His interest in this Society the published Proceedings will show in some measure, but they cannot reflect the tone of devotion in which he spoke of it in conversation, or exhibit his loyalty to it as set forth in the personal letter. It was a real privation that his legislative duties prevented his attending these meetings last winter.
Of Mr. Pierce as a citizen most of you, gentlemen, can speak better than I, but it does appear to me an instance of rare civic virtue that a man of his age, political experience, ability, and mental resources could take pride and pleasure in his service in the House of Representatives of his Commonwealth. He was sixty-eight years old, suffering from disease, yet in his service last winter he did not miss one legislative session nor a day meeting of his committee. His love for his town was a mark of local attachment both praiseworthy and useful. "I would rather be moderator of the Milton town-meeting," he said, "than hold any other office in the United States."
JACOB D. COX
A paper read before the Massachusetts Historical Society at the October meeting of 1900.
JACOB D. COX
A useful member of the legislature of his state, a general in the army during the Civil War, governor of his state, Secretary of the Interior in President Grant's Cabinet, a member of Congress, the president of a large railroad, a writer of books, dean and teacher in a law school, and a reviewer of books in the Nation,—such were the varied activities of General Cox. All this work was done with credit. He bore a prominent part in the battle of Antietam, where Ropes speaks of his "brilliant success"; he was the second in command at the battle of Franklin, and bore the brunt of the battle. "Brigadier-General J. D. Cox," wrote Schofield, the commanding general, in his report, "deserves a very large share of credit for the brilliant victory at Franklin."
The governor of the state of Ohio did not then have a great opportunity of impressing himself upon the minds of the people of his state, but Cox made his mark in the canvass for that office. We must call to mind that in the year 1865, when he was the Republican candidate for governor, President Johnson had initiated his policy of reconstruction, but had not yet made a formal break with his party. Negro suffrage, which only a few had favored during the last year of the war, was now advocated by the radical Republicans, and the popular sentiment of the party was tending in that direction. Cox had been a strong antislavery man before the war, a supporter of President Lincoln in his emancipation measures, but soon after his nomination for governor he wrote a letter to his radical friends at Oberlin in opposition to negro suffrage. "You assume," he said, "that the extension of the right of suffrage to the blacks, leaving them intermixed with the whites, will cure all the trouble. I believe it would rather be like the decision in that outer darkness of which Milton speaks where
"'chaos umpire sits, And by decision more embroils the fray.'"
While governor, he said in a private conversation that he had come to the conclusion "that so large bodies of black men and white as were in presence in the Southern States never could share political power, and that the insistence upon it on the part of the colored people would lead to their ruin."
President Grant appointed General Cox Secretary of the Interior, and he remained for nearly two years in the Cabinet. James Russell Lowell, on a visit to Washington in 1870, gave expression to the feeling among independent Republicans. "Judge Hoar," he wrote, "and Mr. Cox struck me as the only really strong men in the Cabinet." This was long before the Civil Service Reform Act had passed Congress, but Secretary Cox put the Interior Department on a merit basis, and he was ever afterwards an advocate of civil service reform by word of mouth and with his pen. Differences with the President, in which I feel pretty sure that the Secretary was in the right, caused him to resign the office.
Elected to Congress in 1876, he was a useful member for one term. He has always been known to men in public life, and when President McKinley offered him the position of Minister to Spain something over three years ago, it was felt that a well-known and capable man had been selected. For various reasons he did not accept the appointment, but if he had done so, no one could doubt that he would have shown tact and judgment in the difficult position.
As president of the Wabash Railroad, one of the large railroads in the West, he gained a name among business men, and five or six years ago was offered the place of Railroad Commissioner in New York City. This was practically the position of arbitrator between the trunk lines, but he was then Dean of the Cincinnati Law School and interested in a work which he did not care to relinquish.
Besides a controversial monograph, he wrote three books on military campaigns: "Atlanta"; "The March to the Sea; Franklin and Nashville"; "The Battle of Franklin"; and he wrote four excellent chapters for Force's "Life of General Sherman." In these he showed qualities of a military historian of a high order. Before his death he had finished his Reminiscences, which will be brought out by the Scribners this autumn.
His differences with President Grant while in his Cabinet left a wound, and in private conversation he was quite severe in his strictures of many of the President's acts, but he never let this feeling influence him in the slightest degree in the consideration of Grant the General. He had a very high idea of Grant's military talents, which he has in many ways emphatically stated.
Since 1874 he had been a constant contributor to the literary department of the Nation. In his book reviews he showed a fine critical faculty and large general information, and some of his obituary notices—especially those of Generals Buell, Grant, Sherman, Joseph E. Johnston, and Jefferson Davis—showed that power of impartial characterization which is so great a merit in a historian. He was an omnivorous reader of serious books. It was difficult to name any noteworthy work of history or biography or any popular book on natural science with which he was not acquainted.
As I saw him two years ago, when he was seventy years old, he was in the best of health and vigor, which seemed to promise many years of life. He was tall, erect, with a frame denoting great physical strength, and he had distinctively a military bearing. He was an agreeable companion, an excellent talker, a scrupulously honest and truthful man, and a gentleman.
EDWARD GAYLORD BOURNE
A paper read before the Massachusetts Historical Society at the March meeting of 1908.
EDWARD GAYLORD BOURNE
When an associate dies who was not yet forty-eight years old, whom most of us knew as a strong enduring man, who was capable of an immense amount of intellectual work, it is a real calamity,—a calamity which in this case History mourns, as Edward Gaylord Bourne was an excellent teacher and a thorough historical scholar. The physical details of any illness are apt to be repulsive, but the malady in Bourne's case was somehow so bound up in his life that an inquiry into it comes from no morbid curiosity. When ten years old he was attacked with tubercular disease of the hip, and for some weeks his life was despaired of; but he was saved by the loving care of his parents, receiving particular devotion from his father, who was a Congregational minister in charge of a parish in Connecticut. As the left leg had out-grown the other, Bourne was obliged to use crutches for three years, when his father took him to a specialist in Boston, and the result was that he was able to abandon crutches and in the end to get about by an appliance to adjust the lengths of the different legs, such as his friends were familiar with. Despite this disability he developed great physical strength, especially in the chest and arms, but his lameness prevented his accompanying his college companions on long tramps, so that the bicycle was for him a most welcome invention. He became expert in the use of it, riding on it down Pike's Peak at the time of his visit to Colorado; and he performed a similar feat of endurance on another occasion when stopping with me at Jefferson in the White Mountains. Starting early in the morning, he traveled by rail to the terminus of the mountain railroad, went up Mount Washington on the railroad, and rode down the carriage road on his wheel to the Glen House, which ought to have been enough of fatigue and exertion for one day, but he then had about ten miles to make on his bicycle over a somewhat rough mountain road to reach Jefferson. Jefferson he did make, but not until after midnight.
During an acquaintance of over nineteen years with Bourne, I was always impressed with his physical strength and endurance; and I was therefore much surprised to learn, in a letter received from him last winter while I was in Rome, that his youthful malady had attacked him, that he was again on crutches and had been obliged to give up his work at Yale. In truth ever since the autumn of 1906 he has had a painful, hopeless struggle. He has had the benefit of all the resources of medicine and surgery, and he and his wife were buoyed up by hope until the last; but as the sequel of one of a series of operations death came to his relief on February 24.
Only less remarkable than his struggle for life and physical strength was his energy in acquiring an education. The sacrifices that parents in New England and the rest of the country make in order to send their boys to school and college is a common enough circumstance, but not always is the return so satisfactory as it was in the case of Edward Bourne, and his brother. Edward went to the Norwich Academy, where his studious disposition and diligent purpose gained him the favor of the principal. Thence to Yale, where he attracted the attention of Professor William G. Sumner, who became to him a guide and a friend. Until his senior year at Yale his favorite studies were Latin and Greek; and his brother, who was in his class, informs me that ever since his preparatory school days, it was his custom to read the whole of any author in hand as well as the part set for the class. During recitations he recalls seeing him again and again reading ahead in additional books of the author, keeping at the same time "a finger on the page where the class was translating, in order not to be caught off his guard." In his senior year at Yale, under the influence of Professor Sumner, he became interested in economics and won the Cobden medal. After graduation he wrote his first historical book, "The History of the Surplus Revenue of 1837," published in 1885 in Putnam's "Questions of the Day" series. For this and his other graduate work his university later conferred upon him the degree of Ph.D. Since I have learned the story of his boyhood and youth, it is with peculiar appreciation that I read the dedication of this first book: "To my Father and Mother." I may add in this connection that while pursuing his indefatigable labors for the support of his large family, his father's sickness and death overtaxed his strength, and the breakdown followed.
At Yale during his graduate work he won the Foote scholarship; he was instructor in history there from 1886 to 1888, then took a similar position at Adelbert College, Cleveland, becoming Professor of History in 1890. This post he held until 1895, when he was called to Yale University as Professor of History, a position that he held at the time of his death.
Besides the doctor's thesis, Bourne published two books, the first of which was "Essays in Historical Criticism," one of the Yale bicentennial publications, the most notable essay in which is that on Marcus Whitman. A paper read at the Ann Arbor session of the American Historical meeting in Detroit and later published in the American Historical Review is here amplified into a long and exhaustive treatment of the subject. The original paper gained Bourne some celebrity and subjected him to some harsh criticism, both of which, I think, he thoroughly enjoyed. Feeling sure of his facts and ground, he delighted in his final word to support the contention which he had read with emphasis and pleasure to an attentive audience in one of the halls of the University of Michigan. The final paragraph sums up what he set out to prove with undoubted success:
That Marcus Whitman was a devoted and heroic missionary who braved every hardship and imperilled his life for the cause of Christian missions and Christian civilization in the far Northwest and finally died at his post, a sacrifice to the cause, will not be gainsaid. That he deserves grateful commemoration in Oregon and Washington is beyond dispute. But that he is a national figure in American history, or that he "saved" Oregon, must be rejected as a fiction [p. 100].
Bourne had a good knowledge of American history, and he specialized on the Discoveries period, to which he gave close and continuous attention. He was indebted to Professor Hart's ambitious and excellent cooperative history, "The American Nation," for the opportunity to obtain a hearing on his favorite subject. His "Spain in America," his third published book, is the book of a scholar. While the conditions of his narrative allowed only forty-six pages to the story of Columbus, he had undoubtedly material enough well arranged and digested to fill the volume on this topic alone. I desire to quote a signal example of compression:
It was November, 1504, when Columbus arrived in Seville, a broken man, something over twelve years from the time he first set sail from Palos. Each successive voyage since his first had left him at a lower point. On his return from the second he was on the defensive; after his third he was deprived of his viceroyalty; on his fourth he was shipwrecked.... The last blow, the death of his patron Isabella, soon followed. It was months before he was able to attend court. His strength gradually failed, he sank from public view, and on the eve of Ascension Day, May 20, 1506, he passed away in obscurity [p. 81].
And I am very fond of this final characterization:
Columbus ... has revealed himself in his writings as few men of action have been revealed. His hopes, his illusions, his vanity, and love of money, his devotion to by-gone ideals, his keen and sensitive observation of the natural world, his credulity and utter lack of critical power in dealing with literary evidence, his practical abilities as a navigator, his tenacity of purpose and boldness of execution, his lack of fidelity as a husband and a lover,... all stand out in clear relief.... Of all the self-made men that America has produced, none has had a more dazzling success, a more pathetic sinking to obscurity, or achieved a more universal celebrity [p. 82].
His chapter on Magellan is thoroughly interesting. The treatment of Columbus and Magellan shows what Bourne might have achieved in historical work if he could have had leisure to select his own subjects and elaborate them at will.
Before "Spain in America" appeared, he wrote a scholarly introduction to the vast work on the "Philippine Islands" published by the Arthur H. Clark Company, of Cleveland, of which fifty-one volumes are already out. The study of this subject gave Bourne a chance for the exhibition of his dry wit at one of the gatherings of the American Historical Association. It was asserted that in the acquisition of the Philippine Islands our country had violated the spirit of the Monroe Doctrine, which properly confined our indulgence of the land hunger that is preying upon the world to the Western hemisphere. Bourne took issue with this statement. He said that it might well be a question whether the Philippine Islands did not belong to the Western hemisphere and that—
for the first three centuries of their recorded history, they were in a sense a dependency of America. As a dependency of New Spain they constituted the extreme western verge of the Spanish dominions and were commonly known as the Western Islands. When the sun rose in Madrid it was still early afternoon of the preceding day in Manila. Down to the end of the year 1844 the Manilan calendar was reckoned after that of Spain, that is, Manila time was about sixteen hours slower than Madrid time.
Bourne undertook to write the Life of Motley for Houghton, Mifflin and Company's American Men of Letters series, and he had done considerable work in the investigation of material. He was editor of a number of publications, one of which was John Fiske's posthumous volume, "New France and New England," and he wrote critical notices for the Nation, New York Tribune, and the New York Times. As I have said, he had a large family to support, and he sought work of the potboiling order; but in this necessary labor he never sacrificed his ideal of thoroughness. A remark that he made to me some while ago has come back with pathetic interest. After telling me what he was doing, how much time his teaching left for outside work, why he did this and that because it brought him money, he said: "I can get along all right. I can support my family, educate my children, and get a little needed recreation, if only my health does not break down."
Bourne took great interest in the American Historical Association, and rarely if ever missed an annual meeting. He frequently read papers, which were carefully prepared, and a number of them are printed in the volume of Essays to which I have referred. He was the efficient chairman of the programme committee at the meeting in New Haven in 1898; and as chairman of an important committee, or as member of the Council, he attended the November dinners and meetings in New York, so that he came to be looked upon as one of the chief supporters of the Association. Interested also in the American Historical Review, he was a frequent contributor of critical book notices.
My acquaintance with Bourne began in 1888, the year in which I commenced the composition of my history. We were both living in Cleveland, and, as it was his custom to dine with me once or twice a month, acquaintance grew into friendship, and I came to have a great respect for his training and knowledge as a historical scholar. The vastness of historical inquiry impressed me, as it has all writers of history. Recognizing in Bourne a kindred spirit, it occurred to me whether I could not hasten my work if he would employ part of his summer vacation in collecting material. I imparted the idea to Bourne, who received it favorably, and he spent a month of the summer of 1889 at work for me in the Boston Athenaeum on my general specifications, laboring with industry and discrimination over the newspapers of the early '50's to which we had agreed to confine his work. His task completed, he made me a visit of a few days at Bar Harbor, affording an opportunity for us to discuss the period and his material. I was so impressed with the value of his assistance that, when the manuscript of my first two volumes was completed in 1891, I asked him to spend a month with me and work jointly on its revision. We used to devote four or five hours a day to this labor, and in 1894, when I had finished my third volume, we had a similar collaboration. I have never known a better test of general knowledge and intellectual temper.
Bourne was a slow thinker and worker, but he was sure, and, when he knew a thing, his exposition was clear and pointed. The chance of reflection over night and the occasional discussion at meal times, outside of our set hours, gave him the opportunity to recall all his knowledge bearing on the subject in hand, to digest and classify it thoroughly, so that, when he tackled a question, he talked, so to speak, like a book. Two chapters especially attracted him,—the one on Slavery in my first volume, and the one on general financial and social conditions at the beginning of the third; and I think that I may say that not only every paragraph and sentence, but every important word in these two chapters was discussed and weighed. Bourne was a good critic, and, to set him entirely at ease, as he was twelve years younger, I told him to lay aside any respect on account of age, and to speak out frankly, no matter how hard it hit, adding that I had better hear disagreeable things from him than to have them said by critics after the volumes were printed.
The intelligent note on page 51 of my third volume was written by Bourne, as I state in the note itself, but I did not speak of the large amount of study he gave to it. I never knew a man take keener interest in anything, and as we had all the necessary authorities at hand, he worked over them for two days, coming down on the morning of the third day with the triumphant air of one who had wrestled successfully with a mathematical problem all night. He sat down and, as I remember it, wrote the note substantially as it now stands in the volume. He was very strong on all economic and sociological questions, displaying in a marked degree the intellectual stimulus he had derived from his association with Professor Sumner. He was a born controversialist and liked to argue. "The appetite comes in eating" is a French saying, and with Bourne his knowledge seemed to be best evolved by the actual joint working and collision with another mind.
I remember one felicitous suggestion of Bourne's which after much working over we incorporated into a paragraph to our common satisfaction; and this paragraph received commendation in some critical notice. Showing this to Bourne, I said: "That is the way of the world. You did the thinking, I got the credit." Bourne had, however, forgotten his part in the paragraph. His mind was really so full of knowledge, when one could get at it, that he did not remember giving off any part of it. In addition to his quality of close concentration, he acquired a good deal of knowledge in a desultory way. In my library when conversation lagged he would go to the shelves and take down book after book, reading a little here or there, lighting especially upon any books that had been acquired since his previous visit, and with reading he would comment. This love of browsing in a library he acquired when a boy, so his brother informs me, and when at Yale it was said that he knew the library as well as the librarian himself.
It will be remembered that last spring our accomplished editor, Mr. Smith, decided that he could no longer bear the burden of this highly important work; and the question of a fit successor came up at once in the mind of our President. Writing to me while I was in Europe, he expressed the desire of consulting with me on the subject as soon as I returned. I was unfortunately unable to get back in time for the June meeting of the Society; and afterwards when I reached Boston the President had gone West, and when he got home I was at Seal Harbor. To spare me the trip to Boston and Lincoln, he courteously offered to come to see me at Seal Harbor, where we had the opportunity to discuss the subject in all its bearings. It will be quite evident from this narrative that my choice for editor would be no other than Professor Bourne, and I was much gratified to learn that the President from his own observation and reflection had determined on the same man. Mr. Adams had been accustomed to see Bourne at meetings of the American Historical Association and at dinners of their Council; but, so he informed me, he was not specially impressed by him until he read the essay on Marcus Whitman, which gave him a high idea of Bourne's power of working over material, and his faculty of trenchant criticism. We arrived readily at the conclusion that Bourne would be an ideal editor and that the position would suit him perfectly. Relieved of the drudgery of teaching, he could give full swing to his love of books and to his desire of running down through all the authorities some fact or reference bearing upon the subject in hand. The work would be a labor of love on which he could bring to bear his knowledge, conscientious endeavor, and historical training. It would have been a case of mutual benefit. He would be fortunate in securing such a position, and the Society might be congratulated on being able to get a man so peculiarly qualified for editorial work. But there was the question of Bourne's health. We both knew that he had been failing, but we were not aware that his case was hopeless. The President did not wish to present his recommendation to the Council until there was a reasonable chance of his recovery, and I undertook from time to time to get information from a common friend in New Haven of his progress. But there was no good news. While Bourne, with the help of his devoted wife, made an energetic fight for life, it was unavailing. In his death Yale lost an excellent teacher of history and this Society a candidate who, if he had been chosen, would have made an accomplished editor.
 Bourne also revised the manuscript of my fourth volume, but the conditions did not admit of our being together more than two days, and the revision was not so satisfactory to either of us as that of the first three volumes.
THE PRESIDENTIAL OFFICE
Printed in Scribner's Magazine, of February, 1903.
THE PRESIDENTIAL OFFICE
The English Constitution, as it existed between 1760 and 1787, was the model of the American, but parts of it were inapplicable to the conditions in which the thirteen Colonies found themselves, and where the model failed the Convention struck out anew. The sagacity of the American statesmen in this creative work may well fill Englishmen, so Sir Henry Maine wrote, "with wonder and envy." Mr. Bryce's classification of constitutions as flexible and rigid is apt: of our Constitution it may be said that in the main it is rigid in those matters which should not be submitted to the decision of a legislature or to a popular vote without checks which secure reflection and a chance for the sober second thought, and that it has proved flexible in its adaptation to the growth of the country and to the development of the nineteenth century. Sometimes, though, it is flexible to the extent of lacking precision. An instance of this is the proviso for the counting of the electoral vote. "The votes shall then be counted" are the words. Thus, when in 1876 it was doubtful whether Tilden or Hayes had been chosen President, a fierce controversy arose as to who should count the votes, the President of the Senate or Congress. While many regretted the absence of an incontrovertible provision, it was fortunate for the country that the Constitution did not provide that the vote should be counted by the President of the Senate, who, the Vice President having died in office, was in 1877 a creature of the partisan majority. It is doubtful, too, if the decision of such an officer would have been acquiesced in by the mass of Democrats, who thought that they had fairly elected their candidate. There being no express declaration of the Constitution, it devolved upon Congress to settle the dispute; the ability and patriotism of that body was equal to the crisis. By a well-devised plan of arbitration, Congress relieved the strain and provided for a peaceful settlement of a difficulty which in most countries would have led to civil war.
In the provisions conferring the powers and defining the duties of the executive the flexible character of the Constitution is shown in another way. Everything is clearly stated, but the statements go not beyond the elementary. The Convention knew what it wanted to say, and Gouverneur Morris, who in the end drew up the document, wrote this part of it, as indeed all other parts, in clear and effective words. It is due to him, wrote Laboulaye, that the Constitution has a "distinctness entirely French, in happy contrast to the complicated language of the English laws." Yet on account of the elementary character of the article of the Constitution on the powers of the President, there is room for inference, a chance for development, and an opportunity for a strong man to imprint his character upon the office. The Convention, writes Mr. Bryce, made its executive a George III "shorn of a part of his prerogative," his influence and dignity diminished by a reduction of the term of office to four years. The English writer was thoroughly familiar with the Federalist, and appreciated Hamilton's politic efforts to demonstrate that the executive of the Constitution was modeled after the governors of the states, and not after the British monarch; but "an enlarged copy of the state governor," Mr. Bryce asserts, is one and the same thing as "a reduced and improved copy of the English king." But, on the other hand, Bagehot did not believe that the Americans comprehended the English Constitution. "Living across the Atlantic," he wrote, "and misled by accepted doctrines, the acute framers of the Federal Constitution, even after the keenest attention, did not perceive the Prime Minister to be the principal executive of the British Constitution, and the sovereign a cog in the mechanism;" and he seems to think that if this had been understood the executive power would have been differently constituted.
It is a pertinent suggestion of Mr. Bryce's that the members of the Convention must have been thinking of their presiding officer, George Washington, as the first man who would exercise the powers of the executive office they were creating. So it turned out. Never did a country begin a new enterprise with so wise a ruler. An admirable polity had been adopted, but much depended upon getting it to work, and the man who was selected to start the government was the man of all men for the task. Histories many and from different points of view have been written of Washington's administration; all are interesting, and the subject seems to ennoble the writers. Statesmen meeting with students to discuss the character and political acts of Washington marvel at his wisdom in great things and his patience in small things, at the dignity and good sense with which he established the etiquette of his office, at the tact which retained in his service two such irreconcilable men as Jefferson and Hamilton. The importance of a good start for an infant government is well understood. But for our little state of four million people such a start was difficult to secure. The contentions which grew out of the ratification of the Constitution in the different states had left bitter feelings behind them, and these domestic troubles were heightened by our intimate relations with foreign countries. We touched England, France, and Spain at delicate points, and the infancy of our nation was passed during the turmoil of the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror. In our midst there was an English and a French party. Moreover, in the judgment of the world the experiment of the new government was foredoomed to failure. Wrote Sir Henry Maine, "It is not at all easy to bring home to the men of the present day how low the credit of republics had sunk before the establishment of the United States." Hardly were success to be won had we fallen upon quiet times; but with free governments discredited, and the word "liberty" made a reproach by the course of the French Revolution, it would seem impossible.
Washington's prescience is remarkable. Recognizing, in October, 1789, that France had "gone triumphantly through the first paroxysm," he felt that she must encounter others, that more blood must be shed, that she might run from one extreme to another, and that "a higher-toned despotism" might replace "the one which existed before." Mentally prepared as he was, he met with skill the difficulties as they arose, so that the conduct of our foreign relations during the eight years of his administration was marked by discretion and furnished a good pattern to follow. During his foreign negotiations he determined a constitutional question of importance. When the Senate had ratified and Washington, after some delay, had signed the Jay treaty, the House of Representatives, standing for the popular clamor against it, asked the President for all the papers relating to the negotiation, on the ground that the House of Representatives must give its concurrence. This demand he resisted, maintaining that it struck at "the fundamental principles of the Constitution," which conferred upon the President and the Senate the power of making treaties, and provided that these treaties when made and ratified were the supreme law of the land. In domestic affairs he showed discernment in selecting as his confidential adviser, Alexander Hamilton, a man who had great constructive talent; and he gave a demonstration of the physical strength of the government by putting down the whisky rebellion in Pennsylvania. During his eight years he construed the powers conferred upon the executive by the Constitution with wisdom, and exercised them with firmness and vigor. Washington was a man of exquisite manners and his conduct of the office gave it a dignity and prestige which, with the exception of a part of one term, it has never lost.
Four of the five Presidents who followed Washington were men of education and ability, and all of them had large political training and experience; they reached their position by the process of a natural selection in politics, being entitled fitly to the places for which they were chosen. The three first fell upon stormy times and did their work during periods of intense partisan excitement; they were also subject to personal detraction, but the result in the aggregate of their administrations was good, inasmuch as they either maintained the power of the executive or increased its influence. Despite their many mistakes they somehow overcame the great difficulties. Each one did something of merit and the country made a distinct gain from John Adams to Monroe. Any one of them suffers by comparison with Washington: the "era of good feeling" was due to Congress and the people as well as to the executive. Nevertheless, the three turbulent administrations and the two quiet ones which succeeded Washington's may at this distance from them be contemplated with a feeling of gratulation. The Presidents surrounded themselves for the most part with men of ability, experience, and refinement, who carried on the government with dignity and a sense of proportion, building well upon the foundations which Washington had laid.
A contrast between France and the United States leads to curious reflections. The one has a past rich in art, literature, and architecture, which the other almost entirely lacks. But politically the older country has broken with the past, while we have political traditions peculiar to ourselves of the highest value. For the man American-born they may be summed up in Washington, the rest of the "Fathers," and the Constitution; and those who leave England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Germany, and Scandinavia to make their home in America soon come to share in these possessions. While the immigrants from southern Europe do not comprehend the Constitution, they know Washington. An object lesson may be had almost any pleasant Sunday or holiday in the public garden in Boston from the group of Italians who gather about the statue of Washington, showing, by their mobile faces and animated talk, that they revere him who is the father of their adopted country.
During these five administrations, at least two important extensions or assertions of executive power were made. In 1803 Jefferson bought Louisiana, doing, he said, "an act beyond the Constitution." He was a strict constructionist, and was deeply concerned at the variance between his constitutional principles and a desire for the material advantage of his country. In an effort to preserve his consistency he suggested to his Cabinet and political friends an amendment to the Constitution approving and confirming the cession of this territory, but they, deeming such an amendment entirely unnecessary, received his suggestion coldly. In the debate on the Louisiana treaty in the Senate and the House, all speakers of both parties agreed that "the United States government had the power to acquire new territory either by conquest or by treaty." Louisiana, "without its consent and against its will," was annexed to the United States, and Jefferson "made himself monarch of the new territory, and wielded over it, against its protests, the powers of its old kings."
The assertion by the President in 1823 of the Monroe Doctrine (which Mr. Worthington C. Ford has shown to be the John Quincy Adams doctrine) is an important circumstance in the development of the executive power.
President John Quincy Adams was succeeded by Andrew Jackson, a man of entirely different character from those who had preceded him in the office, and he represented different aims. Adams deserved another term. His sturdy Americanism, tempered by the cautiousness in procedure which was due to his rare training, made him an excellent public servant, and the country erred in not availing itself of his further service. The change from the regime of the first six Presidents to that of Jackson was probably inevitable. A high-toned democracy, based on a qualified suffrage, believing in the value of training for public life and administrative office, setting a value on refinement and good manners, was in the end sure to give way to a pure democracy based on universal suffrage whenever it could find a leader to give it force and direction. Jackson was such a leader. His followers felt: "He is one of us. He is not proud and does not care for style." The era of vulgarity in national politics was ushered in by Jackson, who as President introduced the custom of rewarding political workers with offices, an innovation entirely indefensible; he ought to have continued the practice of his six predecessors. The interaction between government and politics on the one hand and the life of the people on the other is persistent, and it may be doubted whether the United States would have seemed as it did to Dickens had not Jackson played such an important part in the vulgarization of politics. Yet it was a happy country, as the pages of Tocqueville bear witness.
Jackson was a strong executive and placed in his Cabinet men who would do his will, and who, from his own point of view, were good advisers, since they counseled him to pursue the course he had marked out for himself. Comparing his Cabinet officers to those of the Presidents preceding him, one realizes that another plan of governing was set on foot, based on the theory that any American citizen is fit for any position to which he is called. It was an era when special training for administrative work began to be slighted, when education beyond the rudiments was considered unnecessary except in the three professions, when the practical man was apotheosized and the bookish man despised. Jackson, uneducated and with little experience in civil life, showed what power might be exercised by an arbitrary, unreasonable man who had the people at his back. The brilliant three—Webster, Clay, and Calhoun—were unable to prevail against his power.
Jackson's financial policy may be defended; yet had it not been for his course during the nullification trouble, his declaration, "Our Federal Union: It must be preserved," and his consistent and vigorous action in accordance with that sentiment it would be difficult to affirm that the influence of his two terms of office was good. It cannot be said that he increased permanently the power of the executive, but he showed its capabilities. It is somewhat curious, however, that Tocqueville, whose observations were made under Jackson, should have written: "The President possesses almost royal prerogatives, which he never has an opportunity of using.... The laws permit him to be strong; circumstances keep him weak."
The eight Presidents from Jackson to Lincoln did not raise the character of the presidential office. Van Buren was the heir of Jackson. Of the others, five owed their nominations to their availability. The evil which Jackson did lived after him; indeed, only a man as powerful for the good as he had been for the bad could have restored the civil service to the merit system which had prevailed before he occupied the White House. The offices were at stake in every election, and the scramble for them after the determination of the result was great and pressing. The chief business of a President for many months after his inauguration was the dealing out of the offices to his followers and henchmen. It was a bad scheme, from the political point of view, for every President except him who inaugurated it. Richelieu is reported to have said, on making an appointment, "I have made a hundred enemies and one ingrate." So might have said many times the Presidents who succeeded Jackson.
The Whig, a very respectable party, having in its ranks the majority of the men of wealth and education, fell a victim to the doctrine of availability when it nominated Harrison on account of his military reputation. He lived only one month after his inauguration, and Tyler, the Vice President, who succeeded him, reverted to his old political principles, which were Democratic, and broke with the Whigs. By an adroit and steady use of the executive power he effected the annexation of Texas, but the master spirit in this enterprise was Calhoun, his Secretary of State. Polk, his Democratic successor, coveted California and New Mexico, tried to purchase them, and not being able to do this, determined on war. In fact, he had decided to send in a war message to Congress before the news came that the Mexicans, goaded to it by the action of General Taylor, under direct orders of the President, had attacked an American force and killed sixteen of our dragoons. This gave a different complexion to his message, and enabled him to get a strong backing from Congress for his war policy. The actions of Tyler and of Polk illustrate the power inherent in the executive office. It might seem that the exercise of this authority, securing for us at small material cost the magnificent domains of Texas, California, and New Mexico, would have given these Presidents a fame somewhat like that which Jefferson won by the purchase of Louisiana. But such has not been the case. The main reason is that the extension of slavery was involved in both enterprises, and the histories of these times, which have molded historical sentiment, have been written from the antislavery point of view. It seems hardly probable that this sentiment will be changed in any time that we can forecast, but there is an undoubted tendency in the younger historical students to look upon the expansion of the country as the important consideration, and the slavery question as incidental. Professor von Holst thought this changing historical sentiment entirely natural, but he felt sure that in the end men would come round to the antislavery view, of which he was so powerful an advocate.
From Taylor to Lincoln slavery dominated all other questions. Taylor was a Southern man and a slaveholder, and by his course on the Compromise measures attracted the favor of antislavery men; while Fillmore of New York, who succeeded this second President to die in office, and who exerted the power of the Administration to secure the passage of Clay's Compromise and signed the Fugitive Slave Law, had but a small political following at the North. Pierce and Buchanan were weak, the more positive men in their Cabinets and in the Senate swayed them. For a part of both of their terms the House of Representatives was controlled by the opposition, the Senate remaining Democratic. These circumstances are evidence both of the length of time required to change the political complexion of the Senate and of the increasing power of the North, which was dominant in the popular House. For the decade before the Civil War we should study the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Supreme Court, the action of the states, and popular sentiment. The executive is still powerful, but he is powerful because he is the representative of a party or faction which dictates the use that shall be made of his constitutional powers. The presidential office loses interest: irresolute men are in the White House, strong men everywhere else.
Lincoln is inaugurated President; the Civil War ensues, and with it an extraordinary development of the executive power. It is an interesting fact that the ruler of a republic which sprang from a resistance to the English king and Parliament should exercise more arbitrary power than any Englishman since Oliver Cromwell, and that many of his acts should be worthy of a Tudor. Lincoln was a good lawyer who reverenced the Constitution and the laws, and only through necessity assumed and exercised extra-legal powers, trying at the same time to give to these actions the color of legality. Hence his theory of the war power of the Constitution, which may be construed to permit everything necessary to carry on the war. Yet his dictatorship was different from Caesar's and different from the absolute authority of Napoleon. He acted under the restraints imposed by his own legal conscience and patriotic soul, whose influence was revealed in his confidential letters and talks. We know furthermore that he often took counsel of his Cabinet officers before deciding matters of moment. Certain it is that in arbitrary arrests Seward and Stanton were disposed to go further than Lincoln. The spirit of arbitrary power was in the air, and unwise and unjust acts were done by subordinates, which, although Lincoln would not have done them himself, he deemed it better to ratify than to undo. This was notably the case in the arrest of Vallandigham. Again, Congress did not always do what Lincoln wished, and certain men of his own party in Congress were strong enough to influence his actions in various ways. But, after all, he was himself a strong man exercising comprehensive authority; and it is an example of the flexibility of the Constitution that, while it surely did not authorize certain of Lincoln's acts, it did not expressly forbid them. It was, for example, an open question whether the Constitution authorized Congress or the President to suspend the writ of habeas corpus.
It seems to be pretty well settled by the common sense of mankind that when a nation is fighting for its existence it cannot be fettered by all the legal technicalities which obtain in the time of peace. Happy the country whose dictatorship, if dictator there must be, falls into wise and honest hands! The honesty, magnanimity, and wisdom of Lincoln guided him aright, and no harm has come to the great principles of liberty from the arbitrary acts which he did or suffered to be done. On the other hand he has so impressed himself upon the Commonwealth that he has made a precedent for future rulers in a time of national peril, and what he excused and defended will be assumed as a matter of course because it will be according to the Constitution as interpreted by Abraham Lincoln. This the Supreme Court foresaw when it rendered its judgment in the Milligan case, saying: "Wicked men ambitious of power, with hatred of liberty and contempt of law, may fill the place once occupied by Washington and Lincoln, and if this right is conceded [that of a commander in a time of war to declare martial law within the lines of his military district and subject citizens as well as soldiers to the rule of his will] and the calamities of war again befall us, the dangers to human liberty are frightful to contemplate." No one can deny that a danger here exists, but it is not so great as the solemn words of the Supreme Court might lead one to believe. For Lincoln could not have persisted in his arbitrary acts had a majority of Congress definitely opposed them, and his real strength lay in the fact that he had the people at his back. This may be said of the period from the first call of troops in April, 1861, until the summer of 1862. McClellan's failure on the Peninsula, Pope's disaster at the second battle of Bull Run, the defeats at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville lost Lincoln the confidence of many; and while the emancipation proclamation of September, 1862, intensified the support of others, it nevertheless alienated some Republicans and gave to the opposition of the Democrats a new vigor. But after Gettysburg and Vicksburg in July, 1863, Lincoln had the support of the mass of the Northern people. Whatever he did the people believed was right because he had done it. The trust each placed in the other is one of the inspiring examples of free government and democracy. Lincoln did not betray their confidence: they did not falter save possibly for brief moments during the gloomy summer of 1864. The people who gave their unreserved support to Lincoln were endued with intelligence and common sense; not attracted by any personal magnetism of the man, they had, by a process of homely reasoning, attained their convictions and from these they were not to be shaken. This is the safety of a dictatorship as long as the same intelligence obtains among the voters as now; for the people will not support a ruler in the exercise of extra-legal powers unless he be honest and patriotic. The danger may come in a time of trouble from either an irresolute or an unduly obstinate executive. The irresolute man would baffle the best intentions of the voters; the obstinate man might quarrel with Congress and the people. Either event in time of war would be serious and might be disastrous. But the chances are against another Buchanan or Johnson in the presidential office.
If the Civil War showed the flexibility of the Constitution in that the executive by the general agreement of Congress and the people was able to assume unwarranted powers, the course of affairs under Johnson demonstrated the strength that Congress derived from the organic act. The story is told in a sentence by Blaine: "Two thirds of each House united and stimulated to one end can practically neutralize the executive power of the government and lay down its policy in defiance of the efforts and opposition of the President." What a contrast between the two administrations! Under Lincoln Congress, for the most part, simply registered the will of the President; under Johnson the President became a mere executive clerk of Congress. In the one case the people supported the President, in the other they sustained Congress. Nothing could better illustrate the flexibility of the Constitution than the contrast between these administrations; but it needs no argument to show that to pass from one such extreme to another is not healthy for the body politic. The violent antagonisms aroused during Johnson's administration, when the difficult questions to be settled needed the best statesmanship of the country, and when the President and Congress should have cooperated wisely and sympathetically, did incalculable harm. Johnson, by habits, manners, mind, and character, was unfit for the presidential office, and whatever may have been the merit of his policy, a policy devised by angels could never have been carried on by such an advocate. The American people love order and decency; they have a high regard for the presidential office, and they desire to see its occupant conduct himself with dignity. Jackson and Lincoln lacked many of the external graces of a gentleman, but both had native qualities which enabled them to bear themselves with dignity on public occasions. Johnson degraded the office, and he is the only one of our Presidents of whom this can be said. Bagehot, writing in 1872, drew an illustration from one of the darkest periods of our republic to show the superiority of the English Constitution. If we have a Prime Minister who does not suit Parliament and the people, he argued, we remove him by a simple vote of the House of Commons. The United States can only get rid of its undesirable executive by a cumbrous and tedious process which can only be brought to bear during a period of revolutionary excitement; and even this failed because a legal case was not made against the President. The criticism was pregnant, but the remedy was not Cabinet responsibility. Whatever may be the merits or demerits of our polity, it has grown as has the English; it has fitted itself to the people, and cabinet government cannot be had without a complete change of the organic act, which is neither possible nor desirable. The lesson was that the national conventions should exercise more care in naming their vice-presidential candidates; and these bodies have heeded it. When Grant, popular throughout the country, nominated by the unanimous vote of the Republican convention, became President, Congress restored to the executive a large portion of the powers of which it had been shorn during Johnson's administration. Grant had splendid opportunities which he did not improve, and he left no especial impression on the office. In the opinion of one of his warm friends and supporters he made "a pretty poor President." An able opposition to him developed in his own party; and as he was a sensitive man he felt keenly their attacks. Colonel John Hay told me that, when on a visit to Washington during Grant's administration, he had arrived at the Arlington Hotel at an early hour and started out for a walk; in front of the White House he was surprised to meet the President, who was out for the same purpose. The two walked together to the Capitol and back, Grant showing himself to be anything but a silent man. Manifesting a keen sensitiveness to the attacks upon him, he talked all of the time in a voluble manner, and the burden of his talk was a defense of his administrative acts. It is impossible in our minds to dissociate Grant the President from Grant the General, and for this reason American historical criticism will deal kindly with him. The brilliant victor of Donelson, the bold strategist of Vicksburg, the compeller of men at Chattanooga, the vanquisher of Robert E. Lee in March and April, 1865, the magnanimous conqueror at Appomattox, will be treated with charity by those who write about his presidential terms, because he meant well although he did not know how to do well. Moreover, the good which Grant did is of that salient kind which will not be forgotten. The victorious general, with two trusted military subordinates in the prime of life and a personnel for a strong navy, persisted, under the guidance of his wise Secretary of State, Hamilton Fish, in negotiating a treaty which provided for arbitration and preserved the peace with Great Britain; although, in the opinion of the majority, the country had a just cause of war in the escape of the Florida and the Alabama. After the panic of 1873, when financiers and capitalists lost their heads, and Congress with the approval of public sentiment passed an act increasing the amount of United States notes in circulation, Grant, by a manly and bold veto, prevented this inflation of the currency. The wisdom of the framers of the Constitution in giving the President the veto power was exemplified. Congress did not pass the act over the veto, and Grant has been justified by the later judgment of the nation. His action demonstrated what a President may do in resisting by his constitutional authority some transitory wave of popular opinion, and it has proved a precedent of no mean value. Johnson's vetoes became ridiculous. Grant's veto compensates for many of his mistakes.
Said Chancellor Kent in 1826: "If ever the tranquillity of this nation is to be disturbed and its liberties endangered by a struggle for power, it will be upon this very subject of the choice of a President. This is the question that is eventually to test the goodness and try the strength of the Constitution, and if we shall be able for half a century hereafter to continue to elect the chief magistrate of the Union with discretion, moderation, and integrity we shall undoubtedly stamp the highest value on our national character." Just fifty years later came a more dangerous test than Kent could have imagined. Somewhat more than half of the country believed that the states of Florida and Louisiana should be counted for Tilden, and that he was therefore elected. On the other hand, nearly one half of the voters were of the opinion that those electoral votes should be given to Hayes, which would elect him by the majority of one electoral vote. Each of the parties had apparently a good case, and after an angry controversy became only the more firmly and sincerely convinced that its own point of view was unassailable. The Senate was Republican, the House Democratic. The great Civil War had been ended only eleven years before, and the country was full of fighting men. The Southern people were embittered against the dominant party for the reason that Reconstruction had gone otherwise than they had expected in 1865 when they laid down their arms. The country was on the verge of a civil war over the disputed Presidency—a war that might have begun with an armed encounter on the floor of the Senate or the House. This was averted by a carefully prepared congressional act, which in effect left the dispute to a board of arbitration. To the statesmen of both parties who devised this plan and who cooperated in carrying the measure through Congress; to the members of the Electoral Commission, who in the bitterest strife conducted themselves with dignity; to the Democratic Speaker of the House and the Democrats who followed his lead, the eternal gratitude of the country is due. "He that ruleth his spirit is better than he that taketh a city." The victories of Manila and Santiago are as nothing compared with the victorious restraint of the American people in 1876 and 1877 and the acquiescence of one half of the country in what they believed to be an unrighteous decision. Hayes was inaugurated peacefully, but had to conduct his administration in the view of 4,300,000 voters who believed that, whatever might be his legal claim, he had no moral right to the place he occupied. The Democrats controlled the House of Representatives during the whole of his term, and the Senate for a part of it, and at the outset he encountered the opposition of the stalwart faction of his own party. Nevertheless he made a successful President, and under him the office gained in force and dignity. Hayes was not a man of brilliant parts or wide intelligence, but he had common sense and decision of character. Surrounding himself with a strong Cabinet, three members of which were really remarkable for their ability, he entered upon a distinct policy from which flowed good results. He withdrew the Federal troops from the states of South Carolina and Louisiana, inaugurating in these states an era of comparative peace and tranquillity. Something was done in the interest of Civil Service Reform. In opposition to the view of his Secretary of the Treasury and confidential friend, John Sherman, he vetoed the act of 1878 for the remonetization of silver by the coinage of a certain amount of silver dollars—the first of those measures which almost brought us to the monetary basis of silver. His guiding principle was embodied in a remark he made in his inaugural address, "He serves his party best who serves the country best." He and his accomplished wife had a social and moral influence in Washington of no mean value. The Civil War had been followed by a period of corruption, profligacy, and personal immorality. In politics, if a man were sound on the main question, which meant if he were a thorough-going Republican, all else was forgiven. Under Hayes account was again taken of character and fitness. The standard of political administration was high. While Mrs. Hayes undoubtedly carried her total abstinence principles to an extreme not warranted by the usage of good society, the moral atmosphere of the White House was that of most American homes. Mr. and Mrs. Hayes belonged to that large class who are neither rich nor poor, neither learned nor ignorant, but who are led both by their native common sense and by their upbringing to have a high respect for learning, a belief in education, morality, and religion, and a lofty ideal for their own personal conduct.
The salient feature of Garfield's few months of administration was a quarrel between him and the senators from New York State about an important appointment. Into this discussion, which ended in a tragedy, entered so many factors that it is impossible to determine exactly the influence on the power of the President and the growing power of the Senate. One important result of it shall be mentioned. The Civil Service Reform Bill, introduced into the Senate by a Democrat, was enacted during Arthur's administration by a large and non-partisan majority. It provided for a non-partisan civil service commission, and established open competitive examinations for applicants for certain offices, making a commencement by law of the merit system, which before had depended entirely upon executive favor. It was a victory for reformers who had been advocating legislation of such a character from a period shortly after the close of the Civil War; for it was at that time that a few began the work of educating public sentiment, which had acquiesced in the rotation of offices as an American principle well worthy of maintenance. Consequences far-reaching and wholesome followed the passage of this important act. Grant had attempted and Hayes had accomplished a measure of reform, but to really fix the merit system in the civil service a law was needed.
Regarded by the lovers of good government as a machine politician, Arthur happily disappointed them by breaking loose from his old associations and pursuing a manly course. He gave the country a dignified administration; but, even had he been a man to impress his character upon the office, conditions were against him. His party was torn by internal dissensions and suffered many defeats, of which the most notable was in his own state of New York, where his Secretary of the Treasury and personal friend was overwhelmingly defeated for governor by Grover Cleveland.
The unprecedented majority which Cleveland received in this election and his excellent administration as Governor of New York secured for him the Democratic nomination for President in 1884. New York State decided the election, but the vote was so close that for some days the result was in doubt and the country was nervous lest there should be another disputed Presidency; in the end it was determined that Cleveland had carried that state by a plurality of 1149. Cleveland was the first Democratic President elected since 1856; the Democrats had been out of office for twenty-four years, and it had galled them to think that their historic party had so long been deprived of power and patronage. While many of their leaders had a good record on the question of Civil Service Reform, the rank and file believed in the Jacksonian doctrine of rewarding party workers with the offices, or, as most of them would have put it, "To the victors belong the spoils." With this principle so fixed in the minds of his supporters, it became an interesting question how Cleveland would meet it. No one could doubt that he would enforce fairly the statute, but would he content himself with this and use the offices not covered by the act to reward his followers in the old Democratic fashion? An avowed civil service reformer, and warmly supported by independents and some former Republicans on that account, he justified the confidence which they had reposed in him and refused "to make a clean sweep." In resisting this very powerful pressure from his party he accomplished much toward the establishment of the merit system in the civil service. It is true that he made political changes gradually, but his insistence on a rule which gained him time for reflection in making appointments was of marked importance. It would be idle to assert that in his two terms he lived wholly up to the ideal of the reformers; undoubtedly a long list of backslidings might be made up, but in striking a fair balance it is not too much to say that in this respect his administration made for righteousness. All the more credit is due him in that he not only resisted personal pressure, but, aspiring to be a party leader for the carrying out of a cherished policy on finance and the tariff, he made more difficult the accomplishment of these ends by refusing to be a mere partisan in the question of the offices. In his second term it is alleged, probably with truth, that he made a skillful use of his patronage to secure the passage by the Senate of the repeal of the Silver Act of 1890, which repeal had gone easily through the House. It seemed to him and to many financiers that unless this large purchase of silver bullion should be stopped the country would be forced on to a silver basis, the existing financial panic would be grievously intensified, and the road back to the sound money basis of the rest of the civilized world would be long and arduous. His course is defended as doing a little wrong in order to bring about a great right; and the sequence of events has justified that defense. Harm was done to the cause of Civil Service Reform, but probably no permanent injury. The repeal of the Silver Act of 1890 was the first important step in the direction of insuring a permanent gold standard, and Grover Cleveland is the hero of it.
The presidential office gained in strength during Cleveland's two terms. As we look back upon them, the President is the central figure round which revolves each policy and its success or failure. At the same time, it is his party more than he that is to be blamed for the failures. He made a distinct move toward a reduction of the tariff, and while this failed, leaving us with the reactionary result of higher duties than ever before, it is not impossible that the words, actions, and sacrifices of Cleveland will be the foundation of a new tariff-reform party. Allusion has been made to his soundness on finance. His course in this respect was unvarying. Capitalists and financiers can take care of themselves, no matter what are the changes in the currency; but men and women of fixed incomes, professors of colleges, teachers in schools, clergymen and ministers, accountants and clerks in receipt of salaries, and farmers and laborers have had their comfort increased and their anxieties lessened by the adoption of the gold standard; and to Cleveland, as one of the pioneers in this movement for stability, their thanks are due.
In the railroad riots of 1894 Cleveland, under the advice of his able Attorney-General, made a precedent in the way of interference for the supremacy of law and the maintenance of order. The Governor of Illinois would not preserve order, and the President determined that at all hazards riotous acts must be suppressed and law must resume its sway. In ordering United States troops to the scene of the disturbance without an application of the Legislature or Governor of Illinois he accomplished a fresh extension of executive power without an infraction of the Constitution.
In his most important diplomatic action Cleveland was not so happy as in his domestic policy. There are able men experienced in diplomacy who defend his message of December 17, 1895, to Congress in regard to Venezuela, and the wisdom of that action is still a mooted question. Yet two facts placed in juxtaposition would seem to indicate that the message was a mistake. It contained a veiled threat of war if England would not arbitrate her difference with Venezuela, the implication being that the stronger power was trying to browbeat the weaker one. Later an arbitration took place, the award of which was a compromise, England gaining more than Venezuela, and the award demonstrated that England had not been as extreme and unjust in her claim as had been Venezuela. It is even probable that England might have accepted, as the result of negotiation, the line decided on by the arbitrators. But, to the credit of Mr. Cleveland and his Secretary of State, Mr. Olney, it must be remembered that they later negotiated a treaty "for the arbitration of all matters in difference between the United States and Great Britain," which unfortunately failed of ratification by the Senate.
It is a fair charge against Cleveland as a partisan leader that, while he led a strong following to victory in 1892, he left his party disorganized in 1897. But it fell to him to decide between principle and party, and he chose principle. He served his country at the expense of his party. From the point of view of Democrats it was grievous that the only man under whom they had secured victory since the Civil War should leave them in a shattered condition, and it may be a question whether a ruler of more tact could not have secured his ends without so great a schism. Those, however, to whom this party consideration does not appeal have no difficulty in approving Cleveland's course. It is undeniable that his character is stamped on the presidential office, and his occupancy of it is a distinct mark in the history of executive power.
Harrison occupied the presidential office between the two terms of Cleveland, and although a positive man, left no particular impress upon the office. He was noted for his excellent judicial appointments, and he had undoubtedly a high standard of official conduct which he endeavored to live up to. Cold in his personal bearing he did not attract friends, and he was not popular with the prominent men in his own party. While Cleveland and McKinley were denounced by their opponents, Harrison was ridiculed; but the universal respect in which he was held after he retired to private life is evidence that the great office lost no dignity while he held it. During his term Congress overshadowed the executive and the House was more conspicuous than the Senate. Thomas B. Reed was speaker and developed the power of that office to an extraordinary extent. McKinley was the leader of the House and from long service in that body had become an efficient leader. The election of Harrison was interpreted to mean that the country needed a higher tariff, and McKinley carried through the House the bill which is known by his name. Among the other Representatives Mr. Lodge was prominent. It was not an uncommon saying at that time that the House was a better arena for the rising politician than the Senate. In addition to the higher tariff the country apparently wanted more silver and a determined struggle was made for the free coinage of silver which nearly won in Congress. In the end, however, a compromise was effected by Senator Sherman which averted free silver but committed the country to the purchase annually of an enormous amount of silver bullion against which Treasury notes redeemable in coin were issued. This was the Act of 1890 which, as I have mentioned, was repealed under Cleveland in 1893. It is entirely clear from the sequence of events that the Republican party as a party should have opposed the purchase of more silver. It could not have been beaten worse than it was in 1892, but it could have preserved a consistency in principle which, when the tide turned, would have been of political value. The party which has stuck to the right principle has in the long run generally been rewarded with power, and as the Republicans, in spite of certain defections, had been the party of sound money since the Civil War, they should now have fought cheap money under the guise of unlimited silver as they had before under the guise of unlimited greenbacks. But the leaders thought differently, and from their own point of view their course was natural. The country desired more silver. Business was largely extended, overtrading was the rule. Farmers and business men were straitened for money. Economists, statesmen, and politicians had told them that, as their trouble had come largely from the demonetization of silver, their relief lay in bimetallism. It was easy to argue that the best form of bimetallism was the free coinage of gold and silver, and after the panic of 1893 this delusion grew, but the strength of it was hardly appreciated by optimistic men in the East until the Democrats made it the chief plank in the platform on which they fought the presidential campaign of 1896. Nominating an orator who had an effective manner of presenting his arguments to hard-working farmers whose farms were mortgaged, to business men who were under a continued strain to meet their obligations, and to laborers out of employment, it seemed for two or three months as if the party of silver and discontent might carry the day. After some hesitation the Republicans grappled with the question boldly, took ground against free silver, and with some modification declared their approval of the gold standard. On this issue they fought the campaign. Their able and adroit manager was quick to see, after the issue was joined, the force of the principle of sound money and started a remarkable campaign of education by issuing speeches and articles by the millions in a number of different languages, in providing excellent arguments for the country press, and in convincing those who would listen only to arguments of sententious brevity by a well-devised circulation of "nuggets" of financial wisdom. McKinley had also the support of the greater part of the Independent and Democratic press. While financial magnates and the bankers of the country were alarmed at the strength of the Bryan party, and felt that its defeat was necessary to financial surety, the strength of the Republican canvass lay in the fact that the speakers and writers who made it believed sincerely that the gold standard would conduce to the greatest good of the greatest number. It was an inspiring canvass. The honest advocacy of sound principle won.
Under McKinley the Democratic tariff bill was superseded by the Dingley act, which on dutiable articles is, I believe, the highest tariff the country has known. The Republican party believes sincerely in the policy of protection, and the country undoubtedly has faith in it. It is attractive to those who allow immediate returns to obscure prospective advantage, and if a majority decides whether or not a political and economic doctrine is sound, it has a powerful backing, for every large country in the civilized world, I think, except England, adheres to protection; and some of them have returned to it after trying a measure of commercial freedom. McKinley and the majority of Congress were in full sympathy, and the Dingley act had the approval of the administration. But the change in business conditions which, though long in operation, became signally apparent after 1893, wrought in McKinley, during his four and a half years of office, a change of opinion. Under improved processes and economies in all branches of manufactures the United States began to make many articles cheaper than any other country, and sought foreign markets for its surplus, disputing successfully certain open marts with England and Germany. In McKinley's earlier utterances the home market is the dominating feature; in his later ones, trade with foreign countries. In his last speech at Buffalo he gave mature expression to his views, which for one who had been a leader of protectionists showed him to have taken advanced ground. "We find our long-time principles echoed," declared the Nation. McKinley's manner of developing foreign trade was not that of the tariff reformers, for he proposed to bring this about by a variety of reciprocity treaties; but it was important that he recognized the sound economic principle that if we are to sell to foreign countries we must buy from them also. That McKinley had a strong hold on the country is indisputable from the unanimous renomination by his party and his triumphant reelection, and it was a step toward commercial freedom that he who more than all other men had the ear of the country and who had been an arch-protectionist should advocate the exchange of commodities with foreign lands. Economists do not educate the mass of voters, but men like McKinley do, and these sentences of his were read and pondered by millions: "A system which provides a mutual exchange of commodities is manifestly essential to the continued and healthful growth of our export trade. We must not repose in fancied security that we can forever sell everything and buy little or nothing. If such a thing were possible it would not be best for us or for those with whom we deal." It is useless to speculate on what would have been the result had McKinley lived. Those who considered him a weak President aver that when he encountered opposition in Congress from interests which were seemingly menaced, he would have yielded and abandoned reciprocity. Others believe that he understood the question thoroughly and that his arguments would in the end have prevailed with Congress; yielding, perhaps, in points of detail he would have secured the adoption of the essential part of his policy.
After his election McKinley became a believer in the gold standard and urged proper legislation upon Congress. It is to his credit and to that of Congress that on March 14, 1900, a bill became a law which establishes the gold standard and puts it out of the power of any President to place the country upon a silver basis by a simple direction to his Secretary of the Treasury, which could have been done in 1897. As it has turned out, it was fortunate that there was no undue haste in this financial legislation. A better act was obtained than would have been possible in the first two years of McKinley's administration. The reaction from the crisis following the panic of 1893 had arrived, made sure by the result of the election of 1896; and the prosperity had become a telling argument in favor of the gold standard with the people and with Congress.
McKinley was essentially adapted for a peace minister, but under him came war. Opinions of him will differ, not only according to one's sentiments on war and imperialism, but according to one's ideal of what a President should be. Let us make a comparison which shall not include Washington, for the reason that under him the country had not become the pure democracy it is at the present day. Of such a democracy it seems to me that Lincoln is the ideal President, in that he led public sentiment, represented it, and followed it. "I claim not to have controlled events," he said, "but confess plainly that events have controlled me." During his term of office he was one day called "very weak," and the next "a tyrant"; but when his whole work was done, a careful survey of it could bring one only to the conclusion that he knew when to follow and when to lead. He was in complete touch with popular sentiment, and divined with nicety when he could take a step in advance. He made an effort to keep on good terms with Congress, and he differed with that body reluctantly, although, when the necessity came, decisively. While he had consideration for those who did not agree with him, and while he acted always with a regard to proportion, he was nevertheless a strong and self-confident executive. Now Cleveland did not comprehend popular opinion as did Lincoln. In him the desire to lead was paramount, to the exclusion at times of a proper consideration for Congress and the people. It has been said by one of his political friends that he used the same energy and force in deciding a small matter as a great one, and he alienated senators, congressmen, and other supporters by an unyielding disposition when no principle was involved. He did not possess the gracious quality of Lincoln, who yielded in small things that he might prevail in great ones. Yet for this quality of sturdy insistence on his own idea Cleveland has won admiration from a vast number of independent thinkers. Temperaments such as these are not in sympathy with McKinley, who represents another phase of Lincoln's genius. The controlling idea of McKinley probably was that as he was elected by the people he should represent them. He did not believe that, if a matter were fully and fairly presented, the people would go wrong. At times he felt he should wait for their sober, second thought, but if, after due consideration, the people spoke, it was his duty to carry out their will. Unquestionably if the Cleveland and McKinley qualities can be happily combined as they were in Lincoln, the nearest possible approach to the ideal ruler is the result. One Lincoln, though, in a century, is all that any country can expect: and there is a place in our polity for either the Cleveland or the McKinley type of executive. So it seemed to the makers of the Constitution. "The republican principle," wrote Hamilton in the Federalist, "demands that the deliberate sense of the community should govern the conduct of those to whom they intrust the management of their affairs." "But," he said in the same essay, "however inclined we might be to insist upon an unbounded complaisance in the executive to the inclinations of the people, we can with no propriety contend for a like complaisance to the humors of the legislature.... The executive should be in a situation to dare to act his own opinion with vigor and decision." It is frequently remarked that no President since Lincoln had so thorough a comprehension of public sentiment as McKinley. This knowledge and his theory of action, if I have divined it aright, are an explanation of his course in regard to the Spanish War and the taking of the Philippines. It does not fall to me to discuss in this article these two questions, nor do I feel certain that all the documents necessary to a fair judgment are accessible to the public, but I can show what was McKinley's attitude toward them by reporting a confidential conversation he had on May 2, 1899, with Mr. Henry S. Pritchett, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who made a record of it the day afterward. The President, Mr. Pritchett relates, spoke of the "war and of his own responsibility, and the way in which he has gradually come to have his present position with respect to the Philippines. The talk was started by my reminding him of the fact that just a year ago that morning, on May 2, 1898, I had come into his room with a map of Manila and Cavite on a large scale—the first time he had seen such a map—and from this he drifted into a most serious and interesting talk of his own place in the history of the past twelve months. He described his efforts to avert the war, how he had carried the effort to the point of rupture with his party, then came the Maine incident, and, finally, a declaration of war over all efforts to stem the tide. Then he spoke of Cuba and Porto Rico and the Philippines, related at some length the correspondence he had had with the Paris Commission, how he had been gradually made to feel in his struggling for the right ground that first Luzon and finally all the Philippines must be kept. He then went on to indicate his belief that Providence had led in all this matter, that to him the march of events had been so irresistible that nothing could turn them aside. Nobody, he said, could have tried harder than he to be rid of the burden of the Philippines, and yet the trend of events had been such that it seemed impossible to escape this duty. He finally came to speak with more emotion than I have ever seen him exhibit, and no one could doubt the sincerity of the man."
Of McKinley's achievements in the field of diplomacy Secretary Hay in his memorial address spoke with knowledge and in words of high praise. Sometimes the expression of a careful foreign observer anticipates the judgment of posterity, and with that view the words of the Spectator, in an article on the presidential election of 1900, are worth quoting: "We believe that Mr. McKinley and the wise statesman who is his Secretary of State, Colonel Hay, are administrators of a high order. They have learnt their business thoroughly, hold all the strings of policy in their hands."
Opinions will differ as to the impress McKinley has left on the presidential office. It is the judgment of two men of large knowledge of American history and present affairs that no President since Jefferson has been so successful in getting Congress to adopt the positive measures he desired.
Of the administration of Theodore Roosevelt it would be neither proper nor wise for me to speak in other terms than those of expectation and prophecy. But of Mr. Roosevelt himself something may be said. His birth, breeding, education, and social advantages have been of the best. He has led an industrious and useful life. As an American citizen we are all proud of him, and when he reached the presidential office by a tragedy that nobody deplored more than he, every one wished him success. His transparent honesty and sincerity are winning qualities, and in the opinion of Burke especially important in him who is the ruler of a nation. "Plain good intention," he wrote, "which is as easily discovered at the first view as fraud is surely detected at last, is, let me say, of no mean force in the government of mankind." To these qualities, and to a physical and moral courage that can never be questioned, Mr. Roosevelt adds a large intelligence and, as his books show, a power of combination of ideas and cohesive thought. Moreover, he has had a good political training, and he has the faculty of writing his political papers in a pregnant and forcible literary style. He is fit for what Mr. Bryce calls "the greatest office in the world, unless we except the Papacy." His ideals are Washington and Lincoln. "I like to see in my mind's eye," he said, "the gaunt form of Lincoln stalking through these halls." "To gratify the hopes, secure the reverence, and sustain the dignity of the nation," said Justice Story, "the presidential office should always be occupied by a man of elevated talents, of ripe virtues, of incorruptible integrity, and of tried patriotism; one who shall forget his own interests and remember that he represents not a party but the whole nation." These qualities Theodore Roosevelt has. Whether he shall in action carry out the other requirements of Justice Story may only be judged after he shall have retired to private life.