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THE CLINCH VALLEY NEWS
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 11, 1912
SKETCH OF GENERAL AYERS
Rufus A. Ayers was born in Bedford County, Virginia, May 20, 18-10.
His father was Maston J. Ayers and Ins mother was Susan Lewis Wingfield.
On his mother's side General Ayers is descended from the Lewis family
of Augusta County. John Lewis, the first settler of that county, being
her great grandfather, and General Andrew Lewis and Col. Charles Lewis,
?4ier great uncles.
Mr. Ayers moved, with his father's family, to Goodson, Washington
County, in 1855. He attended the Goodson Academy until 1861, when
the school closed on account of the war. He ran away from home and
entered the Confederate Army in April, 1864, before he was fifteen years
of age and served with a detached command of scouts in Last Tennessee.
His father died when be was eight years old, leaving a widow and six
children, he being the oldest son, the cares of a man fell to his lot in
He studied law in the office of Henry S. Kane, Esq., in his day one
of the most distinguished lawyers in Southwest Virginia. General Ayers
was admitted to the Bar in 1872. Three years later he was elected
Attorney for the Commonwealth for Scott County. He was Clerk of
the Committee on Finance, and Reading Clerk of the House of Delegates
from 1875-76 until 1878-79?four years. In 1880 he was appointed by
President Hayes (under the Statute requiring non-part izan appointees)
Supervisor of the Census for the Fifth District of Virginia. In 1885 he
Was nominated over General flames ? A. Walker,"and 'elected 'Attorney
General of Virginia on the ticket with General Fitzhugh
Lee and Hon. .lohn E. Massey. He was elected, with- i.
out opposition,-a member of the Constitutional Con?
tention of 1901-02 from the counties of Wise, Dieken
son and Buchanan, and was made Chairman of the
Committee on Public Institutions and Prisons.
During the entire four years of his term as Attorney
General he was engaged in the most remarkable legal
contest ever waged in the United States?a contest
against the assaults of the English bondholders, intend?
ed to bankrupt the treasury of the State, and ruin her
institutions of learning. It finally resulted in his being
fined and imprisoned by the order of a Federal Judge
for contempt, in his efforts to maintain the sovereignty
of the State. General Ayers was discharged by order
of the Supreme Court of the United States in the case
of ex-parte Ayers, upon the hearing of which he was
represented by the lato John Randolph Tucker, Roscoe
Conkling, Col. W. W. Gordon and Hon. Charles V.
The General Assembly of Virginia unanimously
passed a joint resolution commending bis conduct,
which was transmitted to him by Governor Lee in a
letter, in which he said:
"I take great pleasure in uniting with the Legis?
lature in its commendation of the spirit that enabled
you, while obeying the laws of your State, to look
through the bars of a jail, in order that you might
peaceably see the rights of Virginia under the Consti?
4. General Ayers is very popular, not only in the
Southwest but throughout Virginia. He is recognized
as one of the leading lawyers of the State, und one of
her foremost and most distinguished citizens. He is
not a politician in the common acceptation of the term.
He is not making the race for Congress from selfish
motives, for he is in no sense a self-seeker. His prime
object is to redeem the Ninth District from the blight
of corruption of the ballot. He is a patriotic Virginia
gentleman and a loyal Democrat. He is not only
progressive in his Democracy, but is one of the most
progressive citizens along all lines of human endeavor
to be found in the Commonwealth.
He has probably contributed more to the great
material development of this section than any other
man. He has always striven for the uplift of his people,
morally, intellectually and materially.
In his fight for honest elections, without the use of
money to debauch the voter, he has behind him men of
both parties who clearly see the consequences (lowing
therefrom, and who wish him God speed in his efforts
to crush out the monster corruption of the ballot, and
bring about the dawn of a brighter, better day in the
politics of the Ninth District.
General Ayers' address to the citizens of the Ninth
District delivered at Marion on September 2, is us
GEN. AYERS' SPEECH
"Without solicitation on my part the Democrats
of this district placed their banner in my hands and
^ commissioned me their nominee to carry it to victory,
and if I read aright the determination I see on faces of
Smyth County's Democracy, victory will surely
"I stand squarely upon the Democratic platform as interpreted by
Woodrow Wilson in his clear-cut, logical and unanswerable speech of ac?
ceptance. My life work should be a guarantee for my being in the front
rank of sane Progressives, for more than a third of a century I have been
identified with, and aggressively progressive, in every line of human
endeavor, progress and development of my section in the South wist.
When I began to take part in this development the railroad from Radford
y.. to Bristol was the extent of our transportation facilities and today there
are more miles of railroad in Wise county than there were then in all
Southwest Virginia. ?
"The part I have taken in this development is well known, and.1 trust
I may say without egotism, that I am not ashamed of it. I stand for
every sane progressive measure now at issue before the people.
" I want to say of my competitor, the Republican nominee, Mr. Slemp,
that I have known him from early boyhood, and we have been and are
now, the best of friends. I have watched his career with much interest
as he has steadily risen by his own efforts, application and ability to
become a distinguished citizen and chosen to represent this district in
Congress for three terms. If it required me to say aught against him
personally to secure my election, it would remain unsaid.
"We, however, differ politically as wide as the poles, and I shall crit?
icise and discuss his political record, and that or his party, freely and fully,
and concede the same right to him.
"From the foundation of our government throughout the formative
period of the nation, it was the Democratic party that moulded and shaped
rts destinies as it grew and expanded and became strong and powerful.
For the last half of a century it has been a minority party, with the
exception of eight years, but throughout all its history it has steadfastly
resisted all encroachments upon the rights of the people, and its continued
untiring efforts have at last aroused the people to the dangers that beset
them and the institutions established by them, until now, in overwhelming
^strength and solid phalanx, the people, irrespective of party, under Dem?
ocratic leadership, are marching upon the citadels of entrenched privilege
with admitted certainty of victory.
"Many parties have been launched upon the sea of politics during the
century of its existence, but it ulone has withstood all the assaults from
without and within, because it represents principles of government that
had their birth with the dawn of human liberty and human rights; prin?
ciples which have guided, guarded and charted every step in the march
of progress to free government, without which our free institutions and
our great republic would cease to exist.
"It is this great party alone that can, with any degree of certainty,
champion the rights of the people, redress their wrongs, restore their gov?
ernment and make it responsive to the wishes, desires and aspirations of
the people, free from the interests of trusts, monopolies and combina?
tions of predatory wealth which have so long corrupted and dominated it
in their own interest against the people, to whom alone the government
FIVE YEARS' PANIC AND LABOR UNREST.
"With the autumn of li>07 there was ushered in under Republican
administration the most stringent nation-wide financial panic that this
country has known in all its history. It became necessary for the hanks
throughout the country to organize into associations and to issue their cer?
tificates or notes, which were circulated and used in the place of the
currency which should have been in the hands of the people for their
needs. This panic has continued for more than live years up to the pres?
ent moment of time with some fluctuation, but it exists today with almost
the same stringency that it had at its beginning. Following upon it,
serious and deep-seated labor troubles arose in all parts of the country
and these troubles have continued to the present moment of lime.
RUFUS A. AYERS
"Simultaneously with these financial and labor troubles the people of
the country awoke to the high cost of living; that the necessaries of life
were costing them more than their wages would pay for. In many places
there was dire poverty and naked want. The responsibility for these
conditions is upon the Republican party. For ten years preceding their
existence the Republican party was in absolute control of the government,
and for five years since these conditions arose they have continued in
control with promise of redress and remedy, all of which have been un?
fruitful and barren of results.
" Notwithstanding these conditions for the origin of which they an re?
sponsible, and for the continuance of which they are responsible, this party
has the temerity to ask for its continuation in power.
ADMITTED FAILURE OF REPUBLICAN PARTY.
"The Republican party itself has admitted its failure. Us idol and
chief exponent until the last two months, the man whom it made the chief
magistrate of this good country, has admitted its failure, and he himself
charges it with repudiation of its platform, and with wilfully breaking
its pledges and covenants with the people. He has repudiated it in no
uncertain language, for at the first Chicago convention he said that he
stood at 'Armageddon Hill of Robbers and Thieves,' and that he 'Bat?
tled for the Lord.' No thoughtful Republican will claim that the Taft
administration has been anything else than a failure, and the patriotic
Republicans who have the good of the country at heart, have turned from
Taft and his supporters, and are under the leadership of Roosevelt, fighting
to right some of the wrongs and mistakes for which the Republican party
is responsible. If the results of the Republican rule and the formntion
from the Republican ranks of a new party did not admit the failure of
Republican rule, then it is not possible to make such an admission.
CAUSES RESPONS1M.E THEREFOR.
"Discussing the pint form, the lirst and most important feature is
taritr reform. This again reiterates the declaration so often made Unit
the federal government, under the constitution, has no right or power to
impose or collect tarilf except for the purpose of revenue, and demands
that the collection of Buch taxes shall he limited to the necessities of gov?
ernment, honestly and economically administered. This proposition
enunciates a principle as solid as the Kock id Ages and as true as Holy
" Whenever the necessities of revenue is exceeded and the duty impos?
ed, not for revenue, hut for protecting the manufacturer, the government
authorises him to levy a lax upon the consumers of the manufactured arti?
cle equal to the protection given, it enriches the manufacturers who
constitute a very small minority at the expense of I he great masses of t he
people, and enables the manufacturers to make large contributions from
their Ill-gOtten wealth to he used in corrupting the ballot and continuing
the inequality and special privilege that their millions may continue Iii
grow at the expense of the consumers, who are in overwhelming majority,
In fact, the protective tariff and corrupt ion of '? la' hallet go hand in hand
and should he discussed together, as neither can exist without the other
when one dies the other must die.
"The declaration of the platform that 'The high Republican tarilf is
the principal cause of the unequal distribution of wealth; thai it is a sys?
tem of taxation which makes t lie rich richer and the poor poorer; under its
operation the American farmer and laboring man lire the chief sufferers;
it (raises It he cost of .lhc*ncccssnrics of life,to them.hut does not protect
their wages. The farmer scllsjargcly in'frcc^mnrkcls and buys almost en?
tirely in the protected markets. In the most highly
;-1 protected industries, such as col ton and wool, steel anil
iron, (he wages of the laborers are the lowest paid in
any of our industries. We denounce the Republican
pretense on that subject ami assert thai American
wages are established by competitive conditions and
not, by the tarilf.' This truly portrays tile evils Mowing
from t he collect ion of tarilf taxes upon a protective basis.
"The eyes of Republican Congressmen and the Re?
publican President seem to be Idled with the gaze upon
the manufacturers and fail to see the great nriny of
middle class and the very poor who constitute the groat
bulk of the people these people being the ultimate
consumers upon whom payment of tin- tariff lax finally
rests. Wo have approximately ninety-live million
people in the United Stales a few thousand of them
millionaires, a few hundred thousand independently
wealthy, but us compared to I hem we have a groul
many million whose wages fall below one thousand
dollars per annum, the average being less I hau light
hundred dollars, many falling below live hundred dol?
lars. It. is upon this great host of toiling humanity
that this burden of taxation falls. Could this great
body of the poor he marshalled, what a procession il
would make! Prom factories, farms, and oilier fields
of human endeavor: from New England and the middle
slates; from the mines of Pennsylvania and the South
and West; to the Rockiis and beyond; from the
cotton fields of the South and the farms 01 the Missis
sippi Valley; from the tenements of our large cities;
from ovory nook and corner tin y would conic, millions
of .souls. Six million of I hem women, many of them
with babies in their arms; thousands upon thousands
of children under twelve years of age pale, narrowly
chested, old in face; lens of thousands of young girls,
their eyes upon the future; twelve million fathers,
wives and children clinging to them would lie in line.
A mighty host of brave and patient hearts the host
t hat t a kos t he eart h's treasures into its strong and will?
ing hands and from (hem make the country's wealth
the host without whose labor this land would I urn into
a wilderness and then starve or become as the beasts.
"If this great host could pass in review before
Congress, their hitherto unheeded petitions would be
granted and no one would again have the temerity to
vole for a protective tarilT upon the necessaries of lift
Is it wonderful t hat the people are aroused as t hey never
have been before, and are grimly determined to vote
out of power the party that is responsible for all this
distress and want the party that is responsible for the
great inequality in the distrihtltin of wealth earned by
the sweat of the brow of millions, hut enjoyed by the
chosen few, protected in their special privileges.
. "The Republican party promised relief in the plat?
form upon which Prealdont Taft was nominated four
years ago, but has utterly failed to keep this promise.
The President twice vetoed bills lowering the tarilf
passed by both houses and sent to him for approval.
There is no no hopeol relief from the Republican party,
and I he voice of the people will be step down and out
"What does the Democracy say upon the subject
of revising the taritr and reducing tin- duties: ' We
favor the immediate downward revision of the existing
high, and in many cases prohibitive tarilf duties, insist?
ing that material reductions lie speedily made on the
necessaries of life. Articles entering into compel it jon
with trust-controlled products and articles of American
manufacture which are sold abroad more cheaply than
at home, should be put upon I he free list. We recognize
I hat our system of tarilf taxat ion is intimately connected
with the business of tin- country, and we favor the ul?
timate attainment of tin' principles we advocate by
legislation that will not injure or destroy legitimate
Discussing the trusts General Ayers said:
"Tin- language of this plank is clear and explicit
and leaves no doubt as to what we will do with the male?
factors, it is: 'A private monopoly is indefensible and
intolerable. We therefore favor the vigorous enforci -
mont of the criminal, as well as the civil, law against trusts and trust offi?
cials, and demand the enactment of additional legislation as may lie nec?
essary to make it impossible for a private monopoly to exist in the United
"The provision against interlocking directors in corporations, slock
watering, discrimination in prices and monopolizing any industry, is in
keeping with the principles which have been strenuously advocated by
our Rep:escntatives and Senators during the recent session of Congress,
and is a forecast of the treatment lawless business will receive at our hands.
Far be it, however, from the purpose of the parly to interfere wit h, hamper
or restrict legitimate business. This is made plain in t he platform and Mr.
Wilson's speech of acceptance, and is in keeping with tin? practices and
traditions of the Democratic party, which has id ways encouraged business,
its slogan being 'equal rights to all men and special privilege to none.'
"This plank further pledges the party to amend the Sherman law so
as to make it more effective in carrying out the purpose for which it was
DEMANDS Ol- THE PEOPLE.
"The platform adopted by the Democratic National convention, to
which your candidate for President and all other Democrats are pledg?
ed to enforce and maintain by legislation, has met with the enthusiastic,
and unanimous endorsement of n united parly, and should [fully satisfy
the requirements of all the sane demands of progressive men of all parties.
"True to its past history and traditions, the Democratic party has
been first to respond to the voice of the people and heed their demands for
greater participation in their goverment. In this connection it is well to
recur to first principles. Go back to the Declaration of Independence and
you will find the people making the declaration. Following on to the
adoption of our constitution you will find the first clause to be, 'We, the
people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, estab?
lish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense,
promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves