We Have Come to Stay
June 6, 1892 — Woman’s Republican Association, Republican National Convention, Minneapolis MN
Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen and Lady Delegates and Alternates to this Convention; I thank you. It is no mean honor which is given to me as a representative of many thousand Republican women to stand in this magnificent presence. It is no mean honor to be presented by the great Empire State. The Empire State, which in itself has to contend with the fiercest questions of civilization, and thus needs us the most. The tests of civilization which are its changed ideals, are recognized by our recognition here. A free Church and a free State are magnificent ideals, and the record of the Republican party is a record of the magnificent attainment of those ideas.
Gentlemen and Ladies, the Woman’s Republican Association has prepared plans of work, with suggestions of detail which will be presented to every delegate and alternate in this convention. We are here to help you. And we have come to stay. We do not seek recognition in the party in the interest of any one of the various reforms, in which, as individuals, we are interested. We believe the moral reforms should be conducted outside of party lines, in the broad field of humanitarian, philanthropic and Christian effort. Not everyone who cries “Reform” is a reformer. When a would-be reformer declares that he will inaugurate political chaos or enthrone political wrong because his individual convictions do not find recognition, that man is not a reformer.
A man who fails to vote or who ignores the present harm which his vote may do can find no warrant for his course in reason or in morals. He who does not stand for the greatest present attainable good is a helper of the bad. Righteousness in government comes by evolution oftener than by revolution. When revolution is the gate through which a people emerges to large liberty, the gate is opened by the assaults of the bad, not by the hands of the good. John Brown’s methods failed, and in the nature of things had to fail; John Brown’s soul is marching on. The aggression oof Slavery brought on the war; in its crimson chariot the African slave was carried to liberty.
Therefore let women weave their laurels and sing their glorias to the robust political action of the Republican party, which accepts the present at is it is found, but out of it builds great boulevards of human progress. Gentlemen, in our service of Republicanism we know no personal preferences or factional strife; we wear upon our breasts the name of none of the honorable men who may be your choice; but on our hearts are carried and from prayerful lips will soon be uttered the names of your nominees. We love our States and we love the Nation. Not Caesar less, but Rome more. I love my native State. Massachusetts is a great State; from the sand and rocks of her Atlantic coast consecrated by Plymouth’s pilgrim band; through the gardens of her river valleys to the borders of the Empire State she is full of greatness; great in ideas which are the only real forces in civilization; great in power to apply those ideals in the common walks of life, in trade, in commerce, in industries, in economics, in reforms and in the science of government.
Iowa, my adopted State, thou art the beloved daughter of New England’s queen, and thou dost honor thy royalty. Iowa was quick to respond to the nation’s call in time of civil strife; she was first to respond to the cry of starving Russia; the sight of her corn made glad the hearts of dying men and women and little children; she even sent seven of her good women along to set the table. Iowa’s corn will feed millions, but by constitutional law her people have decreed that not one kernel shall be made into poison. Massachusetts is great, Iowa is the flower of her greatness, but there sit upon this floor the representatives of a greater State, a State of rocks and rivers, of plains and mountains; a State the peer of any other in natural resources and in power of development, but peerless in the crown its civilization wears; peerless in free men and free women — Wyoming, thou art the land of promise. Women of Wyoming, who gave you liberty? I hear you answer, the freemen of your own households who thought it not robbery to themselves to make you their equals before the law. Who placed your star in the proudest flag of the world, the most beautiful emblem that the sun shines on — except the cross of the world’s Redeemer ? By whose votes was Wyoming made a State ? Current history answers. History — sacred and profane — will never forget. By votes of the Republicans in the Fifty-first Congress, Wyoming came into the Union. The Republican party in Congress was practically solid for the admission of this free State. The Democratic party was practically solid against it. God bless the Republican party in the Fifty-first Congress!
Gentlemen, the Republican party is nothing if not aggressive. It is a party of action; its breath is progress; its speech is the language of the world; its dialect is the rhetoric of the home, the farm, the shop. Its shibboleths might be written on the white walls of any church. It holds within its ranks the armies of all reform; its constituencies are the living, moving, vital elements of American life. Why should not women rally to the support of such a party? Gentlemen, we have come; we are for service. May God keep us all wise, and true, and strong, and brave.
Source: The Republican Party: A History of Its Fifty Years’ Existence and a Record of Its Measures and Leaders, 1854-1904, Volume 2, by Francis Curtis (New York: The Knickerbocker Press), 1904, pp. 251-253.