Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

CIVIL SERVICE FOR THE ISLANDS

AN ADDRESS

AT THE MASSACHUSETTS CLUB, BOSTON, MARCH 3, 1900

[ocr errors]

A third of a century ago or more, I had the honor to be a guest at this club, which met then, as now, in Young's Hotel. It has ever since been a pleasure to recall the men of Boston who gathered about the board, interested, as now, in the affairs of the Republic to which they were at once ornament and defence. Frank Bird sat at the head. Near him was Henry Wilson. John M. Forbes was here, and John A. Andrew, and George S. Boutwell, and George L. Stearns, and many another, eager in those times of trial to seek and know the best thing to be done to serve this country of our pride and love. They were practical business men, true Yankees in the best sense; and they spent no time then in quarrelling over how we got into our trouble. Their one concern was how to get out, to the greatest advantage of the country.

Honored now by another opportunity to meet with the club, I can do no better than profit by this example of your earlier days. You have asked me to speak on some phase of the Philippine question. I would like to concentrate your attention upon the present and practical phase; and to withdraw it for the time from things that are past and cannot be changed.

undone.

Stare decisis. There are some things settled. Have we not a Things that better and more urgent use for our time now than in showing cannot be why some of us would have liked them settled differently? In my State there is a dictum by an eminent Judge of the Court of Appeals, so familiar now as to be a commonplace, to the effect that when that Court has rendered its decision, there are only two things left to the disappointed advocate. One is to accept the result attained, and go to work on it as best he can; the other, to go down to the tavern and "cuss" the Court. I want to suggest to those who dislike the past of the Philippine ques

tion that there is more important work pressing upon you at this moment than to cuss the Court. You cannot change the past, but you may prevent some threatened sequences, which even in your eyes would be far greater calamities.

There is no use bewailing the war with Spain. Nothing can undo it, and its results are upon us. There is no use arguing that Dewey should have abandoned his conquest. He didn't. There is no use regretting the Peace of Paris. For good or for ill, it is a part of the supreme law of the land. There is no use begrudging the twenty millions. They are paid. There is no use depreciating the islands, East or West. They are the property of the United States, by an immutable title, which, whatever some of our own people say, the whole civilized world recognizes and respects. There is no use talking about getting rid of them;- giving them back to Spain, or turning them over to Aguinaldo, or simply running away from them. Whoever thinks that any one of these things could be done, or is still open to profitable debate, takes his observations,- will you pardon me the liberty of saying it? - takes his observations too closely within the horizon of Boston bay to know the American people.

They have not been persuaded and they cannot be persuaded that this is an inferior Government, incapable of any duty Providence (through the acts of a wicked Administration, if you choose,) may send its way,-duties which other nations could discharge, but we cannot. They do not and will not believe that it was any such maimed, imperfect, misshapen cripple from birth for which our forefathers made a place in the family of Nations. Nor are they misled by the sudden cry that, in a populous region, thronged by the ships and traders of all countries, where their own prosecution of a just war broke down whatever guarantees for order had previously existed, they are violating the natural rights of man, by enforcing order. Just as little are they misled by the other cry that they are violating the right of self-government, and the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution of the United States by preparing for the distracted, warring tribes of that region, such local government as they may be found capable of conducting, in their various stages of development from pure barbarism toward civilization. The American people know they are thus proceeding to do just what Jefferson did in the vast region he bought from France-without the consent, by the way, either of its sovereign or its inhabitants. They know they are following in

the exact path of all the constructive statesmen of the Republic, from the days of the man who wrote the Declaration, and of those who made the Constitution, down to the days of the men who conquered California, bought Alaska, and denied the right of self-government to Jefferson Davis. They simply do not believe that a new light has been given to Mr. Bryan, or to the better men who are aiding him, greater and purer than was given to Washington, or to Jefferson, or to Lincoln.

And so I venture to repeat, without qualification or reserve, that what is past cannot be changed. Candid and dispassionate minds, knowing the American people of all political shades and in all sections of the country, can see no possibility that any party in power, whether the present one or its opponent, would or could now or soon, if ever, abandon or give back one foot of the territory gained in the late war, and ours now by the supreme law of the land and with the assent of the civilized world. As well may you look to see California, which your own Daniel Webster, quite in a certain modern Massachusetts style, once declared in the Senate to be not worth a dollar, now abandoned to Mexico.

apologies

or attacks.

It seems to me then idle to thresh over old straw when the No abstracgrain is not only winnowed but gone to the mill. And so I am tions or not here to discuss abstract questions, as for example whether in the year 1898 the United States was wise in going to war with Spain, though on that I might not greatly disagree with the malcontents; or as to the wisdom of expansion; or as to the possibility of a republic's maintaining its authority over a people without their consent. Nor am I here to apologize for my part in making the nation that was in the wrong and beaten in the late war pay for it in territory. I have never thought of denying or evading my own full share of responsibility in that matter. Conscious of a duty done, I am happily independent enough to be measurably indifferent as to a mere present and temporary effect. Whatever the verdict of the men of Massachusetts to-day, I contentedly await the verdict of their sons.

But, on the other hand, I am not here either to launch charges of treason against any opponent of these policies, who nevertheless loves the institutions founded on these shores by your ancestors, and wishes to perpetuate what they created. Least of all would it occur to me to utter a word in disparagement of your senior Senator, of whom it may be said with respectful and almost affectionate regard that he bears a warrant as

Common duty

danger.

authentic as that of the most distinguished of his predecessors to speak for the conscience and the culture of Massachusetts. Nor shall any reproach be uttered by me against another eminent son of the Commonwealth and servant of the Republic, who was expected, as one of the officers of your Club told me, to make this occasion distinguished by his presence. He has been represented as resenting the unchangeable past so sternly that he hopes to aid in defeating the party he has helped to lead through former trials to present glory. If so, and if from the young and unremembering reproach should come, be it ours, silent and walking backward, merely to cast over him the mantle of his own honored service.

No, no! Let us have a truce to profitless disputes about and a common what cannot be reversed. Censure us if you must. Even strike at your old associates and your own party if you will, and when you can, without harming causes you hold dear. But for the duty of this hour, consider if there is not a common meeting ground and instant necessity for union in a rational effort to avert present perils. This, then, is my appeal. Disagree as we may about the past, let us to-day at least see straight-see things as they are. Let us suspend disputes about what is done and cannot be undone, long enough to rally all the forces of goodwill, all the undoubted courage and zeal and patriotism that are now at odds, in a devoted effort to meet the greater dangers that are upon us.

For the enemy is at the gates. More than that, there is some reason to fear that, through dissensions from within, he may gain the citadel. In their eagerness to embarrass the advocates of what has been done, and with the vain hope of in some way undoing it, and so lifting this Nation of seventy-five millions bodily backward two years on its path, there are many who are still putting forth all their energies in straining our Constitution and defying our history, to show that we have no possessions whose people are not entitled to citizenship and ultimately to Statehood. Grant that, and instead of reversing engines safely in mid-career, as they vainly hope, they must simply plunge us over the precipice. The movement began in the demand that our Dingley tariff-as a matter of right, not of policy, for most of these people denounce the tariff itself as barbarous-that our Dingley tariff should of necessity be extended over Puerto Rico as an integral part of the United States. Following an assent

« PředchozíPokračovat »