Excerpts from

William McKinley's Acceptance Speech
to the G.O.P. Notification Committee

From the Cleveland Gazette, (African-American), 8 August, 1896

Senator Thurston and Gentlemen of the Notification Committee of the Republican National Convention:

To be selected as their Presidential candidate by a great party convention, representing a vast number of the people of the United States, is a most distinguished honor, for which I would not conceal my high appreciation, although deeply sensible of the great responsibilities of the trust and my inability to bear them without the generous and constant support of my fellow countrymen.

Great as is the honor conferred, equally arduous and important is the duty imposed, and in accepting the one I assume the other, relying upon the patriotic devotion of the people to the best interests of our beloved country, and the sustaining aid and care of Him without whose support all we do is empty and vain. Should the people ratify the choice of the great convention for which you speak, my only aim will be to promote the public good, which in America is always the good of the greatest number, the honor of our country, and the welfare of the people.

The questions to be settled in the national contest this year are as serious and important as any of the great governmental problems that have confronted us in the last quarter of the century. They command our sober judgement and a settlement free from partisan prejudice and passion, beneficial to ourselves and befitting the honor and grandeur of the republic. They touch every interest of our common country.

Much is Involved.

Our industrial supremacy, our productive capacity, our business and commercial prosperity, our labor and its rewards, our national credit and currency, our proud financial honor, and our splendid free citizenship--the birthright of every American--are all involved in the pending campaign, and thus every home in the land is directly and intimately connected with their proper settlement. Great are the issues involved in the coming election, and eager and earnest are the people for their right determination. Our domestic trade must be won back and our idle workingmen employed in gainful occupations at American wages. Our home market must be restored to its proud rank of first in the world, and our foreign trade, so precipitately cut off by adverse national legislation, reopened on fair and equitable terms for our surplus agricultural and manufacturing products.

Protection and reciprocity, twin measures of true American policy, should again command the earnest encouragement of the government at Washington. Public confidence must be resumed and the skill, the energy and the capital of our country find ample employment at home, sustained, encouraged and defended against the unequal competition and serious disadvantage with which they are now contending.

Must Raise Sufficient Revenue.

The government of the United States must raise enough money to meet both its current expenses and increasing needs. Its revenues should be so raised as to protect the material interests of the people, with the lightest possible drain upon their resources, and maintain that high standard of civilization which has distinguished our country for more than a century of its existence. The income of the government, I repeat, should equal its necessary and proper expenditures. A failure to pursue this policy has compelled the government to borrow money in a time of peace, to sustain its credit and pay its daily expenses. This policy should be reversed, and that, too, as speedily as possible.

It must be apparent to all, regardless of past party ties or affiliations, that it is our paramount duty to provide adequate revenue for the expenditures economically and prudently administered. The Republican party has heretofore done this, and this I confidently believe it will do in the future, when the party is again entrusted with power in the legislative and executive branches of our government. The national credit, which fortunately thus far has resisted every assault upon it, must and will be upheld and strengthened. If sufficient revenues are provided for the support of the government there will be no necessity for borrowing money and increasing the public debt.

Policy at Fault.

The complaint of the people is not against the administration for borrowing money and issuing bonds to preserve the credit of the country, but against the ruinous policy which has made this necessary. It is but an incident, and a necessary omen to the policy which has been inaugurated. The inevitable effect of such a policy is seen in the deficiency of the United States Treasury except as it is replenished by loans, and in the distress of the people, who are suffering because of the scant demand for the products of their labor. Here is the fundamental trouble, the remedy for which is Republican opportunity and duty.

McKinley Speaking

From The Verdict, 24 July 1899
(Courtesy The Ohio State University)

During all the years of Republican control following the resumption there was a steady reduction of the public debt, while the gold reserve was sacredly maintained, and our currency and credit preserved without depreciation, taint, or suspicion. If we would restore this policy, that brought us unexampled prosperity for more than thirty years, under the most trying conditions ever known in this country, the policy by which we made and bought more goods at home and sold more abroad, the trade balance would be quickly turned in our favor, and gold would come to us and not go from us in the settlement of all such balances in the future.

The party that supplied by past legislation the vast revenues for the conduct of our greatest war, and promptly restored the credit of the country at its close, and that from its abundant revenues paid off a large share of the debt incurred in this war, and that resumed specie payments and placed our paper currency upon a sound and enduring basis, can be safely trusted to preserve both our credit and currency with honor, stability, and inviolability.

Our Financial Honor is Sacred.

The American people hold the financial honor of our country as sacred as our flag, and can be relied upon to guard it with the same sleepless vigilance. They hold its preservation above party loyalty and have often demonstarted that party ties avail nothing when the spotless credit of our country is threatened. The money of the United States and every kind of form of it, whether of paper, silver, or gold, must be as good as the best in the world. It must not only be current at its full face value at home, but must be counted at par in every and any commercial center of the globe.

The sagacious and far-seeing policy of the great men who founded our government, the teachings and acts of the wisest financiers at every stage in our history, the steadfast faith and splendid achievements of the great party to which we belong, and the genius and integrity of our people have always demanded this and will ever maintain it. The dollar paid to the farmer, the wage-earner and the pensioner must continue forever equal in purchasing and debt-paying power to the dollar paid to any government creditor.

The contest this year will not be waged upon lines of theory and speculation, but in the light of severe practical experience and new and dearly acquired knowledge. The great body of our citizens know what they want, and that they intend to have. They know for what the Republican party stands, and what its return to power means to them. They realize that the Republican party believes that our work should be done at home, and not abroad, and everywhere proclaim their devotion to the principles of a protective tariff, which, while supplying adequate revenues for the government, will restore American production and serve the best interests of American labor and development.

Appeal to the Plain People.

Our appeal, therefore, is not to a false philosophy or vain theorists, but to the masses of the American people, the plain, practical people, who Lincoln loved and trusted and whom the Republican party have faithfully striven to serve. The platform adopted by the Republican National Convention has received my careful consideration, and has my unqualified approval. It is a matter of gratification to me, as I am sure it must be to you, and Republicans everywhere, and to all our people that the expressions of its declaration of principles are so direct, clear, and emphatic. They are too plain and positive to leave any chance for doubt or question as to their purport or meaning.

But you will not expect me to discuss its provisions at length, or in any detail, at this time. It will, however, be my duty at some future day to make to you and through you to the great party you represent a more formal acceptance of the nomination tendered me. No one could be more profoundly grateful than I for manifestations of public confidence for which you have so eloquently spoken.

It shall be my aim to attest this appreciation by an unsparing devotion to what I esteem the best interests of the people, and in this work I ask the counsel and support of you gentlemen and of every other friend in the country.

The generous expressions with which you, sir, convey the official notice of my nomination are highly appreciated and as fully reciprocated, and I thank you and your associates of the notification committee and the great party and convention at whose instance you come for the high and exceptional distinction bestowed upon me.


© 2000, Rebecca Edwards, Vassar College