Der Westen -- September 26, 1875Independent Citizens of the Seventeenth Ward Enthusiastic Meeting
Citizens of the Seventeenth Ward met at Bleimes' Hall yesterday. During the coming local election these citizens will act as an independent body since they do not care to be affiliated with any party. The numerous participation showed that, even if the majority of the Ward's residents do not subscribe to this nonpartisan attitude, a large number of then believe in such independence. The oldest and most respected residents of the district appeared at the Hall.
Henry Mayer opened the meeting and nominated Theodore Karls as chairman. He was unanimously elected.
Theodore Karl's Speech
"Citizens! We are facing an election of city and county officials. It 2behooves us, therefore, to congregate here as citizens of this Ward. The object of this meeting is to exchange ideas and to devise a way whereby....we may find a method to enable us to give public offices to the most deserving men; that is, to such men as have proved themselves honorable in the past, and have shown that they are unblemished above corruption, and endowed with qualities making them eligible for public positions. When we attain such a goal, honor will accrue to us.
"We have come here neither to object to the existing order, nor to support corrupt, ambitious office-seekers.
"Although this--our program--was emblazoned on the standard of the people's party two years ago, and though we still adhere to it today in a certain measure, it does not signify that we are fully satisfied with the accomplishments of the people's party. However, we do not desire to ascribe the shortcomings of this party to the founders, as they had the best of intentions.3
What was the reason for organizing the People's party?
"You all known that the coalition between the German-speaking citizens of Chicago and the Green Islanders [Irish] was effected solely to throttle the schemes of a small but powerful, hypocritical sect which attempted to restrict our freedom and personal rights, and to forbid our customs, to which we had adhered since early Mouth.
"It is almost amazing how the American nation still ignores the precept that everyone should be allowed to seek happiness according to his own beliefs, and how intolerance has become the order of the day, where as tolerance should rule, since it is and ought to be the expression of the present century.
"You know how the German liberal element two years ago won a memorable election, a triumph over hypocrisy and bigotry No greater result could have been conceived. Surely, no German-speaking citizen thought at the time that this victory 4would be the source of unbridled activities and disorder; now did he regard the alliance with the Democrats as a permanent affiliation with the Democratic party.
"But this last point is one which concerns our national politics, and hence should not and must not enter into local affairs. Chicago alone concerns us at present. It is immaterial to us whether a worthy candidate for this or that office subscribes to the Democratic or Republican doctrine. We are concerned only with the character and the ability of the man. Toward this end, citizens, lend a helping hand and do your utmost!"
Hy. Mayer was elected secretary.
Mr. Korff made a motion that English should be spoken; that is, that the proceedings should be in English.
James Ennis was of the opinion that the chairman should translate the motions into English, and that the speakers should be allowed to speak in English. He 5added that it would be unfair to curtail the freedom of expression of those who are unable properly to express themselves in English. The motion, with the amendment of James Ennis, was adopted.
Adolph Mueller made a motion that a committee of five be nominated. James Ennis seconded the motion.
Dr. Shields made a motion to nominate Hy. Mayer as chairman of the assembly. Mr. Karls declared that he had been nominated as the chairman and that he would relinquish his position only to the president of the club which was to be founded. Adolph Mueller answered that no club was needed at present; that the first essential was to resolve what the body intended to do and to nominate a committee which would formulate resolutions. The motion was adopted. The chairman nominated Messrs. John Stack, Hy. Strauss, Adolph Mueller, James Ennis and Hy. Hand.
While the committee deliberated, Francis A. Hofmann, Jr., mounted the platform 6and said that he was always glad to observe a lively participation in important political questions. "As long as a party is in the minority," he asserted, "everybody agrees; but if a party wins, then one always finds individuals who insist on foisting their peculiar ideas upon the masses. This is but natural and right. Everyone has the right to air his opinions." He continued: "I hear that this meeting has not been called in the interest of any single party. There are thousands in the city who are thoroughly dissatisfied with the ruling national party, although they are not willing to change to another party. But they are willing to forego partisanship in the coming city election, and they intend to entrust our local public offices only to such men as they have confidence in, regardless of party.
"The citizens of the Seventeenth Ward have always acted in this manner. They voted for the Democrat Schintz at a time when the Seventeenth Ward was the strongest Republican ward; in fact, they supported him several times because they considered him preferable to his opponent, Schaffner. And later, they 7voted for the Republican Schaffner when the opposition showed a tremendous majority, because they considered Schaffner preferable to the opposing candidate."
The speaker remarked that the Republican party was indulging in a lot of nonsense. "It has tried to foster the belief," he said, "that there are no real differences between Democrats and Republicans. I would not object to this statement if it were true. But the Republican party has sinned so fearfully that it has lost its hold on the public, and so the Republican party deserves to be beaten. The Republican party is to blame for twenty thousand cases of bankruptcy and for a loss of five hundred million dollars in capital during the last few years.
"But in the state of Illinois there is no Democratic party. We only have an opposition party; the platform is the old platform of the Republican party of 1860. Any Republican sharing in the views of that period may vote for it--and 8so may every Democrat."
He admonished the assembly to vote only for honest, capable men. Although he is a Democrat, he has often voted, he asserted, for a Republican who happened to be an able man.
The committee then reported that it had drafted the resolutions, which had been unanimously accepted. James Ennis remarked that the report was written in both English and German.
"We, the citizens of the Seventeenth Ward, assembled at a mass meeting, do declare:
"Whereas The impending city and county elections do not involve questions of 9national importance, so that the only issue affecting our citizens is the honesty and ability of the candidates to be elected to our local offices; and
"Whereas During the approaching election, party divisions are contemplated along lines involving national problems which can only succeed in reviving such questions as compulsory temperance, Sunday laws, etc., which should be avoided; be it therefore
"Resolved, That it is the opinion of this assembly that the citizens of this Ward should admonish their fellow citizens that it would be very imprudent to inject national political questions into the local election, and that this assembly advocates the creation of a citizens' movement for the sole purpose of obtaining an honest, capable administration in county offices."
The resolutions were accepted, and a motion to organize permanently was made and passed. Hy. Mayer was nominated as president; James Ennis was elected 10secretary; John Stack was elected treasurer. Dr. Shields made a motion to nominate an executive committee of five.
After repeated requests Hans Haerting mounted the stage. He said that he was not a citizen of the Seventeenth Ward, that he, therefore, had not come to take part in the deliberations; that he had appeared merely because he was interested in observing the important activities of the Seventeenth Ward preparatory to the coming election, since the ward had always exerted strong political influence. "I am glad that not only the older element is represented here, but that the younger people, also, have come in such large numbers," he said. "Although the latter will not be able to decide the destiny of the county at present....the future belongs to youth.....The Tribune, in particular, is exceedingly desirous of bringing back the German vote to the Republican fold....."
The speaker criticized the Republican press, going into great detail...."And 11now," he said, "the Tribune wants to give good advice to the Germans; that paper claims that only the Republican party can bring salvation to the Chicago Germans. How great this Republican friendship for the Germans really is, can readily be seen. On the one hand, we observe the attempts to bring the Germans back into the rold; on the other, we find the most bitter vilification of the Germans and the foreign-born element in general."
The speaker then quoted some very revealing statements from the Tribune....."If the program is strictly adhered to," he said; "that is, if, in voting, we consider only the qualifications of the candidate....then we are bound to win a far-reaching victory in the ward, the city, and the county."
Hy. Strauss, Dr. Shields, Dr. Geiger, Gustav A. Korn, and Wm. Hartney were nominated to the Executive Committee. The meeting was then adjourned.
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