Webster possessed the element of an impressive character, inspiring regard, trust and admiration, not unmingled with love. It had, I think, intrinsically a charm such as belongs only to a good, noble, and beautiful nature. In its combination with so much fame, so much force of will, and so much intellect, it filled and fascinated the imagination and heart. It was affectionate in childhood and youth, and it was more than ever so in the few last months of his long life. It is the universal testimony that he gave to his parents, in largest measure, honor, love, obedience; that he eagerly appropriated the first means which he could command to relieve the father from the debts contracted to educate his brother and himself; that he selected his first place of professional practice that he might soothe the coming on of his old age.
Equally beautiful was his love of all his kindred and of all his friends. When I hear him accused of selfishness, and a cold, bad nature, I recall him lying sleepless all night, not without tears of boyhood, conferring with Ezekiel how the darling desire of both hearts should be compassed, and he, too, admitted to the precious privileges of education; courageously pleading the cause of both brothers in the morning; prevailing by the wise and discerning affection of the mother; suspending his studies of the law, and registering deeds and teaching school to earn the means, for both, of availing themselves of the opportunity which the parental self-sacrifice had placed within their reach; loving him through life, mourning him when dead, with a love and a sorrow very wonderful, passing the sorrow of woman; I recall the husband, the father of the living and of the early departed, the friend, the counselor of many years, and my heart grows too full and liquid for the refutation of words.
His affectionate nature, craving ever friendship, as well as the presence of kindred blood, diffused itself through all his private life, gave sincerity to all his hospitalities, kindness to his eye, warmth to the pressure of his hand, made his greatness and genius unbend themselves to the playfulness of childhood, flowed out in graceful memories indulged of the past or the dead, of incidents when life was young and promised to be happy,—gave generous sketches of his rivals,—the high contention now hidden by the handful of earth,—hours passed fifty years ago with great authors, recalled for the vernal emotions which then they made to live and revel in the soul. And from these conversations of friendship, no man—no man, old or young—went away to remember one word of profaneness, one allusion of indelicacy, one impure thought, one unbelieving suggestion, one doubt cast on the reality of virtue, of patriotism, of enthusiasm, of the progress of man,—one doubt cast on righteousness, or temperance, or judgment to come.
I have learned by evidence the most direct and satisfactory that in the last months of his life, the whole affectionateness of his nature—his consideration of others, his gentleness, his desire to make them happy and to see them happy—seemed to come out in more and more beautiful and habitual expressions than ever before. The long day's public tasks were felt to be done; the cares, the uncertainties, the mental conflicts of high place, were ended; and he came home to recover himself for the few years which he might still expect would be his before he should go hence to be here no more. And there, I am assured and duly believe, no unbecoming regrets pursued him; no discontent, as for injustice suffered or expectations unfulfilled; no self-reproach for anything done or anything omitted by himself; no irritation, no peevishness unworthy of his noble nature; but instead, love and hope for his country, when she became the subject of conversation, and for all around him, the dearest and most indifferent, for all breathing things about him, the overflow of the kindest heart growing in gentleness and benevolence—paternal, patriarchal affections, seeming to become more natural, warm, and communicative every hour. Softer and yet brighter grew the tints on the sky of parting day; and the last lingering rays, more even than the glories of noon, announced how divine was the source from which they proceeded; how incapable to be quenched; how certain to rise on a morning which no night should follow.
Such a character was made to be loved. It was loved. Those who knew and saw it in its hour of calm—those who could repose on that soft green—loved him. His plain neighbors loved him; and one said, when he was laid in his grave, "How lonesome the world seems!" Educated young men loved him. The ministers of the gospel, the general intelligence of the country, the masses afar oft, loved him. True, they had not found in his speeches, read by millions, so much adulation of the people; so much of the music which robs the public reason of itself; so many phrases of humanity and philanthropy; and some had told them he was lofty and cold—solitary in his greatness; but every year they came nearer and nearer to him, and as they came nearer, they loved him better; they heard how tender the son had been, the husband, the brother, the father, the friend, and neighbor; that he was plain, simple, natural, generous, hospitable—the heart larger than the brain; that he loved little children and reverenced God, the Scriptures, the Sabbath-day, the Constitution, and the law—and their hearts clave unto him. More truly of him than even of the great naval darling of England might it be said that "his presence would set the church bells ringing, and give schoolboys a holiday, would bring children from school and old men from the chimney-corner, to gaze on him ere he died." The great and unavailing lamentations first revealed the deep place he had in the hearts of his countrymen.
You are now to add to this his extraordinary power of influencing the convictions of others by speech, and you have completed the survey of the means of his greatness. And here, again I begin by admiring an aggregate made up of excellences and triumphs, ordinarily deemed incompatible. He spoke with consummate ability to the bench, and yet exactly as, according to every sound canon of taste and ethics, the bench ought to be addressed. He spoke with consummate ability to the jury, and yet exactly as, according to every sound canon, that totally different tribunal ought to be addressed. In the halls of Congress, before the people assembled for political discussion in masses, before audiences smaller and more select, assembled for some solemn commemoration of the past or of the dead—in each of these, again, his speech, of the first form of ability, was exactly adapted, also, to the critical properties of the place; each achieved, when delivered, the most instant and specific success of eloquence—some of them in a splendid and remarkable degree; and yet, stranger still, when reduced to writing, as they fell from his lips, they compose a body of reading in many volumes—solid, clear, rich, and full of harmony—a classical and permanent political literature.
And yet all these modes of his eloquence, exactly adapted each to its stage and its end, were stamped with his image and superscription, identified by characteristics incapable to be counterfeited and impossible to be mistaken. The same high power of reason, intent in every one to explore and display some truth; some truth of judicial, or historical, or biographical fact; some truth of law, deduced by construction, perhaps, or by illation; some truth of policy, for want whereof a nation, generations, may be the worse—reason seeking and unfolding truth; the same tone, in all, of deep earnestness, expressive of strong desire that what he felt to be important should be accepted as true, and spring up to action; the same transparent, plain, forcible, and direct speech, conveying his exact thought to the mind—not something less or more; the same sovereignty of form, of brow, and eye, and tone, and manner—everywhere the intellectual king of men, standing before you—that same marvelousness of qualities and results, residing, I know not where, in words, in pictures, in the ordering of ideas, infelicities indescribable, by means whereof, coming from his tongue, all things seemed mended—truth seemed more true, probability more plausible, greatness more grand, goodness more awful, every affection more tender than when coming from other tongues—these are, in all, his eloquence.
But sometimes it became individualized and discriminated even from itself; sometimes place and circumstances, great interests at stake, a stage, an audience fitted for the highest historic action, a crisis, personal or national, upon him, stirred the depths of that emotional nature, as the anger of the goddess stirs the sea on which the great epic is beginning; strong passions themselves kindled to intensity, quickened every faculty to a new life; the stimulated associations of ideas brought all treasures of thought and knowledge within command; the spell, which often held his imagination fast, dissolved, and she arose and gave him to choose of her urn of gold; earnestness became vehemence, the simple, perspicuous, measured and direct language became a headlong, full, and burning tide of speech; the discourse of reason, wisdom, gravity, and beauty changed to that superhuman, that rarest consummate eloquence—grand, rapid, pathetic, terrible; the aliquid immensum infinitumque that Cicero might have recognized; the master triumph of man in the rarest opportunity of his noble power.
Such elevation above himself, in congressional debate, was most uncommon. Some such there were in the great discussions of executive power following the removal of the deposits, which they who heard them will never forget, and some which rest in the tradition of hearers only. But there were other fields of oratory on which, under the influence of more uncommon springs of inspiration, he exemplified, in still other forms, an eloquence in which I do not know that he has had a superior among men. Addressing masses by tens of thousands in the open air, on the urgent political questions of the day, or designed to lead the meditations of an hour devoted to the remembrance of some national era, or of some incident marking the progress of the nation, and lifting him up to a view of what is, and what is past, and some indistinct revelation of the glory that lies in the future, or of some great historical name, just borne by the nation to his tomb—we have learned that then and there, at the base of Bunker Hill, before the corner-stone was laid, and again when from the finished column the centuries looked on him; in Faneuil Hall, mourning for those with whose spoken or written eloquence of freedom its arches had so often resounded; on the Rock of Plymouth; before the Capitol, of which there shall not be one stone left on another before his memory shall have ceased to live—in such scenes, unfettered by the laws of forensic or parliamentary debate, multitudes uncounted lifting up their eyes to him; some great historical scenes of America around; all symbols of her glory and art and power and fortune there; voices of the past, not unheard; shapes beckoning from the future, not unseen—sometimes that mighty intellect, borne upward to a height and kindled to an illumination which we shall see no more, wrought out, as it were, in an instant a picture of vision, warning, prediction; the progress of the nation; the contrasts of its eras; the heroic deaths; the motives to patriotism; the maxims and arts imperial by which the glory has been gathered and may be heightened—wrought out, in an instant, a picture to fade only when all record of our mind shall die.
In looking over the public remains of his oratory, it is striking to remark how, even in that most sober and massive understanding and nature, you see gathered and expressed the characteristic sentiments and the passing time of our America. It is the strong old oak which ascends before you; yet our soil, our heaven, are attested in it as perfectly as if it were a flower that could grow in no other climate and in no other hour of the year or day. Let me instance in one thing only. It is a peculiarity of some schools of eloquence that they embody and utter, not merely the individual genius and character of the speaker, but a national consciousness—a national era, a mood, a hope, a dread, a despair—in which you listen to the spoken history of the time. There is an eloquence of an expiring nation, such as seems to sadden the glorious speech of Demosthenes; such as breathes grand and gloomy from visions of the prophets of the last days of Israel and Judah; such as gave a spell to the expression of Grattan and of Kossuth—the sweetest, most mournful, most awful of the words which man may utter, or which man may hear—the eloquence of a perishing nation.
There is another eloquence, in which the national consciousness of a young or renewed and vast strength, of trust in a dazzling certain and limitless future, an inward glorying in victories yet to be won, sounds out as by voice of clarion, challenging to contest for the highest prize of earth; such as that in which the leader of Israel in its first days holds up to the new nation the Land of Promise; such as that which in the well-imagined speeches scattered by Livy over the history of the "majestic series of victories" speaks the Roman consciousness of growing aggrandizement which should subject the world; such as that through which, at the tribunes of her revolution, in the bulletins of her rising soldiers, France told to the world her dream of glory.
And of this kind somewhat is ours—cheerful, hopeful, trusting, as befits youth and spring; the eloquence of a state beginning to ascend to the first class of power, eminence, and consideration, and conscious of itself. It is to no purpose that they tell you it is in bad taste; that it partakes of arrogance and vanity; that a true national good breeding would not know, or seem to know, whether the nation is old or young; whether the tides of being are in their flow or ebb; whether these coursers of the sun are sinking slowly to rest, wearied with a journey of a thousand years, or just bounding from the Orient unbreathed. Higher laws than those of taste determine the consciousness of nations. Higher laws than those of taste determine the general forms of the expression of that consciousness. Let the downward age of America find its orators and poets and artists to erect its spirit, or grace and soothe its dying; be it ours to go up with Webster to the Rock, the Monument, the Capitol, and bid "the distant generations hail!"
Until the seventh day of March, 1850, I think it would have been accorded to him by an almost universal acclaim, as general and as expressive of profound and intelligent conviction and of enthusiasm, love, and trust, as ever saluted conspicuous statesmanship, tried by many crises of affairs in a great nation, agitated ever by parties, and wholly free.
ALBERT J. BEVERIDGE
PASS PROSPERITY AROUND
Delivered as Temporary Chairman of Progressive
National Convention, Chicago, Ill., June, 1911.
We stand for a nobler America. We stand for an undivided Nation. We stand for a broader liberty, a fuller justice. We stand for a social brotherhood as against savage individualism. We stand for an intelligent coöperation instead of a reckless competition. We stand for mutual helpfulness instead of mutual hatred. We stand for equal rights as a fact of life instead of a catch-word of politics. We stand for the rule of the people as a practical truth instead of a meaningless pretense. We stand for a representative government that represents the people. We battle for the actual rights of man.
To carry out our principles we have a plain program of constructive reform. We mean to tear down only that which is wrong and out of date; and where we tear down we mean to build what is right and fitted to the times. We harken to the call of the present. We mean to make laws fit conditions as they are and meet the needs of the people who are on earth to-day. That we may do this we found a party through which all who believe with us can work with us; or, rather, we declare our allegiance to the party which the people themselves have founded.
For this party comes from the grass roots. It has grown from the soil of the people's hard necessities. It has the vitality of the people's strong convictions. The people have work to be done and our party is here to do that work. Abuse will only strengthen it, ridicule only hasten its growth, falsehood only speed its victory. For years this party has been forming. Parties exist for the people; not the people for parties. Yet for years the politicians have made the people do the work of the parties instead of the parties doing the work of the people—and the politicians own the parties. The people vote for one party and find their hopes turned to ashes on their lips; and then to punish that party, they vote for the other party. So it is that partisan victories have come to be merely the people's vengeance; and always the secret powers have played their game.
Like other free people, most of us Americans are progressive or reactionary, liberal or conservative. The neutrals do not count. Yet to-day neither of the old parties is either wholly progressive or wholly reactionary. Democratic politicians and office seekers say to reactionary Democratic voters that the Democratic party is reactionary enough to express reactionary views; and they say to progressive Democrats that the Democratic party is progressive enough to express progressive views. At the same time, Republican politicians and office seekers say the same thing about the Republican party to progressive and reactionary Republican voters.
Sometimes in both Democratic and Republican States the progressives get control of the party locally and then the reactionaries recapture the same party in the same State; or this process is reversed. So there is no nation-wide unity of principle in either party, no stability of purpose, no clear-cut and sincere program of one party at frank and open war with an equally clear-cut and sincere program of an opposing party.
This unintelligent tangle is seen in Congress. Republican and Democratic Senators and Representatives, believing alike on broad measures affecting the whole Republic, find it hard to vote together because of the nominal difference of their party membership. When, sometimes, under resistless conviction, they do vote together, we have this foolish spectacle: legislators calling themselves Republicans and Democrats support the same policy, the Democratic legislators declaring that that policy is Democratic and Republican legislators declaring that it is Republican; and at the very same time other Democratic and Republican legislators oppose that very same policy, each of them declaring that it is not Democratic or not Republican.
The condition makes it impossible most of the time, and hard at any time, for the people's legislators who believe in the same broad policies to enact them into logical, comprehensive laws. It confuses the public mind. It breeds suspicion and distrust. It enables such special interests as seek unjust gain at the public expense to get what they want. It creates and fosters the degrading boss system in American politics through which these special interests work.
This boss system is unknown and impossible under any other free government in the world. In its very nature it is hostile to general welfare. Yet it has grown until it now is a controlling influence in American public affairs. At the present moment notorious bosses are in the saddle of both old parties in various important States which must be carried to elect a President. This Black Horse Cavalry is the most important force in the practical work of the Democratic and Republican parties in the present campaign. Neither of the old parties' nominees for President can escape obligation to these old-party bosses or shake their practical hold on many and powerful members of the National Legislature.
Under this boss system, no matter which party wins, the people seldom win; but the bosses almost always win. And they never work for the people. They do not even work for the party to which they belong. They work only for those anti-public interests whose political employees they are. It is these interests that are the real victors in the end.
These special interests which suck the people's substance are bi-partisan. They use both parties. They are the invisible government behind our visible government. Democratic and Republican bosses alike are brother officers of this hidden power. No matter how fiercely they pretend to fight one another before election, they work together after election. And, acting so, this political conspiracy is able to delay, mutilate or defeat sound and needed laws for the people's welfare and the prosperity of honest business and even to enact bad laws, hurtful to the people's welfare and oppressive to honest business.
It is this invisible government which is the real danger to American institutions. Its crude work at Chicago in June, which the people were able to see, was no more wicked than its skillful work everywhere and always which the people are not able to see.
But an even more serious condition results from the unnatural alignment of the old parties. To-day we Americans are politically shattered by sectionalism. Through the two old parties the tragedy of our history is continued; and one great geographical part of the Republic is separated from other parts of the Republic by an illogical partisan solidarity.
The South has men and women as genuinely progressive and others as genuinely reactionary as those in other parts of our country. Yet, for well-known reasons, these sincere and honest southern progressives and reactionaries vote together in a single party, which is neither progressive nor reactionary. They vote a dead tradition and a local fear, not a living conviction and a national faith. They vote not for the Democratic party, but against the Republican party. They want to be free from this condition; they can be free from it through the National Progressive party.
For the problems which America faces to-day are economic and national. They have to do with a more just distribution of prosperity. They concern the living of the people; and therefore the more direct government of the people by themselves.
They affect the South exactly as they affect the North, the East or the West. It is an artificial and dangerous condition that prevents the southern man and woman from acting with the northern man and woman who believe the same thing. Yet just that is what the old parties do prevent.
Not only does this out-of-date partisanship cut our Nation into two geographical sections; it also robs the Nation of a priceless asset of thought in working out our national destiny. The South once was famous for brilliant and constructive thinking on national problems, and to-day the South has minds as brilliant and constructive as of old. But southern intellect cannot freely and fully aid, in terms of politics, the solving of the Nation's problems. This is so because of a partisan sectionalism which has nothing to do with those problems. Yet these problems can be solved only in terms of politics.
The root of the wrongs which hurt the people is the fact that the people's government has been taken away from them—the invisible government has usurped the people's government. Their government must be given back to the people. And so the first purpose of the Progressive party is to make sure the rule of the people. The rule of the people means that the people themselves shall nominate, as well as elect, all candidates for office, including Senators and Presidents of the United States. What profiteth it the people if they do only the electing while the invisible government does the nominating?
The rule of the people means that when the people's legislators make a law which hurts the people, the people themselves may reject it. The rule of the people means that when the people's legislators refuse to pass a law which the people need, the people themselves may pass it. The rule of the people means that when the people's employees do not do the people's work well and honestly, the people may discharge them exactly as a business man discharges employees who do not do their work well and honestly. The people's officials are the people's servants, not the people's masters.
We progressives believe in this rule of the people that the people themselves may deal with their own destiny. Who knows the people's needs so well as the people themselves? Who so patient as the people? Who so long suffering, who so just? Who so wise to solve their own problems?
Today these problems concern the living of the people. Yet in the present stage of American development these problems should not exist in this country. For, in all the world there is no land so rich as ours. Our fields can feed hundreds of millions. We have more minerals than the whole of Europe. Invention has made easy the turning of this vast natural wealth into supplies for all the needs of man. One worker today can produce more than twenty workers could produce a century ago.
The people living in this land of gold are the most daring and resourceful on the globe. Coming from the hardiest stock of every nation of the old world their very history in the new world has made Americans a peculiar people in courage, initiative, love of justice and all the elements of independent character.
And, compared with other peoples, we are very few in numbers. There are only ninety millions of us, scattered over a continent. Germany has sixty-five millions packed in a country very much smaller than Texas. The population of Great Britain and Ireland could be set down in California and still have more than enough room for the population of Holland. If this country were as thickly peopled as Belgium there would be more than twelve hundred million instead of only ninety million persons within our borders.
So we have more than enough to supply every human being beneath the flag. There ought not to be in this Republic a single day of bad business, a single unemployed workingman, a single unfed child. American business men should never know an hour of uncertainty, discouragement or fear; American workingmen never a day of low wages, idleness or want. Hunger should never walk in these thinly peopled gardens of plenty.
And yet in spite of all these favors which providence has showered upon us, the living of the people is the problem of the hour. Hundreds of thousands of hard-working Americans find it difficult to get enough to live on. The average income of an American laborer is less than $500 a year. With this he must furnish food, shelter and clothing for a family.
Women, whose nourishing and protection should be the first care of the State, not only are driven into the mighty army of wage-earners, but are forced to work under unfair and degrading conditions. The right of a child to grow into a normal human being is sacred; and yet, while small and poor countries, packed with people, have abolished child labor, American mills, mines, factories and sweat-shops are destroying hundreds of thousands of American children in body, mind and soul.
At the same time men have grasped fortunes in this country so great that the human mind cannot comprehend their magnitude. These mountains of wealth are far larger than even that lavish reward which no one would deny to business risk or genius.
On the other hand, American business is uncertain and unsteady compared with the business of other nations. American business men are the best and bravest in the world, and yet our business conditions hamper their energies and chill their courage. We have no permanency in business affairs, no sure outlook upon the business future. This unsettled state of American business prevents it from realizing for the people that great and continuous prosperity which our country's location, vast wealth and small population justifies.
We mean to remedy these conditions. We mean not only to make prosperity steady, but to give to the many who earn it a just share of that prosperity instead of helping the few who do not earn it to take an unjust share. The progressive motto is "Pass prosperity around." To make human living easier, to free the hands of honest business, to make trade and commerce sound and steady, to protect womanhood, save childhood and restore the dignity of manhood—these are the tasks we must do.
What, then, is the progressive answer to these questions? We are able to give it specifically and concretely. The first work before us is the revival of honest business. For business is nothing but the industrial and trade activities of all the people. Men grow the products of the field, cut ripe timber from the forest, dig metal from the mine, fashion all for human use, carry them to the market place and exchange them according to their mutual needs—and this is business.
With our vast advantages, contrasted with the vast disadvantages of other nations, American business all the time should be the best and steadiest in the world. But it is not. Germany, with shallow soil, no mines, only a window on the seas and a population more than ten times as dense as ours, yet has a sounder business, a steadier prosperity, a more contented because better cared for people.
What, then, must we do to make American business better? We must do what poorer nations have done. We must end the abuses of business by striking down those abuses instead of striking down business itself. We must try to make little business big and all business honest instead of striving to make big business little and yet letting it remain dishonest.
Present-day business is as unlike old-time business as the old-time ox-cart is unlike the present-day locomotive. Invention has made the whole world over again. The railroad, telegraph, telephone have bound the people of modern nations into families. To do the business of these closely knit millions in every modern country great business concerns came into being. What we call big business is the child of the economic progress of mankind. So warfare to destroy big business is foolish because it can not succeed and wicked because it ought not to succeed. Warfare to destroy big business does not hurt big business, which always comes out on top, so much as it hurts all other business which, in such a warfare, never comes out on top.
With the growth of big business came business evils just as great. It is these evils of big business that hurt the people and injure all other business. One of these wrongs is over capitalization which taxes the people's very living. Another is the manipulation of prices to the unsettlement of all normal business and to the people's damage. Another is interference in the making of the people's laws and the running of the people's government in the unjust interest of evil business. Getting laws that enable particular interests to rob the people, and even to gather criminal riches from human health and life is still another.
An example of such laws is the infamous tobacco legislation of 1902, which authorized the Tobacco Trust to continue to collect from the people the Spanish War tax, amounting to a score of millions of dollars, but to keep that tax instead of turning it over to the government, as it had been doing. Another example is the shameful meat legislation, by which the Beef Trust had the meat it sent abroad inspected by the government so that foreign countries would take its product and yet was permitted to sell diseased meat to our own people. It is incredible that laws like these could ever get on the Nation's statute books. The invisible government put them there; and only the universal wrath of an enraged people corrected them when, after years, the people discovered the outrages.
It is to get just such laws as these and to prevent the passage of laws to correct them, as well as to keep off the statute books general laws which will end the general abuses of big business that these few criminal interests corrupt our politics, invest in public officials and keep in power in both parties that type of politicians and party managers who debase American politics.
Behind rotten laws and preventing sound laws, stands the corrupt boss; behind the corrupt boss stands the robber interest; and commanding these powers of pillage stands bloated human greed. It is this conspiracy of evil we must overthrow if we would get the honest laws we need. It is this invisible government we must destroy if we would save American institutions.
Other nations have ended the very same business evils from which we suffer by clearly defining business wrong-doing and then making it a criminal offense, punishable by imprisonment. Yet these foreign nations encourage big business itself and foster all honest business. But they do not tolerate dishonest business, little or big.
What, then, shall we Americans do? Common sense and the experience of the world says that we ought to keep the good big business does for us and stop the wrongs that big business does to us. Yet we have done just the other thing. We have struck at big business itself and have not even aimed to strike at the evils of big business. Nearly twenty-five years ago Congress passed a law to govern American business in the present time which Parliament passed in the reign of King James to govern English business in that time.
For a quarter of a century the courts have tried to make this law work. Yet during this very time trusts grew greater in number and power than in the whole history of the world before; and their evils flourished unhindered and unchecked. These great business concerns grew because natural laws made them grow and artificial law at war with natural law could not stop their growth. But their evils grew faster than the trusts themselves because avarice nourished those evils and no law of any kind stopped avarice from nourishing them.
Nor is this the worst. Under the shifting interpretation of the Sherman law, uncertainty and fear is chilling the energies of the great body of honest American business men. As the Sherman law now stands, no two business men can arrange their mutual affairs and be sure that they are not law-breakers. This is the main hindrance to the immediate and permanent revival of American business. If German or English business men, with all their disadvantages compared with our advantages, were manacled by our Sherman law, as it stands, they soon would be bankrupt. Indeed, foreign business men declare that, if their countries had such a law, so administered, they could not do business at all.
Even this is not all. By the decrees of our courts, under the Sherman law, the two mightiest trusts on earth have actually been licensed, in the practical outcome, to go on doing every wrong they ever committed. Under the decrees of the courts the Oil and Tobacco Trusts still can raise prices unjustly and already have done so. They still can issue watered stock and surely will do so. They still can throttle other business men and the United Cigar Stores Company now is doing so. They still can corrupt our politics and this moment are indulging in that practice.
The people are tired of this mock battle with criminal capital. They do not want to hurt business, but they do want to get something done about the trust question that amounts to something. What good does it do any man to read in his morning paper that the courts have "dissolved" the Oil Trust, and then read in his evening paper that he must thereafter pay a higher price for his oil than ever before? What good does it do the laborer who smokes his pipe to be told that the courts have "dissolved" the Tobacco Trust and yet find that he must pay the same or a higher price for the same short-weight package of tobacco? Yet all this is the practical result of the suits against these two greatest trusts in the world.
Such business chaos and legal paradoxes as American business suffers from can be found nowhere else in the world. Rival nations do not fasten legal ball and chain upon their business—no, they put wings on its flying feet. Rival nations do not tell their business men that if they go forward with legitimate enterprise the penitentiary may be their goal. No! Rival nations tell their business men that so long as they do honest business their governments will not hinder but will help them.
But these rival nations do tell their business men that if they do any evil that our business men do, prison bars await them. These rival nations do tell their business men that if they issue watered stock or cheat the people in any way, prison cells will be their homes.
Just this is what all honest American business wants; just this is what dishonest American business does not want; just this is what the American people propose to have; just this the national Republican platform of 1908 pledged the people that we would give them; and just this important pledge the administration, elected on that platform, repudiated as it repudiated the more immediate tariff pledge.
Both these reforms, so vital to honest American business, the Progressive party will accomplish. Neither evil interests nor reckless demagogues can swerve us from our purpose; for we are free from both and fear neither.
We mean to put new business laws on our statute books which will tell American business men what they can do and what they cannot do. We mean to make our business laws clear instead of foggy—to make them plainly state just what things are criminal and what are lawful. And we mean that the penalty for things criminal shall be prison sentences that actually punish the real offender, instead of money fines that hurt nobody but the people, who must pay them in the end.
And then we mean to send the message forth to hundreds of thousands of brilliant minds and brave hearts engaged in honest business, that they are not criminals but honorable men in their work to make good business in this Republic. Sure of victory, we even now say, "Go forward, American business men, and know that behind you, supporting you, encouraging you, are the power and approval of the greatest people under the sun. Go forward, American business men, and feed full the fires beneath American furnaces; and give employment to every American laborer who asks for work. Go forward, American business men, and capture the markets of the world for American trade; and know that on the wings of your commerce you carry liberty throughout the world and to every inhabitant thereof. Go forward, American business men, and realize that in the time to come it shall be said of you, as it is said of the hand that rounded Peter's Dome, 'he builded better than he knew.'"
The next great business reform we must have to steadily increase American prosperity is to change the method of building our tariffs. The tariff must be taken out of politics and treated as a business question instead of as a political question. Heretofore, we have done just the other thing. That is why American business is upset every few years by unnecessary tariff upheavals and is weakened by uncertainty in the periods between. The greatest need of business is certainty; but the only thing certain about our tariff is uncertainty.
What, then, shall we do to make our tariff changes strengthen business instead of weakening business? Rival protective tariff nations have answered that question. Common sense has answered it. Next to our need to make the Sherman law modern, understandable and just, our greatest fiscal need is a genuine, permanent, non-partisan tariff commission.
Five years ago, when the fight for this great business measure was begun in the Senate the bosses of both parties were against it. So, when the last revision of the tariff was on and a tariff commission might have been written into the tariff law, the administration would not aid this reform. When two years later the administration supported it weakly, the bi-partisan boss system killed it. There has not been and will not be any sincere and honest effort by the old parties to get a tariff commission. There has not been and will not be any sincere and honest purpose by those parties to take the tariff out of politics.
For the tariff in politics is the excuse for those sham political battles which give the spoilers their opportunity. The tariff in politics is one of the invisible government's methods of wringing tribute from the people. Through the tariff in politics the beneficiaries of tariff excesses are cared for, no matter which party is "revising."
Who has forgotten the tariff scandals that made President Cleveland denounce the Wilson-Gorman bill as "a perfidy and a dishonor?" Who ever can forget the brazen robberies forced into the Payne-Aldrich bill which Mr. Taft defended as "the best ever made?" If everyone else forgets these things the interests that profited by them never will forget them. The bosses and lobbyists that grew rich by putting them through never will forget them. That is why the invisible government and its agents want to keep the old method of tariff building. For, though such tariff "revisions" may make lean years for the people, they make fat years for the powers of pillage and their agents.
So neither of the old parties can honestly carry out any tariff policies which they pledge the people to carry out. But even if they could and even if they were sincere, the old party platforms are in error on tariff policy. The Democratic platform declares for free trade; but free trade is wrong and ruinous. The Republican platform permits extortion; but tariff extortion is robbery by law. The Progressive party is for honest protection; and honest protection is right and a condition of American prosperity.
A tariff high enough to give American producers the American market when they make honest goods and sell them at honest prices but low enough that when they sell dishonest goods at dishonest prices, foreign competition can correct both evils; a tariff high enough to enable American producers to pay our workingmen American wages and so arranged that the workingmen will get such wages; a business tariff whose changes will be so made as to reassure business instead of disturbing it—this is the tariff and the method of its making in which the Progressive party believes, for which it does battle and which it proposes to write into the laws of the land.
The Payne-Aldrich tariff law must be revised immediately in accordance to these principles. At the same time a genuine, permanent, non-partisan tariff commission must be fixed in the law as firmly as the Interstate Commerce Commission. Neither of the old parties can do this work. For neither of the old parties believes in such a tariff; and, what is more serious, special privilege is too thoroughly woven into the fiber of both old parties to allow them to make such a tariff. The Progressive party only is free from these influences. The Progressive party only believes in the sincere enactment of a sound tariff policy. The Progressive party only can change the tariff as it must be changed.
These are samples of the reforms in the laws of business that we intend to put on the Nation's statute books. But there are other questions as important and pressing that we mean to answer by sound and humane laws. Child labor in factories, mills, mines and sweat-shops must be ended throughout the Republic. Such labor is a crime against childhood because it prevents the growth of normal manhood and womanhood. It is a crime against the Nation because it prevents the growth of a host of children into strong, patriotic and intelligent citizens.
Only the Nation can stop this industrial vice. The States cannot stop it. The States never stopped any national wrong—and child labor is a national wrong. To leave it to the State alone is unjust to business; for if some States stop it and other States do not, business men of the former are at a disadvantage with the business men of the latter, because they must sell in the same market goods made by manhood labor at manhood wages in competition with goods made by childhood labor at childhood wages. To leave it to the States is unjust to manhood labor; for childhood labor in any State lowers manhood labor in every State, because the product of childhood labor in any State competes with the product of manhood labor in every State. Children workers at the looms in South Carolina means bayonets at the breasts of men and women workers in Massachusetts who strike for living wages. Let the States do what they can, and more power to their arm; but let the Nation do what it should and cleanse our flag from this stain.
Modern industrialism has changed the status of women. Women now are wage earners in factories, stores and other places of toil. In hours of labor and all the physical conditions of industrial effort they must compete with men. And they must do it at lower wages than men receive—wages which, in most cases, are not enough for these women workers to live on.
This is inhuman and indecent. It is unsocial and uneconomic. It is immoral and unpatriotic. Toward women the Progressive party proclaims the chivalry of the State. We propose to protect women wage-earners by suitable laws, an example of which is the minimum wage for women workers—a wage which shall be high enough to at least buy clothing, food and shelter for the woman toiler.
The care of the aged is one of the most perplexing problems of modern life. How is the workingman with less than five hundred dollars a year, and with earning power waning as his own years advance, to provide for aged parents or other relatives in addition to furnishing food, shelter and clothing for his wife and children? What is to become of the family of the laboring man whose strength has been sapped by excessive toil and who has been thrown upon the industrial scrap heap? It is questions like these we must answer if we are to justify free institutions. They are questions to which the masses of people are chained as to a body of death. And they are questions which other and poorer nations are answering.
We progressives mean that America shall answer them. The Progressive party is the helping hand to those whom a vicious industrialism has maimed and crippled. We are for the conservation of our natural resources; but even more we are for the conservation of human life. Our forests, water power and minerals are valuable and must be saved from the spoilers; but men, women and children are more valuable and they, too, must be saved from the spoilers.
Because women, as much as men, are a part of our economic and social life, women, as much as men, should have the voting power to solve all economic and social problems. Votes for women are theirs as a matter of natural right alone; votes for women should be theirs as a matter of political wisdom also. As wage-earners, they should help to solve the labor problem; as property owners they should help to solve the tax problem; as wives and mothers they should help to solve all the problems that concern the home. And that means all national problems; for the Nation abides at the fireside.
If it is said that women cannot help defend the Nation in time of war and therefore that they should not help to determine the Nation's destinies in time of peace, the answer is that women suffer and serve in time of conflict as much as men who carry muskets. And the deeper answer is that those who bear the Nation's soldiers are as much the Nation's defenders as their sons.
Public spokesmen for the invisible government say that many of our reforms are unconstitutional. The same kind of men said the same thing of every effort the Nation has made to end national abuses. But in every case, whether in the courts, at the ballot box, or on the battlefield, the vitality of the Constitution was vindicated.
The Progressive party believes that the Constitution is a living thing, growing with the people's growth, strengthening with the people's strength, aiding the people in their struggle for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, permitting the people to meet all their needs as conditions change. The opposition believes that the Constitution is a dead form, holding back the people's growth, shackling the people's strength but giving a free hand to malign powers that prey upon the people. The first words of the Constitution are "We the people," and they declare that the Constitution's purpose is "to form a perfect Union and to promote the general welfare." To do just that is the very heart of the progressive cause.
The Progressive party asserts anew the vitality of the Constitution. We believe in the true doctrine of states' rights, which forbids the Nation from interfering with states' affairs, and also forbids the states from interfering with national affairs. The combined intelligence and composite conscience of the American people is as irresistible as it is righteous; and the Constitution does not prevent that force from working out the general welfare.
From certain sources we hear preachments about the danger of our reforms to American institutions. What is the purpose of American institutions? Why was this Republic established? What does the flag stand for? What do these things mean?
They mean that the people shall be free to correct human abuses.
They mean that men, women and children shall not be denied the opportunity to grow stronger and nobler.
They mean that the people shall have the power to make our land each day a better place to live in.
They mean the realities of liberty and not the academics of theory.
They mean the actual progress of the race in tangible items of daily living and not the theoretics of barren disputation.
If they do not mean these things they are as sounding brass and tinkling cymbals.
A Nation of strong, upright men and women; a Nation of wholesome homes, realizing the best ideals; a Nation whose power is glorified by its justice and whose justice is the conscience of scores of millions of God-fearing people—that is the Nation the people need and want. And that is the Nation they shall have.
For never doubt that we Americans will make good the real meaning of our institutions. Never doubt that we will solve, in righteousness and wisdom, every vexing problem. Never doubt that in the end, the hand from above that leads us upward will prevail over the hand from below that drags us downward. Never doubt that we are indeed a Nation whose God is the Lord.
And, so, never doubt that a braver, fairer, cleaner America surely will come; that a better and brighter life for all beneath the flag surely will be achieved. Those who now scoff soon will pray. Those who now doubt soon will believe.
Soon the night will pass; and when, to the Sentinel on the ramparts of Liberty the anxious ask: "Watchman, what of the night?" his answer will be "Lo, the morn appeareth."
Knowing the price we must pay, the sacrifice we must make, the burdens we must carry, the assaults we must endure—knowing full well the cost—yet we enlist, and we enlist for the war. For we know the justice of our cause, and we know, too, its certain triumph.
Not reluctantly then, but eagerly, not with faint hearts but strong, do we now advance upon the enemies of the people. For the call that comes to us is the call that came to our fathers. As they responded so shall we.
"He hath sounded forth a trumpet that shall never call retreat,
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat.
Oh, be swift our souls to answer Him, be jubilant our feet,
Our God is marching on."