Theodore Roosevelt An Autobiography by Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt

Part 9 out of 11

finish the work we are in."

Sincerely yours,




By the time I became President I had grown to feel with deep intensity
of conviction that governmental agencies must find their justification
largely in the way in which they are used for the practical betterment
of living and working conditions among the mass of the people. I felt
that the fight was really for the abolition of privilege; and one of
the first stages in the battle was necessarily to fight for the rights
of the workingman. For this reason I felt most strongly that all that
the government could do in the interest of labor should be done. The
Federal Government can rarely act with the directness that the State
governments act. It can, however, do a good deal. My purpose was to
make the National Government itself a model employer of labor, the
effort being to make the per diem employee just as much as the Cabinet
officer regard himself as one of the partners employed in the service
of the public, proud of his work, eager to do it in the best possible
manner, and confident of just treatment. Our aim was also to secure
good laws wherever the National Government had power, notably in the
Territories, in the District of Columbia, and in connection with
inter-State commerce. I found the eight-hour law a mere farce, the
departments rarely enforcing it with any degree of efficiency. This I
remedied by executive action. Unfortunately, thoroughly efficient
government servants often proved to be the prime offenders so far as
the enforcement of the eight-hour law was concerned, because in their
zeal to get good work done for the Government they became harsh
taskmasters, and declined to consider the needs of their fellow-
employees who served under them. The more I had studied the subject
the more strongly I had become convinced that an eight-hour day under
the conditions of labor in the United States was all that could, with
wisdom and propriety, be required either by the Government or by
private employers; that more than this meant, on the average, a
decrease in the qualities that tell for good citizenship. I finally
solved the problem, as far as Government employees were concerned, by
calling in Charles P. Neill, the head of the Labor Bureau; and acting
on his advice, I speedily made the eight-hour law really effective.
Any man who shirked his work, who dawdled and idled, received no
mercy; slackness is even worse than harshness; for exactly as in
battle mercy to the coward is cruelty to the brave man, so in civil
life slackness towards the vicious and idle is harshness towards the
honest and hardworking.

We passed a good law protecting the lives and health of miners in the
Territories, and other laws providing for the supervision of
employment agencies in the District of Columbia, and protecting the
health of motormen and conductors on street railways in the District.
We practically started the Bureau of Mines. We provided for
safeguarding factory employees in the District against accidents, and
for the restriction of child labor therein. We passed a workmen's
compensation law for the protection of Government employees; a law
which did not go as far as I wished, but which was the best I could
get, and which committed the Government to the right policy. We
provided for an investigation of woman and child labor in the United
States. We incorporated the National Child Labor Committee. Where we
had most difficulty was with the railway companies engaged in inter-
State business. We passed an act improving safety appliances on
railway trains without much opposition, but we had more trouble with
acts regulating the hours of labor of railway employees and making
those railways which were engaged in inter-State commerce liable for
injuries to or the death of their employees while on duty. One
important step in connection with these latter laws was taken by
Attorney-General Moody when, on behalf of the Government, he
intervened in the case of a wronged employee. It is unjust that a law
which has been declared public policy by the representatives of the
people should be submitted to the possibility of nullification because
the Government leaves the enforcement of it to the private initiative
of poor people who have just suffered some crushing accident. It
should be the business of the Government to enforce laws of this kind,
and to appear in court to argue for their constitutionality and proper
enforcement. Thanks to Moody, the Government assumed this position.
The first employers' liability law affecting inter-State railroads was
declared unconstitutional. We got through another, which stood the
test of the courts.

The principle to which we especially strove to give expression,
through these laws and through executive action, was that a right is
valueless unless reduced from the abstract to the concrete. This
sounds like a truism. So far from being such, the effort practically
to apply it was almost revolutionary, and gave rise to the bitterest
denunciation of us by all the big lawyers, and all the big newspaper
editors, who, whether sincerely or for hire, gave expression to the
views of the privileged classes. Ever since the Civil War very many of
the decisions of the courts, not as regards ordinary actions between
man and man, but as regards the application of great governmental
policies for social and industrial justice, had been in reality
nothing but ingenious justification of the theory that these policies
were mere high-sounding abstractions, and were not to be given
practical effect. The tendency of the courts had been, in the majority
of cases, jealously to exert their great power in protecting those who
least needed protection and hardly to use their power at all in the
interest of those who most needed protection. Our desire was to make
the Federal Government efficient as an instrument for protecting the
rights of labor within its province, and therefore to secure and
enforce judicial decisions which would permit us to make this desire
effective. Not only some of the Federal judges, but some of the State
courts invoked the Constitution in a spirit of the narrowest
legalistic obstruction to prevent the Government from acting in
defense of labor on inter-State railways. In effect, these judges took
the view that while Congress had complete power as regards the goods
transported by the railways, and could protect wealthy or well-to-do
owners of these goods, yet that it had no power to protect the lives
of the men engaged in transporting the goods. Such judges freely
issued injunctions to prevent the obstruction of traffic in the
interest of the property owners, but declared unconstitutional the
action of the Government in seeking to safeguard the men, and the
families of the men, without whose labor the traffic could not take
place. It was an instance of the largely unconscious way in which the
courts had been twisted into the exaltation of property rights over
human rights, and the subordination of the welfare of the laborer when
compared with the profit of the man for whom he labored. By what I
fear my conservative friends regarded as frightfully aggressive
missionary work, which included some uncommonly plain speaking as to
certain unjust and anti-social judicial decisions, we succeeded in
largely, but by no means altogether, correcting this view, at least so
far as the best and most enlightened judges were concerned.

Very much the most important action I took as regards labor had
nothing to do with legislation, and represented executive action which
was not required by the Constitution. It illustrated as well as
anything that I did the theory which I have called the Jackson-Lincoln
theory of the Presidency; that is, that occasionally great national
crises arise which call for immediate and vigorous executive action,
and that in such cases it is the duty of the President to act upon the
theory that he is the steward of the people, and that the proper
attitude for him to take is that he is bound to assume that he has the
legal right to do whatever the needs of the people demand, unless the
Constitution or the laws explicitly forbid him to do it.

Early in the spring of 1902 a universal strike began in the anthracite
regions. The miners and the operators became deeply embittered, and
the strike went on throughout the summer and the early fall without
any sign of reaching an end, and with almost complete stoppage of
mining. In many cities, especially in the East, the heating apparatus
is designed for anthracite, so that the bituminous coal is only a very
partial substitute. Moreover, in many regions, even in farmhouses,
many of the provisions are for burning coal and not wood. In
consequence, the coal famine became a National menace as the winter
approached. In most big cities and many farming districts east of the
Mississippi the shortage of anthracite threatened calamity. In the
populous industrial States, from Ohio eastward, it was not merely
calamity, but the direct disaster, that was threatened. Ordinarily
conservative men, men very sensitive as to the rights of property
under normal conditions, when faced by this crisis felt, quite
rightly, that there must be some radical action. The Governor of
Massachusetts and the Mayor of New York both notified me, as the cold
weather came on, that if the coal famine continued the misery
throughout the Northeast, and especially in the great cities, would
become appalling, and the consequent public disorder so great that
frightful consequences might follow. It is not too much to say that
the situation which confronted Pennsylvania, New York, and New
England, and to a less degree the States of the Middle West, in
October, 1902, was quite as serious as if they had been threatened by
the invasion of a hostile army of overwhelming force.

The big coal operators had banded together, and positively refused to
take any steps looking toward an accommodation. They knew that the
suffering among the miners was great; they were confident that if
order were kept, and nothing further done by the Government, they
would win; and they refused to consider that the public had any rights
in the matter. They were, for the most part, men of unquestionably
good private life, and they were merely taking the extreme
individualistic view of the rights of property and the freedom of
individual action upheld in the /laissez-faire/ political economics.
The mines were in the State of Pennsylvania. There was no duty
whatever laid upon me by the Constitution in the matter, and I had in
theory the power to act directly unless the Governor of Pennsylvania
or the Legislature, if it were in session, should notify me that
Pennsylvania could not keep order, and request me as commander-in-
chief of the army of the United States to intervene and keep order.

As long as I could avoid interfering I did so; but I directed the head
of the Labor Bureau, Carroll Wright, to make a thorough investigation
and lay the facts fully before me. As September passed without any
sign of weakening either among the employers or the striking workmen,
the situation became so grave that I felt I would have to try to do
something. The thing most feasible was to get both sides to agree to a
Commission of Arbitration, with a promise to accept its findings; the
miners to go to work as soon as the commission was appointed, at the
old rate of wages. To this proposition the miners, headed by John
Mitchell, agreed, stipulating only that I should have the power to
name the Commission. The operators, however, positively refused. They
insisted that all that was necessary to do was for the State to keep
order, using the militia as a police force; although both they and the
miners asked me to intervene under the Inter-State Commerce Law, each
side requesting that I proceed against the other, and both requests
being impossible.

Finally, on October 3, the representatives of both the operators and
the miners met before me, in pursuance of my request. The
representatives of the miners included as their head and spokesman
John Mitchell, who kept his temper admirably and showed to much
advantage. The representatives of the operators, on the contrary, came
down in a most insolent frame of mind, refused to talk of arbitration
or other accommodation of any kind, and used language that was
insulting to the miners and offensive to me. They were curiously
ignorant of the popular temper; and when they went away from the
interview they, with much pride, gave their own account of it to the
papers, exulting in the fact that they had "turned down" both the
miners and the President.

I refused to accept the rebuff, however, and continued the effort to
get an agreement between the operators and the miners. I was anxious
to get this agreement, because it would prevent the necessity of
taking the extremely drastic action I meditated, and which is
hereinafter described.

Fortunately, this time we were successful. Yet we were on the verge of
failure, because of self-willed obstinacy on the part of the
operators. This obstinacy was utterly silly from their own standpoint,
and well-nigh criminal from the standpoint of the people at large. The
miners proposed that I should name the Commission, and that if I put
on a representative of the employing class I should also put on a
labor union man. The operators positively declined to accept the
suggestion. They insisted upon my naming a Commission of only five
men, and specified the qualifications these men should have, carefully
choosing these qualifications so as to exclude those whom it had
leaked out I was thinking of appointing, including ex-President
Cleveland. They made the condition that I was to appoint one officer
of the engineer corps of the army or navy, one man with experience of
mining, one "man of prominence," "eminent as a sociologist," one
Federal judge of the Eastern district of Pennsylvania, and one mining

They positively refused to have me appoint any representative of
labor, or to put on an extra man. I was desirous of putting on the
extra man, because Mitchell and the other leaders of the miners had
urged me to appoint some high Catholic ecclesiastic. Most of the
miners were Catholics, and Mitchell and the leaders were very anxious
to secure peaceful acquiescence by the miners in any decision
rendered, and they felt that their hands would be strengthened if such
an appointment were made. They also, quite properly, insisted that
there should be one representative of labor on the commission, as all
of the others represented the propertied classes. The operators,
however, absolutely refused to acquiesce in the appointment of any
representative of labor, and also announced that they would refuse to
accept a sixth man on the Commission; although they spoke much less
decidedly on this point. The labor men left everything in my hands.

The final conferences with the representatives of the operators took
place in my rooms on the evening of October 15. Hour after hour went
by while I endeavored to make the operators through their
representatives see that the country would not tolerate their
insisting upon such conditions; but in vain. The two representatives
of the operators were Robert Bacon and George W. Perkins. They were
entirely reasonable. But the operators themselves were entirely
unreasonable. They had worked themselves into a frame of mind where
they were prepared to sacrifice everything and see civil war in the
country rather than back down and acquiesce in the appointment of a
representative of labor. It looked as if a deadlock were inevitable.

Then, suddenly, after about two hours' argument, it dawned on me that
they were not objecting to the thing, but to the name. I found that
they did not mind my appointing any man, whether he was a labor man or
not, so long as he was not appointed /as/ a labor man, or /as/ a
representative of labor; they did not object to my exercising any
latitude I chose in the appointments so long as they were made under
the headings they had given. I shall never forget the mixture of
relief and amusement I felt when I thoroughly grasped the fact that
while they would heroically submit to anarchy rather than have
Tweedledum, yet if I would call it Tweedledee they would accept it
with rapture; it gave me an illuminating glimpse into one corner of
the mighty brains of these "captains of industry." In order to carry
the great and vital point and secure agreement by both parties, all
that was necessary for me to do was to commit a technical and nominal
absurdity with a solemn face. This I gladly did. I announced at once
that I accepted the terms laid down. With this understanding, I
appointed the labor man I had all along had in view, Mr. E. E. Clark,
the head of the Brotherhood of Railway Conductors, calling him an
"eminent sociologist"--a term which I doubt whether he had ever
previously heard. He was a first-class man, whom I afterward put on
the Inter-State Commerce Commission. I added to the Arbitration
Commission, on my own authority, a sixth member, in the person of
Bishop Spalding, a Catholic bishop, of Peoria, Ill., one of the very
best men to be found in the entire country. The man whom the operators
had expected me to appoint as the sociologist was Carroll Wright--who
really was an eminent sociologist. I put him on as recorder of the
Commission, and added him as a seventh member as soon as the
Commission got fairly started. In publishing the list of the
Commissioners, when I came to Clark's appointment, I added: "As a
sociologist--the President assuming that for the purposes of such a
Commission, the term sociologist means a man who has thought and
studied deeply on social questions and has practically applied his

The relief of the whole country was so great that the sudden
appearance of the head of the Brotherhood of Railway Conductors as an
"eminent sociologist" merely furnished material for puzzled comment on
the part of the press. It was a most admirable Commission. It did a
noteworthy work, and its report is a monument in the history of the
relations of labor and capital in this country. The strike, by the
way, brought me into contact with more than one man who was afterward
a valued friend and fellow-worker. On the suggestion of Carroll Wright
I appointed as assistant recorders to the Commission Charles P. Neill,
whom I afterward made Labor Commissioner, to succeed Wright himself,
and Mr. Edward A. Moseley. Wilkes-Barre was the center of the strike;
and the man in Wilkes-Barre who helped me most was Father Curran; I
grew to know and trust and believe in him, and throughout my term in
office, and afterward, he was not only my stanch friend, but one of
the men by whose advice and counsel I profited most in matters
affecting the welfare of the miners and their families.

I was greatly relieved at the result, for more than one reason. Of
course, first and foremost, my concern was to avert a frightful
calamity to the United States. In the next place I was anxious to save
the great coal operators and all of the class of big propertied men,
of which they were members, from the dreadful punishment which their
own folly would have brought on them if I had not acted; and one of
the exasperating things was that they were so blinded that they could
not see that I was trying to save them from themselves and to avert,
not only for their sakes, but for the sake of the country, the
excesses which would have been indulged in at their expense if they
had longer persisted in their conduct.

The great Anthracite Strike of 1902 left an indelible impress upon the
people of the United States. It showed clearly to all wise and far-
seeing men that the labor problem in this country had entered upon a
new phase. Industry had grown. Great financial corporations, doing a
nation-wide and even a world-wide business, had taken the place of the
smaller concerns of an earlier time. The old familiar, intimate
relations between employer and employee were passing. A few
generations before, the boss had known every man in his shop; he
called his men Bill, Tom, Dick, John; he inquired after their wives
and babies; he swapped jokes and stories and perhaps a bit of tobacco
with them. In the small establishment there had been a friendly human
relationship between employer and employee.

There was no such relation between the great railway magnates, who
controlled the anthracite industry, and the one hundred and fifty
thousand men who worked in their mines, or the half million women and
children who were dependent upon these miners for their daily bread.
Very few of these mine workers had ever seen, for instance, the
president of the Reading Railroad. Had they seen him many of them
could not have spoken to him, for tens of thousands of the mine
workers were recent immigrants who did not understand the language
which he spoke and who spoke a language which he could not understand.

Again, a few generations ago an American workman could have saved
money, gone West and taken up a homestead. Now the free lands were
gone. In earlier days a man who began with pick and shovel might have
come to own a mine. That outlet too was now closed, as regards the
immense majority, and few, if any, of the one hundred and fifty
thousand mine workers could ever aspire to enter the small circle of
men who held in their grasp the great anthracite industry. The
majority of the men who earned wages in the coal industry, if they
wished to progress at all, were compelled to progress not by ceasing
to be wage-earners, but by improving the conditions under which all
the wage-earners in all the industries of the country lived and
worked, as well of course, as improving their own individual

Another change which had come about as a result of the foregoing was a
crass inequality in the bargaining relation between the employer and
the individual employee standing alone. The great coal-mining and
coal-carrying companies, which employed their tens of thousands, could
easily dispense with the services of any particular miner. The miner,
on the other hand, however expert, could not dispense with the
companies. He needed a job; his wife and children would starve if he
did not get one. What the miner had to sell--his labor--was a
perishable commodity; the labor of to-day--if not sold to-day--was
lost forever. Moreover, his labor was not like most commodities--a
mere thing; it was part of a living, breathing human being. The
workman saw, and all citizens who gave earnest thought to the matter
saw, that the labor problem was not only an economic, but also a
moral, a human problem. Individually the miners were impotent when
they sought to enter a wage-contract with the great companies; they
could make fair terms only by uniting into trade unions to bargain
collectively. The men were forced to cooperate to secure not only
their economic, but their simple human rights. They, like other
workmen, were compelled by the very conditions under which they lived
to unite in unions of their industry or trade, and these unions were
bound to grow in size, in strength, and in power for good and evil as
the industries in which the men were employed grew larger and larger.

A democracy can be such in fact only if there is some rough
approximation in similarity in stature among the men composing it. One
of us can deal in our private lives with the grocer or the butcher or
the carpenter or the chicken raiser, or if we are the grocer or
carpenter or butcher or farmer, we can deal with our customers,
because /we are all of about the same size/. Therefore a simple and
poor society can exist as a democracy on a basis of sheer
individualism. But a rich and complex industrial society cannot so
exist; for some individuals, and especially those artificial
individuals called corporations, become so very big that the ordinary
individual is utterly dwarfed beside them, and cannot deal with them
on terms of equality. It therefore becomes necessary for these
ordinary individuals to combine in their turn, first in order to act
in their collective capacity through that biggest of all combinations
called the Government, and second, to act, also in their own self-
defense, through private combinations, such as farmers' associations
and trade unions.

This the great coal operators did not see. They did not see that their
property rights, which they so stoutly defended, were of the same
texture as were the human rights, which they so blindly and hotly
denied. They did not see that the power which they exercised by
representing their stockholders was of the same texture as the power
which the union leaders demanded of representing the workmen, who had
democratically elected them. They did not see that the right to use
one's property as one will can be maintained only so long as it is
consistent with the maintenance of certain fundamental human rights,
of the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, or, as we
may restate them in these later days, of the rights of the worker to a
living wage, to reasonable hours of labor, to decent working and
living conditions, to freedom of thought and speech and industrial
representation,--in short, to a measure of industrial democracy and,
in return for his arduous toil, to a worthy and decent life according
to American standards. Still another thing these great business
leaders did not see. They did not see that both their interests and
the interests of the workers must be accommodated, and if need be,
subordinated, to the fundamental permanent interests of the whole
community. No man and no group of men may so exercise their rights as
to deprive the nation of the things which are necessary and vital to
the common life. A strike which ties up the coal supplies of a whole
section is a strike invested with a public interest.

So great was that public interest in the Coal Strike of 1902, so
deeply and strongly did I feel the wave of indignation which swept
over the whole country that had I not succeeded in my efforts to
induce the operators to listen to reason, I should reluctantly but
none the less decisively have taken a step which would have brought
down upon my head the execrations of many of "the captains of
industry," as well as of sundry "respectable" newspapers who dutifully
take their cue from them. As a man should be judged by his intentions
as well as by his actions, I will give here the story of the
intervention that never happened.

While the coal operators were exulting over the fact that they had
"turned down" the miners and the President, there arose in all parts
of the country an outburst of wrath so universal that even so
naturally conservative a man as Grover Cleveland wrote to me,
expressing his sympathy with the course I was following, his
indignation at the conduct of the operators, and his hope that I would
devise some method of effective action. In my own mind I was already
planning effective action; but it was of a very drastic character, and
I did not wish to take it until the failure of all other expedients
had rendered it necessary. Above all, I did not wish to talk about it
until and unless I actually acted. I had definitely determined that
somehow or other act I would, that somehow or other the coal famine
should be broken. To accomplish this end it was necessary that the
mines should be run, and, if I could get no voluntary agreement
between the contending sides, that an Arbitration Commission should be
appointed which would command such public confidence as to enable me,
without too much difficulty, to enforce its terms upon both parties.
Ex-President Cleveland's letter not merely gratified me, but gave me
the chance to secure him as head of the Arbitration Commission. I at
once wrote him, stating that I would very probably have to appoint an
Arbitration Commission or Investigating Commission to look into the
matter and decide on the rights of the case, whether or not the
operators asked for or agreed to abide by the decisions of such a
Commission; and that I would ask him to accept the chief place on the
Commission. He answered that he would do so. I picked out several
first-class men for other positions on the Commission.

Meanwhile the Governor of Pennsylvania had all the Pennsylvania
militia in the anthracite region, although without any effect upon the
resumption of mining. The method of action upon which I had determined
in the last resort was to get the Governor of Pennsylvania to ask me
to keep order. Then I would put in the army under the command of some
first-rate general. I would instruct this general to keep absolute
order, taking any steps whatever that was necessary to prevent
interference by the strikers or their sympathizers with men who wanted
to work. I would also instruct him to dispossess the operators and run
the mines as a receiver until such time as the Commission might make
its report, and until I, as President, might issue further orders in
view of this report. I had to find a man who possessed the necessary
good sense, judgment, and nerve to act in such event. He was ready to
hand in the person of Major-General Schofield. I sent for him, telling
him that if I had to make use of him it would be because the crisis
was only less serious than that of the Civil War, that the action
taken would be practically a war measure, and that if I sent him he
must act in a purely military capacity under me as commander-in-chief,
paying no heed to any authority, judicial or otherwise, except mine.
He was a fine fellow--a most respectable-looking old boy, with side
whiskers and a black skull-cap, without any of the outward aspect of
the conventional military dictator; but in both nerve and judgment he
was all right, and he answered quietly that if I gave the order he
would take possession of the mines, and would guarantee to open them
and to run them without permitting any interference either by the
owners or the strikers or anybody else, so long as I told him to stay.
I then saw Senator Quay, who, like every other responsible man in high
position, was greatly wrought up over the condition of things. I told
him that he need be under no alarm as to the problem not being solved,
that I was going to make another effort to get the operators and
miners to come together, but that I would solve the problem in any
event and get coal; that, however, I did not wish to tell him anything
of the details of my intention, but merely to have him arrange that
whenever I gave the word the Governor of Pennsylvania should request
me to intervene; that when this was done I would be responsible for
all that followed, and would guarantee that the coal famine would end
forthwith. The Senator made no inquiry or comment, and merely told me
that he in his turn would guarantee that the Governor would request my
intervention the minute I asked that the request be made.

These negotiations were concluded with the utmost secrecy, General
Schofield being the only man who knew exactly what my plan was, and
Senator Quay, two members of my Cabinet, and ex-President Cleveland
and the other men whom I proposed to put on the Commission, the only
other men who knew that I had a plan. As I have above outlined, my
efforts to bring about an agreement between the operators and miners
were finally successful. I was glad not to have to take possession of
the mines on my own initiative by means of General Schofield and the
regulars. I was all ready to act, and would have done so without the
slightest hesitation or a moment's delay if the negotiations had
fallen through. And my action would have been entirely effective. But
it is never well to take drastic action if the result can be achieved
with equal efficiency in less drastic fashion; and, although this was
a minor consideration, I was personally saved a good deal of future
trouble by being able to avoid this drastic action. At the time I
should have been almost unanimously supported. With the famine upon
them the people would not have tolerated any conduct that would have
thwarted what I was doing. Probably no man in Congress, and no man in
the Pennsylvania State Legislature, would have raised his voice
against me. Although there would have been plenty of muttering,
nothing would have been done to interfere with the solution of the
problem which I had devised, /until the solution was accomplished and
the problem ceased to be a problem/. Once this was done, and when
people were no longer afraid of a coal famine, and began to forget
that they ever had been afraid of it, and to be indifferent as regards
the consequences to those who put an end to it, then my enemies would
have plucked up heart and begun a campaign against me. I doubt if they
could have accomplished much anyway, for the only effective remedy
against me would have been impeachment, and that they would not have
ventured to try.[*]

[*] One of my appointees on the Anthracite Strike Commission was Judge
George Gray, of Delaware, a Democrat whose standing in the country
was second only to that of Grover Cleveland. A year later he
commented on my action as follows:

"I have no hesitation in saying that the President of the United
States was confronted in October, 1902, by the existence of a
crisis more grave and threatening than any that had occurred since
the Civil War. I mean that the cessation of mining in the
anthracite country, brought about by the dispute between the
miners and those who controlled the greatest natural monopoly in
this country and perhaps in the world, had brought upon more than
one-half of the American people a condition of deprivation of one
of the necessaries of life, and the probable continuance of the
dispute threatened not only the comfort and health, but the safety
and good order, of the nation. He was without legal or
constitutional power to interfere, but his position as President
of the United States gave him an influence, a leadership, as first
citizen of the republic, that enabled him to appeal to the
patriotism and good sense of the parties to the controversy and to
place upon them the moral coercion of public opinion to agree to
an arbitrament of the strike then existing and threatening
consequences so direful to the whole country. He acted promptly
and courageously, and in so doing averted the dangers to which I
have alluded.

"So far from interfering or infringing upon property rights, the
Presidents' action tended to conserve them. The peculiar
situation, as regards the anthracite coal interest, was that they
controlled a natural monopoly of a product necessary to the
comfort and to the very life of a large portion of the people. A
prolonged deprivation of the enjoyment of this necessary of life
would have tended to precipitate an attack upon these property
rights of which you speak; for, after all, it is vain to deny that
this property, so peculiar in its conditions, and which is
properly spoken of as a natural monopoly, is affected with a
public interest.

"I do not think that any President ever acted more wisely,
courageously or promptly in a national crisis. Mr. Roosevelt
deserves unstinted praise for what he did."

They would doubtless have acted precisely as they acted as regards the
acquisition of the Panama Canal Zone in 1903, and the stoppage of the
panic of 1907 by my action in the Tennessee Coal and Iron Company
matter. Nothing could have made the American people surrender the
canal zone. But after it was an accomplished fact, and the canal was
under way, then they settled down to comfortable acceptance of the
accomplished fact, and as their own interests were no longer in
jeopardy, they paid no heed to the men who attacked me because of what
I had done--and also continue to attack me, although they are
exceedingly careful not to propose to right the "wrong," in the only
proper way if it really was a wrong, by replacing the old Republic of
Panama under the tyranny of Colombia and giving Colombia sole or joint
ownership of the canal itself. In the case of the panic of 1907 (as in
the case of Panama), what I did was not only done openly, but depended
for its effect upon being done and with the widest advertisement.
Nobody in Congress ventured to make an objection at the time. No
serious leader outside made any objection. The one concern of
everybody was to stop the panic, and everybody was overjoyed that I
was willing to take the responsibility of stopping it upon my own
shoulders. But a few months afterward, the panic was a thing of the
past. People forgot the frightful condition of alarm in which they had
been. They no longer had a personal interest in preventing any
interference with the stoppage of the panic. Then the men who had not
dared to raise their voices until all danger was past came bravely
forth from their hiding places and denounced the action which had
saved them. They had kept a hushed silence when there was danger; they
made clamorous outcry when there was safety in doing so.

Just the same course would have been followed in connection with the
Anthracite Coal Strike if I had been obliged to act in the fashion I
intended to act had I failed to secure a voluntary agreement between
the miners and the operators. Even as it was, my action was remembered
with rancor by the heads of the great moneyed interests; and as time
went by was assailed with constantly increasing vigor by the
newspapers these men controlled. Had I been forced to take possession
of the mines, these men and the politicians hostile to me would have
waited until the popular alarm was over and the popular needs met,
just as they waited in the case of the Tennessee Coal and Iron
Company; and then they would have attacked me precisely as they did
attack me as regards the Tennessee Coal and Iron Company.

Of course, in labor controversies it was not always possible to
champion the cause of the workers, because in many cases strikes were
called which were utterly unwarranted and were fought by methods which
cannot be too harshly condemned. No straightforward man can believe,
and no fearless man will assert, that a trade union is always right.
That man is an unworthy public servant who by speech or silence, by
direct statement or cowardly evasion, invariably throws the weight of
his influence on the side of the trade union, whether it is right or
wrong. It has occasionally been my duty to give utterance to the
feelings of all right thinking men by expressing the most emphatic
disapproval of unwise or even immoral notions by representatives of
labor. The man is no true democrat, and if an American, is unworthy of
the traditions of his country who, in problems calling for the
exercise of a moral judgment, fails to take his stand on conduct and
not on class. There are good and bad wage-workers just as there are
good and bad employers, and good and bad men of small means and of
large means alike.

But a willingness to do equal and exact justice to all citizens,
irrespective of race, creed, section or economic interest and
position, does not imply a failure to recognize the enormous economic,
political and moral possibilities of the trade union. Just as
democratic government cannot be condemned because of errors and even
crimes committed by men democratically elected, so trade-unionism must
not be condemned because of errors or crimes of occasional trade-union
leaders. The problem lies deeper. While we must repress all
illegalities and discourage all immoralities, whether of labor
organizations or of corporations, we must recognize the fact that
to-day the organization of labor into trade unions and federations is
necessary, is beneficent, and is one of the greatest possible agencies
in the attainment of a true industrial, as well as a true political,
democracy in the United States.

This is a fact which many well-intentioned people even to-day do not
understand. They do not understand that the labor problem is a human
and a moral as well as an economic problem; that a fall in wages, an
increase in hours, a deterioration of labor conditions mean wholesale
moral as well as economic degeneration, and the needless sacrifice of
human lives and human happiness, while a rise of wages, a lessening of
hours, a bettering of conditions, mean an intellectual, moral and
social uplift of millions of American men and women. There are
employers to-day who, like the great coal operators, speak as though
they were lords of these countless armies of Americans, who toil in
factory, in shop, in mill and in the dark places under the earth. They
fail to see that all these men have the right and the duty to combine
to protect themselves and their families from want and degradation.
They fail to see that the Nation and the Government, within the range
of fair play and a just administration of the law, must inevitably
sympathize with the men who have nothing but their wages, with the men
who are struggling for a decent life, as opposed to men, however
honorable, who are merely fighting for larger profits and an
autocratic control of big business. Each man should have all he earns,
whether by brain or body; and the director, the great industrial
leader, is one of the greatest of earners, and should have a
proportional reward; but no man should live on the earnings of
another, and there should not be too gross inequality between service
and reward.

There are many men to-day, men of integrity and intelligence, who
honestly believe that we must go back to the labor conditions of half
a century ago. They are opposed to trade unions, root and branch. They
note the unworthy conduct of many labor leaders, they find instances
of bad work by union men, of a voluntary restriction of output, of
vexations and violent strikes, of jurisdictional disputes between
unions which often disastrously involve the best intentioned and
fairest of employers. All these things occur and should be repressed.
But the same critic of the trade union might find equal causes of
complaint against individual employers of labor, or even against great
associations of manufacturers. He might find many instances of an
unwarranted cutting of wages, of flagrant violations of factory laws
and tenement house laws, of the deliberate and systematic cheating of
employees by means of truck stores, of the speeding up of work to a
point which is fatal to the health of the workman, of the sweating of
foreign-born workers, of the drafting of feeble little children into
dusty workshops, of black-listing, of putting spies into union
meetings and of the employment in strike times of vicious and
desperate ruffians, who are neither better nor worse than are the
thugs who are occasionally employed by unions under the sinister name,
"entertainment committees." I believe that the overwhelming majority,
both of workmen and of employers, are law-abiding peaceful, and
honorable citizens, and I do not think that it is just to lay up the
errors and wrongs of individuals to the entire group to which they
belong. I also think--and this is a belief which has been borne upon
me through many years of practical experience--that the trade union is
growing constantly in wisdom as well as in power, and is becoming one
of the most efficient agencies toward the solution of our industrial
problems, the elimination of poverty and of industrial disease and
accidents, the lessening of unemployment, the achievement of
industrial democracy and the attainment of a larger measure of social
and industrial justice.

If I were a factory employee, a workman on the railroads or a wage-
earner of any sort, I would undoubtedly join the union of my trade. If
I disapproved of its policy, I would join in order to fight that
policy; if the union leaders were dishonest, I would join in order to
put them out. I believe in the union and I believe that all men who
are benefited by the union are morally bound to help to the extent of
their power in the common interests advanced by the union.
Nevertheless, irrespective of whether a man should or should not, and
does or does not, join the union of his trade, all the rights,
privileges and immunities of that man as an American and as a citizen
should be safeguarded and upheld by the law. We dare not make an
outlaw of any individual or any group, whatever his or its opinions or
professions. The non-unionist, like the unionist, must be protected in
all his legal rights by the full weight and power of the law.

This question came up before me in the shape of the right of a non-
union printer named Miller to hold his position in the Government
Printing Office. As I said before, I believe in trade unions. I always
prefer to see a union shop. But any private preferences cannot control
my public actions. The Government can recognize neither union men nor
non-union men as such, and is bound to treat both exactly alike. In
the Government Printing Office not many months prior to the opening of
the Presidential campaign of 1904, when I was up for reelection, I
discovered that a man had been dismissed because he did not belong to
the union. I reinstated him. Mr. Gompers, the President of the
American Federation of Labor, with various members of the executive
council of that body, called upon me to protest on September 29, 1903,
and I answered them as follows:

"I thank you and your committee for your courtesy, and I appreciate
the opportunity to meet with you. It will always be a pleasure to see
you or any representative of your organizations or of your Federation
as a whole.

"As regards the Miller case, I have little to add to what I have
already said. In dealing with it I ask you to remember that I am
dealing purely with the relation of the Government to its employees. I
must govern my action by the laws of the land, which I am sworn to
administer, and which differentiate any case in which the Government
of the United States is a party from all other cases whatsoever. These
laws are enacted for the benefit of the whole people, and cannot and
must not be construed as permitting the crimination against some of
the people. I am President of all the people of the United States,
without regard to creed, color, birthplace, occupation or social
condition. My aim is to do equal and exact justice as among them all.
In the employment and dismissal of men in the Government service I can
no more recognize the fact that a man does or does not belong to a
union as being for or against him than I can recognize the fact that
he is a Protestant or a Catholic, a Jew or a Gentile, as being for or
against him.

"In the communications sent me by various labor organizations
protesting against the retention of Miller in the Government Printing
Office, the grounds alleged are twofold: 1, that he is a non-union
man; 2, that he is not personally fit. The question of his personal
fitness is one to be settled in the routine of administrative detail,
and cannot be allowed to conflict with or to complicate the larger
question of governmental discrimination for or against him or any
other man because he is or is not a member of a union. This is the
only question now before me for decision; and as to this my decision
is final."

Because of things I have done on behalf of justice to the workingman,
I have often been called a Socialist. Usually I have not taken the
trouble even to notice the epithet. I am not afraid of names, and I am
not one of those who fear to do what is right because some one else
will confound me with partisans with whose principles I am not in
accord. Moreover, I know that many American Socialists are high-minded
and honorable citizens, who in reality are merely radical social
reformers. They are oppressed by the brutalities and industrial
injustices which we see everywhere about us. When I recall how often I
have seen Socialists and ardent non-Socialists working side by side
for some specific measure of social or industrial reform, and how I
have found opposed to them on the side of privilege many shrill
reactionaries who insist on calling all reformers Socialists, I refuse
to be panic-stricken by having this title mistakenly applied to me.

None the less, without impugning their motives, I do disagree most
emphatically with both the fundamental philosophy and the proposed
remedies of the Marxian Socialists. These Socialists are unalterably
opposed to our whole industrial system. They believe that the payment
of wages means everywhere and inevitably an exploitation of the
laborer by the employer, and that this leads inevitably to a class war
between those two groups, or, as they would say, between the
capitalists and the proletariat. They assert that this class war is
already upon us and can only be ended when capitalism is entirely
destroyed and all the machines, mills, mines, railroads and other
private property used in production are confiscated, expropriated or
taken over by the workers. They do not as a rule claim--although some
of the sinister extremists among them do--that there is and must be a
continual struggle between two great classes, whose interests are
opposed and cannot be reconciled. In this war they insist that the
whole government--National, State and local--is on the side of the
employers and is used by them against the workmen, and that our law
and even our common morality are class weapons, like a policeman's
club or a Gatling gun.

I have never believed, and do not to-day believe, that such a class
war is upon us, or need ever be upon us; nor do I believe that the
interests of wage-earners and employers cannot be harmonized,
compromised and adjusted. It would be idle to deny that wage-earners
have certain different economic interests from, let us say,
manufacturers or importers, just as farmers have different interests
from sailors, and fishermen from bankers. There is no reason why any
of these economic groups should not consult their group interests by
any legitimate means and with due regard to the common, overlying
interests of all. I do not even deny that the majority of wage-
earners, because they have less property and less industrial security
than others and because they do not own the machinery with which they
work (as does the farmer) are perhaps in greater need of acting
together than are other groups in the community. But I do insist (and
I believe that the great majority of wage-earners take the same view)
that employers and employees have overwhelming interests in common,
both as partners in industry and as citizens of the republic, and that
where these interests are apart they can be adjusted by so altering
our laws and their interpretation as to secure to all members of the
community social and industrial justice.

I have always maintained that our worst revolutionaries to-day are
those reactionaries who do not see and will not admit that there is
any need for change. Such men seem to believe that the four and a half
million Progressive voters, who in 1912 registered their solemn
protest against our social and industrial injustices, are
"anarchists," who are not willing to let ill enough alone. If these
reactionaries had lived at an earlier time in our history, they would
have advocated Sedition Laws, opposed free speech and free assembly,
and voted against free schools, free access by settlers to the public
lands, mechanics' lien laws, the prohibition of truck stores and the
abolition of imprisonment for debt; and they are the men who to-day
oppose minimum wage laws, insurance of workmen against the ills of
industrial life and the reform of our legislators and our courts,
which can alone render such measures possible. Some of these
reactionaries are not bad men, but merely shortsighted and belated. It
is these reactionaries, however, who, by "standing pat" on industrial
injustice, incite inevitably to industrial revolt, and it is only we
who advocate political and industrial democracy who render possible
the progress of our American industry on large constructive lines with
a minimum of friction because with a maximum of justice.

Everything possible should be done to secure the wage-workers fair
treatment. There should be an increased wage for the worker of
increased productiveness. Everything possible should be done against
the capitalist who strives, not to reward special efficiency, but to
use it as an excuse for reducing the reward of moderate efficiency.
The capitalist is an unworthy citizen who pays the efficient man no
more than he has been content to pay the average man, and nevertheless
reduces the wage of the average man; and effort should be made by the
Government to check and punish him. When labor-saving machinery is
introduced, special care should be taken--by the Government if
necessary--to see that the wage-worker gets his share of the benefit,
and that it is not all absorbed by the employer or capitalist. The
following case, which has come to my knowledge, illustrates what I
mean. A number of new machines were installed in a certain shoe
factory, and as a result there was a heavy increase in production even
though there was no increase in the labor force. Some of the workmen
were instructed in the use of these machines by special demonstrators
sent out by the makers of the machines. These men, by reason of their
special aptitudes and the fact that they were not called upon to
operate the machines continuously nine hours every day, week in and
week out, but only for an hour or so at special times, were naturally
able to run the machines at their maximum capacity. When these
demonstrators had left the factory, and the company's own employees
had become used to operating the machines at a fair rate of speed, the
foreman of the establishment gradually speeded the machines and
demanded a larger and still larger output, constantly endeavoring to
drive the men on to greater exertions. Even with a slightly less
maximum capacity, the introduction of this machinery resulted in a
great increase over former production with the same amount of labor;
and so great were the profits from the business in the following two
years as to equal the total capitalized stock of the company. But not
a cent got into the pay envelope of the workmen beyond what they had
formerly been receiving before the introduction of this new machinery,
notwithstanding that it had meant an added strain, physical and
mental, upon their energies, and that they were forced to work harder
than ever before. The whole of the increased profits remained with the
company. Now this represented an "increase of efficiency," with a
positive decrease of social and industrial justice. The increase of
prosperity which came from increase of production in no way benefited
the wage-workers. I hold that they were treated with gross injustice;
and that society, acting if necessary through the Government, in such
a case should bend its energies to remedy such injustice; and I will
support any proper legislation that will aid in securing the desired

The wage-worker should not only receive fair treatment; he should give
fair treatment. In order that prosperity may be passed around it is
necessary that the prosperity exist. In order that labor shall receive
its fair share in the division of reward it is necessary that there be
a reward to divide. Any proposal to reduce efficiency by insisting
that the most efficient shall be limited in their output to what the
least efficient can do, is a proposal to limit by so much production,
and therefore to impoverish by so much the public, and specifically to
reduce the amount that can be divided among the producers. This is all
wrong. Our protest must be against unfair division of the reward for
production. Every encouragement should be given the business man, the
employer, to make his business prosperous, and therefore to earn more
money for himself; and in like fashion every encouragement should be
given the efficient workman. We must always keep in mind that to
reduce the amount of production serves merely to reduce the amount
that is to be divided, is in no way permanently efficient as a protest
against unequal distribution and is permanently detrimental to the
entire community. But increased productiveness is not secured by
excessive labor amid unhealthy surroundings. The contrary is true.
Shorter hours, and healthful conditions, and opportunity for the wage-
worker to make more money, and the chance for enjoyment as well as
work, all add to efficiency. My contention is that there should be no
penalization of efficient productiveness, brought about under healthy
conditions; but that every increase of production brought about by an
increase in efficiency should benefit all the parties to it, including
wage-workers as well as employers or capitalists, men who work with
their hands as well as men who work with their heads.

With the Western Federation of Miners I more than once had serious
trouble. The leaders of this organization had preached anarchy, and
certain of them were indicted for having practiced murder in the case
of Governor Steunenberg, of Idaho. On one occasion in a letter or
speech I coupled condemnation of these labor leaders and condemnation
of certain big capitalists, describing them all alike as "undesirable
citizens." This gave great offense to both sides. The open attack upon
me was made for the most part either by the New York newspapers which
were frankly representatives of Wall Street, or else by those so-
called--and miscalled--Socialists who had anarchistic leanings. Many
of the latter sent me open letters of denunciation, and to one of them
I responded as follows:

April 22, 1907.

Dear Sir:

I have received your letter of the 19th instant, in which you
enclose the draft of the formal letter which is to follow. I have
been notified that several delegations, bearing similar requests,
are on the way hither. In the letter you, on behalf of the Cook
County, Moyer-Haywood conference, protest against certain language
I used in a recent letter which you assert to be designed to
influence the course of justice in the case of the trial for
murder of Messrs. Moyer and Haywood. I entirely agree with you
that it is improper to endeavor to influence the course of
justice, whether by threats or in any similar manner. For this
reason I have regretted most deeply the actions of such
organizations as your own in undertaking to accomplish this very
result in the very case of which you speak. For instance, your
letter is headed "Cook County Moyer-Haywood-Pettibone Conference,"
with the headlines: "/Death/--cannot--will not--and shall not
claim our brothers!" This shows that you and your associates are
not demanding a fair trial, or working for a fair trial, but are
announcing in advance that the verdict shall only be one way and
that you will not tolerate any other verdict. Such action is
flagrant in its impropriety, and I join heartily in condemning it.

But it is a simple absurdity to suppose that because any man is on
trial for a given offense he is therefore to be freed from all
criticism upon his general conduct and manner of life. In my
letter to which you object I referred to a certain prominent
financier, Mr. Harriman, on the one hand, and to Messrs. Moyer,
Haywood and Debs on the other, as being equally undesirable
citizens. It is as foolish to assert that this was designed to
influence the trial of Moyer and Haywood as to assert that it was
designed to influence the suits that have been brought against Mr.
Harriman. I neither expressed nor indicated any opinion as to
whether Messrs. Moyer and Haywood were guilty of the murder of
Governor Steunenberg. If they are guilty, they certainly ought to
be punished. If they are not guilty, they certainly ought not to
be punished. But no possible outcome either of the trial or the
suits can affect my judgment as to the undesirability of the type
of citizenship of those whom I mentioned. Messrs. Moyer, Haywood,
and Debs stand as representatives of those men who have done as
much to discredit the labor movement as the worst speculative
financiers or most unscrupulous employers of labor and debauchers
of legislatures have done to discredit honest capitalists and
fair-dealing business men. They stand as the representatives of
those men who by their public utterances and manifestoes, by the
utterances of the papers they control or inspire, and by the words
and deeds of those associated with or subordinated to them,
habitually appear as guilty of incitement to or apology for
bloodshed and violence. If this does not constitute undesirable
citizenship, then there can never be any undesirable citizens. The
men whom I denounce represent the men who have abandoned that
legitimate movement for the uplifting of labor, with which I have
the most hearty sympathy; they have adopted practices which cut
them off from those who lead this legitimate movement. In every
way I shall support the law-abiding and upright representatives of
labor, and in no way can I better support them than by drawing the
sharpest possible line between them on the one hand, and, on the
other hand, those preachers of violence who are themselves the
worst foes of the honest laboring man.

Let me repeat my deep regret that any body of men should so far
forget their duty to the country as to endeavor by the formation
of societies and in other ways to influence the course of justice
in this matter. I have received many such letters as yours.
Accompanying them were newspaper clippings announcing
demonstrations, parades, and mass-meetings designed to show that
the representatives of labor, without regard to the facts, demand
the acquittal of Messrs. Haywood and Moyer. Such meetings can, of
course, be designed only to coerce court or jury in rendering a
verdict, and they therefore deserve all the condemnation which you
in your letters say should be awarded to those who endeavor
improperly to influence the course of justice.

You would, of course, be entirely within your rights if you merely
announced that you thought Messrs. Moyer and Haywood were
"desirable citizens"--though in such case I should take frank
issue with you and should say that, wholly without regard to
whether or not they are guilty of the crime for which they are now
being tried, they represent as thoroughly undesirable a type of
citizenship as can be found in this country; a type which, in the
letter to which you so unreasonably take exception, I showed not
to be confined to any one class, but to exist among some
representatives of great capitalists as well as among some
representatives of wage-workers. In that letter I condemned both
types. Certain representatives of the great capitalists in turn
condemned me for including Mr. Harriman in my condemnation of
Messrs. Moyer and Haywood. Certain of the representatives of labor
in their turn condemned me because I included Messrs. Moyer and
Haywood as undesirable citizens together with Mr. Harrison. I am
as profoundly indifferent to the condemnation in one case as in
the other. I challenge as a right the support of all good
Americans, whether wage-workers or capitalists, whatever their
occupation or creed, or in whatever portion of the country they
live, when I condemn both the types of bad citizenship which I
have held up to reprobation. It seems to be a mark of utter
insincerity to fail thus to condemn both; and to apologize for
either robs the man thus apologizing of all right to condemn any
wrongdoing in any man, rich or poor, in public or in private life.

You say you ask for a "square deal" for Messrs. Moyer and Haywood.
So do I. When I say "Square deal," I mean a square deal to every
one; it is equally a violation of the policy of the square deal
for a capitalist to protest against denunciation of a capitalist
who is guilty of wrongdoing and for a labor leader to protest
against the denunciation of a labor leader who has been guilty of
wrongdoing. I stand for equal justice to both; and so far as in my
power lies I shall uphold justice, whether the man accused of
guilt has behind him the wealthiest corporation, the greatest
aggregations of riches in the country, or whether he has behind
him the most influential labor organization in the country.

I treated anarchists and the bomb-throwing and dynamiting gentry
precisely as I treated other criminals. Murder is murder. It is not
rendered one whit better by the allegation that it is committed on
behalf of "a cause." It is true that law and order are not all
sufficient; but they are essential; lawlessness and murderous violence
must be quelled before any permanence of reform can be obtained. Yet
when they have been quelled, the beneficiaries of the enforcement of
law must in their turn be taught that law is upheld as a means to the
enforcement of justice, and that we will not tolerate its being turned
into an engine of injustice and oppression. The fundamental need in
dealing with our people, whether laboring men or others, is not
charity but justice; we must all work in common for the common end of
helping each and all, in a spirit of the sanest, broadest and deepest

It was not always easy to avoid feeling very deep anger with the
selfishness and short-sightedness shown both by the representatives of
certain employers' organizations and by certain great labor
federations or unions. One such employers' association was called the
National Association of Manufacturers. Extreme though the attacks
sometimes made upon me by the extreme labor organizations were, they
were not quite as extreme as the attacks made upon me by the head of
the National Association of Manufacturers, and as regards their
attitude toward legislation I came to the conclusion toward the end of
my term that the latter had actually gone further the wrong way than
did the former--and the former went a good distance also. The
opposition of the National Association of Manufacturers to every
rational and moderate measure for benefiting workingmen, such as
measures abolishing child labor, or securing workmen's compensation,
caused me real and grave concern; for I felt that it was ominous of
evil for the whole country to have men who ought to stand high in
wisdom and in guiding force take a course and use language of such
reactionary type as directly to incite revolution--for this is what
the extreme reactionary always does.

Often I was attacked by the two sides at once. In the spring of 1906 I
received in the same mail a letter from a very good friend of mine who
thought that I had been unduly hard on some labor men, and a letter
from another friend, the head of a great corporation, who complained
about me for both favoring labor and speaking against large fortunes.
My answers ran as follows:

April 26, 1906.

/My dear Doctor/:

"In one of my last letters to you I enclosed you a copy of a letter
of mine, in which I quoted from [So and so's] advocacy of murder.
You may be interested to know that he and his brother Socialists--
in reality anarchists--of the frankly murderous type have been
violently attacking my speech because of my allusion to the
sympathy expressed for murder. In /The Socialist/, of Toledo,
Ohio, of April 21st, for instance, the attack [on me] is based
specifically on the following paragraph of my speech, to which he
takes violent exception:

"We can no more and no less afford to condone evil in the man of
capital than evil in the man of no capital. The wealthy man who
exults because there is a failure of justice in the effort to
bring some trust magnate to an account for his misdeeds is as bad
as, and no worse than, the so-called labor leader who clamorously
strives to excite a foul class feeling on behalf of some other
labor leader who is implicated in murder. One attitude is as bad
as the other, and no worse; in each case the accused is entitled
to exact justice; and in neither case is there need of action by
others which can be construed into an expression of sympathy for

"Remember that this crowd of labor leaders have done all in their
power to overawe the executive and the courts of Idaho on behalf
of men accused of murder, and beyond question inciters of murder
in the past."

April 26, 1906.

"/My dear Judge/:

"I wish the papers had given more prominence to what I said as to
the murder part of my speech. But oh, my dear sir, I utterly and
radically disagree with you in what you say about large fortunes.
I wish it were in my power to devise some scheme to make it
increasingly difficult to heap them up beyond a certain amount. As
the difficulties in the way of such a scheme are very great, let
us at least prevent their being bequeathed after death or given
during life to any one man in excessive amount.

"You and other capitalist friends, on one side, shy off at what I
say against them. Have you seen the frantic articles against me by
[the anarchists and] the Socialists of the bomb-throwing
persuasion, on the other side, because of what I said in my speech
in reference to those who, in effect, advocate murder?"

On another occasion I was vehemently denounced in certain capitalistic
papers because I had a number of labor leaders, including miners from
Butte, lunch with me at the White House; and this at the very time
that the Western Federation of Miners was most ferocious in its
denunciation of me because of what it alleged to be my unfriendly
attitude toward labor. To one of my critics I set forth my views in
the following letter:

November 26, 1903.

"I have your letter of the 25th instant, with enclosure. These men,
not all of whom were miners, by the way, came here and were at
lunch with me, in company with Mr. Carroll D. Wright, Mr. Wayne
MacVeagh, and Secretary Cortelyou. They are as decent a set of men
as can be. They all agreed entirely with me in my denunciation of
what had been done in the Court d'Alene country; and it appeared
that some of them were on the platform with me when I denounced
this type of outrage three years ago in Butte. There is not one
man who was here, who, I believe, was in any way, shape or form
responsible for such outrages. I find that the ultra-Socialistic
members of the unions in Butte denounced these men for coming
here, in a manner as violent--and I may say as irrational--as the
denunciation [by the capitalistic writer] in the article you sent
me. Doubtless the gentleman of whom you speak as your general
manager is an admirable man. I, of course, was not alluding to
him; but I most emphatically /was/ alluding to men who write such
articles as that you sent me. These articles are to be paralleled
by the similar articles in the Populist and Socialist papers when
two years ago I had at dinner at one time Pierpont Morgan, and at
another time J. J. Hill, and at another, Harriman, and at another
time Schiff. Furthermore, they could be paralleled by the articles
in the same type of paper which at the time of the Miller incident
in the Printing Office were in a condition of nervous anxiety
because I met the labor leaders to discuss it. It would have been
a great misfortune if I had not met them; and it would have been
an even greater misfortune if after meeting them I had yielded to
their protests in the matter.

"You say in your letter that you know that I am 'on record' as
opposed to violence. Pardon my saying that this seems to me not
the right way to put the matter, if by 'record' you mean utterance
and not action. Aside from what happened when I was Governor in
connection, for instance with the Croton dam strike riots, all you
have to do is to turn back to what took place last June in Arizona
--and you can find out about it from [Mr. X] of New York. The
miners struck, violence followed, and the Arizona Territorial
authorities notified me they could not grapple with the situation.
Within twenty minutes of the receipt of the telegram, orders were
issued to the nearest available troops, and twenty-four hours
afterwards General Baldwin and his regulars were on the ground,
and twenty-four hours later every vestige of disorder had
disappeared. The Miners' Federation in their meeting, I think at
Denver, a short while afterwards, passed resolutions denouncing
me. I do not know whether the /Mining and Engineering Journal/
paid any heed to this incident or know of it. If the /Journal/
did, I suppose it can hardly have failed to understand that to put
an immediate stop to rioting by the use of the United States army
is a fact of importance beside which the criticism of my having
'labor leaders' to lunch, shrinks into the same insignificance as
the criticism in a different type of paper about my having 'trust
magnates' to lunch. While I am President I wish the labor man to
feel that he has the same right of access to me that the
capitalist has; that the doors swing open as easily to the wage-
worker as to the head of a big corporation--/and no easier/.
Anything else seems to be not only un-American, but as symptomatic
of an attitude which will cost grave trouble if persevered in. To
discriminate against labor men from Butte because there is reason
to believe that rioting has been excited in other districts by
certain labor unions, or individuals in labor unions in Butte,
would be to adopt precisely the attitude of those who desire me to
discriminate against all capitalists in Wall street because there
are plenty of capitalists in Wall Street who have been guilty of
bad financial practices and who have endeavored to override or
evade the laws of the land. In my judgment, the only safe attitude
for a private citizen, and still more for a public servant, to
assume, is that he will draw the line on conduct, discriminating
against neither corporation nor union as such, nor in favor of
either as such, but endeavoring to make the decent member of the
union and the upright capitalists alike feel that they are bound,
not only by self-interest, but by every consideration of principle
and duty to stand together on the matters of most moment to the

On another of the various occasions when I had labor leaders to dine
at the White House, my critics were rather shocked because I had John
Morley to meet them. The labor leaders in question included the heads
of the various railroad brotherhoods, men like Mr. Morrissey, in whose
sound judgment and high standard of citizenship I had peculiar
confidence; and I asked Mr. Morley to meet them because they
represented the exact type of American citizen with whom I thought he
ought to be brought in contact.

One of the devices sometimes used by big corporations to break down
the law was to treat the passage of laws as an excuse for action on
their part which they knew would be resented by the public, it being
their purpose to turn this resentment against the law instead of
against themselves. The heads of the Louisville and Nashville road
were bitter opponents of everything done by the Government toward
securing good treatment for their employees. In February, 1908, they
and various other railways announced that they intended to reduce the
wages of their employees. A general strike, with all the attendant
disorder and trouble, was threatened in consequence. I accordingly
sent the following open letter to the Inter-State Commerce Commission:

February 16, 1908.

"To the Inter-State Commerce Commission:

"I am informed that a number of railroad companies have served
notice of a proposed reduction of wages of their employees. One of
them, the Louisville and Nashville, in announcing the reduction,
states that 'the drastic laws inimical to the interests of the
railroads that have in the past year or two been enacted by
Congress and the State Legislatures' are largely or chiefly
responsible for the conditions requiring the reduction.

"Under such circumstances it is possible that the public may soon
be confronted by serious industrial disputes, and the law provides
that in such case either party may demand the services of your
Chairman and of the Commissioner of Labor as a Board of Mediation
and Conciliation. These reductions in wages may be warranted, or
they may not. As to this the public, which is a vitally interested
party, can form no judgment without a more complete knowledge of
the essential facts and real merits of the case than it now has or
than it can possibly obtain from the special pleadings, certain to
be put forth by each side in case their dispute should bring about
serious interruption to traffic. If the reduction in wages is due
to natural causes, the loss of business being such that the burden
should be and is, equitably distributed between capitalist and
wage-worker, the public should know it. If it is caused by
legislation, the public, and Congress, should know it; and if it
is caused by misconduct in the past financial or other operations
of any railroad, then everybody should know it, especially if the
excuse of unfriendly legislation is advanced as a method of
covering up past business misconduct by the railroad managers, or
as a justification for failure to treat fairly the wage-earning
employees of the company.

"Moreover, an industrial conflict between a railroad corporation
and its employees offers peculiar opportunities to any small
number of evil-disposed persons to destroy life and property and
foment public disorder. Of course, if life, property, and public
order are endangered, prompt and drastic measures for their
protection become the first plain duty. All other issues then
become subordinate to the preservation of the public peace, and
the real merits of the original controversy are necessarily lost
from view. This vital consideration should be ever kept in mind by
all law-abiding and far-sighted members of labor organizations.

"It is sincerely to be hoped, therefore, that any wage controversy
that may arise between the railroads and their employees may find
a peaceful solution through the methods of conciliation and
arbitration already provided by Congress, which have proven so
effective during the past year. To this end the Commission should
be in a position to have available for any Board of Conciliation
or Arbitration relevant data pertaining to such carriers as may
become involved in industrial disputes. Should conciliation fail
to effect a settlement and arbitration be rejected, accurate
information should be available in order to develop a properly
informed public opinion.

"I therefore ask you to make such investigation, both of your
records and by any other means at your command, as will enable
you to furnish data concerning such conditions obtaining on the
Louisville and Nashville and any other roads, as may relate,
directly or indirectly, to the real merits of the possibly
impending controversy.


This letter achieved its purpose, and the threatened reduction of
wages was not made. It was an instance of what could be accomplished
by governmental action. Let me add, however, with all the emphasis I
possess, that this does not mean any failure on my part to recognize
the fact that if governmental action places too heavy burdens on
railways, it will be impossible for them to operate without doing
injustice to somebody. Railways cannot pay proper wages and render
proper service unless they make money. The investors must get a
reasonable profit or they will not invest, and the public cannot be
well served unless the investors are making reasonable profits. There
is every reason why rates should not be too high, but they must be
sufficiently high to allow the railways to pay good wages. Moreover,
when laws like workmen's compensation laws, and the like are passed,
it must always be kept in mind by the Legislature that the purpose is
to distribute over the whole community a burden that should not be
borne only by those least able to bear it--that is, by the injured man
or the widow and orphans of the dead man. If the railway is already
receiving a disproportionate return from the public, then the burden
may, with propriety, bear purely on the railway; but if it is not
earning a disproportionate return, then the public must bear its share
of the burden of the increased service the railway is rendering.
Dividends and wages should go up together; and the relation of rates
to them should never be forgotten. This of course does not apply to
dividends based on water; nor does it mean that if foolish people have
built a road that renders no service, the public must nevertheless in
some way guarantee a return on the investment; but it does mean that
the interests of the honest investor are entitled to the same
protection as the interests of the honest manager, the honest shipper
and the honest wage-earner. All these conflicting considerations
should be carefully considered by Legislatures before passing laws.
One of the great objects in creating commissions should be the
provision of disinterested, fair-minded experts who will really and
wisely consider all these matters, and will shape their actions
accordingly. This is one reason why such matters as the regulation of
rates, the provision for full crews on roads and the like should be
left for treatment by railway commissions, and not be settled off hand
by direct legislative action.



As regards what I have said in this chapter concerning Socialism, I
wish to call especial attention to the admirable book on "Marxism
versus Socialism," which has just been published by Vladimir D.
Simkhovitch. What I have, here and elsewhere, merely pointed out in
rough and ready fashion from actual observation of the facts of life
around me, Professor Simkhovitch in his book has discussed with keen
practical insight, with profundity of learning, and with a wealth of
applied philosophy. Crude thinkers in the United States, and moreover
honest and intelligent men who are not crude thinkers, but who are
oppressed by the sight of the misery around them and have not deeply
studied what has been done elsewhere, are very apt to adopt as their
own the theories of European Marxian Socialists of half a century ago,
ignorant that the course of events has so completely falsified the
prophecies contained in these theories that they have been abandoned
even by the authors themselves. With quiet humor Professor Simkhovitch
now and then makes an allusion which shows that he appreciates to
perfection this rather curious quality of some of our fellow
countrymen; as for example when he says that "A Socialist State with
the farmer outside of it is a conception that can rest comfortably
only in the head of an American Socialist," or as when he speaks of
Marx and Engels as men "to whom thinking was not an irrelevant foreign
tradition." Too many thoroughly well-meaning men and women in the
America of to-day glibly repeat and accept--much as medieval schoolmen
repeated and accepted authorized dogma in their day--various
assumptions and speculations by Marx and others which by the lapse of
time and by actual experiment have been shown to possess not one shred
of value. Professor Simkhovitch possesses the gift of condensation as
well as the gift of clear and logical statement, and it is not
possible to give in brief any idea of his admirable work. Every social
reformer who desires to face facts should study it--just as social
reformers should study John Graham Brooks's "American Syndicalism."
From Professor Simkhovitch's book we Americans should learn: First, to
discard crude thinking; second, to realize that the orthodox or so-
called scientific or purely economic or materialistic socialism of the
type preached by Marx is an exploded theory; and, third, that many of
the men who call themselves Socialists to-day are in reality merely
radical social reformers, with whom on many points good citizens can
and ought to work in hearty general agreement, and whom in many
practical matters of government good citizens well afford to follow.



No nation can claim rights without acknowledging the duties that go
with the rights. It is a contemptible thing for a great nation to
render itself impotent in international action, whether because of
cowardice or sloth, or sheer inability or unwillingness to look into
the future. It is a very wicked thing for a nation to do wrong to
others. But the most contemptible and most wicked course of conduct is
for a nation to use offensive language or be guilty of offensive
actions toward other people and yet fail to hold its own if the other
nation retaliates; and it is almost as bad to undertake
responsibilities and then not fulfil them. During the seven and a half
years that I was President, this Nation behaved in international
matters toward all other nations precisely as an honorable man behaves
to his fellow-men. We made no promise which we could not and did not
keep. We made no threat which we did not carry out. We never failed to
assert our rights in the face of the strong, and we never failed to
treat both strong and weak with courtesy and justice; and against the
weak when they misbehaved we were slower to assert our rights than we
were against the strong.

As a legacy of the Spanish War we were left with peculiar relations to
the Philippines, Cuba, and Porto Rico, and with an immensely added
interest in Central America and the Caribbean Sea. As regards the
Philippines my belief was that we should train them for self-
government as rapidly as possible, and then leave them free to decide
their own fate. I did not believe in setting the time-limit within
which we would give them independence, because I did not believe it
wise to try to forecast how soon they would be fit for self-
government; and once having made the promise I would have felt that it
was imperative to keep it. Within a few months of my assuming office
we had stamped out the last armed resistance in the Philippines that
was not of merely sporadic character; and as soon as peace was secured
we turned our energies to developing the islands in the interests of
the natives. We established schools everywhere; we built roads; we
administered an even-handed justice; we did everything possible to
encourage agriculture and industry; and in constantly increasing
measure we employed natives to do their own governing, and finally
provided a legislative chamber. No higher grade of public officials
ever handled the affairs of any colony than the public officials who
in succession governed the Philippines. With the possible exception of
the Sudan, and not even excepting Algiers, I know of no country ruled
and administered by men of the white race where that rule and that
administration have been exercised so emphatically with an eye single
to the welfare of the natives themselves. The English and Dutch
administrators of Malaysia have done admirable work; but the profit to
the Europeans in those States has always been one of the chief
elements considered; whereas in the Philippines our whole attention
was concentrated upon the welfare of the Filipinos themselves, if
anything to the neglect of our own interests.

I do not believe that America has any special beneficial interest in
retaining the Philippines. Our work there has benefited us only as any
efficiently done work performed for the benefit of others does
incidentally help the character of those who do it. The people of the
islands have never developed so rapidly, from every standpoint, as
during the years of the American occupation. The time will come when
it will be wise to take their own judgment as to whether they wish to
continue their association with America or not. There is, however, one
consideration upon which we should insist. Either we should retain
complete control of the islands, or absolve ourselves from all
responsibility for them. Any half and half course would be both
foolish and disastrous. We are governing and have been governing the
islands in the interests of the Filipinos themselves. If after due
time the Filipinos themselves decide that they do not wish to be thus
governed, then I trust that we will leave; but when we do leave it
must be distinctly understood that we retain no protectorate--and
above all that we take part in no joint protectorate--over the
islands, and give them no guarantee, of neutrality or otherwise; that,
in short, we are absolutely quit of responsibility for them, of every
kind and description.

The Filipinos were quite incapable of standing by themselves when we
took possession of the islands, and we had made no promise concerning
them. But we had explicitly promised to leave the island of Cuba, had
explicitly promised that Cuba should be independent. Early in my
administration that promise was redeemed. When the promise was made, I
doubt if there was a single ruler or diplomat in Europe who believed
that it would be kept. As far as I know, the United States was the
first power which, having made such a promise, kept it in letter and
spirit. England was unwise enough to make such a promise when she took
Egypt. It would have been a capital misfortune to have kept the
promise, and England has remained in Egypt for over thirty years, and
will unquestionably remain indefinitely; but though it is necessary
for her to do so, the fact of her doing so has meant the breaking of a
positive promise and has been a real evil. Japan made the same
guarantee about Korea, but as far as can be seen there was never even
any thought of keeping the promise in this case; and Korea, which had
shown herself utterly impotent either for self-government or self-
defense, was in actual fact almost immediately annexed to Japan.

We made the promise to give Cuba independence; and we kept the
promise. Leonard Wood was left in as Governor for two or three years,
and evolved order out of chaos, raising the administration of the
island to a level, moral and material, which it had never before
achieved. We also by treaty gave the Cubans substantial advantages in
our markets. Then we left the island, turning the government over to
its own people. After four or five years a revolution broke out,
during my administration, and we again had to intervene to restore
order. We promptly sent thither a small army of pacification. Under
General Barry, order was restored and kept, and absolute justice done.
The American troops were then withdrawn and the Cubans reestablished
in complete possession of their own beautiful island, and they are in
possession of it now. There are plenty of occasions in our history
when we have shown weakness or inefficiency, and some occasions when
we have not been as scrupulous as we should have been as regards the
rights of others. But I know of no action by any other government in
relation to a weaker power which showed such disinterested efficiency
in rendering service as was true in connection with our intervention
in Cuba.

In Cuba, as in the Philippines and as in Porto Rico, Santo Domingo,
and later in Panama, no small part of our success was due to the fact
that we put in the highest grade of men as public officials. This
practice was inaugurated under President McKinley. I found admirable
men in office, and I continued them and appointed men like them as
their successors. The way that the custom-houses in Santo Domingo were
administered by Colton definitely established the success of our
experiment in securing peace for that island republic; and in Porto
Rico, under the administration of affairs under such officials as
Hunt, Winthrop, Post, Ward and Grahame, more substantial progress was
achieved in a decade than in any previous century.

The Philippines, Cuba, and Porto Rico came within our own sphere of
governmental action. In addition to this we asserted certain rights in
the Western Hemisphere under the Monroe Doctrine. My endeavor was not
only to assert these rights, but frankly and fully to acknowledge the
duties that went with the rights.

The Monroe Doctrine lays down the rule that the Western Hemisphere is
not hereafter to be treated as subject to settlement and occupation by
Old World powers. It is not international law; but it is a cardinal
principle of our foreign policy. There is no difficulty at the present
day in maintaining this doctrine, save where the American power whose
interest is threatened has shown itself in international matters both
weak and delinquent. The great and prosperous civilized commonwealths,
such as the Argentine, Brazil, and Chile, in the Southern half of
South America, have advanced so far that they no longer stand in any
position of tutelage toward the United States. They occupy toward us
precisely the position that Canada occupies. Their friendship is the
friendship of equals for equals. My view was that as regards these
nations there was no more necessity for asserting the Monroe Doctrine
than there was to assert it in regard to Canada. They were competent
to assert it for themselves. Of course if one of these nations, or if
Canada, should be overcome by some Old World power, which then
proceeded to occupy its territory, we would undoubtedly, if the
American Nation needed our help, give it in order to prevent such
occupation from taking place. But the initiative would come from the
Nation itself, and the United States would merely act as a friend
whose help was invoked.

The case was (and is) widely different as regards certain--not all--of
the tropical states in the neighborhood of the Caribbean Sea. Where
these states are stable and prosperous, they stand on a footing of
absolute equality with all other communities. But some of them have
been a prey to such continuous revolutionary misrule as to have grown
impotent either to do their duties to outsiders or to enforce their
rights against outsiders. The United States has not the slightest
desire to make aggressions on any one of these states. On the
contrary, it will submit to much from them without showing resentment.
If any great civilized power, Russia or Germany, for instance, had
behaved toward us as Venezuela under Castro behaved, this country
would have gone to war at once. We did not go to war with Venezuela
merely because our people declined to be irritated by the actions of a
weak opponent, and showed a forbearance which probably went beyond the
limits of wisdom in refusing to take umbrage at what was done by the
weak; although we would certainly have resented it had it been done by
the strong. In the case of two states, however, affairs reached such a
crisis that we had to act. These two states were Santo Domingo and the
then owner of the Isthmus of Panama, Colombia.

The Santo Domingan case was the less important; and yet it possessed a
real importance, and moreover is instructive because the action there
taken should serve as a precedent for American action in all similar
cases. During the early years of my administration Santo Domingo was
in its usual condition of chronic revolution. There was always
fighting, always plundering; and the successful graspers for
governmental power were always pawning ports and custom-houses, or
trying to put them up as guarantees for loans. Of course the
foreigners who made loans under such conditions demanded exorbitant
interest, and if they were Europeans expected their governments to
stand by them. So utter was the disorder that on one occasion when
Admiral Dewey landed to pay a call of ceremony on the President, he
and his party were shot at by revolutionists in crossing the square,
and had to return to the ships, leaving the call unpaid. There was
default on the interest due to the creditors; and finally the latter
insisted upon their governments intervening. Two or three of the
European powers were endeavoring to arrange for concerted action, and
I was finally notified that these powers intended to take and hold
several of the seaports which held custom-houses.

This meant that unless I acted at once I would find foreign powers in
partial possession of Santo Domingo; in which event the very
individuals who, in the actual event deprecated the precaution taken
to prevent such action, would have advocated extreme and violent
measures to undo the effect of their own supineness. Nine-tenths of
wisdom is to be wise in time, and at the right time; and my whole
foreign policy was based on the exercise of intelligent forethought
and of decisive action sufficiently far in advance of any likely
crisis to make it improbable that we would run into serious trouble.

Santo Domingo had fallen into such chaos that once for some weeks
there were two rival governments in it, and a revolution was being
carried on against each. At one period one government was at sea in a
small gunboat, but still stoutly maintained that it was in possession
of the island and entitled to make loans and declare peace or war. The
situation had become intolerable by the time that I interfered. There
was a naval commander in the waters whom I directed to prevent any
fighting which might menace the custom-houses. He carried out his
orders, both to his and my satisfaction, in thoroughgoing fashion. On
one occasion, when an insurgent force threatened to attack a town in
which Americans had interests, he notified the commanders on both
sides that he would not permit any fighting in the town, but that he
would appoint a certain place where they could meet and fight it out,
and that the victors should have the town. They agreed to meet his
wishes, the fight came off at the appointed place, and the victors,
who if I remember rightly were the insurgents, were given the town.

It was the custom-houses that caused the trouble, for they offered the
only means of raising money, and the revolutions were carried on to
get possession of them. Accordingly I secured an agreement with the
governmental authorities, who for the moment seemed best able to speak
for the country, by which these custom-houses were placed under
American control. The arrangement was that we should keep order and
prevent any interference with the custom-houses or the places where
they stood, and should collect the revenues. Forty-five per cent of
the revenue was then turned over to the Santo Domingan Government, and
fifty-five per cent put in a sinking fund in New York for the benefit
of the creditors. The arrangement worked in capital style. On the
forty-five per cent basis the Santo Domingan Government received from
us a larger sum than it had ever received before when nominally all
the revenue went to it. The creditors were entirely satisfied with the
arrangement, and no excuse for interference by European powers
remained. Occasional disturbances occurred in the island, of course,
but on the whole there ensued a degree of peace and prosperity which
the island had not known before for at least a century.

All this was done without the loss of a life, with the assent of all
the parties in interest, and without subjecting the United States to
any charge, while practically all of the interference, after the naval
commander whom I have mentioned had taken the initial steps in
preserving order, consisted in putting a first-class man trained in
our insular service at the head of the Santo Domingan customs service.
We secured peace, we protected the people of the islands against
foreign foes, and we minimized the chance of domestic trouble. We
satisfied the creditors and the foreign nations to which the creditors
belonged; and our own part of the work was done with the utmost
efficiency and with rigid honesty, so that not a particle of scandal
was ever so much as hinted at.

Under these circumstances those who do not know the nature of the
professional international philanthropists would suppose that these
apostles of international peace would have been overjoyed with what we
had done. As a matter of fact, when they took any notice of it at all
it was to denounce it; and those American newspapers which are fondest
of proclaiming themselves the foes of war and the friends of peace
violently attacked me for averting war from, and bringing peace to,
the island. They insisted I had no power to make the agreement, and
demanded the rejection of the treaty which was to perpetuate the
agreement. They were, of course, wholly unable to advance a single
sound reason of any kind for their attitude. I suppose the real
explanation was partly their dislike of me personally, and
unwillingness to see peace come through or national honor upheld by
me; and in the next place their sheer, simple devotion to prattle and
dislike of efficiency. They liked to have people come together and
talk about peace, or even sign bits of paper with something about
peace or arbitration on them, but they took no interest whatever in
the practical achievement of a peace that told for good government and
decency and honesty. They were joined by the many moderately well-
meaning men who always demand that a thing be done, but also always
demand that it be not done in the only way in which it is, as a matter
of fact, possible to do it. The men of this kind insisted that of
course Santo Domingo must be protected and made to behave itself, and
that of course the Panama Canal must be dug; but they insisted even
more strongly that neither feat should be accomplished in the only way
in which it was possible to accomplish it at all.

The Constitution did not explicitly give me power to bring about the
necessary agreement with Santo Domingo. But the Constitution did not
forbid my doing what I did. I put the agreement into effect, and I
continued its execution for two years before the Senate acted; and I
would have continued it until the end of my term, if necessary,
without any action by Congress. But it was far preferable that there
should be action by Congress, so that we might be proceeding under a
treaty which was the law of the land and not merely by a direction of
the Chief Executive which would lapse when that particular executive
left office. I therefore did my best to get the Senate to ratify what
I had done. There was a good deal of difficulty about it. With the
exception of one or two men like Clark of Arkansas, the Democratic
Senators acted in that spirit of unworthy partisanship which
subordinates national interest to some fancied partisan advantage, and
they were cordially backed by all that portion of the press which took
its inspiration from Wall Street, and was violently hostile to the
Administration because of its attitude towards great corporations.
Most of the Republican Senators under the lead of Senator Lodge stood
by me; but some of them, of the more "conservative" or reactionary
type, who were already growing hostile to me on the trust question,
first proceeded to sneer at what had been done, and to raise all kinds
of meticulous objections, which they themselves finally abandoned, but
which furnished an excuse on which the opponents of the treaty could
hang adverse action. Unfortunately the Senators who were most apt to
speak of the dignity of the Senate, and to insist upon its importance,
were the very ones who were also most apt to try to make display of
this dignity and importance by thwarting the public business. This
case was typical. The Republicans in question spoke against certain
provisions of the proposed treaty. They then, having ingeniously
provided ammunition for the foes of the treaty, abandoned their
opposition to it, and the Democrats stepped into the position they had
abandoned. Enough Republicans were absent to prevent the securing of a
two-thirds vote for the treaty, and the Senate adjourned without any
action at all, and with a feeling of entire self-satisfaction at
having left the country in the position of assuming a responsibility
and then failing to fulfil it. Apparently the Senators in question
felt that in some way they had upheld their dignity. All that they had
really done was to shirk their duty. Somebody had to do that duty, and
accordingly I did it. I went ahead and administered the proposed
treaty anyhow, considering it as a simple agreement on the part of the
Executive which would be converted into a treaty whenever the Senate
acted. After a couple of years the Senate did act, having previously
made some utterly unimportant changes which I ratified and persuaded
Santo Domingo to ratify. In all its history Santo Domingo has had
nothing happen to it as fortunate as this treaty, and the passing of
it saved the United States from having to face serious difficulties
with one or more foreign powers.

It cannot in the long run prove possible for the United States to
protect delinquent American nations from punishment for the non-
performance of their duties unless she undertakes to make them perform
their duties. People may theorize about this as much as they wish, but
whenever a sufficiently strong outside nation becomes sufficiently
aggrieved, then either that nation will act or the United States
Government itself will have to act. We were face to face at one period
of my administration with this condition of affairs in Venezuela, when
Germany, rather feebly backed by England, undertook a blockade against
Venezuela to make Venezuela adopt the German and English view about
certain agreements. There was real danger that the blockade would
finally result in Germany's taking possession of certain cities or
custom-houses. I succeeded, however, in getting all the parties in
interest to submit their cases to the Hague Tribunal.

By far the most important action I took in foreign affairs during the
time I was President related to the Panama Canal. Here again there was
much accusation about my having acted in an "unconstitutional" manner
--a position which can be upheld only if Jefferson's action in
acquiring Louisiana be also treated as unconstitutional; and at
different stages of the affair believers in a do-nothing policy
denounced me as having "usurped authority"--which meant, that when
nobody else could or would exercise efficient authority, I exercised

During the nearly four hundred years that had elapsed since Balboa
crossed the Isthmus, there had been a good deal of talk about building
an Isthmus canal, and there had been various discussions of the
subject and negotiations about it in Washington for the previous half
century. So far it had all resulted merely in conversation; and the
time had come when unless somebody was prepared to act with decision
we would have to resign ourselves to at least half a century of
further conversation. Under the Hay-Pauncefote Treaty signed shortly
after I became President, and thanks to our negotiations with the
French Panama Company, the United States at last acquired a
possession, so far as Europe was concerned, which warranted her in
immediately undertaking the task. It remained to decide where the
canal should be, whether along the line already pioneered by the
French company in Panama, or in Nicaragua. Panama belonged to the
Republic of Colombia. Nicaragua bid eagerly for the privilege of
having the United States build the canal through her territory. As
long as it was doubtful which route we would decide upon, Colombia
extended every promise of friendly cooperation; at the Pan-American
Congress in Mexico her delegate joined in the unanimous vote which
requested the United States forthwith to build the canal; and at her
eager request we negotiated the Hay-Herran Treaty with her, which gave
us the right to build the canal across Panama. A board of experts sent
to the Isthmus had reported that this route was better than the
Nicaragua route, and that it would be well to build the canal over it
provided we could purchase the rights of the French company for forty
million dollars; but that otherwise they would advise taking the
Nicaragua route. Ever since 1846 we had had a treaty with the power
then in control of the Isthmus, the Republic of New Granada, the
predecessor of the Republic of Colombia and of the present Republic of
Panama, by which treaty the United States was guaranteed free and open
right of way across the Isthmus of Panama by any mode of communication
that might be constructed, while in return our Government guaranteed
the perfect neutrality of the Isthmus with a view to the preservation
of free transit.

For nearly fifty years we had asserted the right to prevent the
closing of this highway of commerce. Secretary of State Cass in 1858
officially stated the American position as follows:

"Sovereignty has its duties as well as its rights, and none of these
local governments, even if administered with more regard to the just
demands of other nations than they have been, would be permitted, in a
spirit of Eastern isolation, to close the gates of intercourse of the
great highways of the world, and justify the act by the pretension
that these avenues of trade and travel belong to them and that they
choose to shut them, or, what is almost equivalent, to encumber them
with such unjust relations as would prevent their general use."

We had again and again been forced to intervene to protect the transit
across the Isthmus, and the intervention was frequently at the request
of Colombia herself. The effort to build a canal by private capital
had been made under De Lesseps and had resulted in lamentable failure.
Every serious proposal to build the canal in such manner had been
abandoned. The United States had repeatedly announced that we would
not permit it to be built or controlled by any old-world government.
Colombia was utterly impotent to build it herself. Under these
circumstances it had become a matter of imperative obligation that we
should build it ourselves without further delay.

I took final action in 1903. During the preceding fifty-three years
the Governments of New Granada and of its successor, Colombia, had
been in a constant state of flux; and the State of Panama had
sometimes been treated as almost independent, in a loose Federal
league, and sometimes as the mere property of the Government at
Bogota; and there had been innumerable appeals to arms, sometimes of
adequate, sometimes for inadequate, reasons. The following is a
partial list of the disturbances on the Isthmus of Panama during the
period in question, as reported to us by our consuls. It is not
possible to give a complete list, and some of the reports that speak
of "revolutions" must mean unsuccessful revolutions:

May 22, 1850.--Outbreak; two Americans killed. War vessel demanded to
quell outbreak.

October, 1850.--Revolutionary plot to bring about independence of the

July 22, 1851.--Revolution in four Southern provinces.

November 14, 1851.--Outbreak at Chagres. Man-of-war requested for

June 27, 1853.--Insurrection at Bogota, and consequent disturbance on
Isthmus. War vessel demanded.

May 23, 1854.--Political disturbances. War vessel requested.

June 28, 1854.--Attempted revolution.

October 24, 1854.--Independence of Isthmus demanded by provincial

April, 1856.--Riot, and massacre of Americans.

May 4, 1856.--Riot.

May 18, 1856.--Riot.

June 3, 1856.--Riot.

October 2, 1856.--Conflict between two native parties. United States
force landed.

December 18, 1858.--Attempted secession of Panama.

April, 1859.--Riots.

September, 1860.--Outbreak.

October 4, 1860.--Landing of United States forces in consequence.

May 23, 1861.--Intervention of the United States force required, by

October 2, 1861.--Insurrection and civil war.

April 4, 1862.--Measures to prevent rebels crossing Isthmus.

June 13, 1862.--Mosquera's troops refused admittance to Panama.

March, 1865.--Revolution, and United States troops landed.

August, 1865.--Riots; unsuccessful attempt to invade Panama.

March, 1866.--Unsuccessful revolution.

April, 1867.--Attempt to overthrow Government.

August, 1867.--Attempt at revolution.

July 5, 1868.--Revolution; provisional government inaugurated.

August 29, 1868.--Revolution; provisional government overthrown.

April, 1871.--Revolution; followed apparently by counter revolution.

April, 1873.--Revolution and civil war which lasted to October, 1875.

August, 1876.--Civil war which lasted until April, 1877.

July, 1878.--Rebellion.

December, 1878.--Revolt.

April, 1879.--Revolution.

June, 1879.--Revolution.

March, 1883.--Riot.

May, 1883.--Riot.

June, 1884.--Revolutionary attempt.

December, 1884.--Revolutionary attempt.

January, 1885.--Revolutionary disturbances.

March, 1885.--Revolution.

April, 1887.--Disturbance on Panama Railroad.

November, 1887.--Disturbance on line of canal.

January, 1889.--Riot.

January, 1895.--Revolution which lasted until April.

March, 1895.--Incendiary attempt.

October, 1899.--Revolution.

February, 1900, to July, 1900.--Revolution.

January, 1901.--Revolution.

July, 1901.--Revolutionary disturbances.

September, 1901.--City of Colon taken by rebels.

March, 1902.--Revolutionary disturbances.

July, 1902.--Revolution

The above is only a partial list of the revolutions, rebellions,
insurrections, riots, and other outbreaks that occurred during the
period in question; yet they number fifty-three for the fifty-three
years, and they showed a tendency to increase, rather than decrease,
in numbers and intensity. One of them lasted for nearly three years
before it was quelled; another for nearly a year. In short, the
experience of over half a century had shown Colombia to be utterly
incapable of keeping order on the Isthmus. Only the active
interference of the United States had enabled her to preserve so much
as a semblance of sovereignty. Had it not been for the exercise by the
United States of the police power in her interest, her connection with
the Isthmus would have been sundered long before it was. In 1856, in
1860, in 1873, in 1885, in 1901, and again in 1902, sailors and
marines from United States warships were forced to land in order to
patrol the Isthmus, to protect life and property, and to see that the
transit across the Isthmus was kept open. In 1861, in 1862, in 1885,
and in 1900, the Colombian Government asked that the United States
Government would land troops to protect Colombian interests and
maintain order on the Isthmus. The people of Panama during the
preceding twenty years had three times sought to establish their
independence by revolution or secession--in 1885, in 1895, and in

The peculiar relations of the United States toward the Isthmus, and
the acquiescence by Colombia in acts which were quite incompatible
with the theory of her having an absolute and unconditioned
sovereignty on the Isthmus, are illustrated by the following three
telegrams between two of our naval officers whose ships were at the
Isthmus, and the Secretary of the Navy on the occasion of the first
outbreak that occurred on the Isthmus after I became President (a year
before Panama became independent):

September 12, 1902.

Ranger, Panama:

United States guarantees perfect neutrality of Isthmus and that a
free transit from sea to sea be not interrupted or embarrassed.
. . . Any transportation of troops which might contravene these
provisions of treaty should not be sanctioned by you, nor should
use of road be permitted which might convert the line of transit
into theater of hostility.


COLON, September 20, 1902.

Secretary Navy, Washington:

Everything is conceded. The United States guards and guarantees
traffic and the line of transit. To-day I permitted the exchange
of Colombian troops from Panama to Colon, about 1000 men each way,
the troops without arms in trains guarded by American naval force
in the same manner as other passengers; arms and ammunition in
separate train, guarded also by naval force in the same manner as
other freight.


PANAMA, October 3, 1902.

Secretary Navy,
Washington, D.C.:

Have sent this communication to the American Consul at Panama:

"Inform Governor, while trains running under United States


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