THE MIRRORS OF WASHINGTON
WITH BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES
HARDING, Warren G.,
President of the United States; b. Corsica, Morrow Co., O., Nov. 2, 1865; Educ. student of Ohio Central Coll. (now defunct), Iberia, 1879-82; engaged in newspaper business at Marion, O., since 1884; pres. Harding Pub. Co., pubs. Star (daily); mem. Ohio Senate, 1900-4; lt.-gov. of Ohio, 1904-6; Rep. nominee for gov. of Ohio, 1910 (defeated); mem. U. S. Senate, from Ohio, 1915-21; Baptist; President of the United States, 1921
Twenty-eighth President of the United States; b. Staunton, Va., Dec. 28, 1856; Educ. Davidson Coll., N. C., 1874-5; A.B., Princeton, 1879, A.M., 1882; grad. in law, U. of Va., 1881; post-grad, work at Johns Hopkins, 1883-5, Ph.D., 1886; (LL.D., Wake Forest, 1887, Tulane, 1898, Johns Hopkins, 1902, Rutgers, 1902, U. of Pa., 1903, Brown, 1903; Harvard, 1907, Williams, 1908, Dartmouth, 1909; Litt. D., Yale, 1901); pres. Aug. 1, 1902—Oct. 20, 1910, Princeton U.; gov. of N. J., Jan. 17, 1911—Mar. 1, 1913 (resigned); nominated for President in Dem. Nat. Conv. Baltimore, 1912, and elected Nov. 4, 1912, for term, Mar. 4, 1913-Mar. 4, 1917; renominated for President in Dem. Nat. Conv., St. Louis, 1916, and reelected, Nov. 7, 1916; for term Mar. 4, 1917-Mar. 4, 1921; Left for France on the troopship "George Washington", Dec. 4, 1918, at the head of Am. Commn. to Negotiate Peace; returned to U. S., arriving in Boston, Feb. 24,1919; left New York on 2d trip to Europe, Mar. 5; arrived in Paris, Mar. 14; signed Peace Treaty, June 28, 1919
HARVEY, George (Brinton McClellan),
Editor; b. Peacham, Vt., Feb. 16, 1864; Educ. Peacham Academy; (LL.D., University of Nevada, University of Vermont, Middlebury Coll. and Erskine Coll.). Consecutively reporter Springfield Republican, Chicago News, and New York World, 1882-6; ins. commr. of N. J., 1890-1; mng. editor New York World, 1891-93; constructor and pres. various electric railroads, 1894-8; purchased, 1899, and since editor North American Review, Pres. Harper & Bros., 1900-15; North Am. Review Pub. Co., 1899-; editor and pub. Harvey's Weekly; dir. Audit Co. of New York; Col. and a.-d.-c. on staffs of Govs. Green and Abbett, of N. J., 1885-92; hon. col. and a.-d.-c. on staffs of Govs. Heyward and Ansel, of S. C.; U. S. Ambassador to Court of Saint James
HUGHES, Charles Evans,
Secretary of State; b. at Glens Falls, N. Y., Apr. 11, 1862; Educ. Colgate U., 1876-8; A.B., Brown U., 1881, A.M., 1884; LL.B., Columbia, 1884; (LL.D., Brown, 1906, Columbia, Knox, and Lafayette, 1907, Union, Colgate, 1908, George Washington, 1909, Williams College, Harvard, and Univ. of Pennsylvania, 1910, Yale Univ., 1915); admitted to N. Y. bar, 1884; prize fellowship, Columbia Law Sch., 1884-7; nominated for office of mayor of New York by Rep. Conv., 1905, but declined; gov. of N. Y. 2 terms, Jan. 1, 1907-Dec. 31, 1908, Jan. 1, 1909-Dec. 31, 1910; resigned, Oct. 6, 1910; apptd., May 2, 1910, and Oct. 10, 1910, became asso. justice Supreme Court of U. S.; nominated for President of U. S. in Rep. Nat. Conv., Chicago, June 10, 1916, and resigned from Supreme Court same day; Secretary of State, 1921
HOUSE, Edward Mandell,
B. Houston, Tex., July 26, 1858; Educ. Hopkins Grammar Sch., New Haven, Conn., 1877; Cornell U., 1881; active in Dem. councils, state and national, but never a candidate for office. Personal representative of President Wilson to the European governments in 1914, 1915, and 1916; apptd. by the President, Sept., 1917, to gather and organize data necessary at the eventual peace conference; commd. as the special rep. of Govt. of U. S. at the Inter-Allied Conference of Premiers and Foreign Ministers, held in Paris, Nov. 29, 1917, to effect a more complete coordination of the activities of the Entente cobelligerents for the prosecution of the war; designated by the President to represent the U. S. in the Supreme War Council at Versailles, Dec. 1, 1917; Oct. 17, 1918; designated by the President to act for the U. S. in the negotiation of the Armistice with the Central Powers; mem. Am. Commn. to Negotiate Peace, 1918-19
HOOVER, Herbert Clark,
Secretary of Commerce; Engineer; b. West Branch, Ia., Aug. 10, 1874; Educ. B.A. (in mining engring.), Leland Stanford, Jr., U., 1895; (LL.D., Brown U., U. of Pa., Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Oberlin, U. of Ala., Liege, Brussels; D.C.L., Oxford); Asst. Ark. Geol. Survey, 1893, U. S. Geol. Survey, Sierra Nevada Mountains, 1895; in W. Australia as chief of mining staff of Bewick, Moreing & Co. and mgr. Hannan's Brown Hill Mine, 1897; chief engr. Chinese Imperial Bur. of Mines, 1899, doing extensive exploration in interior of China. Took part in defense of Tientsin during Boxer disturbances; Chmn. Am. Relief Com. London, 1914-15, Commn. for Relief in Belgium, 1915-18; chmn. food com. Council of Nat. Defense, Apr.-Aug. 1917; apptd. U. S. food administrator by President Wilson, Aug. 10, 1917, resigned June, 1919. Secretary of Commerce, 1921
LODGE, Henry Cabot,
Senator; b. Boston, May 12, 1850; Educ. A.B., Harvard, 1871, LL.B., 1875, Ph.D. (history), 1876; (LL.D., Williams, 1893, Yale, 1902, Clark U., 1902, Harvard, 1904, Amherst, 1912, also Union Col., Princeton U., and Dartmouth Coll., and Brown, 1918); Admitted to bar, 1876; editor North American Review, 1873-6, International Review, 1879-81; mem. Mass. Ho. of Rep., 1880, 81; mem. 50th to 53d Congresses (1887-93), 6th Mass. Dist.; U. S. senator, since 1893; mem. Alaskan Boundary Tribunal, 1903; mem. U. S. Immigration Commn., 1907
BARUCH, Bernard Mannes,
Educ. A.B., Coll. City of New York, 1889; mem. of New York Stock Exchange many yrs.; apptd., 1916, by Pres. Wilson, mem. Advisory Commn. of Council Nat. Defense; was made chmn. Com. on Raw Materials, Minerals and Metals, also commr. in charge of purchasing for the War Industries Bd., and mem. commn. in charge of all purchases for the Allies; apptd. chmn. War Industries Bd., Mar. 5, 1918; resigned Jan. 1, 1919; connected with Am. Commn. to Negotiate Peace as member of the drafting com. of the Economic Sect.; mem. Supreme Economic Council and chmn. of its raw materials div.; Am. del. on economics and reparation clauses; economic adviser for the Am. Peace Commn.; mem. President's Conf. for Capital and Labor, Oct. 1919
Ex-Secretary of State; senator; b. Clinton, N. Y., Feb. 15, 1845; Educ. A.B., Hamilton Coll., 1864, A.M., 1867; taught at Rome Acad., 1865; LL.B., New York U., 1867; (LL.D., Hamilton, 1894, Yale, 1900, Columbia, 1904, New York U., 1904, Williams, 1905, Princeton, 1906, U. of Buenos Aires, 1906, Harvard, 1907, Wesleyan, 1909, McHill, 1913, Union U., 1914, U. of State of N. Y., 1915, U. of Toronto, 1918, and Colgate U., 1919; Dr. Polit. Science, U. of Leyden, 1913; D.C.L., Oxford, 1913; mem. Faculty of Political and Administrative Sciences, University of San Marcos, Lima, 1906); Admitted to bar, 1867; U. S. dist. atty. Southern Dist. of N. Y., 1883-5; Sec. of War in cabinet of President McKinley, Aug. 1, 1899-Feb. 1, 1904; Sec. of State in cabinet of President Roosevelt, July 1, 1905-Jan. 27, 1909; U. S. senator from N. Y., 1909-15; mem. Alaskan Boundary Tribunal, 1903; counsel for U. S. in N. Atlantic Fisheries Arbitration, 1910; mem. Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, 1910-; pres. Carnegie Endowment for Internat. Peace, 1910; president Hague Tribunal of Arbitration between Great Britain, France, Spain, and Portugal, concerning church property, 1913; ambassador extraordinary at the head of special diplomatic mission to Russia, during revolution, 1917. Awarded Nobel Peace Prize for 1912.
JOHNSON, Hiram Warren,
Senator; b. Sacramento, Cal., Sept. 2, 1866; Educ. U. of Cal., leaving in jr. yr.; began as short-hand reporter; studied law in father's office; admitted to Cal. bar, 1888; mem. staff of pros. attys. in boodling cases, involving leading city officials and almost all pub. utility corpns. in San Francisco, 1906-7; was selected to take the place of Francis J. Heney, after latter was shot down in court while prosecuting Abe Ruef, for bribery, 1908, and secured conviction of Ruef; gov. of Cal., 1911-15; reelected for term, 1915-19 (resigned Mar. 15, 1917); a founder of Progressive Party, 1912, and nominee for V.-P. of U.S. on Prog. ticket same yr.; U. S. senator from Cal. for term 1917-23
KNOX, Philander Chase,
Ex-Secretary of State; b. Brownsville, Pa., May 6, 1853; Educ. A.B., Mt. Union Coll., Ohio, 1872; read law in office of H. B. Swope, Pittsburgh; (LL.D., U. of Pa., 1905, Yale, 1907, Villanova, 1909); Admitted to bar, 1875; asst. U. S. dist. atty., Western Dist. of Pa., 1876-7; Atty.-Gen. in cabinets of Presidents McKinley and Roosevelt, Apr. 9, 1901-June 30, 1904; apptd. U. S. senator by Governor Pennypacker, June 10, 1904, for unexpired term of Matthew Stanley Quay, deceased; elected U. S. senator, Jan., 1905, for term, 1905-11; Sec. of State in cabinet of President Taft, Mar., 1909-13; Reelected U. S. senator, for term 1917-23
Ex-Secretary of State; b. at Watertown, N. Y., Oct. 17, 1864; Educ. A.B., Amherst, 1886; (LL.D., Amherst, 1915, Colgate, 1915, Princeton, 1917, Columbia, 1918, Union, 1918, U. State of N. Y., 1919); Admitted to bar, 1889; Asso. counsel for U. S. in Behring Sea Arbitration, 1892-3: counsel for Behring Sea Claims Commn., 1896-7; solicitor and counsel for the United States under the Alaskan Boundary Tribunal, 1903; counsel, North Atlantic Coast Fisheries Arbitration at The Hague, 1909-10; agent of United States, Am. and British Claims Arbitration, 1912-14; counselor for Dept. of State, Mar. 20, 1914-June 23, 1915; Secretary of State in Cabinet of Pres. Wilson, June 23, 1915-Feb., 1920; mem. Am. Commn. to Negotiate Peace, Paris, 1918-19
Senator; b. Phila., Nov. 1, 1860; Educ. A.B., Harvard, 1881; Admitted to the bar, 1883; mem. Pa. Ho. of Rep., 1884-6, Senate, 1887-97 (pres. pro tem., 1889,1891); U. S. senator, 4 terms, 1897-1921; Chmn. Rep. State Com., 1903-5; mem. Rep. Nat. Com. since 1904
BORAH, William Edgar,
Senator; b. at Fairfield, Ill., June 29, 1865; Educ. Southern Ill. Acad., Enfield, and U. of Kan.; Admitted to bar, 1889; U. S. senator from Idaho, Jan. 14,1903; elected U. S. senator for terms 1907-13, 1913-19, 1919-25
WARREN GAMALIEL HARDING
Every time we elect a new President we learn what a various creature is the Typical American.
When Mr. Roosevelt was in the White House the Typical American was gay, robustious, full of the joy of living, an expansive spirit from the frontier, a picaresque twentieth century middle class Cavalier. He hit the line hard and did not flinch. And his laugh shook the skies.
Came Wilson. And the Typical American was troubled about his soul. Rooted firmly in the church-going past, he carried the banner of the Lord, Democracy, idealistic, bent on perfecting that old incorrigible Man, he cuts off the right hand that offends him and votes for prohibition and woman suffrage, a Round Head in a Ford.
Eight years and we have the perfectly typical American, Warren Gamaliel Harding of the modern type, the Square Head, typical of that America whose artistic taste is the movies, who reads and finds mental satisfaction in the vague inanities of the small town newspaper, who has faith in America, who is for liberty, virtue, happiness, prosperity, law and order and all the standard generalities and holds them a perfect creed; who distrusts anything new except mechanical inventions, the standardized product of the syndicate which supplies his nursing bottle, his school books, his information, his humor in a strip, his art on a screen, with a quantity production mind, cautious, uniformly hating divergence from uniformity, jailing it in troublous times, prosperous, who has his car and his bank account and can sell a bill of goods as well as the best of them.
People who insist upon having their politics logical demand to know the why of Harding. Why was a man of so undistinguished a record as he first chosen as a candidate for President and then elected President?
As a legislator he had left no mark on legislation. If he had retired from Congress at the end of his term his name would have existed only in the old Congressional directories, like that of a thousand others. As a public speaker he had said nothing that anybody could remember. He had passed through a Great War and left no mark on it. He had shared in a fierce debate upon the peace that followed the war but though you can recall small persons like McCumber and Kellogg and Moses and McCormick in that discussion you do not recall Harding. To be sure he made a speech in that debate which he himself says was a great speech but no newspaper thought fit to publish it because of its quality, or felt impelled to publish it in spite of its quality because it had been made by Harding.
He neither compelled attention by what he said nor by his personality. Why, then, without fireworks, without distinction of any sort, without catching the public eye, or especially deserving to catch it, was Warren Harding elected President of the United States?
One plausible reason why he was nominated was that given by Senator Brandegee at Chicago, where he had a great deal to do with the nomination. "There ain't any first raters this year. This ain't any 1880 or any 1904. We haven't any John Shermans or Theodore Roosevelts. We've got a lot of second raters and Warren Harding is the best of the second raters."
Once nominated as a Republican his election of course inevitably followed. But to accept Mr. Brandegee's plea in avoidance is to agree to the eternal poverty of American political life, for most of our presidents have been precisely like Warren G. Harding, first-class second raters.
Mrs. Harding, a woman of sound sense and much energy, had an excellent instructive answer to the "why." The pictures of the house in Marion, the celebrated front porch, herself and her husband were taken to be exhibited by cinema all over the land. She said, "I want the people to see these pictures so that they will know we are just folks like themselves."
Warren Harding is "just folks." A witty woman said of him, alluding to the small town novel which was popular at the time of his inauguration, "Main Street has arrived in the White House."
The Average Man has risen up and by seven million majority elected an Average Man President. His defects were his virtues. He was chosen rather for what he wasn't than for what he was,—the inconspicuousness of his achievements. The "just folks" level of his mind, his small town man's caution, his sense of the security of the past, his average hopes and fears and practicality, his standardized Americanism which would enable a people who wanted for a season to do so to take themselves politically for granted.
The country was tired of the high thinking and rather plain spiritual living of Woodrow Wilson. It desired the man in the White House to cause it no more moral overstrain than does the man you meet in the Pullman smoking compartment or the man who writes the captions for the movies who employs a sort of Inaugural style, freed from the inhibitions of statesmanship. It was in a mood similar to that of Mr. Harding himself when after his election he took Senators Freylinghuysen, Hale, and Elkins with him on his trip to Texas. Senator Knox observing his choice is reported to have said, "I think he is taking those three along because he wanted complete mental relaxation." All his life Mr. Harding has shown a predilection for companions who give him complete mental relaxation, though duty compels him to associate with the Hughes and the Hoovers. The conflict between duty and complete mental relaxation establishes a strong bond of sympathy between him and the average American.
The "why" of Harding is the democratic passion for equality. We are standardized, turned out like Fords by the hundred million, and we cannot endure for long anyone who is not standardized. Such an one casts reflections upon us; why should we by our votes unnecessarily asperse ourselves? Occasionally we may indulge nationally, as men do individually, in the romantic belief that we are somebody else, that we are like Roosevelt or Wilson—and they become typical of what we would be—but always we come back to the knowledge that we are nationally like Harding, who is typical of what we are. "Just folks" Kuppenheimered, movieized, associated pressed folks.
Men debate whether or not Mr. Wilson was a great man and they will keep on doing so until the last of those passes away whose judgment of him is clouded by the sense of his personality. But men will never debate about the greatness of Mr. Harding, not even Mr. Harding himself. He is modest. He has only two vanities, his vanity about his personal appearance and his vanity about his literary style.
The inhibitions of a presidential candidate, bound to speak and say nothing, irked him.
"Of course I could make better speeches than these" he told a friend during the campaign, "but I have to be so careful."
In his inaugural address he let himself go, as much as it is possible for a man so cautious as he is to let himself go. It was a great speech, an inaugural to place alongside the inaugurals of Lincoln and Washington, written in his most capable English, Harding at his best. It is hard for a man to move Marion for years with big editorials, to receive the daily compliments of Dick Cressinger and Jim Prendergast, without becoming vain of the power of his pen. It is his chief vanity and it is one that it is hard for him who speaks or writes to escape. He has none of that egotism which makes a self-confident man think himself the favorite of fortune.
He said after his nomination at Chicago, "We drew to a pair of deuces and filled." He did not say it boastfully as a man who likes to draw to a pair of deuces and who always expects to fill. He said it with surprise and relief. He does not like to hold a pair of deuces and be forced to draw to them. He has not a large way of regarding losing and winning as all a part of the game. He hates to lose. He hated to lose even a friendly game of billiards in the Marion Club with his old friend Colonel Christian, father of his secretary, though the stake was only a cigar.
When he was urged to seek the Republican nomination for the Presidency he is reported to have said, "Why should I. My chances of winning are not good. If I let you use my name I shall probably in the end lose the nomination for the Senate. (His term was expiring.) If I don't run for the Presidency I can stay in the Senate all my life. I like the Senate. It is a very pleasant place."
The Senate is like Marion, Ohio, a very pleasant place, for a certain temperament. And Mr. Harding stayed in Marion all his life until force—a vis exterior; there is nothing inside Mr. Harding that urges him on and on—until force of circumstances, of politics, of other men's ambitions, took him out of Marion and set him down in Washington, in the Senate.
The process of uprooting him from the pleasant place of Marion is reported to have been thus described by his political transplanter, the present Attorney General, Mr. Daugherty: "When it came to running for the Senate I found him, sunning himself in Florida, like a turtle on a log and I had to push him into the water and make him swim."
And a similar thing happened when it came to running for the Presidency. It is a definite type of man who suns himself on a log, who is seduced by pleasant places like Marion, Ohio, whom the big town does not draw into its magnetic field, whose heart is not excited by the larger chances of life. Is he lazy? Is he lacking in imagination? Does he hate to lose? Does he want self-confidence? Is he over modest? Has he no love for life, life as a great adventure? Whatever he is, Mr. Harding is that kind of man, that kind of man to start out with.
But this is only the point of departure, that choice to remain in a pleasant place like Marion, not to risk what you have, your sure place in society as the son of one of the better families, the reasonable prospect that the growth of your small town will bring some accretion to your own fortunes, the decision not to hazard greatly in New York or Chicago or on the frontier. Life asks little of you in those pleasant places like Marion and in return for that little gives generously, especially if you are, to begin with, well placed, if you are ingratiatingly handsome, if your personality is agreeable—"The best fellow in the world to play poker with all Saturday night," as a Marionite feelingly described the President to me, and if you have a gift of words as handsome and abundant as your looks.
Mr. Harding is a handsome man, endowed with the gifts that reinforce the charm of his exterior, a fine voice, a winning smile, a fluency of which his inaugural is the best instance; an ample man, you might say. But he is too handsome, too endowed, for his own good, his own spiritual good. The slight stoop of his shoulders, the soft figure, the heaviness under the eyes betray in some measure perhaps the consequences of nature's excessive generosity. Given all these things you take, it may be, too much for granted. There is not much to stiffen the mental, moral, and physical fibers.
Given such good looks, such favor from nature, and an environment in which the struggle is not sharp and existence is a species of mildly purposeful flanerie. You lounge a bit stoop-shoulderedly forward to success. There is nothing hard about the President. I once described him in somewhat this fashion to a banker in New York who was interested in knowing what kind of a President we had.
"You agree," he said, "with a friend of Harding's who came in to see me a few days ago. This friend said to me 'Warren is the best fellow in the world. He has wonderful tact. He knows how to make men work with him and how to get the best out of them. He is politically adroit. He is conscientious. He has a keen sense of his responsibilities. He has unusual common sense.' And he named other similar virtues, 'Well,' I asked him, 'What is his defect?' 'Oh,' he replied, 'the only trouble with Warren is that he lacks mentality.'"
The story, like most stories, exaggerates. The President has the average man's virtues of common sense and conscientiousness with rather more than the average man's political skill and the average man's industry or lack of industry. His mentality is not lacking; it is undisciplined, especially in its higher ranges, by hard effort. There is a certain softness about him mentally. It is not an accident that his favorite companions are the least intellectual members of that house of average intelligence, the Senate. They remind him of the mental surroundings of Marion, the pleasant but unstimulating mental atmosphere of the Marion Club, with its successful small town business men, its local storekeepers, its banker whose mental horizon is bounded by Marion County, the value of whose farm lands for mortgages he knows to a penny, the lumber dealer whose eye rests on the forests of Kentucky and West Virginia.
The President has never felt the sharpening of competition. He was a local pundit because he was the editor. He was the editor because he owned the Republican paper of Marion. There was no effective rival. No strong intelligence challenged his and made him fight for his place. He never studied hard or thought deeply on public questions. A man who stays where he is put by birth tends to accept authority, and authority is strong in small places. The acceptance of authority implies few risks. It is like staying in Marion instead of going to New York or even Cleveland. It is easier, and often more profitable than studying hard or thinking deeply or inquiring too much.
And Mr. Harding's is a mind that bows to authority. What his party says is enough for Mr. Harding. His party is for protection and Mr. Harding is for protection; the arguments for protection may be readily assimilated from the editorials of one good big city newspaper and from a few campaign addresses. His party is for the remission of tolls on American shipping in the Panama Canal and Mr. Harding is for the remission of tolls. Mr. Root broke with his party on tolls and Mr. Harding is as much shocked at Mr. Root's deviation as the matrons of Marion would be over the public disregard of the Seventh Commandment by one of their number. His party became somehow for the payment of Colombia's Panama claims and Mr. Harding was for their payment.
A story tells just how Senator Kellogg went to the President to oppose the Colombia treaty. After hearing Mr. Kellogg Mr. Harding remarked, "Well, Frank, you have something on me. You've evidently read the treaty. I haven't."
A mind accepting authority favors certain general policies. It is not sufficiently inquiring to trouble itself with the details. Mr. Harding is for all sorts of things but is content to be merely for them. A curious illustration developed in Marion, during the visits of the best minds. He said to the newspaper men there one day, "I am for voluntary military training."
"What would you train, Mr. President," asked one of the journalists, "officers or men?"
The President hesitated. At last he said, "I haven't thought of that."
"But," said one of his interlocutors, "the colleges are training a lot of officers now."
This brought no response.
Another who had experience in the Great War remarked, "In the last war we were lacking in trained non-coms; it would be a good idea to train a lot of them."
"Yes," rejoined Mr. Harding eagerly, "That would be a good idea."
A more inquiring mind would have gone further than to be "for voluntary military training." A quicker, less cautious, if no more thorough mind would have answered the first question, "What would you train, officers or men?" by answering instantly "Both."
In that colloquy you have revealed all the mental habits of Mr. Harding. He was asked once, after he had had several conferences with Senator McCumber, Senator Smoot, Representative Fordney, and others who would be responsible for financial legislation, "Have you worked out the larger details of your taxation policy?"
"Naturally not!" was his reply. That "naturally" sprang I suppose from his habit of believing that somewhere there is authority. Somewhere there would be authority to determine what the larger details of the party's financial policy should be.
Now, this authority is not going to be any one man or any two men. The President, his friends tell us, is jealous of any assumption of power by any of his advisers. He is unwilling to have the public think that any other than himself is President. A man as handsome as Harding, as vain of his literary style as he is, has an ego that is not capable of total self-effacement. He will bow to impersonal authority like that of the party, or invoke the anonymous governance of "best minds," calling rather often on God as a well established authority, but he will not let authority be personal and be called Daugherty, or Lodge or Knox or whomever you will.
The President's attitude is rather like that of the average man during the campaign. If you said to a voter on a Pullman, "Mr. Harding is a man of small public experience, not known by any large political accomplishment," he would always answer optimistically, "Well, they will see to it that he makes good." Asked who "They" were he was always vague and elusive, gods on the mountain perhaps. There is an American religion, the average man's faith: it is "Them." "They" are the fountain of authority.
As Mr. Harding knew little competition in Marion so he has known little competition in public life which in this country is not genuinely competitive. Mr. Lloyd George is at the head of the British government because he is the greatest master of the House of Commons in a generation and he is chosen by the men who know him for what he is, his fellow members of the House of Commons. An American President is selected by the newspapers, which know little about him, by the politicians, who do not want a master but a slave, by the delegates to a national convention, tired, with hotel bills mounting, ready to name anybody in order to go home. The presidency, the one great prize in American public life, is attained by no known rules and under conditions which have nothing in them to make a man work hard or think hard, especially one endowed with a handsome face and figure, an ingratiating personality, and a literary style.
The small town man, unimaginative and of restricted mental horizon does not think in terms of masses of mankind. Masses vaguely appall him. They exist in the big cities on which he turned his back in his unaudacious youth. His contacts are with individuals. His democracy consists in smiling upon the village painter and calling him "Harry," in always nodding to the village cobbler and calling him "Bill," in stopping on the street corner with a group, which has not been invited to join the village club, putting his hand on the shoulder of one of them and calling them "Fellows."
Politics in the small town is limited to dealing with persons, to enlisting the support of men with a following at the polls.
Mr. Harding once drew this picture of his idea of politics. "If I had a policy to put over I should go about it this way," he said. "You all know the town meeting, if not by experience, by hearsay. Now if I had a program that I wanted to have adopted by a town meeting I should go to the three or four most influential men in my community. I should talk it out with them. I should make concessions to them until I had got them to agree with me. And then I should go into the town meeting feeling perfectly confident that my plan would go through. Well it's the same in the nation as in the town meeting, or in the whole world, if you will. I should always go first to the three or four leading men."
Mr. Harding thinks of politics in this personal way. He does not conceive of it as the force of ideas or the weight of morality moving the hearts of mankind. Mankind is only a word to him, one that he often uses,—or perhaps he prefers humanity, which has two more syllables—a large loose word that he employs to make his thought look bigger than it really is, something like the stage device for making an ordinary man seem ten feet tall.
Thus he will never try to move the mass of the people as his predecessors have. He will not "go to the country." He will not bring public opinion to bear as a disciplinary force in his household. He will treat the whole United States as if it were a Marion, consulting endless "best minds," composing differences, seeking unity, with the aid of his exceptional tact.
This attitude has its disadvantages. If you have a passion for ideas and an indifference for persons you can say "yes" or "no" easily; you may end by being dictatorial and arrogant, as Mr. Wilson was; but you will not be weak. If, on the contrary, you are indifferent to ideas and considerate of persons you find it hard to say "Decided" to any question. And somewhere there must be authority, the passing of the final judgment and the giving of orders.
But he compensates for his own defects. Almost as good as greatness is a knowledge of your own limitations; and Mr. Harding knows his thoroughly. Out of his modesty, his desire to reinforce himself, has proceeded the strongest cabinet that Washington has seen in a generation. He likes to have decisions rest upon the broad base of more than one intelligence and he has surrounded himself for this purpose with able associates. His policies will lack imagination, which is not a composite product, but they will have practicality, which is the greatest common denomination of several minds; and he, moreover, is himself unimaginative and practical.
Whatever superstructure of world organization he takes part in, behind it will be the reality, a private understanding with the biggest man in sight; for this reason the fall of Lloyd George and the succession of a Labor government in England will disconcert him terribly. The democratic passion for equality, which dogs the tracks of the great, he mollifies by reminding the nation always that he is "just folks," by opening the White House lawn gates, by calling everyone by his first name. So constant is his aim to appease it that I wonder if he is not sometimes betrayed into addressing his Secretary of State as "Charley."
The explanation of President Wilson will be found in a certain inferiority. When all his personal history becomes known, when his papers and letters have all been published and read, when the memoirs of others have told all that there is to be told, there will stand clear something inadequate, a lack of robustness, mental or nervous, an excessive sensitiveness, over self-consciousness, shrinking from life, a neurotic something that in the end brought on defeat and the final overthrow. He was never quite a normal man with the average man's capacity to endure and enjoy but a strange, impeded, self-absorbed personality.
History arranged the greatest stage of all time, and on it placed a lot of little figures, "pigmy minds"—all save one, and he the nearest great, an unworldly person summoned from a cloister, with the vision of genius and the practical incapacity of one who has run away from life, hating men but loving all mankind, eloquent but inarticulate in a large way, incapable of true self expression in his chosen field of political action, so self-centered that he forgot the world's tragedy and merged it into his own, making great things little and little things great, one of "life's ironies," the everlasting refutation of the optimistic notion that when there is a crisis fate produces a man big enough to meet it.
The world finds it hard to speak of Mr. Wilson except in superlatives. A British journalist called him the other day, "the wickedest man in the world." This was something new in extravagance. I asked, "Why the wickedest?" He said, "Because he was so unable to forget himself that he brought the peace of the world down in a common smash with his own personal fortunes."
On the other hand General Jan Christian Smuts, writing with that perspective which distance gives, pronounces it to be not Wilson's fault but the fault of humanity that the vision of universal peace failed. Civilization was not advanced enough to make peace without vindictiveness possible.
This debate goes on and on. Mr. Wilson is either the worst hated or the most regretted personality of the Great War. The place of no one else is worth disputing. Lloyd George is the consummate politician, limited by the meanness of his art. Clemenceau is the personification of nationality, limited by the narrowness of his view. Mr. Wilson alone had his hour of superlative greatness when the whole earth listened to him and followed him; an hour which ended with him only dimly aware of his vision and furiously conscious of pin pricks.
You observe this inadequacy in Mr. Wilson, this incapacity to endure, at the outset of his career. It is characteristic of certain temperaments that when they first face life they should run away from it as Mr. Wilson did when, having studied law and having been admitted to the bar, he abandoned practice and went to teach in a girls' school. That was the early sign in him of that sense of unfitness for the more arduous contacts of life which was so conspicuous a trait during his presidency. He could not endure meeting men on an equal footing, where there was a conflict of wills, a rough clash of minds, where no concession was made to sensitiveness and egotism.
Some nervous insufficiency causes this shrinking, like the quick retreat from cold water of an inadequate body. Commonly a man who runs away from life after the first contact with it hates himself for his flight and there begins a conflict inside him which ends either in his admission of defeat and acknowledgment of his unfitness or in his convincing himself that his real motive was contempt of that on which he turned his back. If he admits to himself that he is really a little less courageous, a little more sensitive, a little less at home in this world, then he is gone. If he does satisfy himself that he is superior, has higher ideals, worthier ends, despises the ordinary arts of success he becomes arrogant, merely in self defense.
Mr. Wilson's "intellectual snobbism" was this kind of arrogance, acquired for moral self preservation, like that of the small boy who when his companions refuse to play with him says to himself that he is smarter than they are, gets higher marks in school, that he has a better gun than they have or that he, when he grows up, will be a great general while they are nobody. Almost everyone who feels himself unequal in some direction can satisfy himself that he exceeds in others. It is a common and human sort of arrogance, and Mr. Wilson had it inordinately.
He hated and contemned the law, in which life had given him his first glimpse of his frailty. He would have no lawyers make the peace or draft the covenant of the league of nations. Lawyers were pitiful creatures,—he kept one of them near him, Mr. Lansing, admirably chosen, to remind him of how contemptible they were, living in fear of precedents, writing a barbarous jargon out of deeds and covenants, impeding the freedom of the imagination with their endless citations.
He despised politicians, he despised business men, he despised the whole range of men who pursue worldly arts with success. He despised the qualities which he had not himself, but like all men who are arrogant self protectively he was driven to introspection and analyzed himself pitilessly.
The public got glimpses of these analyses. Sometimes he called that something in him which left him less fit for the world than the average, a little regretfully, "his single track mind." Sometimes it leaped to light as an object of pride, his arrogance again, a pride that was "too great to fight," like the common run of men,—in the law courts or on the battlefields. He kept asking himself the question, "Why am I not as other men are?", and sometimes his nature would rise up in protest and he would exclaim that he was as other men were and would pathetically tell the world that he was "misunderstood," that he was not cold and reserved but warm and genial and kindly, only largely because the world would see him as he was.
But always the one safe recourse, the one assurance of personal stability was arrogance. Contempt was the most characteristic habit of his mind. Out of office he is no sage looking charitably at the fumbling of his successor.
A friend who has seen him since his retirement describes him as watching "with supreme contempt" the executive efforts of Mr. Harding. Washington gossip credits him with inventing the phrase, "the bungalow mind," to describe the present occupant of the White House. Another remark of his about the new President is said to have been "I look forward to the new administration with no unpleasant anticipations, except those caused by Mr. Harding's literary style."
There is always his contrast of others with himself to their disadvantage, mentally or morally, as writers, or leaders, or statesmen. So full a life as Mr. Wilson led in the last dozen or more years ought to have made him less self-conscious. A robuster person would have hated with a certain zest, continued with a certain gaiety, laughed as he fought, found something to respect in his foes, seen the curtain fall upon his own activities with a certain cheerfulness.
He seems deficient in resources. He had not that gusto which richly endowed natures ordinarily have. He found no fun in measuring his strength with other men's. There was a certain overstrain about him, which made him cushion himself about with non-resistant personalities. He lacked curiosity. His fine mind seemed to want the energy to interest itself in the details of any subject that filled it, and this was one of his fatal weaknesses at the Peace Conference. Perhaps it was a deficiency of vital force. Moreover he came to his great task tired. His life till he was past fifty was one of defeat. There was the early disappointment and turning back from law practice, the giving up of his youthful ambition for a public career to which he had trained himself passionately by the study of public speaking. Dr. Albert Shaw, who was his fellow student at Johns Hopkins, says that in the University Mr. Wilson was the finest speaker, except possibly the old President of the College, Dr. Daniel Coit Gilman.
Then there were the long years of poverty as a college professor, when he overworked at writing and university extension lectures, to make his small salary as a teacher equal to the support of his family, his three children and his aged parents. There was his failure at literature, for his "History of the United States" brought him neither fame nor money, the public finding it dull and unreadable.
Then the crowning unsuccess as President of Princeton; for when his luck changed and a political career opened to him as Governor of New Jersey, with trustees and alumni against him, nothing seemed to be before him but resignation and a small professorship in a Southern College. It was a straightened life that he had led when he came to Washington for the first time as President, scandalizing the servants of the White House with the scantness of his personal effects. There had been neither the time nor the means nor probably the energy for larger human contacts. And something inherent always held him back from the world, something which diverted him to academic life, which when he was writing his "Congressional Government", his best book, held him in Baltimore, almost a suburb of Washington, where he read what he wrote to his fellow-students at Johns Hopkins, whose livelier curiosity took them often to the galleries of the House and the Senate about which he was writing from a distance.
Those to whom life is kinder than it was during many years to Mr. Wilson have naturally a zest for it. Robuster natures than his even though life averts her face, often preserve a zest for it. Conscious of his powers he seems to have fortified himself against failure with scorn. He had a scorn for the intellects of those who succeed by arts which he did not possess. He had scorn for politicians. He had a scorn for wealth. He had a scorn for his enemies. He had a scorn for Republicans. He had a scorn for the men with whom he had to deal in Europe, the heads of the Allied Governments.
Above all he scorned Lloyd George, an instinct telling him that the British Premier had a thousand arts where he himself, unschooled in conference with equals, had none. He said of Lloyd George just before he sailed for Paris, suspecting him of treachery to the League of Nations, "I shall look him in the eye and say to him Damn you, if you do not accept the League I shall go to the people of Great Britain and say things to them that will shake your government."
When he made this threat he could not foresee that the compromise of the Peace would leave him with so little character that British Liberals, their faith destroyed, should in the end couple his name with their own Premier's and exclaim, "Your man Wilson talks like Jesus Christ, but he acts like Lloyd George!"
More than all others he scorned Lodge. The Massachusetts Senator who had put by scholarship for politics and had won the opportunity to do menial service for a political machine hated the man who had chosen scholarship, for whatever motive, and come out with the Presidency. You hate the man you might perhaps have been if you had chosen more boldly, more according to your heart—if you are like Mr. Lodge.
A life of demeaning himself to politicians, of waiting for dead men's shoes in the Senate, had, however, brought some compensations to Lodge, among others an inordinate capacity to hurt. The Massachusetts Senator could get under the President's skin as no other man could. Washington is a place where every whisper is heard in the White House.
Mr. Lodge's favorite private charge uttered in a tone of withering scorn was that the President failed to respond as a man would to the national insult offered by Germany in sinking the Lusitania because there was something womanish about him and he would tell, to prove it, how Wilson went white and almost collapsed over the news that blood had been shed through the landing of American marines at Vera Cruz.
The President hardly failed to hear this. Perhaps it reminded him of that something in him which he was always trying to forget, that something which diverted his life toward failure at the outset, which once betrayed him, with a strange mixture of the arrogance and inferiority, into his famous words "too proud to fight."
At any rate mutual comprehension and hatred between these two men was instinctive, each having the opposite choice in the beginning and neither in his heart perhaps ever having forgiven himself wholly for his choice. Mr. Wilson could never get Mr. Lodge wholly out of his mind in the last two years of his Presidency, a disability which prevented him from looking quite calmly and sanely at public questions.
The story of the President's appeal for a Democratic Congress in 1918 which has never been fully told, illustrates the bearing this Lodge obsession had upon Mr. Wilson's later fate. When the Congressional election was approaching ex-Congressman Scott Ferris, then acting as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, went to the President and told him that there was danger of losing both houses of Congress, the lower house not being important, but the Senate as a factor in foreign relations, Mr. Ferris suggested, was indispensable to the Democratic party. Mr. Wilson was more hopeful but agreed to take under advisement some sort of appeal to the country. It was not desired that this should be anything more than a letter, perhaps to Mr. Ferris, intended for publication, and pointing out the need of support for the President's policies in the next Congress.
Shortly afterward Mr. Tumulty, the President's Secretary, brought to the Shoreham Hotel in Washington an appeal to the country for a Democratic Congress and read it to several Democrats gathered there for the purpose, including Homer S. Cummings, who, by that time, had become acting Chairman of the Democratic National Committee and was in charge of the campaign. Mr. Cummings doubted the wisdom of an appeal, couched in such terms as the one Mr. Tumulty read. He took it to Vance McCormick, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, who, because he was Chairman of the War Trade Board, was not taking part in the election. Mr. McCormick agreed with Mr. Cummings that the appeal as written would do more harm than good to the Democratic party, saying that the war had not been conducted on a partisan basis, that some of his own associates on the War Trade Board were Republicans and that Mr. Wilson should ask for the reelection of all who had been loyal supporters of the war, whether Republicans or Democrats.
The appeal to the country as it then stood contained a bitter denunciation of Senator Lodge. What Wilson chiefly saw in a Republican victory was himself at the mercy of the man he hated worst, the Massachusetts Senator. Mr. McCormick thought that if the President was going to name names he must, at least, denounce Claude Kitchen, the Democratic leader of the House, as well as Senator Lodge. If Mr. Wilson would ask for the reelection of those who had been loyal, of whatever party, listing the offenders, of both parties, including Mr. Lodge if he must, Mr. McCormick believed that the impression on the country would be favorable and thus a Democratic Congress might be elected.
Being agreed, Mr. Cummings and Mr. McCormick went to the White House and argued for a less partisan appeal. All they accomplished was the striking of Mr. Lodge's name out of the appeal by convincing Mr. Wilson that he could not attack the Republican Senator while ignoring the worse offenses of Mr. Kitchen and Champ Clark in his own party.
For the rest, the President made the appeal more purely personal and more partisan than before. He could not get the Lodge obsession out of his mind. He could not bring himself to ask for the election of members of Mr. Lodge's party. The wisdom of Mr. Cummings and Mr. McCormick was soon vindicated. The appeal with Mr. Lodge's name out was only a shade less impolitic than it would have been with his name in. It gave Mr. Lodge his majority in the Senate and turned the peace into a personal issue between the two "scholars in politics."
By this time Mr. Wilson had lost his sense of actuality. He could ask the nation for a Congress to his liking as a personal due. He could condemn Mr. Lodge as an enemy of those purposes with which we entered the war, simply because Mr. Lodge could hurt him as no other man could. The President had been talking for some months to the whole world and the whole world had listened with profound attention. His mission had taken, unconsciously perhaps, a Messianic character. His enemies were the enemies of God. The ordinary metes and bounds of personality had broken down. The state of mind revealed in the appeal as originally written was the state of mind of the Peace Conference and of the fight over the Treaty and the League which succeeded the Peace Conference. All that happened afterwards, including the pitiful personal tragedy, had become inevitable.
For a while at Paris amid the triumphs of his European reception and the successes of the first few months up to the adoption of the League covenant Mr. Wilson forgot Mr. Lodge, forgot him too completely.
It was my fortune to see him at the apex of his career. He was about to sail for America on that visit which he made here in the midst of the treaty making. His League covenant had just been agreed to. The world had accepted him. Fate had led him far from those paths of defeat and obscurity into which his sensitiveness and shyness had turned him as a youth. He was elated and confident. He looked marvelously fresh and young, his color warm and youthful, his eye alive with pleasure.
He talked long and well, answered questions freely, told stories of his associates at the peace table, especially of one who never read the memoranda his secretaries prepared, who was so deaf that he could not hear a word spoken in conference and who spoke so loudly that no one could interrupt him. "What could one do," Mr. Wilson asked, "to penetrate a mind like that?" M. Clemenceau, who unlike this other commissioner, had eyes and saw not, had ears and neither would he hear, had said to him once, in response to a firm negative, "You have a heart of steel!" "I felt like replying to him," flashed Mr. Wilson, "I have not the heart to steal!"
So well poised, so sure of himself he felt that he could do an extraordinary thing. He could laugh off a mistake. Robuster natures accept mistakes as a child accepts tumbles. Mistakes for Mr. Wilson were ordinarily crises for his arrogancy.
You may judge, then, how confident he was at that supreme moment. He could brush aside a great mistake lightly. Someone asked him, "What about the freedom of the seas?"
"The freedom of the seas!" he answered, "I must tell you about that. It's a great joke on me. I left America thinking the freedom of the seas the most important issue of the Peace Conference. When I got here I found there was no such issue. You see the freedom of the seas concerns neutrals in time of war. But when we have the League of Nations there will be no neutrals in time of war. So, of course, there will be no question of the freedom of the seas. I hadn't thought the thing out clearly."
From that moment the decline began. Mr. Wilson had unwisely chosen to have his victory first and his defeats afterward, always bad generalship.
Compromise followed compromise, each one destructive. The fourteen points were impaired until Mr. Wilson hated to be reminded of them by Lloyd George, in the case of Dantzig and the Polish corridor. The dawn of a better world grew dubious. The ardor of mankind cooled. They were at first incredulous, then skeptical.
The President saw only slowly the consequences of that chaffering to which Mr. Lloyd George and M. Clemenceau led him. He was a poor merchant. He dealt in morals and could cast up no daily balance. He was busy with details for which his mind had no sufficient curiosity or energy. Mr. Keynes, in his remarkable description of Mr. Wilson making peace, says that his mind was slow.
Doubtless it was slow in political trading about the council table, just as a philosopher may be slow in the small talk of a five o'clock tea.
Mr. Wilson was out of his element in the conference; Mr. Lloyd George and M. Clemenceau were in theirs. Gradually the conviction entered Mr. Wilson's soul that what was being destroyed at Paris was Mr. Wilson. The figure of Senator Lodge began to rise across the Atlantic, malevolent and evil, the Lodge against whom he had wanted to appeal to the American people.
The strain was telling upon him. He had to sit beside his destroyers with that smiling amiability which Mr. Lansing records in his book. He had to deal with men on a basis of equality, a thing which he had run away from doing in his youth, which all his life had made too great demands upon his sensitive, arrogant nature.
One whose duty it was to see him every night after the meetings of the Big Three reports that he found him with the left side of his face twitching. To collect his memory he would pass his hand several times wearily over his brow. The arduousness of the labor was not great enough to account for this. M. Clemenceau at nearly eighty stood the strain and an assassin's bullet as well. Mr. Lloyd George thrived on what he did. But the issue was not personal with them. Neither was assisting, with difficult amiability, at his own destruction. The time came when he might have had back some of the ground he had given. Mr. Lloyd George offered it to him. He would not have it. What it was proposed to amend was not so much the peace treaty as Mr. Wilson himself, and he could not admit that he needed amendment.
The issue had become personal and Mr. Lodge, upon Mr. Wilson's return, with malevolent understanding, kept it personal. The Republicans made their fight in the one way that made yielding by the President impossible. They made it nominally on the League but really on Mr. Wilson. The President might have compromised on the League, but he could not compromise on Mr. Wilson. Of such involvement in self there could be only one end.
Like a poet of one poem, Mr. Wilson is a statesman of one vision, an inspiring vision, but one which his own weakness kept him from realizing. His domestic achievements are not remarkable, his administration being one in which movements came to a head rather than one in which much was initiated. He might have cut the war short by two years and saved the world much havoc, if he had begun to fight when the Lusitania was sunk. Once in the war he saw his country small and himself large; he did not conceive of the nation as winning the war by sending millions of men to France; he saw himself as winning the war by talking across the Atlantic. At the Peace Conference he did not conceive of his country's winning the peace by the powerful position in which victory had left it; he saw himself as winning the peace by the hold he personally had upon the peoples of Europe. Like Napoleon, of whom Marshal Foch wrote recently, "Il oublia qu'un homme ne peut etre Dieu; qu'au-dessus de l' individu, il y a la nation," he forgot that man can not be God; that over and above the individual there is the nation.
In politics he knew at first better than any other, again to quote Foch, that "above men is morality." This knowledge brought him many victories. But at critical junctures, as in his 1918 appeal to the voters and in the treaty fight, he forgot that morality was above one man, himself. He excelled in appeals to the heart and conscience of the nation, a gift Mr. Harding has not; the lesser arts of the politician, tact and skill in the handling and selecting of men, were lacking.
He forgot in his greatness and aloofness the national passion for equality; which a more brilliant politician, Mr. Roosevelt, appeased by acting as the people's court jester, and which a shrewder politician, Mr. Harding, guards against by reminding the country that he is "just folks"; and in the end the masses turned upon him, like a Roman mob on a defeated gladiator.
There is something inscrutably ludicrous in the anxiety, bordering upon consternation, that lurks in the elongated and grotesque shadow that George Harvey casts upon Washington. The Republican fathers, who now feel a sense of responsibility, after a lapse of many years, for the future of party and country, do not yet know how to take him.
As a campaign asset his value could be expressed in intelligible terms. But as a party liability, or asset,—many a good Republican wishes he knew which,—he remains an enigma. There is not one of the array of elders of either political persuasion who, while laughing at his satirical sword-play, does not watch him covertly out of the corner of the eye, trembling at the potential ruin they consider him capable of accomplishing.
With all his weaknesses,—principally an almost hilarious political irregularity,—but two Republican hands were raised against him in the Senate when he was nominated for the Court of Saint James. When he rather unbecomingly filliped John Bull on the nose in his maiden speech as the premier ambassador, incidentally ridiculing some of his own countrymen's war ideals, President Harding and Secretary Hughes, gravely and with rather obvious emphasis, tried to set the matter aright as best they could. But there was no hint of reprimand; only a fervent hope that the mercurial Harvey would remain quiescent until the memory of the episode passed.
The quondam editor, now the representative of his country on the Supreme Council, in which capacity he is even more important than as Ambassador, represents a new strain in American politics. His mental habits bewilder the President, shock the proper and somewhat conventional Secretary of State, and throw such repositories of national divinity as Senators Lodge and Knox into utter confusion.
Harvey plays the game of politics according to his own rules, the underlying principle of which is audacity. He knows very well that the weak spot in the armor of nearly all politicians of the old school is their assumption of superiority, a sort of mask of benignant political venerability. They dread satire. They shrink from ridicule. A well-directed critical outburst freezes them. Such has been the Harvey method of approach. Having reduced his subjects to a state of terror, he flatters them, cajoles them, and finally makes terms with them; but he always remains a more or less unstable and uncertain quantity, potentially explosive.
There is not much of the present Harvey to be gleaned from his earlier experiences, except the pertinacity that has had much to do with his irregular climb up the ladder. He was born in Peacham, Vermont, where as a boy after school hours he mounted a stool in his father's general store and kept books. At the end of the year his accounts were short a penny. Because of this he received no Christmas gift not, as he has said, because his father begrudged the copper more than any other Vermont storekeeper, but because he was meticulously careful himself and expected the younger generation to be likewise.
This experience must have been etched upon Harvey's memory; no one can be more meticulous when his interest is aroused. To money he is indifferent, but a misplaced word makes him shudder. Writing with him is an exhausting process, which probably accounts for the fact that his literary output has been small. But the same power of analysis and attention to detail have been most effective in his political activities. In these his divination has been prophetic and in his manipulation of contending elements he shows a dexterity that has baffled even the professional politicians.
Harvey began his journalistic career upon the Peacham Patriot. Thence, with a borrowed ten dollar bill, he went to Springfield, serving his apprenticeship on the Republican, the best school of journalism in the country at that time. Later, on the Chicago Evening News, on the staff of which were Victor Lawson, Eugene Field, and Melville Stone, he completed his training.
When he joined the staff of the New York World at the age of twenty-one he was a competent, if not a brilliant newspaper man. His first important billet was the New Jersey editorship. This assignment across the river might very easily have been the first step toward a journalistic sepulcher, but not for Harvey. He made use of the post to garner an experience and knowledge of New Jersey politics that were to have an important bearing upon the career of Woodrow Wilson later. At the same time he attracted the attention of Joseph Pulitzer who appointed him managing editor of the World before he was thirty.
While directing the World's policy during the second Cleveland campaign, Harvey met Thomas F. Ryan and William C. Whitney, the financial backers of the Democratic party. This prepared the way for his step from Park Row to Wall Street after his break with Pulitzer.
But the ways of Wall Street were not for Harvey. Nevertheless he was cautious enough to help himself to some of the profits that were forthcoming in those days of great amalgamations. With commendable foresight, however much he might have despised the methods then prevalent in the fields of high finance, he acquired enough to make him independent, to follow his own bent, and strangely enough, in the acquiring he came to the conclusion that the Republic could not survive if the plundering of the people by the "interests" continued as it was proceeding at that time.
He withdrew from the Street and eventually purchased The North American Review. In the meantime J. P. Morgan and Company had underwritten the bonds of the Harper publishing house and the elder Morgan asked Harvey to take charge of the institution. This he agreed to do with the understanding that he should be permitted to direct the policy of Harper's Weekly, one of the assets of the firm, without interference from the bankers.
With his peculiar faculty for detecting the weaknesses of financiers and politicians, Harvey now had before him an opportunity which was not afforded by the sedate old North American Review and he promptly took advantage of it. He had seen enough of the union of finance and politics to place little faith in either of the old parties. One was corrupt and powerful; the other was weak and parasitical. In both organizations money was a compelling consideration. Not being accustomed to think in terms of party allegiance Harvey decided that the only remedy for a very bad situation was a militant Democracy. He had the organ; next he needed the leader.
About this time, quite accidentally, he was present at Woodrow Wilson's inauguration as president of Princeton University. The professor appealed to the editor,—why, one can only conjecture. Perhaps it was a common abhorrence of machine politics, a passion for phrase turning, for there is a similarity in the methods of the two which separates them from the rank and file of ordinary politicians. Harvey scrutinized Wilson more carefully, making a political diagnosis by a careful examination of his works, and decided that he was the man to turn the trick.
But the gap between the presidency of Princeton and the Presidency of the United States was too wide to be taken at one leap. Harvey concluded that the governorship of New Jersey must be the intermediate step. The Democratic year of 1910 provided the opportunity.
The New Jersey politicians did not care about the college professor. They had already chosen a candidate, but Harvey induced them to change their minds. How this was accomplished is an absorbing political tale, too long to be narrated here. The New Jersey political leaders of that period will tell you that if Mr. Wilson's "forward-looking" men had controlled the convention he never would have been nominated. They will also tell you how Joseph Patrick Tumulty opposed the nomination. They will even whisper that the contests were settled rather rapidly that memorable evening. After the nomination was announced, Mr. Wilson's managers escorted him to the convention hall where he addressed a group of delegates who were none too enthusiastic.
As they motored back to the hotel Mr. Wilson is reported to have asked: "By the way, gentleman, what was my majority?"
To which Mr. Nugent replied cryptically: "It was enough."
The question, at least in the presence of these gentlemen, it is said was never asked again.
Much has been said about the break between Mr. Harvey and Mr. Wilson. The published correspondence gives a fairly accurate picture of what happened at the Manhattan Club on the morning of the parting. I do not believe that Mr. Wilson dropped Colonel Harvey because he feared he was under Wall Street influence. The Harvey version sounds more plausible. According to this the erstwhile university professor had learned the technique of political strategy. He no longer felt that he was in need of guidance.
"I was not surprised at the excuse he gave a little later when the break came," said Harvey. "I would not have been surprised at any excuse he offered."
Mr. Harvey retired from the campaign. Harper's Weekly had been wrecked, whether or not by the espousal of the Wilson cause, and he sold it to Norman Hapgood who buried it in due course. George Harvey might or might not have had visions of an appointment to the Court of St. James at that time. It is at least certain that his disappointment was keen, taking a form of vindictiveness which will survive as a distinct blot upon his career. In the preconvention campaign he aligned himself with the Champ Clark forces, but it was too late to undo the work he had done.
This episode is necessary to an understanding of what happened later. His transfer from the Democratic to the Republican party was a characteristically bold move. How genuine his later allegiance may be is a question which more than one Republican would like to have answered, but there is no doubt of the success of his coup. He is, at least where he wanted to be, occupying the post which he considers, in point of importance, next to the presidency itself, Mr. Hughes notwithstanding.
When the United States entered the war Harvey found himself in the secluded position of editor of the North American Review. This did not suit his disposition at all and he was very unhappy. He was too old to fight and it was not likely that he would be invited to Washington. In the meantime stories of mismanagement in the conduct of the war began to trickle out of the capital in devious undercurrents. The press, in a passive spirit of patriotism, was silent. Here was the opportunity.
In January, 1918, the first edition of the "North American Review War Weekly" appeared. Its editor announced that its purpose was to help win the war by telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. He defied the Creels, the Daniels, and the Burlesons, adopting the motto, "To hell with the censors and bureaucrats."
The journal was an instant success. Not only was it read with avidity but the Washington politicians were flabbergasted at the audacity of a man who dared to print what the press associations and the dailies would not touch. I do not think there can be any doubt of the genuineness of Harvey's motives at this time. His journal was rigidly non-partisan. He spared no one whom he considered as an encumbrance in the winning of the war.
The most striking evidence of his attitude toward the Republican party at this time is found in the edition of the "Weekly" of March 9, 1918. Will H. Hays had just been elected chairman of the Republican National Committee. He made a speech extolling the virtues of his party. Of this Harvey made a stinging analysis denouncing Hays for invoking partisan spirit at so perilous an hour, concluding with this paragraph:
"As for Mr. Hays, with his insufferable claptrap about absolute unity as a blanket under which to gather votes while the very existence of the nation is threatened more ominously than anybody west of the Alleghanies—or in Washington, for that matter,—seems to realize, the sooner he goes home and takes his damned old party with him, the better it will be for all creation."
Surely no uncertain language! One might have supposed that the Chairman of the Republican Committee would have done nothing of the kind, but he did. Again the Harvey method was effective. Hays instead of resenting the denunciation wrote Harvey a rather abject letter, expressing the fear that he might have made a mistake in discussing politics during the war and asked for an interview.
Here another Harvey characteristic came into play. He did not assume the lofty role of mentor or prophet; he very tactfully and gently tucked the young Indianian under his wing. Thenceforth there were no more oratorical blunders.
Mr. Hays began to exhibit some capacity for leadership; his speeches improved. From that day until the election of 1920 he never made one without George Harvey's counsel and approval.
This is as typical of Harvey as his audacity. He has a gentleness and charm quite unexpected in so savage a commentator. He will discuss and advise but he will not argue; and all of the time he will probe with uncanny accuracy for the weaknesses of those with whom he is dealing. It is rather by the weaknesses of others than by his own strength that he triumphs.
Eight months after his meeting with Hays, Harvey came to Washington where his shadow was cast over the destinies of the Republican party, which at that time consisted of a dozen elements with little in common except a hatred of Woodrow Wilson.
It was an ideal situation for the exercise of Harvey's peculiar talents. He met various factional leaders and before many weeks his house became their rendezvous, the G. H. Q. of the forces who were to encompass the defeat of Wilson. Harvey flattered and cajoled and counselled, enjoying himself immensely all of the time. This diversion was much more to his liking than the academic dignity of the editorship of the "North American Review".
When President Wilson sailed away on his disastrous mission to Paris, Harvey's "Weekly" threw aside all restraint. It cut and slashed indiscriminately the President's policies. For the first time Harvey took on the guise of a Republican among Republicans. He even aided and abetted, with amused cynicism, the groping and fumbling of Republican leaders who were dazzled at the sudden break in the political clouds which had so long enshrouded them. He helped raise the funds used to counteract the league propaganda and toured the country in opposition to it.
The next shift in scenes was as much beyond Mr. Harvey's power of manipulation as it was beyond most of the Republicans who now sagaciously give the impression that their hands were on the ropes. Stories have been told of the great part Mr. Harvey played in the nomination of Mr. Harding. Mr. Harvey did not go to Chicago with the intention of supporting Mr. Harding any more than any other of the candidates, except Wood and Hiram Johnson, whom he despised.
He and the Senate oligarchy that coyly took the credit for nominating Mr. Harding turned to him when it was manifest that the machinery was stalled. Mr. Harding owes his nomination to a mob of bewildered delegates. It was not due to a wisely conceived nor brilliantly executed plan.
I doubt very much that George Harvey and President Harding had much in common until Harvey was invited to Marion. At that time the "irreconcilables" were beginning to be afraid that Elihu Root and William H. Taft were about to induce Mr. Harding to accept a compromise on the League of Nations. Harvey served the purpose of restoring the equilibrium. At the same time it is quite probable that the President was impressed by a mind so much more agile than his own. It was reasonably certain that it would not be diverted or misled by the intricacies of European diplomacy. And there was never any doubt of Harvey's Americanism.
The President's selection of Mr. Harvey for the London post is, of course, accounted for in other ways. There are some persons who profess to believe that Mr. Harding preferred to have the militant editor in London and his "Weekly" in the grave rather than to have him as a censor of Washington activities under the new regime. It can be said definitely that a sigh of relief went up from many a Republican bosom when the sacrilegious journal was brought to a timely end. And this did not happen, it is to be observed, until the nomination of George Harvey to the Court of St. James was duly ratified and approved by the Senate of the United States.
But if the "Weekly" has passed, the Republicans are still acutely conscious that Mr. Harvey is alive,—has he not reminded them of it in his first ambassadorial utterances?—and the journal is not beyond resuscitation. That is why Washington does not know whether to be chagrined or angry, whether to disavow or to condone. The discomfited Republicans frankly do not know what to think of it and probably will not so long as the amazing ambassador makes his own rules.
CHARLES EVANS HUGHES
"Mais resiste-t-on a' la vertu? Les gens qui n'eurent point de faiblesses sont terribles," observed Sylvestre Bonnard of the redoubtable Therese.
This fearsomeness of the good is an old story. Horace remarked it, when, walking about near Rome, pure of heart and free from sin, he met a wolf. The beast quailed before his virtue and ran away,—to bark at the statue of the she wolf giving suck to Romulus, by way of intelligent protest.
A similar prevalence of virtue and a similar romantic quality, where it is least to be expected, was disclosed in a recent encounter between Charles Evans Hughes, Secretary of State, and one of the irreconcilables, when Mr. Hughes, integer vitae scelerisque purus had just commissioned Colonel George Harvey to take the seat once occupied by Woodrow Wilson in the Supreme Council.
When the news of this appointment reached the Capitol, Senator Brandegee, of Connecticut, hurried down to that structure across the street from the White House whose architectural style so markedly resembles the literary style of President Harding, the State War and Navy Building, official residence of Mr. Hughes.
Harvey being, in a sort, Brandegee's ambassador to the Court of Saint James, the Senator's object was to tell Mr. Hughes what Harvey should do in the Supreme Council. Mr. Brandegee has the gift of direct and forceful speech. In his earnestness, he dispenses with the elegancies and amenities. The upper ranges of his voice are not conciliatory.
In this tone, he developed views regarding this country's foreign relations with which Mr. Hughes could not agree. The Secretary of State combatted the Senator from Connecticut precisely as he combats counsel of the other side when a $500,000 fee is at stake. The discussion was energetic and divergent.
Mr. Brandegee hurried back to the Capitol and summoned other senators to his office, all those who were especially concerned about the exposure of Colonel Harvey to European entanglements.
He was excited. His voice was nasal. His language, in that select gathering, did not have to be parliamentary. He told the senators that they could expect the Versailles treaty by the next White House messenger; that "that whiskered,"—but nothing lies like direct quotes,—that "that whiskered" Secretary of State would soon get us into the League of Nations, being able for his purposes to wind President Harding about his little finger!
His excitement in such an emergency naturally communicated itself to his hearers. What to do? It was unanimously decided that the only adequate course was for Senator Henry Cabot Lodge to resign as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, by way of protest.
Henry Cabot Lodge running away from his chairmanship would be Henry Cabot Lodge behaving as romantically as Horace's wolf. The good are terrible, as Anatole France said in the words with which this sketch begins. It is not so much that you can not resist them, as that they lead you to make such fools of yourselves.
Mr. Hughes prevails, however, not merely by his virtue, but by his intelligence. His is the best mind in Washington; to this everyone agrees, and it is not excessive praise, for minds are not common in the Government.
Mr. Harding has not a remarkable one, the people having decided by seven million majority that it was best not to have one in the White House, choosing instead, a good heart, excellent intentions, and reasonable common sense. Mr. Hoover has a fine business instinct, great but diffused mental energy, but hardly an organized mind. From this point the Cabinet grades down to the Secretary of Labor, who, when Samuel Gompers, Jr., his Chief Clerk, addressed him before visitors as, "Mr. Secretary," said, "Please don't call me, 'Mr. Secretary,' Sam. Call me, 'Jim.' I'm more used to it."
"Call me Jim" is the mental sea level of the Administration, by which altitudes are measured, so let us not exalt Mr. Hughes' mind unduly, but merely indicate what its habits are. Its operations were described to me by a member of the Cabinet, who said that no matter what subject was up for discussion at a Cabinet meeting, it was always the Secretary of State who said the final convincing word about it, summing it all up, saying what everyone else had been trying to say but no one else had entirely succeeded in saying, simplifying it, and all with an air of service, not of self-assertion.
Mr. Harding, speaking to an intimate friend, said he had "two strong advisers,—Hughes and Hoover."
It is a satisfaction, even though it is not a delight, to come in contact with a mind like Mr. Hughes'; it is so definite, so hard and firm and palpable. You feel sure that it rests somewhere on the eternal verities. It is never agnostic. It has none of the malaise of the twentieth century. Mr. Justice Brandeis, when Mr. Hughes was governor of New York and a reformer and progressive, said of him, "His is the most enlightened mind of the eighteenth century."
I think the Justice put it a century or two too late, for by the eighteenth century skepticism had begun to undermine those firm foundations of belief which Mr. Hughes still possesses. For him a straight line is the shortest distance between two points,—Einstein to the contrary, notwithstanding.
Conclusions rest upon the absolute rock of principle, as morality for his preacher father rested upon the absolute rock of the Ten Commandments. There is no doubt, no uncertainty, no nuance, no on the one hand, on the other, no discursiveness, no yielding to the seductions of fancy, but a stern keeping of the faith of the syllogism; a thing is so or it is not so. Mr. Hughes never hesitates. He never says, "I must think about that." He has thought about it. Or he turns instantly to his Principle and has the answer.
You speak of Mr. Hughes to ten men in the Capitol, and nine of them will say to you, "Of course it is easy to understand; his is the one real mind in Washington."
Everyone is impressed, for, starting with no other initiation into the mysteries of foreign relations than having had a father born in Wales and having spent his vacations in England, probably in the lake region studying the topography of Wordsworth's poetry,—a certain oft detected resemblance to Wilson must make Wordsworth his favorite poet, as he was Wilson's,—in ten days was he not a great Secretary of State; and in three months the greatest Secretary of State? To be sure, back of him was the strongest nation on the earth, left so by the war, the one nation with resources, the creditor of all the others, to which a successful foreign policy would be naturally easy if it could only decide what that policy should be.
It was left to Mr. Hughes to say what it should be. His discovery of the word "interests," amazed Washington; it was so obvious, so simple that no one else had thought of it. Mr. Hughes' mind works like that;—hard, cold, unemotional, not to be turned aside, it simplifies everything, whether it be a treaty fight that has confused everyone else in the land, or a rambling Cabinet discussion; whether it be the mess in which the war left Europe, or the chaos in which watchful waiting left Mexico. His is a mind that delights in formulae. He has one for Europe. He has one for Mexico. It is an analytical, not a synthetical mind, a lawyer's mind, not a creator's, like Wilson's, with, perhaps it may turn out, a fatal habit of over-simplification. Life is not a simple thing after all.
But effective simplification is instantly overwhelming; and he made his brief announcement, a few days after taking office, that the United States had won certain things as a belligerent, that it had not got them, that he was going after them, that other countries could expect nothing from us until they had recognized our rights and our interests; he had completely routed the Senate, which had been opposing Wilson's ideals with certain ideals of its own, pitting Washington's farewell address against "breaking the heart of the world," in a mussy statement of sentimentality.
Mr. Hughes talked of islands and oil and dollars; and the country came to its senses. Mr. Wilson had pictured us going into world affairs as an international benefactor; it was sobby and suggested a strain on our pocketbooks. The Senate had pictured us staying out of them because our fathers had warned us to stay out and because the international confidence men would cheat us; it was Sunday-school-booky and unflattering. Mr. Hughes said we should go in to the extent of obtaining what was ours, and that we should stay out to the extent of keeping the others from obtaining what certainly was not theirs. It sounded grown-up; as a Nation we belonged not to the sob-sisterhood, neither were we tied to the apronstring of the Mothers of the Constitution.
Our national self-respect was restored. Truly, it required a mind to discover "interests" in the cloud of words that Mr. Wilson and the Senate had raised. Of course, it is all clear now, when everybody scorns idealism and talks glibly of interests. "Hobbs hints blue, straight he turtle eats; Nobbs prints blue, claret crowns his cup." But it was Hughes who "fished the murex up," who pulled "interests" out of the deep blue sea of verbal fuddlement.
And thinking of our dollars, thanks to Mr. Hughes, we are made sane and whole, clearsighted and unafraid, standing erect among the nations of the earth asking lustily for Yap.
Our foreign relations had been the subject of passion. Mr. Hughes made them the subject of reason. Mr. Wilson could think of nothing but his hatred of Lodge, which rendered an agreement with the Senate impossible, and his hatred of Lloyd George and Marshal Foch, which rendered cooperation with the Allies and through it achievements in the foreign field that would have reconciled the public to his policies, equally impossible.
Mr. Hughes looked at his task objectively. He saw the power of the United States. He saw how easy it was to exert that power diplomatically. He saw the simple and immediate concerns of the United States. Foch says that he won the war, "by smoking his pipe," meaning by keeping cool and regarding his means and ends with the same detachment with which he would study an old campaign of Napoleon. I do not know on what sedative Mr. Hughes wins his diplomatic victories, as he does not smoke a pipe;—perhaps by reading the Sunday School Times. But like the French Marshal, he knows the secret of keeping his head. It is a great quality of mind not to lose it when you most need it. Mr. Hughes has it. Perhaps this is why Washington remarks his mind; he always has it with him.
"I am not thinking of myself in my work here," he said once. "I don't care about immediate acclaim. I am counsel for the people of this country. If a generation from now they think their interests have been well represented, that will be enough."
He is coldly objective.
Mr. Hughes comes by his coolness naturally. He was born to it, which is the surest way to come by anything. Men have hated him for it, coolness being a disconcerting quality, ever since he emerged from obscurity in New York during the insurance investigation, calling it his "coldness" and adding by way of good measure the further specification, his "selfishness."
If the last characterization is to stand, it should be amended to read, his "enlightened selfishness." He has a good eye for his own interests. Roosevelt disliked him for it, because when governor and again when candidate for president, he refused to gravitate into the Roosevelt solar system, taking up his orbit like the rest of them about the Colonel. But think what happened to that system when the great sun of it went out!
His political associates in New York hated him, accused him of being "for nothing but Hughes," when he quit them in the fight "to hand the government back to the people" and went, on the invitation of President Taft, upon the Supreme Bench. But it was his only way out. If he had gone on working with them, he would still be "handing the government back to the people" along with,—but who were the great figures of 1910? He knows an expiring issue and its embarrassments by an unerring instinct. He finds a new one, such as "our national interests," with as sure a sense.
It is worth while casting a glance at him "smoking his pipe," when other real and false opportunities presented themselves to him; one finds discrimination. He refuses a Republican nomination for Mayor of New York City when there is not a chance of electing a Republican Mayor of New York City. He accepts a Republican nomination for Governor of New York State, when the putting up of Hearst as the Democratic candidate makes the election of a Republican as Governor of New York State morally certain. He refuses the Republican nomination for President, in 1912, when another, viewing himself and his party less objectively, through vanity perhaps, might have believed that his own nomination was the one thing needed to prevent that year's Republican cataclysm. Four years later he accepts the Republican nomination for President, when as the result showed, there is at least a reasonable chance to win. He takes the post of Secretary of State when neglected opportunities lie ready to his hand and when the force of world events requires little more than his intelligent acquiescence to bring him diplomatic success.
His discovery of "interests" was no accident. It sprang from that hard unemotional simplifying habit of his mind.
When one writes of Mr. Hughes, men ask, pardonably, "Which Mr. Hughes? The old Mr. Hughes, or the new Mr. Hughes?" for he has had, as the literary critics would say, his earlier and his later manner.
But it is chiefly manner, a smile recently achieved, a different way of wearing the beard, a little less of the stern moralist, a little more of the man of the world. A connoisseur of Hughes, who has studied him for nearly twenty years, after a recent observation, pronounced judgment: "It's the same Hughes, a trifle less cold, but just as dry." And the Secretary of State himself, when one of the weeklies contained an article on "The New Mr. Hughes," remarked, "People did not understand me then, that is all."
These two eminent authorities being substantially agreed for the first time during many divergent years, there must be something in it. Mr. Hughes must be a gradually emerging personality. You take that new warmth, recently detected; Mr. Hughes himself knows it was always there. It is like the light ray of a star which has needed a million years to reach the earth; it was always there but it required a long time to get across.
Then the beard:—when Mr. Hughes was "handing the government back to the people" in New York, it was a preacher's beard; you might have encountered its like anywhere among the circuit riders. Now it is a foreign secretary's beard; you might encounter it in any European capital,—a world statesman's beard. The change of beard reveals the smile, which was probably always there, and the splendid large teeth. The nose, standing out in bolder relief, is handsomer and more distinguished. You see more of Mr. Hughes than you used to and you gain by the improved vision.
Something has dropped from him, however, beside the ends of the whiskers. I met him first when he was about to run for President in 1916. An icy veil, like frozen mist, seemed to hang between us. We talked through it ineffectively. When I saw him again as Secretary of State, that chill barrier had fallen away; to recur to my figure, he gradually emerges.
Mr. Hughes of the later manner is, however, I am persuaded after long familiarity with his career, more truly Hughesian than the Hughes of the earlier manner; just as the Henry James of the later manner is more explicitly Jamesian than the James of the earlier manner, and the Cabot Lodge of the present is much more irretrievably Cabotian than the Cabot Lodge who years ago stood with reluctant feet where the twin paths of scholarship and politics meet,—and part.
I should say that Mr. Hughes was Bryan plus the advantages, which Mr. Bryan never enjoyed, of a correct Republican upbringing and a mind. The Republican upbringing and the mind have come of late years to preponderate. Looking at Mr. Hughes to-day, you could not tell him from a Republican, except perhaps by his mind, though such esoteric Republicans as Brandegee, Cabot Lodge, and Knox profess an ability to distinguish.
But when he was "handing the government back to the people" in New York, there was too much Bryan about him. The Republicans would have none of him, except as a choice of evils,—the greater evil being defeat. They called him ribald names. They referred to him scornfully as "Wilson with whiskers," when they ran him, reluctantly, for the Presidency in 1916. His opponent being also of the Bryan school, and a minister's son at that, Hughes striving for an issue, failed to make it clear which was which, a doubt that remained until the last vote from California was finally counted after the election. This was the Mr. Hughes of the earlier manner.
Latterly, Mr. Hughes has succeeded in establishing the distinction which he did not succeed in making during that campaign. When he confronted the task of Secretary of State, he carefully studied the international career of Woodrow Wilson, as a sort of inverse Napoleon, a sort of diplomatic bad example.
"This," he said to himself, "was a mistake of Wilson," and he noted it. "And this," he observed thoughtfully, "was another mistake of Wilson. I shall avoid it." "This," he again impressed on his memory, "was where Lloyd George and Clemenceau trapped him. I shall keep out of that pit."
His head, like a book of etiquette, is full of "Don'ts," diplomatic "Don'ts," all deduced from the experience of Wilson.
The former President met Europe face to face. Mr. Hughes thanks his stars for the breadth of the Atlantic. The former President put his League of Nations first on his program. Mr. Hughes puts his League of Nations last, to be set up after every other question is settled.
The former President tried to sell the Country pure idealism. Now as a people we have the habit of wars in which we seek nothing, but after which, in spite of ourselves, a little territory, a few islands, or a region out of which we subsequently carve half a dozen States, is found adhering to us. Mr. Wilson offered us a war in which, of course, we sought nothing and found, at the end of it, not the customary few trifles of territory, but the whole embarrassing, beggarly world adhering to us. The thumbscrew and the rack could not wring from Mr. Hughes the admission that we are after anything more lofty than our interests.
One of the present Secretary's "Don'ts" of similar derivation is "Don't have a fight with the Senate unless you make sure first that you have the public with you."
Mr. Hughes does not run away from fights; he likes them. But believing God to be on the side with the most battalions, and intending scrupulously to observe this last "Don't," in order to secure the necessary popular support, he is as Secretary of State, "handing the government back to the people," just as he did when governor,—a little less self-consciously, perhaps, a little less noisily, but still none the less truly.
He is the most democratic Secretary of State this Country has ever had, and this includes Bryan to whose school, as has just been remarked, he originally belonged. If we are ever to have democratic control of foreign relations, it will be by the methods of Mr. Hughes, because of the training and beliefs of Mr. Hughes, and as a consequence of the most undemocratic control of foreign relations which our Constitution attempted to fasten upon us.
A successful foreign policy requires public understanding and support. The makers of the Constitution established in our government a nice balance of powers between the various departments, beautifully adjusted until someone thought of putting a stone into one side of the balance. That stone is the people. The Fathers of the Constitution had not noticed it. The executive put it into its end of the balance some years ago, and the legislative has been kicking the beam ever since. One nice bit of balancing was that between the Senate and the Executive on treaty making. In foreign relations, the President can do everything, and he can do nothing without the approval of two thirds of the Senate. It is a nice balance, which broke the heart of John Hay, frittered away the sentimentalities of Mr. Bryan, and destroyed Mr. Wilson.