident in the speedy coming of better times. It seemed to me last year, under those circumstances the most could be done by saying cheerful, encouraging hopeful things; that whatever differences of opinion there might be as to legislation looking to the resumption of specie payment, the wise thing, as we were situated, was to let well enough alone. It seemed to me wise to stop legislating, and quit tampering with the currency; to let the business of the country have a fair chance. With the great resources this country possesses, and with its boundless energy American business men can best work out their own solution. Fortunately the country adopted that general view. The business men discouraged further legislation on the subject of the currency, and we are where we are. Without claiming any credit for this or that Secretary, or for this confrere or the other, it does happen that specie payments have come, and good times are coming with them.


Coming West again, what is the thing to be said to-day? It seems to me that a dose of the same medicine which brought better times should be given to prolong better times, and put far away as possible that inevitable period when hard times shall come again.


A prominent English writer on political economy has stated that there is a regular periodicity in the recurrency of hard times; that in England they return in about ten years, and in this country once in about twenty years, The desirable thing is to keep good times as long as possible, and when under these inevitable laws hard times must come, to have the calamity bear upon us as little as possible. Well, now to this end it seems to me the very plain and wise maxims of Dr. Franklin be applied. Where debts are least, and where they are most spread out, and where there is the least over-production, there they will feel hard times the least. I think this has been exemplified in the history of Cincinnati. In the last four years of depression, while every city in the country has suffered more or less, Cincinnati with its steady-going business men, has felt it less than any other city of the country, Let us, as so far may be, in public and in private affairs, be diligent to see to it that when hard times do come we are not weighted by debts. But I am departing from business principles and making a speech. I thank you for your kind reception.


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