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'Tis Sixty Years Since
by Charles Francis Adams
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None the less, so far as our national parliamentary system is concerned, could I have my way in a revision of the Constitution, I would increase the senatorial term to ten years, and I would, were such a thing within the range of possibility, break down the system of the necessary senatorial selection by a State of an inhabitant of the State. If I could, I would introduce the British system. For example, though I never voted for Mr. Bryan and have not been in general sympathy with Mr. Roosevelt, yet few things would give me greater political satisfaction than to see Mr. Bryan, we will say, elected a Senator from Arizona or Oregon, Mr. Roosevelt elected from Illinois or Pennsylvania, President Taft from Utah or Vermont. They apparently best represent existing feelings and the ideals prevailing in those communities; why, then, should they not voice those feelings and ideals in our highest parliamentary chamber?

As respects our House of Representatives, it would in principle be the same. I do not care to go into the rationale of what is known as proportional representation, nor have I time so to do; but, were it in my power, I would prescribe to-morrow that hereafter the national House of Representatives should be constituted on the proportional basis,—the choice of representatives to be by States, but, as respects the nomination of candidates, irrespective of district lines. Like many others, I am very weary of provincial nobodies, "good men" locally known to be such!

As I have already said, in parliamentary government all depends in the end on the truly representative character of the legislative body. If that is as it should be, the rest surely follows. The objective of Aristotle is attained.

Exceeding the limits assigned to it, my discussion has, however, extended too far. I must close. One word before so doing. Why am I here? I am here,—a man considerably exceeding in age the allotted threescore and ten—to deliver a message, be the value of the same greater or less. I greatly fear it is less. I would, however, impart the lessons of an experience stretching over sixty years,—the results of such observation as my intelligence has enabled me to exercise. I do so, addressing myself to a local institution of the advanced education. Why? Because, looking over the country, diagnosing its conditions as well as my capacity enables me, observing the evolution of the past and forecasting, in as far as I may, the outcome, I am persuaded that the future of the country rests more largely in the hands of such institutions as this than in those of any other agency or activity. Do not say I flatter; for, while I can hope for no advancement, I think I have not overstated the case; I certainly have not overstated my conviction. There has been no man who has influenced the course of modern thought more deeply and profoundly than Adam Smith, a Professor in a Scotch University of the second class. So here in Columbia seventy years ago, Francis Lieber prepared and published his "Manual of Political Ethics." Adam Smith and Francis Lieber were but prototypes—examples of what I have in mind. The days were when the Senate of the United States afforded a rostrum from which thinkers and teachers first formulated, and then advanced, great policies. Those days, and I say it regretfully, are past. Unless I am greatly mistaken, however, a new political force is now asserting itself. I have recently, at a meeting of historical and scientific associations in Boston, had my attention forcibly called to this aspect of the situation now shaping itself. I there met young men, many, and not the least noticeable of whom, came from this section. They inspired me with a renewed confidence in our political future. Essentially teachers,—I might add, they were publicists as well as professors. Observers and students, they actively followed the course of developing thought in Europe as in this country. Exact in their processes, philosophical and scientific in their methods, unselfish in their devotion, they were broad of view. It is for them to realize in a future not remote the University ideal pictured, and correctly pictured, from this stage by one who here preceded me a short six months ago. They, constituting the University, are the "hope of the State in the direction of its practical affairs; in teaching the lawyer the better standards of his profession, his duty to place character above money making; in teaching the legislator the philosophy of legislation, and that the constructive forces of legislation carefully considered should precede every effort to change an existing status; in teaching those in official life, executive and judicial, that demagogy, and theories of life uncontrolled by true principles, do not make for success, when final success is considered, but that, if they did lead to success, they should be avoided for their inherent imperfection.... The province of the University is to educate citizenship in the abstract."

It is the presence of this class, to those composing which I bow as distinctly of a period superior to mine, that you owe my presence to-day,—whatever that presence may be worth. I regard their existence and their coming forward in such institutions as this University of South Carolina, as the arc of the bow of promise spanning the political horizon of our future.

Through you, to them my message is addressed.

THE END

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