Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

principle. And more than that, men in a self-governed democracy must have a love of liberty that means not merely one's own liberty but others' liberty. We must respect the opinions and the liberty of the opinions of our 5 countrymen. That spirit excludes hatred of our opponents. That spirit excludes a desire to abuse, to villify, to destroy. All of us in foreign lands have felt the blood rush to the head, and felt the heart beat quicker, felt a

suffusion of feeling upon seeing our country's flag floating 10 in strange ports and in distant cities. That, my friends,

is but a false sentiment, unless it carries with it a love not only for the flag but for the countrymen under the flag. True love of country is not an abstraction. It means a

little different feeling toward every American because he 15 is American. It means a desire that every American shall

be prosperous; it means kindly consideration for his opinions, for his views, for his interests, for his prejudices, and charity for his follies and his errors. The man who

loves his country only that he may be free does not love 20 his country. He loves only himself and his own way

and that is not self-government, but is the essence of despotism.

Now as to that feeling I will not say that we have gone backward, but I will say, that there is serious cause for 25 reflection on the part of all Americans.

Our life has become so complicated, the activities of our country so numerous and so vast, that it is very difficult for us to understand what our countrymen are

doing. The cotton planters understand each other, the 30 wheat farmers understand each other, the importers

understand each other, the bankers understand each other, but there are vast masses of the people of our country who totally misunderstand others of our people,

and that misunderstanding is counter to the spirit which 35 I have attempted to describe as so necessary to real self

government.

Misunderstanding ! and when I say misunderstanding it implies erroneous ideas; for there are hundreds of thousands of people, outside the great industrial communities, who think you are a den of thieves, and there are hundreds of thousands of people who think that the 5 manufacturers of the country are not better than a set of confidence men. Why, we have before us now great and serious questions regarding the financial problems of the country, and this is what stands in the way of their solution: It is that the men who understand the finances 10 of the country, the bankers, and the merchants engaged in great operations, are under suspicion. Great bodies of people will not accept what they say regarding the subject of finance, a subject complicated by all the currents and movements of finance throughout the world; they will 15 not accept what the experts say, what the men who understand the subject say, because they do not believe their motives are honest. So that the only one who can be heard is the man who does not understand the subject. How are we to reach any conclusion in that way? On 20 the other hand, there are many in this room to-night who way down in their hearts believe that great bodies of the American people really want to destroy their business and confiscate their property, that they are enemies to the men who are carrying on the vast business essential 25 to our prosperity:

Now, neither is true. One misunderstanding leads to conduct which in some respects seems to justify another misunderstanding. Nobody in this country wants to destroy business, wants to destroy prosperity. I say 30 nobody. Of course, there are always hangers-on in every country who would like to destroy everything in the hope of picking up the pieces. But speaking of the great body of the people, they do not want to destroy prosperity; and when they do things, when they vote 35 for measures, when they elect representatives, leading

5

15

you to think that they want to destroy prosperity, it is because they misunderstand you, and you misunderstand them.

There is nothing more important to-day, than that, by education and the spread of ideas, such misunderstanding shall be disposed of and done away with, and that all Americans shall come to the spirit of popular government in which every American desires the prosperity and the

happiness of every other American, every American 10 naturally feels a trust in all Americans, because they are

all his brothers, fellow-inheritors of the great system of constitutional law for the preservation of liberty and justice, of the same great traditions, the same noble ideals of human freedom and human opportunity.

There is one other essential to the spirit of self-government, and that is justice. The manufacturer, the employer of labor, who is unwilling to be just to his workingmen is false to the ideals of his country. The laborer

who, in the comparatively new found power of organi20 zation, is unjust to his employer is false to those great traditions in which rests the liberty of all labor.

The willingness to do justice in a nation to every brother of our common land is the ideal of self-government.

Further than that, the willingness to do justice as a 25 nation is the true conception of self-government. That

rude and bumptious willingness to insult and deride, the result of ignorance, is wholly false to the true dignity and the true spirit of popular self-government.

The spirit of a people is everything, the decision of a 30 particular question is nothing, if we are honest and honor

able. If we are lovers of liberty and justice, if we are willing to do, as a nation, what we feel bound to do as individuals in our communities, then all the questions we have been discussing will be solved right, and for countless generations to come, Americans will still be brothers, as they were in the days of old, leading the world toward

35

happier lives and nobler manhood, toward the realization of the dreams of philosophers and the prophets, for a better and nobler world.

15

THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO RULE

BY THEODORE ROOSEVELT. (1912) I PREFER to work with moderate, with rational, conservatives, provided only that they do in good faith strive 5 forward towards the light. But when they halt and turn their backs to the light, and sit with the scorners on the seats of reaction, then I must part company with them. We the people cannot turn back. Our aim must be steady, wise progress. It would be well if our people 10 would study the history of a sister republic. All the woes of France for a century and a quarter have been due to the folly of her people in splitting into the two camps of unreasonable conservatism and unreasonable radicalism. Had pre-Revolutionary France listened to men like Turgot, and backed them up, all would have gone well. But the beneficiaries of privilege, the Bourbon reactionaries, the short-sighted ultra-conservatives, turned down Turgot; and then found that instead of him they had obtained Robespierre. They gained twenty years' free- 20 dom from all restraint and reform, at the cost of the whirlwind of the red terror; and in their turn the unbridled extremists of the terror induced a blind reaction; and so, with convulsion and oscillation from one extreme to another, with alternations of violent radicalism and violent Bourbonism, the French people went through misery towards a shattered goal. May we profit by the experiences of our brother republicans across the water, and go forward steadily, avoiding all wild extremes ; and may our ultra-conservatives remember that the rule of the Bourbons brought on the Revolution, and may our

25

30

IO

15

would-be revolutionaries remember that no Bourbon was ever such a dangerous enemy of the people and of freedom as the professed friend of both, Robespierre. There is no danger of a revolution in this country; but there is 5 grave discontent and unrest, and in order to remove them there is need of all the wisdom and probity and deepseated faith in and purpose to uplift humanity, we have at our command.

Friends, our task as Americans is to strive for social and industrial justice, achieved through the genuine rule of the people. This is our end, our purpose. The methods for achieving the end are merely expedients, to be finally accepted or rejected according as actual experience shows that they work well or ill. But in our hearts we must have this lofty purpose, and we must strive for it in all earnestness and sincerity, or our work will come to nothing. In order to succeed we need leaders of inspired idealism, leaders to whom are granted great visions, who

dream greatly and strive to make their dreams come true; 20 who can kindle the people with the fire from their own

burning souls. The leader for the time being, whoever he may be, is but an instrument, to be used until broken and then to be cast aside; and if he is worth his salt he

will care no more when he is broken than a soldier cares 25 when he is sent where his life is forfeit in order that the

victory may be won. In the long fight for righteousness the watch-word for all of us is spend and be spent. It is of little matter whether any one man fails or succeeds; but the cause shall not fail, for it is the cause of mankind.

We, here in America, hold in our hands the hope of the world, the fate of the coming years; and shame and disgrace will be ours if in our eyes the light of high resolve is dimmed, if we trail in the dust the golden hopes of men. If on this new continent we merely build another country of great but unjustly divided material prosperity, we shall have done nothing; and we shall do as little if we merely

30

35

« ElőzőTovább »