ENGLISH READINGS FOR SCHOOLS
"The virtue of books is the perfecting of reason, which is indeed the happiness of man."
Richard De Bury.
"On bokes for to rede I me delyte."
English Readings for Schools
WILBUR LUCIUS CROSS
PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH IN YALE UNIVERSITY
PRESIDENT WILSON'S ADDRESSES
GEORGE MCLEAN HARPER
PROFESSOR IN PRINCETON UNIVERSITY; AUTHOR OF "MASTERS OF FRENCH LITERATURE," "LIFE OF SAINTE-BEUVE," AND "WILLIAM WORDSWORTH, HIS LIFE, WORKS, AND INFLUENCE"
NEW YORK HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY
Copyright 1918, BY HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY
First Inaugural Address First Address to Congress Address on the Banking System Address at Gettysburg Address on Mexican Affairs Understanding America Address before the Southern Commercial Congress The State of the Union Trusts and Monopolies Panama Canal Tolls The Tampico Incident In the Firmament of Memory Memorial Day Address at Arlington Closing a Chapter Annapolis Commencement Address The Meaning of Liberty American Neutrality Appeal for Additional Revenue The Opinion of the World The Power of Christian Young Men Annual Address to Congress A Message Address before the United States Chamber of Commerce To Naturalized Citizens Address at Milwaukee The Submarine Question American Principles The Demands of Railway Employees Speech of Acceptance Lincoln's Beginnings The Triumph of Women's Suffrage The Terms of Peace Meeting Germany's Challenge Request for Authority Second Inaugural Address The Call to War To the Country The German Plot Reply to the Pope Labor must be Free The Call for War with Austria-Hungary Government Administration of Railways The Conditions of Peace Force to the Utmost
These addresses of President Woodrow Wilson represent only the most recent phase of his intellectual activity. They are almost entirely concerned with political affairs, and more specifically with defining Americanism. It will not be forgotten, however, that the life of Mr. Wilson as President of the United States is but a short period compared with the whole of his public career as professor of jurisprudence, history, and politics, as President of Princeton University, as Governor of New Jersey, as an orator, and as a writer of many books.
Surprise has been expressed that a man, after reaching the age of fifty, should be able to step from the "quiet" life of a teacher and author into the resounding regions of politics; but Mr. Wilson's life as a scholar, professor, and author was not at all quiet in the sense of being easy or untouched with exciting chances and changes, and, in the second place, he carried into politics the steadying ideals and the methodical habits of his former occupation.
As these addresses themselves prove, he has retained something of the teacher's interest in showing the relation between specific instances and the general forms of thought or action of which they are a part. Not fact alone, but principle, is what he seeks to discover to his audiences. In the addresses made in 1913 it is apparent that his main effort was to fasten attention upon the principles of international justice and good will and to restrain the impulses of those Americans who were inclined to hasty action with reference to Mexico. From the beginning of the Great War to a point not much earlier than our own entrance into the struggle, he counselled neutrality and inaction, with what motives one must judge from his statements and from events. Only a few speeches belonging to this period have been included in the present collection. When it became practically certain that war between the United States and Germany was inevitable, there came into his utterances a new temper and a more direct kind of eloquence. With scarcely an exception, this collection includes every one of his addresses made between August, 1916, and February, 1918.
Some of the addresses are state papers, read to Congress, and were carefully composed. Others, delivered in various places, appear to have been more or less extemporaneous. All are full of their author's political philosophy, and many of them contain expressions of his opinions on general subjects, such as personal character and conduct.
In order more fully to appreciate the weight of experience and the maturity of reflection which give value to his words, it will be worth while to consider Mr. Wilson's entire career as a scholar and man of letters, paying particular attention to the growth of his political ideals and to the qualities of his style.
To be a literary artist, a writer must possess a constructive imagination. He must be a man of feeling and have the gift of imparting to others some share of his own emotions. On almost every page of President Wilson's writings, as in almost all his policies, whether educational or political, is stamped the evidence of shaping, visionary power. Those of us who have known him many years remember well that in his daily thought and speech he habitually proceeded by this same poetic method, first growing warm with an idea and then by analogy and figure kindling a sympathetic heat in his hearers.
The subjects that may excite an artist's imagination are infinitely numerous and belong to every variety of conceivable life. A Coleridge or a Renan will make literature out of polemical theology; a Huxley will write on the physical basis of life with emotion and in such a way as to infect others with his own feelings; a Macaulay or a Froude will give what color he please to the story of a nation and compel all but the most wary readers to see as through his eyes. We are too much accustomed to reserve the title of literary artist for the creator of fiction, whether in prose or in verse. Mr. Wilson is no less truly an artist because the vision that fires his imagination, the vision he has spent his life in making clear to himself and others and is now striving to realize in action, is a political conception. He has seen it in terms of life, as a thing that grows, that speaks, that has faced dangers, that is full of promise, that has charm, that is fit to stir a man's blood and demand a world's devotion; no wonder he has warmed to it, no wonder he has clothed it in the richest garments of diction and rhythm and figure.
There are small artists and great artists. Granted an equal portion of imagination and an equal command of verbal resources, and still there will be this difference. It is an affair of more or less intellectual depth and more or less character. If character were the only one of these two things to be considered in the case of Mr. Wilson's writings, one might with little or no hesitation predict that the best of them would long remain classics. They are full of character, of a high and fine character. They have a tone peculiar to themselves, like a man's voice, which is one of the most unmistakable properties of a man. It would be no reflection on an author to say that his point of view in fundamental matters had changed in the course of thirty or forty years; but the truth is that with reference to his great political ideal Mr. Wilson's point of view has not widely changed. The scope of his survey has been enlarged, he has filled up the intervening space with a thousand observations, he sees his object with a more penetrating and commanding eye; but it is the same object that drew to itself his youthful gaze, and has had its part in making him
"The generous spirit, who, when brought Among the tasks of real life, hath wrought Upon the plan that pleased his boyish thought."
The world, in time, will judge of the amount of knowledge and the degree of purely intellectual force that Mr. Wilson has applied in his field of study. A contemporary cannot well pronounce such a judgment, especially if the province be not his own.
In the small space at my disposal I shall try, first, to say what I think is the political conception or idea upon which Mr. Wilson has looked so steadily and with so deep emotion that he has made of it a poetical subject. And then I shall venture to distinguish those processes of imagination, that artistic method, which we call style, by which he has elucidated its meaning for his readers so as to win for it their intelligent and moved regard. The inquiry will take into account his earliest book, Congressional Government, published in 1885, Division and Reunion, 1893, An Old Master and Other Political Essays, 1893, Mere Literature and Other Essays, 1896, George Washington, 1897, The State, written 1889, rewritten 1898, A History of the American People, 1902, Constitutional Government in the United States, 1908, and a volume, issued very recently in England, containing some of the President's statements on the war and entitled America and Freedom.
Like a strong current through these works runs the doctrine that in a good government the law-making power should be also the administering power and should bear full and specific responsibility; safeguards against ill-considered action being provided in two directions, by the people on the one hand, and on the other hand by law and custom, these latter being considered historically, as an organic growth. He finds the elements and essentials of this doctrine in our Constitution, though somewhat obscured by the old "literary" theory of checks and balances. He finds it more fully acknowledged in the British Constitution. He finds it originating in our English race, enunciated at Runnymede, developing by a slow but natural growth in English history, sanctioned in the Petition of Right, the Revolution of 1688, and the Declaration of Rights, achieved for us in our own Revolution, and illustrated by the implied powers of Congress and the more directly exercised powers of the House of Commons. It is a corollary of this doctrine that the President of the United States, to whom in the veto and in his peculiar relations to the Senate our Constitution gives a very real legislative function, should associate himself closely with Congress, not merely as one who may annul but also as one who initiates policies and helps to translate them into laws. In his Congressional Government, begun when he was a student in Princeton and finished before he was twenty-eight years old, Mr. Wilson clearly indicates his dissatisfaction with the tradition which would set the executive apart from the legislative power as a check against it and not a cooeperating element; and it is a remarkable proof of the man's integrity and persistent personality that one of his first acts as President was to go before the Congress as if he were its agent.
If any proof of his democracy were required, one might point to his rather surprising statement, which he has repeated more than once, that the chief value of Congressional debate is to arouse and inform public opinion. He regards the will of the people as the real source of governmental policy. Yet he is very impatient of those theories of the rights of man which found favor in France in the eighteenth century and have been the mainspring of democratic movements on the Continent of Europe. He regards political liberty, as we know it in this country, as a peculiar possession of the English race to which, in all that concerns jurisprudence, we Americans belong.
The other safeguard against arbitrary action by the combined legislative-administrative power is, he declares, national respect for the spirit of those general legal conceptions which, through many centuries, have been making themselves part and parcel of our racial instinct. He perceives that the British Constitution, though unwritten, is as effective as ours and commands obedience fully as much as ours, and that both appeal to a certain ingrained legal sense, common to all the English-speaking peoples. These peoples do not really have revolutions. What we call the American Revolution was only the reaffirming of principles which were as precious in the eyes of most Englishmen as they were in the eyes of Washington, Hamilton, and Madison, but which had been for a time and owing to peculiar circumstances, neglected or contravened. Political development in this family of nations does not, he maintains, proceed by revolution, but by evolution. On all these points his Constitutional Government in the United States is only a richer and more mature statement and illustration of the ideas expressed in his Congressional Government. The main thesis of his George Washington is that the great Virginian and first American was the truest Englishman of his time, a modern Hampden or Eliot, a Burke in action. Again and again he pays respect to Chief Justice Marshall, who represented, in our early history, the conception of law as something in its breadth and majesty older and more sacred than the decrees of any particular legislature, and yet capable of being so interpreted as to accommodate itself to progress. Mr. Wilson has from the beginning been an admiring student of Burke. And if Burke has been his study, Bagehot has been his schoolmaster. The choice of book and teacher is significant. Mere Literature shows how Mr. Wilson revered them in 1896; his public life proves that he learned their lessons well. In An Old Master and Other Essays, he had already borne witness to the genius of Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill, who, as compared with Continental writers, illustrate in the field of economics the Anglo-Saxon spirit of respect for customs that have grown by organic processes.
Mr. Wilson's Division and Reunion is an admirable treatment of a question upon which a Southerner might have been expected to write as a Southerner. He has discussed it as an American. His well-known text-book The State, which has been revised and frequently reprinted, discusses the chief theories of the origin of government, describes the administrative systems of Greece and Rome and of the great nations of medieval and modern Europe and of the United States, and treats in detail of the functions and objects of government, with special reference to law and its workings. His History of the American People, though it contains many passages of insight and has the charm that comes from intense appreciation of details, is too diffuse and repetitious. A great history should be a combination of a chronicle and a treatise; it should be a record of facts and at the same time a philosophical exposition of an idea. Mr. Wilson's five-volume work is insufficient as a chronicle and too long for an essay. Yet an essay it really is. Moreover, unless I myself am blinded by prejudice, it makes too much of the errors committed by our government in the reconstruction period after the Civil War. On the whole, with all their faults, the administrations of Grant and Hayes accomplished a task of enormous difficulty, with remarkably little impatience and intemperance. The disadvantage of having been written originally under pressure in monthly instalments, for a periodical, is clearly visible in the History. There is a too constant effort to catch the eye with picturesque description. Nevertheless, in this book, as in the others, Mr. Wilson evokes in his readers a noble image of that government, constitutional, traditional, democratic, self-developing, which, from the days of his youth, aroused in him a poetic enthusiasm.
And now for the way his imagination works and clothes itself in language. The quality of his mind is poetic, and his style is highly figurative. There have been very few professors, lecturing on abstruse subjects, such as economics, jurisprudence, and politics, who have dared to give so free a rein to an instinct frankly artistic. In the early days of his career, Mr. Wilson was invited to follow two courses which were supposed to be inconsistent with each other. The so-called "scientific" method, much admired at that time even when applied to subjects in which philosophic insight or a sense for beauty are the proper guides, was being urged upon the rising generation of scholars. Perhaps the Johns Hopkins University was the center of this impulse in America; at least it was thought to be, though the source was almost wholly German. If he had had to be a dry-as-dust in order to be a writer on politics and history, Mr. Wilson would have preferred to turn his attention to biography and literary criticism. But he promptly resolved to disregard the warnings of pedants and to be a man of letters though a professor of history and politics. I well remember the irritation, sometimes amused and sometimes angry, with which he used to speak of those who were persuaded that scholarship was in some way contaminated by the touch of imagination or philosophy. He at least would run the risk. And so he set himself to work cultivating the graces of style no less assiduously than the exactness of science. There is a distinct filiation in his diction, by which, from Stevenson to Lamb and from Lamb to Sir Thomas Browne, one can trace it back to the quaint old prose writers of the seventeenth century. I remember his calling my attention, in 1890, or thereabouts, to the delightful stylistic qualities of those worthies. Many of his colors are from their ink-horns, in which the pigments were of deep and varied hues. When he is sententious and didactic he seems to have caught something of Emerson's manner. And indeed there is in all his writings a flavor of optimism and a slightly dogmatic, even when thoroughly gentle and persuasive, tone which he has in common with the New England sage.
But in spite of all these resemblances to older authors, Mr. Wilson gives proof in his style of a masterful independence. He is constantly determined to think for himself, to get to the bottom of his subject, and finally to express the matter in terms of his own personality. Especially is this evident in his early works, where he struggles manfully to be himself, even in the choice of words and phrases, weighing and analyzing the most current idioms and often making in them some thoughtful alteration the better to express his exact meaning. His literary training appears to have been almost wholly English. There are few traces in his writings of any classical reading or of any first-hand acquaintance with French, German, or Italian authors. And indeed in the substance of his thought I wonder if he is sufficiently hospitable to foreign ideas, especially to the vast body of comment on the French Revolution. I imagine few Continental authorities would agree with him in his comparatively low estimate of the importance of that great movement, which he seems to regard with almost unmitigated disapproval.
In Mr. Wilson's addresses and public letters concerning the War he re-affirms his principles and applies them with high confidence to the fateful problems of this time. His tone has become vastly deeper and sounder since he made his great decision, and from his Speech to Congress, on February 3, 1917, to his recent Baltimore appeal, it has rung true to every good impulse in the hearts of our people. His letter to the Pope is in every way his master-piece, in style, in temper, and in power of thought. He has led his country to the place it ought to occupy, by the side of that other English democracy whose institutions, ideals, and destiny are almost identical with our own, as he has demonstrated in the writings of half a lifetime. Let us hope there was prophetic virtue in a passage of his Constitutional Government, where, speaking of the relation between our several States and the Union that binds them together, he says they "may yet afford the world itself the model of federation and liberty it may in God's providence come to seek."
No one can rise from a perusal of the great mass of Mr. Wilson's writings without an almost oppressive sense of his unremitting and strenuous industry. From his senior year in college to the present day he has borne the anxieties and responsibilities of authorship. The work has been done with extreme conscientiousness in regard to accuracy and clearness of thinking and with sedulous care for justness and beauty of expression. It might well crown a life with honor. And when we remember the thousands of his college lectures and the hundreds of his miscellaneous addresses which have found no record in print, when we recall the labors of university administration which crowded upon him in middle life, when we consider the spectacle of his calm, prompt, orderly, and energetic performance of public duty in these latter years, our admiration for the literary artist is enhanced by our profound respect for the man.[A]
[A] A considerable part of this Introduction appeared originally as an article in The Princeton Alumni Weekly.
PRESIDENT WILSON'S ADDRESSES
FIRST INAUGURAL ADDRESS
[Delivered at the Capitol, in Washington, March 4, 1913.]
There has been a change of government. It began two years ago, when the House of Representatives became Democratic by a decisive majority. It has now been completed. The Senate about to assemble will also be Democratic. The offices of President and Vice-President have been put into the hands of Democrats. What does the change mean? That is the question that is uppermost in our minds to-day. That is the question I am going to try to answer, in order, if I may, to interpret the occasion.
It means much more than the mere success of a party. The success of a party means little except when the Nation is using that party for a large and definite purpose. No one can mistake the purpose for which the Nation now seeks to use the Democratic Party. It seeks to use it to interpret a change in its own plans and point of view. Some old things with which we had grown familiar, and which had begun to creep into the very habit of our thought and of our lives, have altered their aspect as we have latterly looked critically upon them, with fresh, awakened eyes; have dropped their disguises and shown themselves alien and sinister. Some new things, as we look frankly upon them, willing to comprehend their real character, have come to assume the aspect of things long believed in and familiar, stuff of our own convictions. We have been refreshed by a new insight into our own life.
We see that in many things that life is very great. It is incomparably great in its material aspects, in its body of wealth, in the diversity and sweep of its energy, in the industries which have been conceived and built up by the genius of individual men and the limitless enterprise of groups of men. It is great, also, very great, in its moral force. Nowhere else in the world have noble men and women exhibited in more striking forms the beauty and the energy of sympathy and helpfulness and counsel in their efforts to rectify wrong, alleviate suffering, and set the weak in the way of strength and hope. We have built up, moreover, a great system of government, which has stood through a long age as in many respects a model for those who seek to set liberty upon foundations that will endure against fortuitous change, against storm and accident. Our life contains every great thing, and contains it in rich abundance.
But the evil has come with the good, and much fine gold has been corroded. With riches has come inexcusable waste. We have squandered a great part of what we might have used, and have not stopped to conserve the exceeding bounty of nature, without which our genius for enterprise would have been worthless and impotent, scorning to be careful, shamefully prodigal as well as admirably efficient. We have been proud of our industrial achievements, but we have not hitherto stopped thoughtfully enough to count the human cost, the cost of lives snuffed out, of energies overtaxed and broken, the fearful physical and spiritual cost to the men and women and children upon whom the dead weight and burden of it all has fallen pitilessly the years through. The groans and agony of it all had not yet reached our ears, the solemn, moving undertone of our life, coming up out of the mines and factories and out of every home where the struggle had its intimate and familiar seat. With the great Government went many deep secret things which we too long delayed to look into and scrutinize with candid, fearless eyes. The great Government we loved has too often been made use of for private and selfish purposes, and those who used it had forgotten the people.
At last a vision has been vouchsafed us of our life as a whole. We see the bad with the good, the debased and decadent with the sound and vital. With this vision we approach new affairs. Our duty is to cleanse, to reconsider, to restore, to correct the evil without impairing the good, to purify and humanize every process of our common life without weakening or sentimentalizing it. There has been something crude and heartless and unfeeling in our haste to succeed and be great. Our thought has been "Let every man look out for himself, let every generation look out for itself," while we reared giant machinery which made it impossible that any but those who stood at the levers of control should have a chance to look out for themselves. We had not forgotten our morals. We remembered well enough that we had set up a policy which was meant to serve the humblest as well as the most powerful, with an eye single to the standards of justice and fair play, and remembered it with pride. But we were very heedless and in a hurry to be great.
We have come now to the sober second thought. The scales of heedlessness have fallen from our eyes. We have made up our minds to square every process of our national life again with the standards we so proudly set up at the beginning and have always carried at our hearts. Our work is a work of restoration.
We have itemized with some degree of particularity the things that ought to be altered and here are some of the chief items: A tariff which cuts us off from our proper part in the commerce of the world, violates the just principles of taxation, and makes the Government a facile instrument in the hands of private interests; a banking and currency system based upon the necessity of the Government to sell its bonds fifty years ago and perfectly adapted to concentrating cash and restricting credits; an industrial system which, take it on all its sides, financial as well as administrative, holds capital in leading strings, restricts the liberties and limits the opportunities of labor, and exploits without renewing or conserving the natural resources of the country; a body of agricultural activities never yet given the efficiency of great business undertakings or served as it should be through the instrumentality of science taken directly to the farm, or afforded the facilities of credit best suited to its practical needs; watercourses undeveloped, waste places unreclaimed, forests untended, fast disappearing without plan or prospect of renewal, unregarded waste heaps at every mine. We have studied, as perhaps no other nation has, the most effective means of production, but we have not studied cost or economy as we should, either as organizers of industry, as statesmen, or as individuals.
Nor have we studied and perfected the means by which government may be put at the service of humanity, in safeguarding the health of the Nation, the health of its men and its women and its children, as well as their rights in the struggle for existence. This is no sentimental duty. The firm basis of government is justice, not pity. These are matters of justice. There can be no equality of opportunity, the first essential of justice in the body politic, if men and women and children be not shielded in their lives, their very vitality, from the consequences of great industrial and social processes which they cannot alter, control, or singly cope with. Society must see to it that it does not itself crush or weaken or damage its own constituent parts. The first duty of law is to keep sound the society it serves. Sanitary laws, pure-food laws, and laws determining conditions of labor which individuals are powerless to determine for themselves are intimate parts of the very business of justice and legal efficiency.
These are some of the things we ought to do, and not leave the others undone, the old-fashioned, never-to-be-neglected, fundamental safeguarding of property and of individual right. This is the high enterprise of the new day: To lift everything that concerns our life as a Nation to the light that shines from the hearthfire of every man's conscience and vision of the right. It is inconceivable that we should do this as partisans; it is inconceivable we should do it in ignorance of the facts as they are or in blind haste. We shall restore, not destroy. We shall deal with our economic system as it is and as it may be modified, not as it might be if we had a clean sheet of paper to write upon; and step by step we shall make it what it should be, in the spirit of those who question their own wisdom and seek counsel and knowledge, not shallow self-satisfaction or the excitement of excursions whither they cannot tell. Justice, and only justice, shall always be our motto.
And yet it will be no cool process of mere science. The Nation has been deeply stirred, stirred by a solemn passion, stirred by the knowledge of wrong, of ideals lost, of government too often debauched and made an instrument of evil. The feelings with which we face this new age of right and opportunity sweep across our heartstrings like some air out of God's own presence, where justice and mercy are reconciled and the judge and the brother are one. We know our task to be no mere task of politics but a task which shall search us through and through, whether we be able to understand our time and the need of our people, whether we be indeed their spokesmen and interpreters, whether we have the pure heart to comprehend and the rectified will to choose our high course of action.
This is not a day of triumph; it is a day of dedication. Here muster, not the forces of party, but the forces of humanity. Men's hearts wait upon us; men's lives hang in the balance; men's hopes call upon us to say what we will do. Who shall live up to the great trust? Who dares fail to try? I summon all honest men, all patriotic, all forward-looking men, to my side. God helping me, I will not fail them, if they will but counsel and sustain me!
FIRST ADDRESS TO CONGRESS
[Delivered at a joint session of the two Houses of Congress, at the beginning of the first session of the Sixty-third Congress, April 8, 1913.]
MR. SPEAKER, MR. PRESIDENT, GENTLEMEN OF THE CONGRESS:
I am very glad indeed to have this opportunity to address the two Houses directly and to verify for myself the impression that the President of the United States is a person, not a mere department of the Government hailing Congress from some isolated island of jealous power, sending messages, not speaking naturally and with his own voice—that he is a human being trying to cooeperate with other human beings in a common service. After this pleasant experience I shall feel quite normal in all our dealings with one another.[B]
I have called the Congress together in extraordinary session because a duty was laid upon the party now in power at the recent elections which it ought to perform promptly, in order that the burden carried by the people under existing law may be lightened as soon as possible and in order, also, that the business interests of the country may not be kept too long in suspense as to what the fiscal changes are to be to which they will be required to adjust themselves. It is clear to the whole country that the tariff duties must be altered. They must be changed to meet the radical alteration in the conditions of our economic life which the country has witnessed within the last generation. While the whole face and method of our industrial and commercial life were being changed beyond recognition the tariff schedules have remained what they were before the change began, or have moved in the direction they were given when no large circumstance of our industrial development was what it is to-day. Our task is to square them with the actual facts. The sooner that is done the sooner we shall escape from suffering from the facts and the sooner our men of business will be free to thrive by the law of nature (the nature of free business) instead of by the law of legislation and artificial arrangement.
We have seen tariff legislation wander very far afield in our day—very far indeed from the field in which our prosperity might have had a normal growth and stimulation. No one who looks the facts squarely in the face or knows anything that lies beneath the surface of action can fail to perceive the principles upon which recent tariff legislation has been based. We long ago passed beyond the modest notion of "protecting" the industries of the country and moved boldly forward to the idea that they were entitled to the direct patronage of the Government. For a long time—a time so long that the men now active in public policy hardly remember the conditions that preceded it—we have sought in our tariff schedules to give each group of manufacturers or producers what they themselves thought that they needed in order to maintain a practically exclusive market as against the rest of the world. Consciously or unconsciously, we have built up a set of privileges and exemptions from competition behind which it was easy by any, even the crudest, forms of combination to organize monopoly; until at last nothing is normal, nothing is obliged to stand the tests of efficiency and economy, in our world of big business, but everything thrives by concerted arrangement. Only new principles of action will save us from a final hard crystallization of monopoly and a complete loss of the influences that quicken enterprise and keep independent energy alive.
It is plain what those principles must be. We must abolish everything that bears even the semblance of privilege or of any kind of artificial advantage, and put our business men and producers under the stimulation of a constant necessity to be efficient, economical, and enterprising, masters of competitive supremacy, better workers and merchants than any in the world. Aside from the duties laid upon articles which we do not, and probably cannot, produce, therefore, and the duties laid upon luxuries and merely for the sake of the revenues they yield, the object of the tariff duties henceforth laid must be effective competition, the whetting of American wits by contest with the wits of the rest of the world.
It would be unwise to move toward this end headlong, with reckless haste, or with strokes that cut at the very roots of what has grown up amongst us by long process and at our own invitation. It does not alter a thing to upset it and break it and deprive it of a chance to change. It destroys it. We must make changes in our fiscal laws, in our fiscal system, whose object is development, a more free and wholesome development, not revolution or upset or confusion. We must build up trade, especially foreign trade. We need the outlet and the enlarged field of energy more than we ever did before. We must build up industry as well, and must adopt freedom in the place of artificial stimulation only so far as it will build, not pull down. In dealing with the tariff the method by which this may be done will be a matter of judgment, exercised item by item. To some not accustomed to the excitements and responsibilities of greater freedom our methods may in some respects and at some points seem heroic, but remedies may be heroic and yet be remedies. It is our business to make sure that they are genuine remedies. Our object is clear. If our motive is above just challenge and only an occasional error of judgment is chargeable against us, we shall be fortunate.
We are called upon to render the country a great service in more matters than one. Our responsibility should be met and our methods should be thorough, as thorough as moderate and well considered, based upon the facts as they are, and not worked out as if we were beginners. We are to deal with the facts of our own day, with the facts of no other, and to make laws which square with those facts. It is best, indeed it is necessary, to begin with the tariff. I will urge nothing upon you now at the opening of your session which can obscure that first object or divert our energies from that clearly defined duty. At a later time I may take the liberty of calling your attention to reforms which should press close upon the heels of the tariff changes, if not accompany them, of which the chief is the reform of our banking and currency laws; but just now I refrain. For the present, I put these matters on one side and think only of this one thing—of the changes in our fiscal system which may best serve to open once more the free channels of prosperity to a great people whom we would serve to the utmost and throughout both rank and file.
I thank you for your courtesy.
[B] It had been the practice of our Presidents to send their Messages to Congress and not to read them in person.
ADDRESS ON THE BANKING SYSTEM
[Delivered at a joint session of the two Houses of Congress, June 23, 1913.]
MR. SPEAKER, MR. PRESIDENT, GENTLEMEN OF THE CONGRESS:
It is under the compulsion of what seems to me a clear and imperative duty that I have a second time this session sought the privilege of addressing you in person. I know, of course, that the heated season of the year is upon us, that work in these chambers and in the committee rooms is likely to become a burden as the season lengthens, and that every consideration of personal convenience and personal comfort, perhaps, in the cases of some of us, considerations of personal health even, dictate an early conclusion of the deliberations of the session; but there are occasions of public duty when these things which touch us privately seem very small, when the work to be done is so pressing and so fraught with big consequence that we know that we are not at liberty to weigh against it any point of personal sacrifice. We are now in the presence of such an occasion. It is absolutely imperative that we should give the business men of this country a banking and currency system by means of which they can make use of the freedom of enterprise and of individual initiative which we are about to bestow upon them.
We are about to set them free; we must not leave them without the tools of action when they are free. We are about to set them free by removing the trammels of the protective tariff. Ever since the Civil War they have waited for this emancipation and for the free opportunities it will bring with it. It has been reserved for us to give it to them. Some fell in love, indeed, with the slothful security of their dependence upon the Government; some took advantage of the shelter of the nursery to set up a mimic mastery of their own within its walls. Now both the tonic and the discipline of liberty and maturity are to ensue. There will be some readjustments of purpose and point of view. There will follow a period of expansion and new enterprise, freshly conceived. It is for us to determine now whether it shall be rapid and facile and of easy accomplishment. This it cannot be unless the resourceful business men who are to deal with the new circumstances are to have at hand and ready for use the instrumentalities and conveniences of free enterprise which independent men need when acting on their own initiative.
It is not enough to strike the shackles from business. The duty of statesmanship is not negative merely. It is constructive also. We must show that we understand what business needs and that we know how to supply it. No man, however casual and superficial his observation of the conditions now prevailing in the country, can fail to see that one of the chief things business needs now, and will need increasingly as it gains in scope and vigor in the years immediately ahead of us, is the proper means by which readily to vitalize its credit, corporate and individual, and its originative brains. What will it profit us to be free if we are not to have the best and most accessible instrumentalities of commerce and enterprise? What will it profit us to be quit of one kind of monopoly if we are to remain in the grip of another and more effective kind? How are we to gain and keep the confidence of the business community unless we show that we know how both to aid and to protect it? What shall we say if we make fresh enterprise necessary and also make it very difficult by leaving all else except the tariff just as we found it? The tyrannies of business, big and little, lie within the field of credit. We know that. Shall we not act upon the knowledge? Do we not know how to act upon it? If a man cannot make his assets available at pleasure, his assets of capacity and character and resource, what satisfaction is it to him to see opportunity beckoning to him on every hand, when others have the keys of credit in their pockets and treat them as all but their own private possession? It is perfectly clear that it is our duty to supply the new banking and currency system the country needs, and it will need it immediately more than it has ever needed it before.
The only question is, When shall we supply it—now, or later, after the demands shall have become reproaches that we were so dull and so slow? Shall we hasten to change the tariff laws and then be laggards about making it possible and easy for the country to take advantage of the change? There can be only one answer to that question. We must act now, at whatever sacrifice to ourselves. It is a duty which the circumstances forbid us to postpone. I should be recreant to my deepest convictions of public obligation did I not press it upon you with solemn and urgent insistence.
The principles upon which we should act are also clear. The country has sought and seen its path in this matter within the last few years—sees it more clearly now than it ever saw it before—much more clearly than when the last legislative proposals on the subject were made. We must have a currency, not rigid as now, but readily, elastically responsive to sound credit, the expanding and contracting credits of everyday transactions, the normal ebb and flow of personal and corporate dealings. Our banking laws must mobilize reserves; must not permit the concentration anywhere in a few hands of the monetary resources of the country or their use for speculative purposes in such volume as to hinder or impede or stand in the way of other more legitimate, more fruitful uses. And the control of the system of banking and of issue which our new laws are to set up must be public, not private, must be vested in the Government itself, so that the banks may be the instruments, not the masters, of business and of individual enterprise and initiative.
The committees of the Congress to which legislation of this character is referred have devoted careful and dispassionate study to the means of accomplishing these objects. They have honored me by consulting me. They are ready to suggest action. I have come to you, as the head of the Government and the responsible leader of the party in power, to urge action now, while there is time to serve the country deliberately and as we should, in a clear air of common counsel. I appeal to you with a deep conviction of duty. I believe that you share this conviction. I therefore appeal to you with confidence. I am at your service without reserve to play my part in any way you may call upon me to play it in this great enterprise of exigent reform which it will dignify and distinguish us to perform and discredit us to neglect.
ADDRESS AT GETTYSBURG
[Delivered in the presence of Union and Confederate veterans, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the battle, July 4, 1913.]
FRIENDS AND FELLOW CITIZENS:
I need not tell you what the Battle of Gettysburg meant. These gallant men in blue and gray sit all about us here.[C] Many of them met upon this ground in grim and deadly struggle. Upon these famous fields and hillsides their comrades died about them. In their presence it were an impertinence to discourse upon how the battle went, how it ended, what it signified! But fifty years have gone by since then, and I crave the privilege of speaking to you for a few minutes of what those fifty years have meant.
What have they meant? They have meant peace and union and vigor, and the maturity and might of a great nation. How wholesome and healing the peace has been! We have found one another again as brothers and comrades in arms, enemies no longer, generous friends rather, our battles long past, the quarrel forgotten—except that we shall not forget the splendid valor, the manly devotion of the men then arrayed against one another, now grasping hands and smiling into each other's eyes. How complete the union has become and how dear to all of us, how unquestioned, how benign and majestic, as State after State has been added to this our great family of free men! How handsome the vigor, the maturity, the might of the great Nation we love with undivided hearts; how full of large and confident promise that a life will be wrought out that will crown its strength with gracious justice and with a happy welfare that will touch all alike with deep contentment! We are debtors to those fifty crowded years; they have made us heirs to a mighty heritage.
But do we deem the Nation complete and finished? These venerable men crowding here to this famous field have set us a great example of devotion and utter sacrifice. They were willing to die that the people might live. But their task is done. Their day is turned into evening. They look to us to perfect what they established. Their work is handed on to us, to be done in another way, but not in another spirit. Our day is not over; it is upon us in full tide.
Have affairs paused? Does the Nation stand still? Is what the fifty years have wrought since those days of battle finished, rounded out, and completed? Here is a great people, great with every force that has ever beaten in the lifeblood of mankind. And it is secure. There is no one within its borders, there is no power among the nations of the earth, to make it afraid. But has it yet squared itself with its own great standards set up at its birth, when it made that first noble, naive appeal to the moral judgment of mankind to take notice that a government had now at last been established which was to serve men, not masters? It is secure in everything except the satisfaction that its life is right, adjusted to the uttermost to the standards of righteousness and humanity. The days of sacrifice and cleansing are not closed. We have harder things to do than were done in the heroic days of war, because harder to see clearly, requiring more vision, more calm balance of judgment, a more candid searching of the very springs of right.
Look around you upon the field of Gettysburg! Picture the array, the fierce heats and agony of battle, column hurled against column, battery bellowing to battery! Valor? Yes! Greater no man shall see in war; and self-sacrifice, and loss to the uttermost; the high recklessness of exalted devotion which does not count the cost. We are made by these tragic, epic things to know what it costs to make a nation—the blood and sacrifice of multitudes of unknown men lifted to a great stature in the view of all generations by knowing no limit to their manly willingness to serve. In armies thus marshaled from the ranks of free men you will see, as it were, a nation embattled, the leaders and the led, and may know, if you will, how little except in form its action differs in days of peace from its action in days of war.
May we break camp now and be at ease? Are the forces that fight for the Nation dispersed, disbanded, gone to their homes forgetful of the common cause? Are our forces disorganized, without constituted leaders and the might of men consciously united because we contend, not with armies, but with principalities and powers and wickedness in high places? Are we content to lie still? Does our union mean sympathy, our peace contentment, our vigor right action, our maturity self-comprehension and a clear confidence in choosing what we shall do? War fitted us for action, and action never ceases.
I have been chosen the leader of the Nation. I cannot justify the choice by any qualities of my own, but so it has come about, and here I stand. Whom do I command? The ghostly hosts who fought upon these battlefields long ago and are gone? These gallant gentlemen stricken in years whose fighting days, are over, their glory won? What are the orders for them, and who rallies them? I have in my mind another host, whom these set free of civil strife in order that they might work out in days of peace and settled order the life of a great Nation. That host is the people themselves, the great and the small, without class or difference of kind or race or origin; and undivided in interest, if we have but the vision to guide and direct them and order their lives aright in what we do. Our constitutions are their articles of enlistment. The orders of the day are the laws upon our statute books. What we strive for is their freedom, their right to lift themselves from day to day and behold the things they have hoped for, and so make way for still better days for those whom they love who are to come after them. The recruits are the little children crowding in. The quartermaster's stores are in the mines and forests and fields, in the shops and factories. Every day something must be done to push the campaign forward; and it must be done by plan and with an eye to some great destiny.
How shall we hold such thoughts in our hearts and not be moved? I would not have you live even to-day wholly in the past, but would wish to stand with you in the light that streams upon us now out of that great day gone by. Here is the nation God has builded by our hands. What shall we do with it? Who stands ready to act again and always in the spirit of this day of reunion and hope and patriotic fervor? The day of our country's life has but broadened into morning. Do not put uniforms by. Put the harness of the present on. Lift your eyes to the great tracts of life yet to be conquered in the interest of righteous peace, of that prosperity which lies in a people's hearts and outlasts all wars and errors of men. Come, let us be comrades and soldiers yet to serve our fellow-men in quiet counsel, where the blare of trumpets is neither heard nor heeded and where the things are done which make blessed the nations of the world in peace and righteousness and love.
[C] The speech was made from a rostrum in the National Cemetery, on the battlefield.
ADDRESS ON MEXICAN AFFAIRS
[Delivered at a joint session of the two Houses of Congress, August 27, 1913.]
GENTLEMEN OF THE CONGRESS:
It is clearly my duty to lay before you, very fully and without reservation, the facts concerning our present relations with the Republic of Mexico. The deplorable posture of affairs in Mexico I need not describe,[D] but I deem it my duty to speak very frankly of what this Government has done and should seek to do in fulfillment of its obligation to Mexico herself, as a friend and neighbor, and to American citizens whose lives and vital interests are daily affected by the distressing conditions which now obtain beyond our southern border.
Those conditions touch us very nearly. Not merely because they lie at our very doors. That of course makes us more vividly and more constantly conscious of them, and every instinct of neighborly interest and sympathy is aroused and quickened by them; but that is only one element in the determination of our duty. We are glad to call ourselves the friends of Mexico, and we shall, I hope, have many an occasion, in happier times as well as in these days of trouble and confusion, to show that our friendship is genuine and disinterested, capable of sacrifice and every generous manifestation. The peace, prosperity, and contentment of Mexico mean more, much more, to us than merely an enlarged field for our commerce and enterprise. They mean an enlargement of the field of self-government and the realization of the hopes and rights of a nation with whose best aspirations, so long suppressed and disappointed, we deeply sympathize. We shall yet prove to the Mexican people that we know how to serve them without first thinking how we shall serve ourselves.
But we are not the only friends of Mexico. The whole world desires her peace and progress; and the whole world is interested as never before. Mexico lies at last where all the world looks on. Central America is about to be touched by the great routes of the world's trade and intercourse running free from ocean to ocean at the Isthmus. The future has much in store for Mexico, as for all the States of Central America; but the best gifts can come to her only if she be ready and free to receive them and to enjoy them honorably. America in particular—America north and south and upon both continents—waits upon the development of Mexico; and that development can be sound and lasting only if it be the product of a genuine freedom, a just and ordered government founded upon law. Only so can it be peaceful or fruitful of the benefits of peace. Mexico has a great and enviable future before her, if only she choose and attain the paths of honest constitutional government.
The present circumstances of the Republic, I deeply regret to say, do not seem to promise even the foundations of such a peace. We have waited many months, months full of peril and anxiety, for the conditions there to improve, and they have not improved. They have grown worse, rather. The territory in some sort controlled by the provisional authorities at Mexico City has grown smaller, not larger. The prospect of the pacification of the country, even by arms, has seemed to grow more and more remote; and its pacification by the authorities at the capital is evidently impossible by any other means than force. Difficulties more and more entangle those who claim to constitute the legitimate government of the Republic. They have not made good their claim in fact. Their successes in the field have proved only temporary. War and disorder, devastation and confusion, seem to threaten to become the settled fortune of the distracted country. As friends we could wait no longer for a solution which every week seemed further away. It was our duty at least to volunteer our good offices—to offer to assist, if we might, in effecting some arrangement which would bring relief and peace and set up a universally acknowledged political authority there.
Accordingly, I took the liberty of sending the Hon. John Lind, formerly governor of Minnesota, as my personal spokesman and representative, to the City of Mexico, with the following instructions:
Press very earnestly upon the attention of those who are now exercising authority or wielding influence in Mexico the following considerations and advice:
The Government of the United States does not feel at liberty any longer to stand inactively by while it becomes daily more and more evident that no real progress is being made towards the establishment of a government at the City of Mexico which the country will obey and respect.
The Government of the United States does not stand in the same case with the other great Governments of the world in respect of what is happening or what is likely to happen in Mexico. We offer our good offices, not only because of our genuine desire to play the part of a friend, but also because we are expected by the powers of the world to act as Mexico's nearest friend.
We wish to act in these circumstances in the spirit of the most earnest and disinterested friendship. It is our purpose in whatever we do or propose in this perplexing and distressing situation not only to pay the most scrupulous regard to the sovereignty and independence of Mexico—that we take as a matter of course to which we are bound by every obligation of right and honor—but also to give every possible evidence that we act in the interest of Mexico alone, and not in the interest of any person or body of persons who may have personal or property claims in Mexico which they may feel that they have the right to press. We are seeking to counsel Mexico for her own good and in the interest of her own peace, and not for any other purpose whatever. The Government of the United States would deem itself discredited if it had any selfish or ulterior purpose in transactions where the peace, happiness, and prosperity of a whole people are involved. It is acting as its friendship for Mexico, not as any selfish interest, dictates.
The present situation in Mexico is incompatible with the fulfillment of international obligations on the part of Mexico, with the civilized development of Mexico herself, and with the maintenance of tolerable political and economic conditions in Central America. It is upon no common occasion, therefore, that the United States offers her counsel and assistance. All America cries out for a settlement.
A satisfactory settlement seems to us to be conditioned on—
(a) An immediate cessation of fighting throughout Mexico, a definite armistice solemnly entered into and scrupulously observed;
(b) Security given for an early and free election in which all will agree to take part;
(c) The consent of Gen. Huerta to bind himself not to be a candidate for election as President of the Republic at this election; and
(d) The agreement of all parties to abide by the results of the election and cooeperate in the most loyal way in organizing and supporting the new administration.
The Government of the United States will be glad to play any part in this settlement or in its carrying out which it can play honorably and consistently with international right. It pledges itself to recognize and in every way possible and proper to assist the administration chosen and set up in Mexico in the way and on the conditions suggested.
Taking all the existing conditions into consideration, the Government of the United States can conceive of no reasons sufficient to justify those who are now attempting to shape the policy or exercise the authority of Mexico in declining the offices of friendship thus offered. Can Mexico give the civilized world a satisfactory reason for rejecting our good offices? If Mexico can suggest any better way in which to show our friendship, serve the people of Mexico, and meet our international obligations, we are more than willing to consider the suggestion.
Mr. Lind executed his delicate and difficult mission with singular tact, firmness, and good judgment, and made clear to the authorities at the City of Mexico not only the purpose of his visit but also the spirit in which it had been undertaken. But the proposals he submitted were rejected, in a note the full text of which I take the liberty of laying before you.
I am led to believe that they were rejected partly because the authorities at Mexico City had been grossly misinformed and misled upon two points. They did not realize the spirit of the American people in this matter, their earnest friendliness and yet sober determination that some just solution be found for the Mexican difficulties; and they did not believe that the present administration spoke, through Mr. Lind, for the people of the United States. The effect of this unfortunate misunderstanding on their part is to leave them singularly isolated and without friends who can effectually aid them. So long as the misunderstanding continues we can only await the time of their awakening to a realization of the actual facts. We cannot thrust our good offices upon them. The situation must be given a little more time to work itself out in the new circumstances; and I believe that only a little while will be necessary. For the circumstances are new. The rejection of our friendship makes them new and will inevitably bring its own alterations in the whole aspect of affairs. The actual situation of the authorities at Mexico City will presently be revealed.
Meanwhile, what is it our duty to do? Clearly, everything that we do must be rooted in patience and done with calm and disinterested deliberation. Impatience on our part would be childish, and would be fraught with every risk of wrong and folly. We can afford to exercise the self-restraint of a really great nation which realizes its own strength and scorns to misuse it. It was our duty to offer our active assistance. It is now our duty to show what true neutrality will do to enable the people of Mexico to set their affairs in order again and wait for a further opportunity to offer our friendly counsels. The door is not closed against the resumption, either upon the initiative of Mexico or upon our own, of the effort to bring order out of the confusion by friendly cooeperative action, should fortunate occasion offer.
While we wait the contest of the rival forces will undoubtedly for a little while be sharper than ever, just because it will be plain that an end must be made of the existing situation, and that very promptly; and with the increased activity of the contending factions will come, it is to be feared, increased danger to the non-combatants in Mexico as well as to those actually in the field of battle. The position of outsiders is always particularly trying and full of hazard where there is civil strife and a whole country is upset. We should earnestly urge all Americans to leave Mexico at once, and should assist them to get away in every way possible—not because we would mean to slacken in the least our efforts to safeguard their lives and their interests, but because it is imperative that they should take no unnecessary risks when it is physically possible for them to leave the country. We should let every one who assumes to exercise authority in any part of Mexico know in the most unequivocal way that we shall vigilantly watch the fortunes of those Americans who cannot get away, and shall hold those responsible for their sufferings and losses to a definite reckoning. That can be and will be made plain beyond the possibility of a misunderstanding.
For the rest, I deem it my duty to exercise the authority conferred upon me by the law of March 14, 1912, to see to it that neither side to the struggle now going on in Mexico receive any assistance from this side the border. I shall follow the best practice of nations in the matter of neutrality by forbidding the exportation of arms or munitions of war of any kind from the United States to any part of the Republic of Mexico—a policy suggested by several interesting precedents and certainly dictated by many manifest considerations of practical expediency. We cannot in the circumstances be the partisans of either party to the contest that now distracts Mexico, or constitute ourselves the virtual umpire between them.
I am happy to say that several of the great Governments of the world have given this Government their generous moral support in urging upon the provisional authorities at the City of Mexico the acceptance of our proffered good offices in the spirit in which they were made. We have not acted in this matter under the ordinary principles of international obligation. All the world expects us in such circumstances to act as Mexico's nearest friend and intimate adviser. This is our immemorial relation towards her. There is nowhere any serious question that we have the moral right in the case or that we are acting in the interest of a fair settlement and of good government, not for the promotion of some selfish interest of our own. If further motive were necessary than our own good will towards a sister Republic and our own deep concern to see peace and order prevail in Central America, this consent of mankind to what we are attempting, this attitude of the great nations of the world towards what we may attempt in dealing with this distressed people at our doors, should make us feel the more solemnly bound to go to the utmost length of patience and forbearance in this painful and anxious business. The steady pressure of moral force will before many days break the barriers of pride and prejudice down, and we shall triumph as Mexico's friends sooner than we could triumph as her enemies—and how much more handsomely, with how much higher and finer satisfactions of conscience and of honor!
[D] General Victoriano Huerta had, on Feb. 18, deposed President Madero, and had been, on the 20th, elected President by the Mexican Congress. Three days later Madero was assassinated while in the custody of the new government. An army calling themselves Constitutionalists under General Villa, defeated the Mexican Federal forces in May. On August 20, Huerta declined the proposal of the United States government that he should cease to be a candidate for the Presidency.
[Delivered at Philadelphia, Pa., on the occasion of the rededication of Congress Hall, Oct. 25, 1913. The United States Congress met in this hall till 1800. Here Washington was inaugurated the second time, and here he made his farewell address to the American people. Here John Adams took the oath of office when he succeeded Washington. The hall, after being long disused, was now restored and reopened. Before Mr. Wilson spoke, Mr. Frank Miles Day, representing the committee of architects, had referred to the "delightful silence, order, gravity, and personal dignity of manner" observed by the Senators of the first Congress, and had said, "They all appeared every morning full powdered, and dressed, as age or fancy might suggest, in the richest material."]
YOUR HONOR, MR. CHAIRMAN, LADIES, AND GENTLEMEN:
No American could stand in this place to-day and think of the circumstances which we are come together to celebrate without being most profoundly stirred. There has come over me since I sat down here a sense of deep solemnity, because it has seemed to me that I saw ghosts crowding—a great assemblage of spirits, no longer visible, but whose influence we still feel as we feel the molding power of history itself. The men who sat in this hall, to whom we now look back with a touch of deep sentiment, were men of flesh and blood, face to face with extremely difficult problems. The population of the United States then was hardly three times the present population of the city of Philadelphia, and yet that was a Nation as this is a Nation, and the men who spoke for it were setting their hands to a work which was to last, not only that their people might be happy, but that an example might be lifted up for the instruction of the rest of the world.
I like to read the quaint old accounts such as Mr. Day has read to us this afternoon. Strangers came then to America to see what the young people that had sprung up here were like, and they found men in counsel who knew how to construct governments. They found men deliberating here who had none of the appearance of novices, none of the hesitation of men who did not know whether the work they were doing was going to last or not; men who addressed themselves to a problem of construction as familiarly as we attempt to carry out the traditions of a Government established these 137 years.
I feel to-day the compulsion of these men, the compulsion of examples which were set up in this place. And of what do their examples remind us? They remind us not merely of public service but of public service shot through with principle and honor. They were not histrionic men. They did not say—
Look upon us as upon those who shall hereafter be illustrious.
Look upon us who are doing the first free work of constitutional liberty in the world, and who must do it in soberness and truth, or it will not last.
Politics, ladies and gentlemen, is made up in just about equal parts of comprehension and sympathy. No man ought to go into politics who does not comprehend the task that he is going to attack. He may comprehend it so completely that it daunts him, that he doubts whether his own spirit is stout enough and his own mind able enough to attempt its great undertakings, but unless he comprehend it he ought not to enter it. After he has comprehended it, there should come into his mind those profound impulses of sympathy which connect him with the rest of mankind, for politics is a business of interpretation, and no men are fit for it who do not see and seek more than their own advantage and interest.
We have stumbled upon many unhappy circumstances in the hundred years that have gone by since the event that we are celebrating. Almost all of them have come from self-centered men, men who saw in their own interest the interest of the country, and who did not have vision enough to read it in wider terms, in the universal terms of equity and justice and the rights of mankind. I hear a great many people at Fourth of July celebrations laud the Declaration of Independence who in between Julys shiver at the plain language of our bills of rights. The Declaration of Independence was, indeed, the first audible breath of liberty, but the substance of liberty is written in such documents as the declaration of rights attached, for example, to the first constitution of Virginia, which was a model for the similar documents read elsewhere into our great fundamental charters. That document speaks in very plain terms. The men of that generation did not hesitate to say that every people has a right to choose its own forms of government—not once, but as often as it pleases—and to accommodate those forms of government to its existing interests and circumstances. Not only to establish but to alter is the fundamental principle of self-government.
We are just as much under compulsion to study the particular circumstances of our own day as the gentlemen were who sat in this hall and set us precedents, not of what to do but of how to do it. Liberty inheres in the circumstances of the day. Human happiness consists in the life which human beings are leading at the time that they live. I can feed my memory as happily upon the circumstances of the revolutionary and constitutional period as you can, but I cannot feed all my purposes with them in Washington now. Every day problems arise which wear some new phase and aspect, and I must fall back, if I would serve my conscience, upon those things which are fundamental rather than upon those things which are superficial, and ask myself this question, How are you going to assist in some small part to give the American people and, by example, the peoples of the world more liberty, more happiness, more substantial prosperity; and how are you going to make that prosperity a common heritage instead of a selfish possession? I came here to-day partly in order to feed my own spirit. I did not come in compliment. When I was asked to come I knew immediately upon the utterance of the invitation that I had to come, that to be absent would be as if I refused to drink once more at the original fountains of inspiration for our own Government.
The men of the day which we now celebrate had a very great advantage over us, ladies and gentlemen, in this one particular: Life was simple in America then. All men shared the same circumstances in almost equal degree. We think of Washington, for example, as an aristocrat, as a man separated by training, separated by family and neighborhood tradition, from the ordinary people of the rank and file of the country. Have you forgotten the personal history of George Washington? Do you not know that he struggled as poor boys now struggle for a meager and imperfect education; that he worked at his surveyor's tasks in the lonely forests; that he knew all the roughness, all the hardships, all the adventure, all the variety of the common life of that day; and that if he stood a little stiffly in this place, if he looked a little aloof, it was because life had dealt hardly with him? All his sinews had been stiffened by the rough work of making America. He was a man of the people, whose touch had been with them since the day he saw the light first in the old Dominion of Virginia. And the men who came after him, men, some of whom had drunk deep at the sources of philosophy and of study, were, nevertheless, also men who on this side of the water knew no complicated life but the simple life of primitive neighborhoods. Our task is very much more difficult. That sympathy which alone interprets public duty is more difficult for a public man to acquire now than it was then, because we live in the midst of circumstances and conditions infinitely complex.
No man can boast that he understands America. No man can boast that he has lived the life of America, as almost every man who sat in this hall in those days could boast. No man can pretend that except by common counsel he can gather into his consciousness what the varied life of this people is. The duty that we have to keep open eyes and open hearts and accessible understandings is a very much more difficult duty to perform than it was in their day. Yet how much more important that it should be performed, for fear we make infinite and irreparable blunders. The city of Washington is in some respects self-contained, and it is easy there to forget what the rest of the United States is thinking about. I count it a fortunate circumstance that almost all the windows of the White House and its offices open upon unoccupied spaces that stretch to the banks of the Potomac and then out into Virginia and on to the heavens themselves, and that as I sit there I can constantly forget Washington and remember the United States. Not that I would intimate that all of the United States lies south of Washington, but there is a serious thing back of my thought. If you think too much about being reelected, it is very difficult to be worth reelecting. You are so apt to forget that the comparatively small number of persons, numerous as they seem to be when they swarm, who come to Washington to ask for things, do not constitute an important proportion of the population of the country, that it is constantly necessary to come away from Washington and renew one's contact with the people who do not swarm there, who do not ask for anything, but who do trust you without their personal counsel to do your duty. Unless a man gets these contacts he grows weaker and weaker. He needs them as Hercules needed the touch of mother earth. If you lift him up too high or he lifts himself too high, he loses the contact and therefore loses the inspiration.
I love to think of those plain men, however far from plain their dress sometimes was, who assembled in this hall. One is startled to think of the variety of costume and color which would now occur if we were let loose upon the fashions of that age. Men's lack of taste is largely concealed now by the limitations of fashion. Yet these men, who sometimes dressed like the peacock, were, nevertheless, of the ordinary flight of their time. They were birds of a feather; they were birds come from a very simple breeding; they were much in the open heaven. They were beginning, when there was so little to distract their attention, to show that they could live upon fundamental principles of government. We talk those principles, but we have not time to absorb them. We have not time to let them into our blood, and thence have them translated into the plain mandates of action.
The very smallness of this room, the very simplicity of it all, all the suggestions which come from its restoration, are reassuring things—things which it becomes a man to realize. Therefore my theme here to-day, my only thought, is a very simple one. Do not let us go back to the annals of those sessions of Congress to find out what to do, because we live in another age and the circumstances are absolutely different; but let us be men of that kind; let us feel at every turn the compulsions of principle and of honor which thy felt; let us free our vision from temporary circumstances and look abroad at the horizon and take into our lungs the great air of freedom which has blown through this country and stolen across the seas and blessed people everywhere; and, looking east and west and north and south, let us remind ourselves that we are the custodians, in some degree, of the principles which have made men free and governments just.
ADDRESS BEFORE THE SOUTHERN COMMERCIAL CONGRESS
[Delivered at Mobile, Alabama, October 27, 1913.]
YOUR EXCELLENCY, MR. CHAIRMAN:
It is with unaffected pleasure that I find myself here to-day. I once before had the pleasure, in another southern city, of addressing the Southern Commercial Congress. I then spoke of what the future seemed to hold in store for this region, which so many of us love and toward the future of which we all look forward with so much confidence and hope. But another theme directed me here this time. I do not need to speak of the South. She has, perhaps, acquired the gift of speaking for herself. I come because I want to speak of our present and prospective relations with our neighbors to the south. I deemed it a public duty, as well as a personal pleasure, to be here to express for myself and for the Government I represent the welcome we all feel to those who represent the Latin-American States.
The future, ladies and gentlemen, is going to be very different for this hemisphere from the past. These States lying to the south of us, which have always been our neighbors, will now be drawn closer to us by innumerable ties, and, I hope, chief of all by the tie of a common understanding of each other. Interest does not tie nations together; it sometimes separates them. But sympathy and understanding does unite them, and I believe that by the new route that is just about to be opened, while we physically cut two continents asunder, we spiritually unite them. It is a spiritual union which we seek.
I wonder if you realize, I wonder if your imaginations have been filled with the significance of the tides of commerce. Your Governor alluded in very fit and striking terms to the voyage of Columbus, but Columbus took his voyage under compulsion of circumstances. Constantinople had been captured by the Turks, and all the routes of trade with the East had been suddenly closed. If there was not a way across the Atlantic to open those routes again, they were closed forever; and Columbus set out not to discover America, for he did not know that it existed, but to discover the eastern shores of Asia. He set sail for Cathay and stumbled upon America. With that change in the outlook of the world, what happened? England, that had been at the back of Europe with an unknown sea behind her, found that all things had turned as if upon a pivot and she was at the front of Europe; and since then all the tides of energy and enterprise that have issued out of Europe have seemed to be turned westward across the Atlantic. But you will notice that they have turned westward chiefly north of the Equator, and that it is the northern half of the globe that has seemed to be filled with the media of intercourse and of sympathy and of common understanding.
Do you not see now what is about to happen? These great tides which have been running along parallels of latitude will now swing southward athwart parallels of latitude, and that opening gate at the Isthmus of Panama will open the world to a commerce that she has not known before, a commerce of intelligence, of thought, and sympathy between North and South. The Latin-American States which, to their disadvantage, have been off the main lines will now be on the main lines. I feel that these gentlemen honoring us with their presence to-day will presently find that some part, at any rate, of the center of gravity of the world has shifted. Do you realize that New York, for example, will be nearer the western coast of South America than she is now to the eastern coast of South America? Do you realize that a line drawn northward parallel with the greater part of the western coast of South America will run only about one hundred and fifty miles west of New York? The great bulk of South America, if you will look at your globes (not at your Mercator's projection), lies eastward of the continent of North America. You will realize that when you realize that the canal will run southeast, not southwest, and that when you get into the Pacific you will be farther east then you were when you left the Gulf of Mexico. These things are significant, therefore, of this, that we are closing one chapter in the history of the world and are opening another of great, unimaginable significance.
There is one peculiarity about the history of the Latin-American States which I am sure they are keenly aware of. You hear of "concessions" to foreign capitalists in Latin America. You do not hear of concessions to foreign capitalists in the United States. They are not granted concessions. They are invited to make investments. The work is ours, though they are welcome to invest in it. We do not ask them to supply the capital and do the work. It is an invitation, not a privilege; and States that are obliged, because their territory does not lie within the main field of modern enterprise and action, to grant concessions are in this condition, that foreign interests are apt to dominate their domestic affairs, a condition of affairs always dangerous and apt to become intolerable. What these States are going to see, therefore, is an emancipation from the subordination, which has been inevitable, to foreign enterprise and an assertion of the splendid character which, in spite of these difficulties, they have again and again been able to demonstrate. The dignity, the courage, the self-possession, the self-respect of the Latin-American States, their achievements in the face of all these adverse circumstances, deserve nothing but the admiration and applause of the world. They have had harder bargains driven with them in the matter of loans than any other peoples in the world. Interest has been exacted of them that was not exacted of anybody else, because the risk was said to be greater; and then securities were taken that destroyed the risk—an admirable arrangement for those who were forcing the terms! I rejoice in nothing so much as in the prospect that they will now be emancipated from these conditions; and we ought to be the first to take part in assisting in that emancipation. I think some of these gentlemen have already had occasion to bear witness that the Department of State in recent months has tried to serve them in that wise. In the future they will draw closer and closer to us because of circumstances of which I wish to speak with moderation and, I hope, without indiscretion.
We must prove ourselves their friends and champions upon terms of equality and honor. You cannot be friends upon any other terms than upon the terms of equality. You cannot be friends at all except upon the terms of honor. We must show ourselves friends by comprehending their interest whether it squares with our own interest or not. It is a very perilous thing to determine the foreign policy of a nation in the terms of material interest. It not only is unfair to those with whom you are dealing, but it is degrading as regards your own actions.
Comprehension must be the soil in which shall grow all the fruits of friendship, and there is a reason and a compulsion lying behind all this which is dearer than anything else to the thoughtful men of America. I mean the development of constitutional liberty in the world. Human rights, national integrity, and opportunity as against material interests—that, ladies and gentlemen, is the issue which we now have to face. I want to take this occasion to say that the United States will never again seek one additional foot of territory by conquest. She will devote herself to showing that she knows how to make honorable and fruitful use of the territory she has, and she must regard it as one of the duties of friendship to see that from no quarter are material interests made superior to human liberty and national opportunity. I say this, not with a single thought that anyone will gainsay it, but merely to fix in our consciousness what our real relationship with the rest of America is. It is the relationship of a family of mankind devoted to the development of true constitutional liberty. We know that that is the soil out of which the best enterprise springs. We know that this is a cause which we are making in common with our neighbors, because we have had to make it for ourselves.
Reference has been made here to-day to some of the national problems which confront us as a nation. What is at the heart of all our national problems? It is that we have seen the hand of material interest sometimes about to close upon our dearest rights and possessions. We have seen material interests threaten constitutional freedom in the United States. Therefore we will now know how to sympathize with those in the rest of America who have to contend with such powers, not only within their borders but from outside their borders also.
I know what the response of the thought and heart of America will be to the program I have outlined, because America was created to realize a program like that. This is not America because it is rich. This is not America because it has set up for a great population great opportunities of material prosperity. America is a name which sounds in the ears of men everywhere as a synonym with individual opportunity because a synonym of individual liberty. I would rather belong to a poor nation that was free than to a rich nation that had ceased to be in love with liberty. But we shall not be poor if we love liberty, because the nation that loves liberty truly sets every man free to do his best and be his best, and that means the release of all the splendid energies of a great people who think for themselves. A nation of employees cannot be free any more than a nation of employers can be.
In emphasizing the points which must unite us in sympathy and in spiritual interest with the Latin-American peoples we are only emphasizing the points of our own life, and we should prove ourselves untrue to our own traditions if we proved ourselves untrue friends to them. Do not think, therefore, gentlemen, that the questions of the day are mere questions of policy and diplomacy. They are shot through with the principles of life. We dare not turn from the principle that morality and not expediency is the thing that must guide us and that we will never condone iniquity because it is most convenient to do so. It seems to me that this is a day of infinite hope, of confidence in a future greater than the past has been, for I am fain to believe that in spite of all the things that we wish to correct the nineteenth century that now lies behind us has brought us a long stage toward the time when, slowly ascending the tedious climb that leads to the final uplands, we shall get our ultimate view of the duties of mankind. We have breasted a considerable part of that climb and shall presently—it may be in a generation or two—come out upon those great heights where there shines unobstructed the light of the justice of God.
THE STATE OF THE UNION
[Address delivered at a joint session of the two Houses of Congress, December 2, 1913.]
MR. SPEAKER, MR. PRESIDENT, GENTLEMEN OF THE CONGRESS:
In pursuance of my constitutional duty to "give to the Congress information of the state of the Union," I take the liberty of addressing you on several matters which ought, as it seems to me, particularly to engage the attention of your honorable bodies, as of all who study the welfare and progress of the Nation.
I shall ask your indulgence if I venture to depart in some degree from the usual custom of setting before you in formal review the many matters which have engaged the attention and called for the action of the several departments of the Government or which look to them for early treatment in the future, because the list is long, very long, and would suffer in the abbreviation to which I should have to subject it. I shall submit to you the reports of the heads of the several departments, in which these subjects are set forth in careful detail, and beg that they may receive the thoughtful attention of your committees and of all Members of the Congress who may have the leisure to study them. Their obvious importance, as constituting the very substance of the business of the Government, makes comment and emphasis on my part unnecessary.
The country, I am thankful to say, is at peace with all the world, and many happy manifestations multiply about us of a growing cordiality and sense of community of interest among the nations, foreshadowing an age of settled peace and good will. More and more readily each decade do the nations manifest their willingness to bind themselves by solemn treaty to the processes of peace, the processes of frankness and fair concession. So far the United States has stood at the front of such negotiations. She will, I earnestly hope and confidently believe, give fresh proof of her sincere adherence to the cause of international friendship by ratifying the several treaties of arbitration awaiting renewal by the Senate. In addition to these, it has been the privilege of the Department of State to gain the assent, in principle, of no less than thirty-one nations, representing four-fifths of the population of the world, to the negotiation of treaties by which it shall be agreed that whenever differences of interest or of policy arise which cannot be resolved by the ordinary processes of diplomacy they shall be publicly analyzed, discussed, and reported upon by a tribunal chosen by the parties before either nation determines its course of action.
There is only one possible standard by which to determine controversies between the United States and other nations, and that is compounded of these two elements: Our own honor and our obligations to the peace of the world. A test so compounded ought easily to be made to govern both the establishment of new treaty obligations and the interpretation of those already assumed.