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“On the other, we have the scarcely less primitive mortal, who believes that there is something sacred in a franchise and that there is no reason why it should pay its share of the public burdens at all.
“The rich man who buys a privilege from a board of aldermen for a railway which he represents, the rich man who gets a privilege through the Legislature by bribery and corruption, for any corporation, is committing an offense against the community, which it is possible may some day' have to be condoned in blood and destruction, not by him, not by his sons, but by you and your sons.”
Those who have sought to grapple with the syndicates of corruption, and found the task not hopeless nor endless, will find in this passage from the President's writings evidence of his public spirit, sagacity and sincerity:
"From an armor plant to a street railway, no work which is really beneficial to the public can be performed to the best advantage of the public save by men of such business capacity that they will not do the work unless they themselves receive ample reward for doing it. The effort to deprive them of an ample reward, merely means that they will turn their energies in some other direction, and the public will be by just so much the loser. Moreover to tax corporations or men of means in such a way as to drive them out of the State works great damage to the State. To drive out of a community the men of means and the men who take the lead in business enterprises, would probably entail, as one of its first results, the starvation of a considerable portion of the remainder of the population. But while I freely admit all this, it remains true that a corporation which derives its powers from the State, should pay to the State a just percentage of its earnings as a return for the privileges it enjoys. This should be especially true for the franchises bestowed upon gas companies, street railroads and the like. The question of the municipal ownership of these franchises can not be raised with propriety until the governments of all municipalities show greater wisdom and virtue than has been recently shown, for instance, in New York City; and the question of allaying and assessing the tax for franchises of every kind throughout the State should, in my opinion, be determined by the State itself. I need not point out to you that in foreign communities a very large percentage of the taxes comes from corporations which use the public domain for pipes, tracks and the like. Whether these franchises should be taxed as realty, or whether it would be wiser to provide that, after the gross earnings equal, say, ten per cent of the actual original cost, then five per cent of all the gross earnings over and above this shall be paid into the city treasury; or whether some yet different plan should be tried, can only be settled after careful examination of the whole subject. · One thing is certain, that the franchises should in some form yield a monied return to the Government. To put on a tax here and there as new franchises are asked for
may be advisable, but of course is inequitable, to the extent that it handicaps the few thus taxed in their competition with the untaxed corporations."
A man who faces the truth as President Roosevelt does, in all cases, is a man who in the highest degree accepts responsibility. He holds that the only line of conduct a public man can take is the straight line forward of duty, for there is no evasion of snap shots when leaden hail is flying; and he gives his personal experience of a happening under fire:
"A curious incident happened as I was getting the men started forward. Always when men have been lying down under cover for some time, and are required to advance, there is a little hesitation, each looking to see whether the others are going forward. As I rode down the line, calling to the troopers to go forward, and rasping brief directions to the captains and lieutenants, I came upon a man lying behind a little bush, and I ordered him to jump up.
I do not think that he understood that we were making a forward move, and he looked up at me for a moment with hesitation, and I again bade him rise, jeering him and saying: 'Are you afraid to stand up when I am on horseback?' As I spoke, he suddenly fell forward on his face, a bullet having struck him and gone through him lengthwise. I suppose the bullet had been aimed at me; at any rate, I, who was on horseback in the open, was unhurt, and the man lying flat on the ground in the cover beside me was killed."
There is the same high authority for this:
"We were talking of the curious angles bullets sometimes fly off at when they ricochet. To illustrate the matter he related an experience which I shall try to give in his own words: 'One time when I was keeping a saloon down in New Mexico, there was a man owed me a grudge. Well, he took sick of the smallpox, and the doctor told him he'd sure die, and he said if that was so he reckoned he'd kill me first. So he come a-riding in with his gun and begun shooting; but I hit him first and away he rode. I started to get on my horse to follow him; but there was a little Irishman there who said he'd never killed a man, and he begged hard for me to give him my gun and let him go after the other man and finish him. So I let him go, and when he caught up, blamed if the little cuss didn't get so nervous that he fired off into the ground, and the darned bullet struck a crowbar and glanced up and hit the other man square in the head and killed him ! Now, that was a funny shot, wasn't it?'”
Perhaps the most difficult of the Presidential responsibilities is in the questions arising from the system of protection of our industries, in agriculture and manufactures, and our natural resources. The balance of trade and the new possessions increase the complex nature of that which we seek to accomplish. All interests are touched. If there is a balance of trade in our favor of six hundred millions a year, how is that sum paid? A great part of it is settled by undervaluations of importations. We pay a great sum for foreign goods not
taxed, and this reduces the surplus in our favor. It is estimated Americans spend a hundred millions a year in Europe—more than Europeans spend with us—and seventy-five millions for American freights in foreign lines of steamers. There is an unknown but very large sum paid in purchasing our securities held abroad; that is, we are taking up our notes held abroad. This leaves a great margin still, and how much it is or how it is paid has not been closely calculated. How are Europe, and presently Asia, to pay what they owe us when the trade balance is ascertained? We might do better than to take the whole balance in gold. We have not ascertained all the items of the amount with authority; and there is a good illustration in what Mr. Pierpont Morgan said when asked why he did not talk for publication. Said the great financier, “While a great operation is still incomplete, it is never safe to talk about it, and when it is all settled, there's not much to say."
The need for reciprocity to sustain protection through coming changes inevitable in our condition, was apparent last year to President McKinley. He will hardly be suspected of unfaithfulness to the principle of protection. VicePresident Roosevelt had the same comprehension that President McKinley had. There is great trouble as to the islands we have acquired, and those for the destiny of whose people we are responsible, not on account of the poverty of the land gained in various forms, but on account of their riches. Shall we reject sugar lands because they are richer than ours? Shall a few people who handle a great deal of sugar, manage the settlement of this question, or shall the majority do it? We must have a care to prevent the damage of protection under which we have prospered, by the insistence that the consumers must be compelled to pay higher prices for sugar and tobacco, because our sugar land is not as good as that near our doors. We must pursue the principle of protection on its popular side, and not for the few. President Roosevelt takes the responsibility of applying reciprocity, maintaining unbroken the policy of McKinley in his farewell address. However, if Cuba wants to be with us, the part of wisdom would be to propose to become a State, and pay her share of taxes. If she shares with our burdens, she should partake of our privileges. There would be sugar interests, however, if the Cubans were unanimously in favor of becoming citizens of the United States, opposed to her annexation.
The sugar trust would, undoubtedly, prefer to have the sugar consumers situated so as to select between inferior sugars and higher prices. The Standard oil managers could, if the question of the annexation of Texas was before the country, oppose her admission, on account of the discoveries of oil. If the people at large would have the benefit of great aggregations of capital, that world-wide enterprises may be conducted by Americans, without going in debt to Europe, they should include in expansion the lands richest in resources.
No one has yet objected to more corn land, because corn bread is so nourishing it competes with wheat and grows 100 bushels to the acre.
The President's attitude toward Cuba is to be liberal in aid of Cubans, but in such form as not to conflict directly with any of our farming or manufacturing interests.
The logical consequence would be the annexation of Cuba, when the experiment of independence had demonstrated that the welfare of the people would be consulted by the great American islands becoming an integral part of the Greater American power. That which appears is that we of the United States, as well as the Cubans, need more of the teaching of experience, as well as the people of Cuba require it, that we may be broadened in views of selfgovernment, and not merely consent to, but command, the rule of the majority for the majority.
The President's policy, and we find him as always without reservations from the people, is against Chinese exclusiveness, unites reciprocity with protection, believes in strong combinations and not in ruthless monopolies, and holds the flag in its lofty place in history—“full high advanced,” for our one country is big enough for the country Webster saw and Benton prophesied, the Jeffersonian and Jacksonian expansion, and the union of the excellencies of the old Whig and Democratic parties, Clay and Lincoln, Polk and McKinley, hand in hand.
PRESIDENT'S FIRST MESSAGE TO CONGRESS.
A Paper That Would Alone Give Its Author a Foremost Place among Public Men-One
That Has Seldom Been Equaled, and Never Surpassed, in the Information It Contains, and the Ability with Which It Is Stated-The Courage of Conviction - The Wealth of Suggestion and Recommendation, and the Brilliancy of Literary Execution.
WASHINGTON letter of December 5th, 1901, that has had weight in the official circles of Europe, states concisely and precisely the home view of the immense message that distinguished the day.
We quote these lines :
“The first thing to be said about the President's Message is that it is the President's Message. It is his in an unusual sense. The custom has been that heads of departments should write each that portion of the Message dealing with the affairs of his own department. These contributions have been incorporated in the document to which the President has signed his name. That is so no longer. The Message has been individualized. On the whole of it is the impress of the President's personality, and how strong that is people on both sides of the Atlantic are beginning to understand. The President is also beginning to understand. He has found his feet."
The President's Message is, in effect, a programme which he asks Congress to adopt and the country to approve. By it he elects to stand or fall. It is his confession of faith, a declaration of his considered policy, the expression of views which he thinks not only ought to be adopted, but have a fair chance of being adopted. No President would put forth merely pious opinions or academic policies. The purpose of the Message is practical and legislative.
The President's Message, communicated to the two Houses of Congress at the beginning of the first session of the Fifty-seventh Congress, referred in the first sentence to the assembly of the representatives of the people and the States, "under the shadow of a great calamity.” The sternly true statement followed that President McKinley had been "shot by an anarchist," and died. What the President said of his predecessor was heard with profound approval, not only by all Americans not degenerates, but by all enlightened people of this generation of the inhabitants of the earth. The President expressed the