A-Rafting on the Mississip'

By Charles Edward Russell | Go to book overview

Appendix B
A RAFTSMAN’S ORATORY

The celebrated speech of Captain Van Sant when defeated for the Republican nomination for governor in 1898. From H. P. Hall’s book entitled “Observations,” pp. 304 et seq.

After [the nominee] had made his acceptance speech, Van Sant,
who was present, was called upon to respond as one of the de-
feated candidates, and he did so in a most manly way. I quote what
he said as an object lesson. These were his words on that occasion:

Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen of the Convention:

“As I sat on the platform listening to the speech of my successful
rival, the thought occurred to me that if it seemed ‘funeral-like’ to
him while waiting at the Windsor for the result of your deliberations,
just imagine my feelings! He won! I lost! I had hoped to return
to my home occupying a front seat on the band wagon; instead, I
go back in the hearse. Again, imagine my embarrassment! I prepared
a speech to deliver to this convention, but alas, it would not be appro-
priate for this occasion. Besides, I have been for six months talking
to the Republicans of Minnesota, and it does not seem to have done
much good. Why should I speak more. But, my friends and fellow-
workers in the vineyard of the Republican party, I want to say right
here and now that from a full heart I thank the four hundred true
and tried men who stood by me through thick and thin and to the
last, and have only the kindliest feeling toward those who opposed
my nomination. There was but one trouble—I did not have soldiers
enough. Let me assure you that there are no sore spots on me. I
most earnestly congratulate Mr. Eustis; he fairly won the nomina-
tion. Like him I, too, thought I heard a voice two years ago. I was
mistaken. He heard the call; it remains with us to make the election
sure. We are all Republicans, but no Republican will carry the flag
farther into the enemy’s camp during the coming fall than I will
unless he have a stronger constitution or greater ability. This will
be a Republican year, a glorious year of sunshine; already the
wanning glow of prosperity is assured. The promise of McKinley
and prosperity is a fact, and business conditions are so rapidly and
permanently improving that our country is destined soon to become
and remain the greatest on the face of the earth.

“Again I congratulate you, Mr. Eustis, not only upon your nomi-
nation but upon the glorious victory that awaits you in November;
and to the end that it may be as nearly unanimous as possible let

-343-

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