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American Bar Association



August 27, 28, and 29, 1912.


Tuesday, August 27, 1912.

The Thirty-fifth Annual Meeting of the American Bar Association convened in Plankinton Hall of the Auditorium, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Tuesday, August 27, 1912, at 10 o'clock A. M., President Stephen S. Gregory, of Illinois, in the Chair.

The President:

The Association will be in order. A word of welcome will be spoken on behalf of the State of Wisconsin by Governor Francis E. McGovern.

Francis E. McGovern :

It is unnecessary for me to say on behalf of the people of Wisconsin that you are welcome. Not only do we greet you most heartily we are proud that our state has been selected as the meeting place of a society so learned and distinguished. We feel honored by your presence here.

Coming, as I do, before Mr. Mallory, President of the Milwaukee Bar Association, who will appropriately welcome you, it seems superfluous for me to say anything. I am tempted indeed to imitate the example of the witty merchant, of Bokhara, who

was in the habit each morning of making a brief entertaining speech to all who came to hear him. One fine morning he mounted the stand in front of his bazaar as usual but began by asking the following question: "Brother Mussulmen, have you any idea whatever of the subject of my talk this morning?" The crowd answered "no." Whereupon he stepped down from his chair, saying there was no use discussing a matter or trying to unfold a subject to people who knew absolutely nothing about it. Very naturally this strange behavior excited comment; and the following morning at the usual hour there was an especially large crowd awaiting him. Taking his station as before he propounded the same question: "Brother Mussulmen, do you understand the subject of my address this morning?" Not to be caught again the people answered: "Yes, we do." "Then," said he, "there is no need for me to go on. It would be a waste of your time and mine to tell you about what we already know." And there was no address that morning. Curiosity now grew faster than before; and the third morning the people gathered in still larger numbers. This time they came prepared not to be tricked out of their customary morning entertainment. So when the merchant mounted to his place in front of the bazaar and again asked: "Brother Mussulmen, do you understand the subject of my address this morning?", they replied: "Some of us do and some do not." "Then," said the merchant, "let those who do explain it to those who do not. There is no need for me to speak." And without further parley, he left the stand and went about his work.

Between the Bokhara merchant and myself there is, however, this difference: he had a chance to talk to his fellow citizens every morning if he cared to do so; while to me an opportunity to welcome the American Bar Association is a very rare honor indeed, which I cannot afford lightly to pass by.

If I am to go on, however, it will be for but a short time and only to make a single practical suggestion. Professional associations are prone to fall into a state of " innocuous desuetude" and to permit their annual meetings to degenerate into mere social functions. This may be very agreeable but it is of course

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