Federal Usurpation (1908)

Franklin Pierce (1853-19XX)

Paternalism and Imperialism

“The French government having assumed the place of Providence, it was natural that everyone should invoke its aid in his individual necessities.”

De Tocqueville

“The mischief begins when, instead of calling forth the activity and powers of individuals and bodies, government substitutes its own activity for theirs; when, instead of informing, advising, and, upon occasion, denouncing, it makes them work in fetters, or bids them stand aside and does their work instead of them. The worth of a State, in the long run, is the worth of the individuals composing it.”

John Stuart Mill

“Foreign politics recede into the background with the growth of civil and political freedom, while they are the main prop of autocracies.”


THE public newspapers a few months ago told the people of the country that a delegation from the New York Federation of Churches had that day called at the White House to lay before the President the facts about the waning of religious zeal and the decrease of church extension in New York. They desired the President’s “aid toward arousing greater interest in religion.” In the days of the birth of the Constitution the fathers lifted their thoughts to Heaven and to God for religious help, and they hardly anticipated a time when the President, for whose election they were providing, would be looked to by the American people for religious guidance. Noble Robert Collier was wont to tell the story of an old clergyman in Scotland who, when the scorners gathered around the church while services were going on, would leave the pulpit, catch the unrepentant sinners, and drag them before the altar of mercy. Perhaps the delegation from the New York Federation of Churches hoped that the President with his “big stick” would compel the people to attend church.

The value of this simple and trifling incident is found in that it is a typical illustration of the unfortunate condition of our people. Labor Unions, Boards of Trade, National Banks, and like bodies are constantly turning to the President of the United States, asking him to arbitrate strikes, coerce corporations, and deposit government surplus, and generally to carry on the domestic affairs of the states. The present Secretary of the Treasury has deposited upward of $200,000,000 of the surplus of the government with the banks, issued $50,000,000 of three per cent certificates, and sold them to aid the banks, under the law that they may be issued when necessary to meet public expenditures, and sold $50,000,000 of the Panama bonds in advance of the need of the money, in order to relieve the money stringency. In the spring of 1907 we saw the strange spectacle of presidents of railways hastening to Washington to invoke the President to protect them from state legislation. A commission known as the Keep Commission recently has reported a plan to be submitted to Congress, providing that the government shall compel all its employees to make provision out of their salaries for annuities after retirement for age. The government on its side is to set aside, as part of the same fund, the sum of $725,000 for the first year, and this sum is to be increased during a period of thirty years, when the system is intended to be self-supporting. The maximum appropriation is to be $1,746,561. Wiser words were never spoken than those of President Cleveland that “it is not the business of a government to support its people, but of the people to support the government.”

The peculiar thing about the condition of our government today is that the President is supposed by the people to determine everything. Shall a trust be prosecuted? Ask the President, not the Attorney General. Shall we have further legislation with reference to railways? Ask the President and not Congress. All the affairs of government must be determined upon the President’s idea. It is simply a personal matter with the President. In a healthy democratic republic, measures, not men, attract the attention of the people. But with us, the President, appointing so many officers, controlling the army and, to a considerable extent, the navy, is, to use a vulgar phrase, in the center of the stage with all eyes upon him.

In Switzerland, the most democratic government in the world, a President of the Confederation is reported as once saying that if anyone were to question ten Swiss, all of them would know whether their country was well governed or not, but that nine of them would not be able to give the name of the President, and the tenth, who might think he knew it, would be mistaken.86 When will the American people learn that an all-powerful executive, constantly posing before them, toying gigantic schemes in their sight, dazzling them with his power and the grandeur of his views, keeping their attention upon the world’s politics, using the navy to collect from the weaker and smaller countries their indebtedness to European countries, advising his own people upon their domestic and social questions, is a menace to that liberty which never can continue unless it continues by reason of discussion of measures, not men. By too much trust in government the people are ceasing to trust themselves. The state cannot aid men without enfeebling their energies and imperiling their self-reliance. Such a condition goes on for a century or so, and by and by the people, who gradually have been losing independence and self-initiative, become an easy prey to the man on horseback.

Now let us see how these lamentable conditions have been brought about. In more than 200 addresses and messages and communications to Congress, during the last six years, the President has ever been holding before the people the one great theme — the power, the ability, and the willingness of the chief magistrate and of the national government to care for all the wants of the people. There is no subject, from football to race suicide, from simplified spelling to Constitutional construction, within the whole scope of human knowledge which has not been exploited more or less and held up to the people in these speeches and messages.

At Sioux Falls, on April 6, 1903, the President tells his audience 87 It was also proposed to establish agricultural colleges to promote agriculture, and this proposition was voted down. Notwithstanding this, hundreds of millions of the people’s money have been used for the ostensible purpose of promoting agriculture. For years Congress has been purchasing seeds at ordinary seed stores and scattering them among the farmers of the country. During President Cleveland’s second administration, Stirling G. Morton, Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, attempted to put a stop to this, and a representative from Louisiana arose in the House and declared that the distribution of seed was the only relation left him with his constituents, and now the Secretary of Agriculture was about to destroy that relationship.

In the President’s message of December, 1906, he assures the people that “much is now being done for the States of the Rocky Mountains and great plains through the development of the national policy of irrigation and forest preservation.” In a recent case88 it is distinctly held that Congress has no power to devote the public money for carrying on irrigation in the states, but that possibly the power exists to devote the public money to the irrigation of public lands in the territories. The irrigation laws, the geological survey, the ten or fifteen divisions of the Agricultural Department given over to investigations of all kinds, using up hundreds of millions of dollars of the people’s money, induce the people to look to the national government. These lavish appropriations are made with this express purpose in view. Every appropriation is a fresh draft from the exhaustless resources of a paternal government, but not a dollar was ever yet spent by the government which was not taken out of the pockets of the people. The appropriations of Congress in the year 1898 were $485,002,044; in 1906 they were $820,184,624, nearly double the amount for 1898; and in 1907 they were about a billion dollars. In the year 1907 there was appropriated by the River and Harbor Bill alone, $83,816,138, a sum larger than the total cost of all government in the United States in any single year prior to 1860.

In the President’s message in December, 1906, he devoted much attention to technical and industrial training, treating the whole matter as though the national government had power to establish schools in the different states, to instruct carpenters, blacksmiths, mechanics, textile workers, watchmakers, and all the members of the several industries of the country. Mr. Wadsworth, Chairman of the Committee on Agriculture, in the last Congress commented at length upon the tendency of the Department of Agriculture to usurp the powers of the state governments. The occasion of his speech was the consideration of what was known as the Nelson Amendment increasing the agricultural appropriations. Mr. Wadsworth said that the agricultural appropriations as a whole presented a serious menace to local control of education; that they included bills to extend aid to state normal schools, agricultural schools, mechanical schools, and city high schools; and that if appropriations were made for such purposes by and by they would be extended to the grade schools and then “you will have federal control and supervision of your schools.” Mr. Tawney, Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations, said: “If we continue this system of paternalism much longer it will not be long until the Congress will be swept off its feet and called on to account for from $25,000,000 to $50,000,000 annually for the construction and maintenance of good roads.”

The late Secretary of the Treasury, Leslie M. Shaw, for the purpose of aiding the national banks, allowed bonds other than government bonds as prescribed by the statute to be used to secure circulation; purchased bonds in advance of their becoming due with the intent of easing the money market; and deposited the moneys received by the government for internal revenue, to the amount of $20,000,000, with the banks in the east and in the west, after it had been taken into the Treasury vaults, a power never exercised before by any Secretary. He also deposited the government moneys with importing banks, during the transit of gold from London, Paris, Berlin, and Amsterdam, to save the cost of interest in transit; offered government deposits to banks which would buy the Panama Canal bonds at two per cent; deposited the Treasury surplus from time to time in different banks to ease the money market; advised that the matter of the amount of the reserves required by law to be held in the national banks be left for the Secretary of the Treasury to determine; and finally announced that if $100,000,000 were given him as Secretary of the Treasury to be deposited with the banks or withdrawn as he might deem expedient, and that if he also was clothed with authority over the reserves of the banks and power to direct the circulation of the national banks, he could prevent financial crises in the United States and all Europe, thus becoming the saviour of Europe as well as of the United States. The President, in commendation of the services of his Secretary of the Treasury, at the time of his resignation, wrote him: “People tend to forget year by year that the Secretary of the Treasury stands between them and business disaster. This report of yours shows how every year some crisis has occurred which might have had a most serious effect if it had not been met just as you have met it.”

These are only a few of the attempts of the government to direct the attention of the people to it for the remedy of every evil. The Treasury of the United States has been opened wide by distributing money into every part of the country for purposes with which the national government has nothing to do, with the intention of directing the attention of the people to the all-wise providence of Congress and of the Executive. A hundred years ago our people asked no favors from government, but only for a fair, square deal, each man confident in his ability to win by his own brain and his own hand. Today, under this paternal rule, everybody is in the habit of looking to the President and Congress for relief from every evil. Thus residents in the southern states recently sent a request to the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture that he rid them of the pest of the boll weevil, while the men of old Massachusetts, wherein personal independence in revolutionary days was most developed, send to Washington for help to drive the brown-tailed or gypsy moth from the borders of their State. Just as at Rome, the leading men desiring the plaudits of the people provided them with a circus, just as Caius Gracchus proposed a provision that the grain at Rome should become state property, and that the government should sell wheat to the people at a ridiculously low price, so today President Roosevelt and some of his predecessors have used vast sums of money collected from the people through protective tariffs, internal revenue, and other means to bestow bounties here and there all over the land, and thus attach the people of the different states to the all-powerful, all-bounteous providential national government.

Now such government is destructive of public virtue. The function of democracy is not alone to make government good, but to make men strong by intensifying their individual responsibility. The belief that the President or government has the power to make everybody comfortable or happy, and the inclination of the people to depend upon our government as the people of France and Germany depend upon theirs, is a tendency destructive of liberty and individual initiative. Paternalism is the dry rot of government, and as surely brings paralysis through all its members as the law of gravitation controls the universe.

But even these are not the worst evils of paternalism. The greatest curse which it has brought upon the country is its teaching that all evils are political in nature, and that it is within the scope of the state to destroy the social miseries which inevitably exist. We are teaching the people that a law of Congress is a sovereign specific for every evil. The President of the United States is constantly calling to the attention of the people in his messages and speeches the benefits to be derived from new laws, yet every student of history knows that better conditions cannot be brought about except through a change in the personal character of the people and their exercise of individual virtue and vigor. The exercise of arbitrary power by the President is bad because arbitrary power, whether it be political or industrial, has always had but one tendency, and that is to make good citizens bad citizens. The citizens who are contented to rely upon a paternal government never rise through one emancipation after another into a higher liberty. Social evolution progresses actually with the importance of the citizen above the state, and decreases exactly in the proportion of the importance of the state over the citizen. A good despotism is an absolutely false idea. The more civilized the country, the more noxious such a government.

The people must fight their own battles for better conditions. Every time they call upon that great central deity, the Government, to fight an evil, they surrender their God-given right to grow strong by fighting it themselves. By and by, if recent tendencies continue, they will surrender all their duties and all their rights, so dearly bought, to their rulers. By and by the government, like that of Germany, will dog the citizen’s footsteps at every turn, provide him with old-age pensions, recompense him for all injuries received through negligence, destroy his manhood while alive, and bury him when dead. Let us go on at the same rate we have been during the last five years, and the sole idea of our country will be a divinely inspired President whose authority, as guardian of the people, insures their general felicity. This evolution will consist in erecting an absolutely central power over the ruins of state and local life. All will be looking to Congress more and more for the righting of wrongs, for the control of commerce and industry, and for the curbing of the predatory railways and trusts. The command of the people to the President will be the command to the Roman dictator to take care that the state receives no harm, leaving the means and the methods entirely to his wise discretion. Then when evil conditions come, as they came recently to the wine growers in the south of France, through perfectly natural causes, our people in vain will turn their faces to the government to relieve them even as the French peasants sought government aid, and then rose in arms against a government that could find no cure for their ills.

Upon no subject has the President spoken with so much power as upon the decadence which race suicide is bringing upon the country. The conditions which the President laments are a menace to our national greatness, but no amount of severe language against married people who have no children will avail. Better a hundred times to find the reasons for race suicide and remove them. If the President does not know what those reasons are he has not carefully reflected upon existing conditions. The high price of the necessaries of life, whereby a large part of our people are reduced to a condition where the daily wage barely supports the family, more than any other cause brings the condition which the President so wisely laments. The masses of men will be what their circumstances make them. If the present prices of the necessaries of life and of rent continue, the average laboring man with a family will be unable from his wages to support his family and to lay aside a dollar for his old age. He pays for the rent of the tenement in which he lives from twenty-five to fifty per cent more than he would pay for it were it not for the customs duties upon iron and steel, wood, nails, glass, cement, and everything that goes into the making of that tenement, whereby the domestic manufacturer is protected from foreign trade and allowed to deprive the poor man of his scanty earnings.

The tariff schedules of today carry duty on more than 4,000 articles. Nearly every duty on these 4,000 articles permits the domestic producer of the same article to impose a higher price for his product, and that price eventually falls in greater part upon the shoulders of the poor and deters them from marriage and childbirth. Superintendent Maxwell, of the New York City schools, two or three years ago said: “There are thousands of children in our city schools who cannot learn because they are hungry.” And they are hungry, in part at least, because of that protective tariff which allows the wealth of the country to make every poor laboring man in this land pay tribute to increase its wealth. In 1,000 villages and cities, from one end of this country to the other, the wife of the poor man will be found in the market, the hard earnings of her husband in her gnarled hands, purchasing the necessaries of life; and from every dollar’s worth she buys, she is obliged, because of the tariff, to make a personal contribution to men who already have their millions. In the fifty years since the end of the Civil War, the protective tariff has brought to the hands of a few thousand manufacturers more wealth than was acquired by the French nobles through privilege in five hundred years prior to the revolution. In the President’s Jamestown speech he said: “We combat every tendency toward reducing the people toward economic servitude.” The way to combat it effectually is to remove the tariff which reduces the poor to economic servitude to the trusts. So reduced have the people become, that one has but to observe their condition closely each day in the crowded cars and thoroughfares of New York City to see that they are losing their faith in the opportunity to improve their condition and their courage to battle against the odds of life. Vitiated air, bad sanitation, and squalid homes drive them forth to the cheerfulness of the saloon, and, by and by, if a crisis comes, impel them to the commission of crimes.

A few months ago the J. & P. Coats Co., Ltd., thread manufacturers, declared a large dividend upon their capital of $15,000,000. This is a foreign corporation owned at Paisley, Scotland, but doing business in this country to take advantage of our tariff. Its stock, which is $50 per share, had a market value of $677.50 at the time this dividend was declared. The tariff duty upon sewing thread is six cents per dozen spools of 100 yards each. Race suicide, as a deplorable condition in our country today, is explained by such instances as the sewing woman; robbed by the high price of the necessaries of life, with a burden upon the cost of her thread, driven by desperate competition, she succumbs under all this stress and strain. This increased cost of living is a merciless drain upon the whole body of poor people. Robbed of their earnings by the monopolist, the unmarried do not marry, and the married do not bring children into the world, and the problem exists. Alexander Hamilton well said: “Give a man power over my subsistence and he has power over the whole of my moral being.” Government today gives to a few thousands the power over the subsistence of every one of the 20,000 post-office clerks whose salaries run from $600 to $1,000 a year, of all other clerks in the employ of the government on fixed salaries, and of every one of the millions of clerks upon fixed salaries in stores and business concerns in the entire country. And the result is race suicide, because we have reached a time in this country when a great portion of the people are unable to support a considerable family in the style they desire.

Yet the President, who deplores race suicide, a few years ago said: “Our experience as a people in the past has certainly not shown us that we could afford in this matter (of the tariff) to follow those professional counselors who have confined themselves to study in the closet, for the actual working of the tariff has emphatically contradicted their theories.” Of one of those professional counselors who confined himself, in great part at least, to study “in the closet,” Mr. Buckle, in his worldwide known “History of Civilization in England,” speaking of the “Wealth of Nations,” and summing up his estimate of the book, says: “Well may it be said of Adam Smith, and said, too, without fear of contradiction, that this solitary Scotchman has, by the publication of one single work, contributed more toward the happiness of man than has been effected by the united abilities of all the statesmen and legislators of whom history has preserved an authentic account.” With the growth of the protective tariff, those who have watched public affairs with care can observe the waning of the old-time democratic simplicity in government, and can see its place being taken by rapid centralization of power and growth of paternalism in the general government. High protection, militarism, and paternalism have been advancing hand in hand since the Civil War.

Immediately after the announcement of the nomination of Mr. McKinley at the Republican National Convention at St. Louis, in 1896, a delegate raised upon the point of a flagstaff a cocked hat, such as one associates with portraits of Napoleon, and the Convention cheered to the echo this Napoleonic emblem. Little did the delegates think that during the administration of Mr. McKinley would occur a war and the acquisition of territory, containing over 10,000,000 of people, in a distant part of the world, and that changes would come in the form of our government, leading to new habits, modes of thought, and conditions of life among the people which are inconsistent with a free democratic republic. We need spend little time in discussing the facts and conditions of our getting possession of our different colonies. We have them. and it is well for us now to study how these new conditions will affect our home institutions.

A republican form of government based upon a written constitution cannot exist where the republic is the sovereign of widely scattered colonies. The tendencies to usurpation from imperialism are so great as necessarily to break down the guarantees to liberty found in the written Constitution. The Philippine Islands became the property of the United States April 11, 1899, and it was 1901 before Congress took them into its charge. During all this period these Islands were governed by the President simply as the Czar might govern Siberia, or as the German Emperor did govern Alsace-Lorraine for some years after the Franco-German war. He not only executed the laws, but he made new ones. Without any authority from Congress he sent to the Philippines a Commission of five men who legislated for them and reported their laws to the President through the Secretary of War. Before the transfer by the treaty the President governed as military commander, but after the Philippines had become domestic territory, he ruled without any authority whatever. Even if Congress had attempted to delegate the power to the President to govern the Philippines, there is grave doubt if any power exists under the Constitution to permanently rule colonies as subject people.

Even after Congress assumed charge of the Philippines the government continued a mere despotism. Shortly after Mr. Root resigned his position as Secretary of War, and in the early part of 1904, at a banquet of the New York University Law School, he said: “It has been my province during the last four years and a half to deal with arbitrary government. It has been necessary for me not only to make laws and pronounce judgment without any occasion for discussion — except in as far as I would choose to weigh the question involved in my own mind — affecting 10,000,000 people. And not only to make laws and pronounce judgment, but to execute judgment with overwhelming force and great swiftness.” Here Mr. Root well describes the government of the Czar, the government of Germany and Belgium in Central and South Africa, the government necessarily of all countries which rule subject provinces. How would our own people be ruled at home if they knew no more about their own affairs than they know or care about the affairs of the Philippines?

When it was known that the Treaty of Paris provided for the taking over of the Philippines at a cost of $20,000,000, many of those who were opposed to the treaty declared that the Philippines were of little value and would be a curse to our country. The action, however, of our government was acclaimed by a considerable proportion of the people. We have invested in the Philippines up to the present time at least $1,000,000,000. And now from every side we hear thoughtful men asking that we get rid of them, saying that they are a useless incumbrance, saying that our trade with them has not increased, and that no benefits will come to the country from holding them. Senator Raynor, of Maryland, recently speaking in New York, said: “The Philippines, I will guarantee, would not sell for a dollar and a half in the market of the world. Who wants them? Where is the bidder? Not a nod of the head will you get from the nations of the world.”

The important question for the American people today, however, is the effect of our imperial system upon our government. Sixty years ago William H. Seward declared the great principle that we could not live half slave and half free. With equal truth it can be said today that we cannot deprive the people of the Philippines or the people of our other colonies of their liberties, without the self-same act destroying the safeguards of our own. Imperial aspirations draw, by obvious necessity, an imperial rule. As our government becomes imperial, foreign politics come to the front and the growth of political freedom among our people goes to the rear. He reads history to little purpose who does not find in its teachings many illustrations of the truth that a free people cannot rule subject peoples and preserve their own government free.

At Waukesha, Wis., April 3, 1903, the President said to his audience: “We cannot help playing the part of a great world power. All we can decide, is whether we will play it well or ill.” But one of our greatest jurists and at the same time a most ardent lover of liberty, Mr. Justice Harlan, of the United States Supreme Court, speaking a few years ago, said: “Let us hope that this great instrument” (referring to the Constitution) “which has served so well, will weather the storms which the ambitions of certain men are creating in the effort to make this country a world power.” Imperialism necessarily brings to the front politics, schemes of empire, while the ordinary interests of our people will be overlooked. Mr. Cleveland, in his first administration, carefully examined the private bills which were sent to him from Congress, and vetoed 127 of them. Of these, 124 were special pension bills. So far as I am able to ascertain, President Roosevelt, absorbed in world politics, has found little, if any, time to examine bills and has vetoed only a single bill, correcting a war record, during his whole administration. Perhaps I should not speak with confidence upon this matter, because he may have vetoed bills of which no public mention was made. But at least he has vetoed no important measure and apparently has given but little attention to the bills which came to him from Congress.

Playing the part of a world power — what does it mean? It necessarily means the predominance of the questions affecting foreign affairs in the politics of a nation, and the predominance of the questions of foreign affairs means a weakening of party government, a weakening of the opposition to the party in power, and the strengthening of the executive. The party which is carrying out an imperialistic policy always appeals to the pride of the people, to the national spirit, to jealousy against other great powers, and brands every man who opposes the squandering of the public money as stingy, mean, unpatriotic, and a friend of foreigners. Since we adopted a policy of imperialism the power of the President of the United States has been increasing with leaps and bounds. Like the Kaiser, who sent an army under Count Von Waldersee to China without consulting the Reichstag, the President today sends our navy or army in time of peace anywhere over the world, on any mission he pleases, without ever referring to Congress.

But imperialism, because of the heavy taxation which it brings upon the people, is the cause of discontent, of socialism, and all of the evils that follow in their train. France commenced the building of her colonial empire in the eighties. At that time her socialist party was of little account. First she invaded Tunis in 1881; then Indo-China; then Madagascar and Dahomey, and finally the Fashoda collision with England occurred in 1899. During this period France added subject territories to her domain amounting to many times her whole area, but the expenditures of government were enormous. Increased burdens were put upon the people, and as the life of the ordinary man became harder and harder, socialism grew rapidly. Today it is sufficiently influential to practically control legislation in the Chamber of Deputies. In 1871 the socialists elected but three members to the Reichstag in Germany. A few years later Bismarck commenced pushing his scheme of planting German colonies in all lands. In Africa, in China, in every part of the world, Germany increased its territory. Today the socialists number in the neighborhood of 3,500,000 voters and have a large number of delegates in the Reichstag. In 1892 the socialists polled about 27,000 votes in Italy. Crispi, as the Prime Minister of Italy, commenced at that time to carry out his policy of imperialism, and with the growth of that policy socialism has grown, until today it has a large representation in the popular chamber of the legislature.89

Since we have become a world power, as described by President Roosevelt, the characteristic conditions of imperialism have been appearing in our own country. Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, a master observer of events in England, a few years ago described the characteristics of imperialism, and the description fits perfectly the conditions which are seen everywhere in this country today. Sir Henry, being asked what were the methods and characteristics of imperialism, answered:

“I will recite some of them. It magnifies the executive power; it acts upon the passions of the people; it conciliates them in classes and in localities by lavish expenditure; it occupies men’s minds with display and amusement; it inspires a thirst for military glory; it captures the electorate by false assertions and illusory promises; and then, having by this means obtained a plebiscite and using electoral forms in the servile Parliament thus created, it crushes opposition and extinguishes liberty. And the irony of the thing is this — that all this is done in the name of the people themselves, and under the authority of their voice, so that the people, while boasting of their supreme power, are enslaved.”

Let us take, clause by clause, this admirable description of imperialism and see whether these conditions exist in our own country. “It magnifies the executive power — it inspires a thirst for military glory.” The minimum strength of the army is now, according to law, 68,951, exclusive of 5,208 Philippine scouts and the 574 men of the Porto Rico regiment. Its maximum strength is about 100,000 to 104,000, according to the Reorganization Law of 1901, which gave the executive the right never before possessed, namely, to increase or decrease the army within that limit as he saw fit. He can increase the various regiments to war strength at any time without waiting for Congress to act. Prior to the war with Spain the strength of the regular army was 25,000 men.

On January 21, 1903, the President approved the United States Militia Bill passed by both Houses of Congress. This bill was one of the great triumphs of Mr. Root’s supervision of the War Department. Under the old act the state militia was arranged in divisions, brigades, battalions, troops, and companies, “as the legislature of the state may direct.” Under the new law the President was authorized in time of peace to fix the minimum number of enlisted men in each division, brigade, battalion, troop, and company. Under the same law the Secretary of War was authorized to provide for participation of the organized militia of any state or territory in the encampments, maneuvers and field instruction of any part of the regular army at or near any military post or camp or lake or seacoast defenses of the United States. And to induce the state troops to mingle with the regular army, the law provided that the organized militia so participating should receive the same subsistence and transportation as is provided by law for the officers and men of the regular army. This was held out as an inducement to the men of the militia to visit the camps and to mingle with the soldiers or the regular army, that the spectacles of war might fire their ambitions for military glory and arouse a military pride among the people. Then provision is made that officers of the organized militia may pursue a regular course of study at military schools or colleges of the United States, and receive there the same allowances and quarters to which officers of the regular army are entitled. They are to receive pay at the rate of $1 per day while in actual attendance. To make sure of the control of the national government over the state militia, the adjutant general is required to make frequent reports directly to the Secretary of War, and he is empowered to appoint a board of officers who shall examine those desiring commissions in the state militia as to their qualifications for the command of troops or of performing staff duties, and this board of officers is required to certify to the War Department its judgment as to the fitness of the applicants for command. Every means which ingenuity could devise whereby the state militia could be attached to the national government and made dependent upon the national government is found in this statute.

With twenty modern battle ships, a great fleet of older battle ships, armored cruisers, monitors, and torpedo boats, our navy is becoming, after England, one of the most formidable in the world. “Two thirds of the whole revenues of the government are devoted to the payment,” says Senator Hale, “of inheritances from past wars, like pensions which nobody can stop and expenditures in view of future wars. Of all the taxes that are laid, and all the revenues that are collected, nearly two thirds are expended for the military in a broad way.”

“It magnifies the executive power,” says Campbell-Bannerman. While our people have seen the President sending our cruisers and gunboats to Panama to aid in wresting that state from the Republic of Colombia, to San Domingo to establish a receivership of the customs duties of that Island, and about all over the rest of the world to keep up the appearance of a world power, the people “while boasting of their supreme power,” in the language of Bannerman, “are enslaved.” Their earnings pay for all this splendor, and this glamour is created to divert their attention from the burdens which they bear, and from the danger to their liberties which such conditions create. In the meanwhile the President keeps the people interested, gives them something new to think about, and helps to put off the day of reckoning for these abuses. “Gild the dome of the Invalides,” was Napoleon’s cynical command when he learned that the people of Paris were becoming desperate, and when murmurs of discontent arise in our own country the President orders the war ships to the Pacific.

“It conciliates them in classes and in localities by lavish expenditure.” The total amount voted by the first Congress of President Harrison’s administration was about $1,000,000,000, and this vast expenditure, astounding the people, was one of the principal causes of his defeat for the Presidency in 1892. Yet the last Congress appropriated nearly $2,000,000,000 of the people’s money. At the first session was appropriated $880,000,000 ($80,000,000 of which was for canal expenses), being $300,000,000 more than the first year of the McKinley administration, an increase of sixty per cent. In the last Congress about 30,000 bills and resolutions were introduced in the House of Representatives. Six hundred and twenty-eight private pension bills were passed in the last days of the session in an hour and twenty-five minutes, being the highest record in the passage of pension bills in that body. Labor unions and all kinds of social societies, every class that controls votes in the community, anything in the shape of an organization in these days can procure favors and appropriations from Congress, but the great body of the people who are unorganized pay the bills. Lavish expenditure to conciliate the classes in localities is seen best in the agricultural appropriations, in those for irrigating arid lands, for the geological survey, and the hundred other means of absorbing the people’s money. No nation in all history has ever scattered with so lavish a hand the hard earnings of its people as the United States in the last three or four years; and the President, who is the sworn protector of the Constitution and the law, with every obligation upon him to protect the people from such plunder, has not vetoed a single bill, so far as I can ascertain, voting away the people’s hard-earned money.

“It captures the electorate by false assertions and illusory promises,” says Campbell-Bannerman. The President, in an address delivered at Fargo, April 7, 1903, says of the administration of justice in the Philippines:90 “The administration is incorruptibly honest. Justice is as jealously safeguarded as here at home.” Mr. Root says, as quoted above, that while Secretary of War he made the laws and executed judgment, and yet while he was doing this the President was declaring at Fargo that justice in the Philippines was as jealously safeguarded as here at home. Trial by jury does not exist in the Philippines in either civil or criminal causes.91 In criminal causes the Spanish system was retained.92

“It occupies men’s minds with display and amusement,” says Campbell-Bannerman. Can anyone fail to see the changed attitude of the government in recent years? The German Kaiser supervises the opera, painting, sculpture, and about every profession in that country. The censure of the Kaiser destroys the artist. The eyes of all his people are upon the Kaiser — what he does and what he says. He seizes every possible opportunity to declare his sentiments upon every conceivable subject of government in Prussia. He identifies himself personally and publicly with every act of his government, and makes every act of his administration appear to be his own. Just so in this country. The President has taken over the supervision of about the whole of life. Though not a lawyer, he criticises the decisions of the United States Supreme Court and the lower courts. He keeps the eyes of all the people turned toward the theater of his action, and he is always in the center of the stage. He identifies himself personally and publicly with every act of the government which he believes will be popular, and never loses an opportunity to declare his sentiments on every question of government. He regards himself as commissioned to govern the state, and also to lead the people in religion, morals, and ordinary affairs of life. Every social subject brings forth comment from him. Whether football shall be played in the universities and colleges and how it shall be played, whether it is a wholesome physical exercise, the morals of the game; what should be taught and what should not be taught in the schools; everything in the scope of human life and human action is within the ken of our President. If any class of men have a grievance they are induced by his action to look to him tor redress, and the kaleidoscope is kept moving, ever moving, with the central figure ever upon the stage. Kampici, the Chinese Machiavelli, in telling the secret of absolutism twenty-two centuries ago, said:

“Amuse the people, tire them not, let them not know.”

Under these conditions the customs and forms which prevail in monarchical countries are being adopted here. Secret-service men swarm about the person of our President. Platoons of police are called in for guards; cavalry are frequently employed. Court forms are adopted at the executive mansion, and efforts too numerous to detail are made to exalt the person of the President and to accustom the people to the change of government which has been rapidly going on. A choice collection of epaulets, with flag flying and band playing, have escorted the Secretary of War to and from the depot at Washington. Everywhere in every direction we are putting on the airs and adopting the customs of a monarchical form of government, and we are doing this because we have become an empire and because our people are given over to the spirit of materialism, and are forgetful of the sturdy industry and simplicity which marked our fathers and which always accompanies true greatness.

A few months ago a writer who represents in his ideas those of many people, wrote a letter to the New York World containing this statement: “Why not abolish the States and have Departments like France, only more simplified? Retain the State boundaries and names as now, but abolish Governorships and Legislatures. Leave the Congressional Districts and elect two United States Senators from each Department by popular vote.”93 Adopt the government of France in the United States! Let us see what it is. The revolution of 1789 destroyed all the existing local divisions except the Commune, and they were replaced by artificial districts so that the Commune is the only true center of local life.94 The whole country is divided into eighty-six departments, at the head of each of which is a prefect appointed and removed at pleasure by the President of the Republic. Although appointed in form by the President, he is in reality nominated by the Minister of the Interior, who represents the Ministry, and has the real power of appointment. The office of the minister is political, and the prefect who rules each department under him is a political officer. He is the agent of the Minister of the Interior and the central government in regard to all matters. He has independent authority over all those things in the department which in our country are controlled entirely by the people of the locality. He can dissolve the local assembly, either directly or through the President of the Republic, and can veto many of its acts. The local assembly is largely a formal body, the deputy or prefect acting for the general government ruling the department. The Mayor of each Commune is, to a certain extent, an agent of the central government, and is absolutely under the orders of the prefect. His acts in regard to many local matters, such as police, public health, and many others, may be annulled by the prefect, who also has the power to issue, as to those matters, his own direct orders. The prefect may suspend the Mayor of the Commune from office for a month; in short, as the agent of the central government, the prefect is practically the governor of each Commune. It is not uncommon in France for the Minister of the Interior to dismiss the prefect after election, because “he failed to carry his department.” Paris is absolutely under the control of the central government.

Representative government in any true sense would be impossible in the United States if we attempted to legislate for all the affairs of life for over eighty million people composed of all races, all religions, and all grades of intelligence, scattered throughout the different communities and states over a territory of over three and a half million square miles. Any such attempt to control this country from Washington would involve a more extensive bureaucratic government than has ever been known in the history of the world. Such a government is always autocratic and often corrupt, and yet it is toward such a government that we are rapidly tending.

With the imperialistic reign has come arbitrary methods and manners on the part of our President. President Roosevelt, referring to the Constitution of Cuba, an instrument which our government had helped to frame, on September 28, 1906, telegraphed Secretary Taft with reference to an adjustment of Cuban affairs:

“I do not care in the least for the fact that such an agreement is unconstitutional.” The ancient maxim of benevolent despotism was, “Let my subjects say what they like so long as I do what I like,” but even this privilege is not granted the people of the United States, for we have learned in many different cases that he who differs from our President finds himself involved in great difficulties. The President’s language with respect to the South American republics; the general resolution of Congress ordering Spain out of Cuba within thirty days; the summary ejection of people from the White House; the constant interference in the affairs of other countries; the dismissal of Miss Rebecca Taylor because of her expressions about imperialism; the executive orders retiring naval officers; the promotion of inexperienced naval and military officers over the heads of their superiors; the suspension in several cases of the Civil Service Law — all these point to so changed a condition of affairs that we sometimes think it is all a dream.

The conditions which we have described are exactly the conditions which have preceded a change from democracy to empire and despotism ever since the world began. The building up of great fortunes; the growth of a moneyed aristocracy; the passing of wealth into the hands of the few; the separation of the people into classes; the establishment of vast monopolies extorting money from the people; the universal desire for national grandeur and glory, together with the spirit of restlessness in our people — these are dangerous omens. If such usurpations as I have described should pass unchallenged by the American people, they would soon acquire the force of precedent. Now is the time and we are the people to watch with jealousy such beginnings, to indignantly attack them and, if possible, to destroy them.


   86.   Lowell, Government and Parties in Cont. Europe, vol. II, p. 327.
   87.   Elliot’s Deb., vol. v, p. 446.
   88.   Kansas v. Colorado, 206 U. S. 91, 92.
   89.   Cook, Am Acad. of Political and Social Science, Pamphlet No. 316.
   90.   Lodge, President’s Addresses, p. 157.
   91.   Dorr v. United States, 195 U. S. 138.
   92.   Keppner v. United States, 195 U. S. 100.
   93.   N. Y. World, June 24, 1907.
   94.   Lowell, Governments and Parties in Cont. Europe, p. 36.