Monday, May 26, 2014

William Randolph Hearst's Gubernatorial acceptance speech of the Independence League

William Randolph Hearst - Acceptance of the Independence League Nomination (October 3rd, 1906)

Two Things are of special importance as issues in this campaign, liberty and prosperity. By far the greater of these is liberty, for a man not truely free is not really a man at all. The object of the Independence League is to resist the attacks upon human liberty, upon government of the people menaced by corporation rule, and to resist the attacks upon general prosperity by those same corporations, and by dishonest financial agencies.

I accept with gratitude and with a deep feeling of responsibility the nomination of the Independence League.

In addressing you I am mindful of the fact that you represent the determination of the people, irrespective of party, to restore the American system of government in this country.

The great problem the people must solve is to do away with corporation control of the Government. That control is practically absolute. It rests mainly upon our system of partisan politics, directed by boss rule and subject to trust ownership.

As long as a trust can buy the bosses on both sides, dictate the nominations on both sides, control Railroad Commissions, give away franchises, bribe with the people's money the people's representatives, what part do the people themselves play in government?

The mere destruction of one boss and the substitution of another boss equally evil is of no permanent value. The system which permits the development of the boss must be overthrown and party control and political nominations placed directly in the hands of the people. In the platform of the Independence League, which I indorse word for word and which I shall strive faithfully to represent, I see the practical solution of the boss question. I refer to the specific demand for direct nomination of men to fill every public office, from Assemblymen to Judges and Senators of the United States. With the installation of the direct nomination system, the people will choose their representatives, the boss will be without power, and he will disappear.

Any man or any organization of any party who supports my candidacy for any reason whatever, for his own sake or for that of the party or organization to which he belongs, does so with the full knowledge that I am pledged to use every effort to exterminate the system in which the boss stands between the people and the trusts as agents for the trusts and as an enemy of popular government, in this State and in this Nation.

The League has so aroused the people upon the fundamental issue of government by trusts or by citizens that already they have called forth democratic action by the masses of the Democratic Party. The Democracy, denouncing bribery and its accompanying campaign of falsehood and villification, has wrested control of the party machine from the grip of the corporations, and by an overwhelming vote it has indorsed the candidates of the Independence League for the three offices in the service of the State.

Because of that indorsement by a party in posession of the election machinery the Independence League and its principles are assured of fair protection at the polls, of which they would otherwise have been deprived. Because of the hand held out by the Democratic Party independent citizenship in this State will have at the coming election a chance to count every vote cast against corporation control.

You see a corporation lawyer put forward as the standard bearer of the Republican Party in this campaign. You see corporation lawyers and violent partisans of monopolies held up to you as the only men fit to select your Judges.

How is prosperity to be preserved, increased, and protected? Surely the first task is to protect from attack the very foundations upon which the Nation's prosperity rests. Hard times come from panics, and panics are often precipitated by such shameful misconduct in insurance, banking, and building and loan concerns as have disquieted and angered the people of late.

The robbery of the public by dishonest bankers, by swindling managers of building and loan companies, by the high pirates of finance that juggle with life insurance funds, is inevitable as long as the very powers interested in robbing the people are permitted to name and control the officials that are supposed to protect the people.

If you have speculative finance controlling your State administration and dictating the appointment of your Bank Examiner, what protection can the people have, what security for their savings upon which prosperity in the present and the family in the future must depend?

The people know that their enemies are the originators and managers of oppressive trusts. They know that these trusts are in control in the machine of the Republican party in this state. They see Mr. Sheldon chosen as Treasurer to raise and spend the money for Mr. Hughes, the corporation attorney. And when they realize that Mr. Sheldon, Director in twenty-one corporations, notoriously connected with the collapsed Shipbuilding Trust, is the financial reliance of the ticket which Mr. Hughes heads, they cannot look upon that ticket as promising much for the prosperity of the mass of the people. The essence of prosperity of the right kind of honesty and security, and there is neither security nor honesty in the effort to turn over control of popular government over to corporations. The prosperity of business men, the comfort of all the citizens, are largely at the mercy of the railroad system in our country.

The people of this State have given great power to their Railroad Commission, but that power has never been used for the people and is little understood by the people. Since 1882 the Railroad Commission of the State of New York has had much the same authroity as that conferred upon the Inter-State Commerce Commission by recent legislation at Washington.

The Railroad Commission in this State has the power to relieve the farmer from discriminating rates, to lower the rates for transportation of freight and passengers after investigation and upon proper application to the courts to sustain its findings. This commission holds in its hands the power to remedy the inadequate and disgraceful car service with which so many cities in our State are afflicted, notably the various boroughs of the City of New York.

The New York State Railroad Commission today, paid by the railroads, appointed by the railroads through a Governor whom they chose, serves the railroads and remains passive in the face of such excesses as those which mark the mistreatment of passengers by the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company.

Few citizens perhaps realize that the Governor of this State could, if he chose, protect the people against many of the violations of law, and of personal comfort by the street car corporations. This commission has power to enforce proper service as regards transfers, the operation of the 'car ahead' rule, the heating of cars, cleanliness, and overcrowding.

The Railroad Commission has also the power to enforce regard for safety, the use of fenders, and other safety appliances. It has power to compel the running of cars in sufficient numbers to serve the public.

Under present conditions, as the railroads own the commission, the public's rights and wishes are ignored. Official reports in New York City for April, May, and June of this year, as compared with the same months last year, show an increase of cash fares and a decrease in the number of cars run on both the elevated and surface lines. And they show that in the Subway, while the cash fares have increased 88 per cent. The car mileage has increased only 12 per cent.

Within this period more than $100,000,000 watered stock have been added to the grossly inflated capital of the New York traction system.

An honest Governor, representing the people, would appoint a Railroad Commission that would compel the spending of at least part of that $100,000,000 for the benefit of the public.

I propose, if elected, to run the present Railroad Commission out of office and to appoint a commission that will represent the traveling public instead of the public service corporations.

In regard to the violations of financial trusts and the uneasiness repeatedly caused by revelations of dishonesty in banks, trust companies, building and loan associations, such as the Merchants' Trust Company, the German Bank of Buffalo, the New York Building and Loan Association, there is no question that the public welfare demands drastic action.

It is alarming that these instances of faithlessness and dishonesty should occur without effective opposition or rebuke from the Banking Department, if not with its connivance.

I propose if elected to remove Kilburn, reorganize the department, and have it administered so as to carry out both the letter and the spirit of the law.

The corporations have juggled with the funds of insurance companies in open disregard for common honesty, contempt for the Penal Code, and for the insurance law. There is incompetence in the State Department created for the especial purpose of detecting and preventing these crimes and breaches of trust. I propose if elected to remove the present incumbent and reorganize this important department upon a business basis from top to bottom, and in this manner to end corporation control of life insurance - so vital to peace of mind in the homes of the people.

I propose, if elected, to exercise fearlessly, with due regard for the principle of home rule, the power of removal given by the people to the Governor. I propose to end control by the corporations, not only in these state departments, but in the county offices charged with the responsibility of enforcing the original laws of the State. I propose to put a premium upon the enforcement of the law instead of encouraging its violation by tolerating in office officials who grant immunity to powerful and influential offenders.

I advocate strongly every measure that will bring public officials in closer touch with the people and put them more directly under the people's control. I advocate making the public official's term of office so short that he will not have time or inclination to forget who it is that elected him, and that ought to control him.

An honest election law, an efficient corrupt practices act, and especially a measure that will make it possible to have a judicial review of an election upon proof of fraud or mistake, must be enacted as part of that campaign against corporation domination upon which the people have entered so enthusiastically. The right of American citizens to a free ballot and a fair count is absolutely fundamental.

To insure this I would advocate a law that will allow the taker of a bribe to go free in return for the testimony that should put a prison the more dangerous criminal who gives the bribe.

A public pledge should be exacted from every candidate for every office at the coming election that he will work and vote for honest primary laws and honest election laws. I advise citizens to vote for no candidate - Democratic, Republican, or independent - who shall refuse to give these pledges.

Believing in the public ownership of public utilities that are in the nature of monopolies, opposed to private confiscation of public property, and to public confiscation of private property, believing in upholding and enforcing every property right, I stand for irreconcilable hostility to the appropriation by corporations of property belonging to the community.

I shall continue to work for the enactment of a statute empowering cities to acquire and operate all public utilities, such as gas and electric lighting plants, transportation lines and telephones, whenever such cities, by a majority vote, favor such a course.

My views upon the now generally accepted principle of the eight-hour day and the law concerning the prevailing rate of wages in public work are well known. If elected I shall rigorously apply that law and those kindred measures so long a concern of enlightened humanity, such as the child labor law, the compulsory education law, the act relating to contract prison labor, and laws requiring sanitary inspection of all mines, tunnels, workshops, and dwellings. I have always been opposed to the abuse of the writ of injunction in labor disputes and I advocate the passage of a law securing the right of trial by jury in alleged contempt cases.

To lighten the burden of the farmers, who, as the Independence League platform aptly says, 'develop the fundamental wealth, feed the entire population of the State, and have created the vast railway fortunes,' railroad rates must be reduced and New York must be placed in line with other progressive States that are enforcing a maximum rate of 2 cents a mile to every railroad not specially chartered to exact a greater charge.

I thank the Independence League again for the honor it has conferred upon me. I accept the nomination and pledge myself to strive in the future as I have in the past, to refrain for the people the rights they still have, and to restore to them the power of government which they have lost.


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