Page images

its own wrongs and remember the rights of the other. If possible the effort at conciliation or mediation or arbitration should be made in the earlier stages, and should be marked by the wish on the part of both sides to try to come to a common agreement which each shall think in the interests of the other as well as of itself.

When we deal with such a subject we are fortunate in having before us an admirable object-lesson in the work that has just been closed by the Anthracite Coal Strike Commission. This was the Commission which was appointed last fall at the time when the coal strike in the anthracite regions threatened our nation with a disaster second to none which has befallen us since the days of the Civil War. Their report was made just before the Senate adjourned at the special session; and no Government document of recent years marks a more important piece of work better done, and there is none which teaches sounder social morality to our people. The Commission consisted of seven as good men as were to be found in the country, representing the bench, the church, the army, the professions, the employers, and the employed. They acted as a unit, and the report which they unanimously signed is a masterpiece of sound common-sense and of sound doctrine on the very questions with which our people should most deeply concern themselves. The immediate effect of this Commission's appointment and action was of vast and incalculable benefit to the nation; but the ultimate effect will be even better, if capitalist, wage worker, and lawmaker alike will take to heart and act upon the lessons set forth in the report they have made.

Of course the National Government has but a small field in which it can work in labor matters. Something it can do, however, and that something ought to be done. Among other things I should like to see the District of Columbia, which is completely under the control of the

National Government, receive a set of model labor laws. Washington is not a city of very large industries, but still it has some. Wise labor legislation for the city of Washington would be a good thing in itself, and it would be a far better thing, because a standard would thereby be set for the country as a whole.

In the field of general legislation relating to these subjects the action of Congress is necessarily very limited. Still there are certain ways in which we can act. Thus the Secretary of the Navy has recommended, with my cordial and hearty approval, the enactment of a strong employers' liability law in the navy-yards of the nation. It should be extended to similar branches of the Government work. Aga

Again, sometimes such laws can be enacted as an incident to the nation's control over interstate commerce. In my last annual message to Congress I advocated the passage of a law in reference to car couplings -to strengthen the features of the one already on the statute books so as to minimize the exposure to death and maiming of railway employees. Much opposition had to be overcome. In the end an admirable law was passed “to promote the safety of employees and travellers upon railroads by compelling common carriers engaged in interstate commerce to equip their cars with automatic couplers and continuous brakes, and their locomotives with driving-wheel brakes.” This law received my signature a couple of days before Congress adjourned. It represents a real and substantial advance in an admirable kind of legislation.



My fellow-citizens :

The Northwest, whose sons in the Civil War added such brilliant pages to the honor roll of the Republic, likewise bore a full share in the struggle of which the war with Spain was the beginning,-a struggle slight indeed when compared with the gigantic death-wrestle which for four years stamped to and fro across the Southern States in the Civil War, but a struggle fraught with consequences to the nation, and indeed to the world, out of all proportion to the smallness of the effort upon our part.

Three and a half years ago President McKinley spoke in the adjoining State of Minnesota on the occasion of the return of the Thirteenth Minnesota Volunteers from the Philippine Islands, where they had served with your own gallant sons of the North Dakota regiment. After heartily thanking the returned soldiers for their valor and patriotism, and their contemptuous refusal to be daunted or misled by the outcry raised at home by the men of little faith who wished us to abandon the islands, he spoke of the islands themselves as follows:

That Congress will provide for them a government which will bring them blessings, which will promote their material interests as well as advance their people in the path of civilization and intelligence, I confidently believe. They will not be governed as vassals or serfs or slaves. They will be given a government of liberty, regulated by law, honestly administered,

without oppressing exactions, taxation without tyranny, justice without bribe, education without distinction of social condition, freedom of religious worship, and protection in “ life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

What he said then lay in the realm of promise. Now it lies in the realm of positive performance.

It is a good thing to look back upon what has been said and compare it with the record of what has actually been done. If promises are violated, if plighted word is not kept, then those who have failed in their duty should be held up to reprobation. If, on the other hand, the promises have been substantially made good; if the achievement has kept pace and more than kept pace with the prophecy, then they who made the one and are responsible for the other are entitled of just right to claim the credit which attaches to those who serve the nation well. This credit I claim for the men who have managed so admirably the military and the civil affairs of the Philippine Islands, and for those other men who have so heartily backed them in Congress, and without whose aid and support not one thing could have been accomplished.

When President McKinley spoke, the first duty was the restoration of order; and to this end the use of the army of the United States—an army composed of regulars and volunteers alike—was necessary. To put down the insurrection and restore peace to the islands was a duty not only to ourselves but to the islanders also. We could not have abandoned the conflict without shirking this duty, without proving ourselves recreants to the memory of our forefathers. Moreover, if we had abandoned it we would have inflicted upon the Filipinos the most cruel wrong and would have doomed them to a bloody jumble of anarchy and tyranny. It seems strange, looking back, that any of our people should have failed to recognize a duty so obvious; but there was such failure, and the

Government at home, the civil authorities in the Philippines, and above all our gallant army, had to do their work amid a storm of detraction. The army in especial was attacked in a way which finally did good, for in the end it aroused the hearty resentment of the great body of the American people, not against the army, but against the army's traducers. The circumstances of the war made it one of peculiar difficulty, and our soldiers were exposed to peculiar wrongs from their foes. They fought in dense tropical jungles against enemies who were very treacherous and very cruel, not only toward our own men, but toward the great numbers of friendly natives, the most peaceable and most civilized among whom eagerly welcomed our rule. Under such circumstances, among a hundred thousand hot-blooded and powerful young men serving in small detachments on the other side of the globe, it was impossible that occasional instances of wrong-doing should not occur. The fact that they occurred in retaliation for well-nigh intolerable provocation cannot for one moment be admitted in the way of excuse or justification. All good Americans regret and deplore them, and the War Department has taken every step in its power to punish the offenders and to prevent or minimize the chance of repetition of the offence. But these offences were the exception and not the rule. As a whole, our troops showed not only signal courage and efficiency, but great humanity and the most sincere desire to promote the welfare and liberties of the islanders. In a series of exceedingly harassing and difficult campaigns they completely overthrew the enemy, reducing them finally to a condition of mere brigandage; and wherever they conquered, they conquered only to make way for the rule of the civil government, for the introduction of law, and of liberty under the law. When, by last July, the last vestige of organized insurrection had disappeared, peace and amnesty were proclaimed.

« PreviousContinue »