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game leg in a chair while the doctors dressed it,” he said (it was after the accident in Massachusetts in which the President's coach was smashed and the secret service man on the driver's seat killed). “It hurt, and now and then he would wince a bit, while he discussed the strike and the appeals for help that grew more urgent with every passing hour. The outlook was grave; it seemed as if the cost of interference might be political death. I saw how it tugged at him, just when he saw chances of serving his country which he had longed for all the years, to meet--this. It was human na
ture to halt. He halted long enough to hear it · all out: the story of the suffering in the big
coast cities, of schools closing, hospitals without fuel, of the poor shivering in their homes. Then he set his face grimly and said:
* Yes, I will do it. I suppose that ends me; but it is right, and I will do it.
"I don't agree with labor in all its demands," added the Secretary. “I think it is unreasonable in some of them, or some of its representatives are. But in the main line it is eternally right, and it is only by owning it and helping it to its rights that we can successfully. choke
off the exorbitant demands." And in
And in my soul I said amen, and was glad that with such problems to solve the President had found such friends to help.
Many times, during the anxious days that followed, I thought with wonder of the purblind folk who called Roosevelt hasty. For it seemed sometimes as if the insolence of the coal magnates were meant to provoke him to anger. But no word betrayed what he felt, what thousands of his fellow-citizens felt as they read the reports of the conferences at the White House. The most consummate states
. manship steered us safely between reefs that beset the parley at every point, and the country was saved from a calamity the extent and consequences of which it is hard to imagine. Judge Gray, the chairman of the commission that settled the strike, said, when it was all history, that the crisis confronting the President
was more grave and threatening than any since the Civil War, threatening not only the comfort and health, but the safety and good order of the nation.” And he gave to the President unstinted praise for what he did. The London “Times,” speaking for all Eu
rope in hailing the entrance of government upon a new field full of great possibilities, said editorially, “In the most quiet and unobtrusive manner, President Roosevelt has done a very big thing, and an entirely new thing."
He alone knew at what cost. Invalid, undergoing daily agony as the doctors scraped the bone of his injured leg, he wrote to the Governor of Massachusetts, who sent him “the thanks of every man, woman, and child in the country":
Yes, we have put it through. But, heavens and earth! it has been a struggle.”
It was the nearest I ever knew him to come to showing the strain he had been under.
The story of the strike, and of how it was settled by the President's commission, none of us has forgotten. That commission did not make permanent peace between capital and labor, but it took a longer stride toward making a lasting basis for such a peace than we had taken yet; and I can easily understand the President's statement to me that, if there were nothing else to his credit, he would be content to
go out of office upon that record alone. For it was truly a service to render. I had sup
posed that we all understood until I ran up against a capitalistic friend of the “irreconcilable” stripe. He complained bitterly of the President's mixing in; had he kept his hands off, the strike would have settled itself in a very little while; the miners would have gone back to work. I said that I saw no sign of it. No, he supposed not; but it was so, all the
"We had their leaders all bought,” said he.
He lied, to be plain about it, for John Mitchell and his men had proved abundantly that they were not that kind. And, besides, he could not speak for the mine-operators; he was not one of them. But the thing was not for whom he spoke, but what it was he said, with such callous unconcern.
Think of it for a moment and tell me which was, when all is said and done, the greater danger: the strike, with all it might have stood for, or the cynicism that framed that speech? The country might outlive the horrors of a coal-famine in midwinter, but this other thing would kill as sure as slow poison. Mob-rule was not to be feared like that. There comes to my mind, by contrast, some
thing John Mitchell said to the Southwestern miners' convention, after the strike, that shows the quality of the man and of his leadership.
“Some men,” he said, “who own the mines think they own the men, too; and some men who work in the mines think they own them. Both are wrong. The mines belong to the owners. You belong to yourselves.
Upon those who said that the President had surrendered the country, horse, foot, and dragoons, to organized labor, his action a few months later, in sending troops within the hour in which they were demanded to prevent violence by miners in Arizona, ought to have put a quietus. But it did not; they gibbered away as before. The reason is plain: they did not themselves believe what they said. The Miller case followed hard upon it, with no better effect. But the Miller case is so eloquent both of the President's stand upon this most urgent of all questions in our day, and of his diplomacy,—which is nothing else than his honest effort, with all the light he can get upon a thing, to do the right as he sees it, - that it is worth setting down here as part of his record, and a part to be remembered.