Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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CARLISLE, John Griffin, statesman, born in Campbell (now Kenton) county, Kentucky, 5 September, 1835. He was the youngest son in a large family, received a common-school education, studied law, taught for a time in Covington and elsewhere, and was admitted to the bar of Kentucky in 1858. He served several terms in the Kentucky house of representatives, acquiring, in the mean time, an extensive and lucrative law practice. During the civil war he was opposed to secession. In 1866 and 1869 he was a member of the state senate. He was a delegate to the National democratic convention held in New York in 1868, was lieutenant governor of Kentucky from 1871 till 1875, and in 1876 was a presidential elector. The same year he was elected to congress, taking his seat in March, 1877, and has been five times re-elected. He soon became prominent as a Democratic leader, was appointed a member of the committee of ways and means, and attracted attention by an able speech on revenue reform. This and the revival of American shipping he regards as the most important questions before the country. On the organization of congress in December, 1883, he was elected speaker of the House of Representatives, to which office he was re-elected in 1885. He is one of the most popular men in his state, politically, and might have had a seat in the United States senate had he not preferred to retain the leadership of the house. On the vital question of free-trade he has placed himself on record in the following passage, which is quoted from a speech made while he was en the floor of the house:" In the broad and sweeping sense which the use of the term generally implies, I am not a free-trader. Of course, that is understood. At least, it should be. I will add that, in my judgment, it will be years yet before anything in the nature of free-trade will be wise or practicable for the United States. When we speak of this subject we refer to approximate free-trade, which has no idea of crippling the growth of home industries, but simply of scaling down the iniquities of the tariff schedule, where they are utterly out of proportion to the demands of that growth. After we have calmly stood by and allowed monopolies to grow fat, we should not be asked to make them bloated. Our enormous surplus revenues are illogical and oppressive. It is entirely undemocratic to continue these burdens on the people for years and years after the requirements of protection have been met and the representatives of these industries have become incrusted with wealth. This is the general proposition on which I stand. The rest is a mere matter of detail, to be settled with judgment, discretion, and caution."
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