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desired. There is not a single great act of this present great Congress which has not been carried out in obedience to the public opinion of America; and the public opinion of America is not going to permit any body of men to go backward with regard to these great matters. ***
But the Democratic Party is not to suppose that it is done with the business. The Democratic Party is still on trial. The Democratic Party still has to prove to the independent voters of the country not only that it believes in these things, but that it will continue to work along these lines and that it will not allow any enemy of these things to break its ranks. This country is not going to use any party that can not do continuous and consistent teamwork. If any group of men should dare to break the solidarity of the Democratic team for any purpose or from any motive, theirs will be a most unenviable notoriety and a responsibility which will bring deep bitterness to them. The only party that is serviceable to a nation is a party that can hold absolutely together and march with the discipline and with the zest of a conquering host.
I am not saying these things because I doubt that the Democratic Party will be able to do this, but because I believe that as leader for the time being of that party I can promise the country that it will do these things. I know my colleagues at Washington; I know their spirit and their purpose; and I know that they have the same emotion, the same high emotion of public service, that I hope I have. * * *
There is one thing I have got a great enthusiasm about, I might almost say a reckless enthusiasm, and that is human liberty. The Governor has just now spoken about watchful waiting in Mexico. I want to say a word about Mexico, or not so much about Mexico as about our attitude towards Mexico. I hold it as a fundamental principle, and so do you, that every people has the right to determine its own form of government; and until this recent revolution in Mexico, until the end of the Diaz reign, eighty per cent of the people of Mexico never had a “look in” in determining who should be their governors or what their government should be. Now, I am for the eighty per cent! It is none of my business, and it is none of your business, how long they
take in determining it. It is none of my business, and it is none of yours, how they go about the business. The country is theirs. The Government is theirs. The liberty, if they can get it, and Godspeed them in getting it, is theirs. And so far as my influence goes while I am President nobody shall interfere with them.
That is what I mean by a great emotion, the great emotion of sympathy. Do you suppose that the American people are ever going to count a small amount of material benefit and advantage to people doing business in Mexico against the liberties and the permanent happiness of the Mexican people? Have not European nations taken as long as they wanted and spilt as much blood as they pleased in settling their affairs, and shall we deny that to Mexico because she is weak? No, I say! I am proud to belong to a strong nation that says, “This country which we could crush shall have just as much freedom in her own affairs as we have.” If I am strong, I am ashamed to bully the weak. In proportion to my strength is my pride in withholding that strength from the oppression of another people. And I know when I speak these things, not merely from the generous response with which they have just met from you, but from my long-time knowledge of the American people, that that is the sentiment of this great people. With all due respect to editors of great newspapers, I have to say to them that I seldom take my opinion of the American people from their editorials. When some great dailies not very far from where I am temporarily residing thundered with rising scorn at watchful waiting, my confidence was not for a moment shaken. I knew what were the temper and principles of the American people. If I did not at least think I knew, I would emigrate, because I would not be satisfied to stay where I am. There may come a time when the American people will have to judge whether I know what I am talking about or not, but at least for two years more I am free to think that I do, with a great comfort in immunity in the time being.
It is, by the way, a very comforting thought that the next Congress of the United States is going to be very safely Democratic and that, therefore, we can all together feel as much confidence as Jackson did that we know what we are about. You know Jackson used to think that everybody who disagreed with him was an enemy of the country. I have never got quite that far in my thought, but I have ventured to think that they did not know what they were talking about, knowing that my fellow Democrats expected me to live up to the full stature of Jacksonian Democracy.
I feel, my friends, in a very confident mood to-day. I feel confident that we do know the spirit of the American people, that we do know the program of betterment which it will be necessary for us to undertake, that we do have a very reasonable confidence in the support of the American people. I have been talking with business men recently about the present state of mind of American business. There is nothing the matter with American business except a state of mind. I understand that your chamber of commerce here in Indianapolis is working now upon the motto “If you are going to buy it, buy it now.” That is a perfectly safe maxim to act on. It is just as safe to buy it now as it ever will be, and if you start the buying there will be no end to it, and you will be a seller as well as a buyer. I am just as sure of that as I can be, because I have taken counsel with the men who know. I never was in business and, therefore, I have none of the prejudices of business. I have looked on and tried to see what the interests of the country were in business; I have taken counsel with men who did know, and their counsel is uniform, that all that is needed in America now is to believe in the future; and I can assure you as one of those who speak for the Democratic Party that it is perfectly safe to believe in the future. We are so much the friends of business that we were for a little time the enemies of those who were trying to control business. I say "for a little time” because we are now reconciled to them. They have graciously admitted that we had a right to do what we did do, and they have very handsomely said that they were going to play the game.
I believe--I always have believed—that American business men were absolutely sound at heart, but men immersed in business do a lot of things that opportunity offers which in other circumstances they would not do; and I have thought all along that all that was necessary to do was to call their attention sharply to the kind of reforms in business which were needed and that they would acquiesce. Why, I believe they have heartily acquiesced. There is all the more reason, therefore, that, great and small, we should be confident in the future.
And what a future it is, my friends! Look abroad upon the troubled world! Only America at peace! Among all the great powers of the world only America saving her power for her own people! Only America using her great character and her great strength in the interests of peace and of prosperity! Do you not think it likely that the world will some time turn to America and say, “You were right and we were wrong. You kept your head when we lost ours. You tried to keep the scale from tipping, and we threw the whole weight of arms in one side of the scale. Now, in
selfpossession, in your coolness, in your strength, may we not turn to you for counsel and for assistance?” Think of the deep-wrought destruction of economic resources, of life, and of hope that is taking place in some parts of the world, and think of the reservoir of hope, the reservoir of energy, the reservoir of sustenance that there is in this great land of plenty! May we not look forward to the time when we shall be called blessed among the nations, because we succored the nations of the world in their time of distress and of dismay? I for one pray God that that solemn hour may come, and I know the solidity of character and I know the exaltation of hope, I know the big principle with which the American people will respond to the call of the world for this service. I thank God that those who believe in America, who try to serve her people, are likely to be also what America herself from the first hoped and meant to be the servant of mankind.
White House Pamphlet. PROPER TESTS OF IMMIGRANTS
(January 28, 1915) VETO MESSAGE OF THE LITERACY TEST BILL It is with unaffected regret that I find myself constrained by clear conviction to return this bill (H. R. 6060, “An act
to regulate the immigration of aliens to and the residence of aliens in the United States”) without my signature. Not only do I feel it to be a very serious matter to exercise the power of veto in any case, because it involves opposing the single judgment of the President to the judgment of a majority of both the Houses of the Congress, a step which no man who realizes his own liability to error can take without great hesitation, but also because this particular bill is in so many important respects admirable, well conceived, and desirable. Its enactment into law would undoubtedly enhance the efficiency and improve the methods of handling the important branch of the public service to which it relates. But candor and a sense of duty with regard to the responsibility so clearly imposed upon me by the Constitution in matters of legislation leave me no choice but to dissent.
In two particulars of vital consequence this bill embodies a radical departure from the traditional and long-established policy of this country, a policy in which our people have conceived the very character of their Government to be expressed, the very mission and spirit of the Nation in respect of its relations to the peoples of the world outside their borders. It seeks to all but close entirely the gates of asylum which have always been open to those who could find nowhere else the right and opportunity of constitutional agitation for what they conceived to be the natural and inalienable rights of men, and it excludes those to whom the opportunities of elementary education have been denied, without regard to their character, their purposes, or their natural capacity
Restrictions like these, adopted earlier in our history as a Nation, would very materially have altered the course and cooled the humane ardors of our politics. The right of political asylum has brought to this country many a man of noble character and elevated purpose who was marked as an outlaw in his own less fortunate land, and who has yet become an ornament to our citizenship and to our public councils. The children and the compatriots of these illustrious Americans must stand amazed to see the representatives of their Nation now resolved, in the fullness of our national strength and at the maturity of our great institu