October 1, 1880
Portland, Oregon

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, to the best interests 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 to me a favorite subject of study and consideration, and I want truthfully [to] say to this audience that however favorable may have been the impression received from what I had 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 of 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 possess 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 position 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 are a million and a quarter of people. It should be inhabited by ten or twenty millions. The people here are able to control absolutely the power and 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 these who control the commerce of the Pacific coast. Now I will enter into no discussion in regard to the population gathered rapidly here from all parts of the globe. I have that confidence in the integrity intelligence and industry of the Anglo Saxon race that they will forever control the Pacific coast. So much in general. Let us 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 you have of course not made great progress. I see in the lumber yards and work shops of this city evidences that you have already laid the foundation for this branch of industry. A state that possesses the water power of Oregon can not fail in this particular. Already ships from every important part of the globe find their way to Portland. Agriculturally, you are able not only 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 this vast audience and see the means for increasing this population; I cannot help but think that Oregon's least 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 today in the cupola of the custom house where I could see all parts of the city, I must confess my amazement 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 for ever 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.

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