« PreviousContinue »
this single subject appears! Indeed, it is difficult to see any limit to the possible usefulness of a meeting like the present.
We live in remarkable times—times of social development so ominous that we may be approaching a period of social revolution. What a change from that old world whence this fertile brood of nations sprang! On the one side, a dark surging mass of barbarians; on the other, the inevitable, stern immobility of the Roman Empire.
Now the whole universe seems undergoing the volcanic influence of social theory. Everywhere there is breaking out some strange manifestation. The grotesque congregation of the Shakers, the agricultural socialism of Harris, the polygamous socialism of Mormon, the lewd quackery of Free Love, the mad, blank misery of Nihilism, the tragic frenzy of the Parisian Commune, are portents no observer can neglect.
Some try to solve the problem by abolishing property; some by a new religion. Most of these experiments thrive in America, which alone has room for such diversities of opinion and practice. It is too much the practice to treat these various organizations as a mixture of knavery and folly. Two, indeed, of these phases of humanity will receive more attention from the historian of the future than they attract from their contemporaries,-I mean the Commune of Paris, and the Church of the Latter-Day Saints. That eccentric church is a socialism founded on a polygamous religion and ruled by a supreme pontiff. But it would be a mistake, I think, to suppose that polygamy is an essential part of Mormonism. The traveller in Utah will be struck most, not by the plurality of wives, but by the prevailing industry and apparent external brotherhood. These are the outward features of an extraordinary community.
That it should largely increase; that it should have converted a desert into a garden; that it should, in the last few years, have attracted to it thousands of the working classes (not by polygamy, for that is expensive, and almost all the emigrants are poor), will seem, to a future age, a strange sign of our times.
Again, whatever may be thought of the Commune of Paris, which issued quaintly ingenuous decrees, and which ended in blood and iron, it will always remain one of the sinister facts of our age. Like the Ninevite king, it perished in a blazing pyre of what was fairest in its habitation; and the world lost so much in those flames that it cannot now pass judgment with complete impartiality.
But as a gigantic outbreak of class hostility, as a desperate attempt to found a new society in the very temple of the old, it has hardly, perhaps, received sufficient attention. Far be it from me to attempt to palliate the horrors of that disastrous conflict. They are, however, only terrible accessories. But the ominous fact of that sudden social revolution is a portent that cannot be blotted from the history of humanity. While human beings remain human beings, and while efforts like these are made for complete social reorganization, a Social Science Congress has even more scope than a Parliament.
Never was a league of the friends of humanity more needed than now.
Never was there, on all sides, so much of energy and skill given to the preparation of those efforts by which civilization is retarded and mankind made miserable. The armies of the four great military Powers, when on a war footing, engross three and a quarter millions of men in the prime and flower of life. Three and a quarter millions of men in four countries with their swords ready to the grindD_Orations.
stone form a portentous, silent fact which we cannot ignore in the halls where we discuss the efficacy of arbitration in settling disputes between nations.
In Spain we see a war of dynasty; in America a conflict of color. The night is dark and troubled; we can but labor steadfastly, hoping for the dawn, united by the sympathy of the living and animated by the example of the dead.
(OHN MELLEN THURSTON, an American politician, was born at Mont
Wisconsin in 1854. His education was obtained in the public schools and at Wayland University at Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, while he supported himself by farm work and other manual labor. After studying law he was admitted to the bar in 1869, and in the same year he took up his residence in Omaha, Nebraska. In 1872 he was elected to the Omaba city council, and in 1874 became city attorney. He was a member of the Nebraska legislature in 1875, and was president of the Republican League of the United States, 1888-91. In 1877 he was appointed assistant attorney of the Union Pacific Railway Company, and in 1888 became general solicitor of the entire Union Pacific system, a position which he retained until his election to the United States Senate in 1895.
CUBA MUST BE FREE
DELIVERED IN THE UNITED STATES SENATE, MARCH 24, 1898
R. PRESIDENT, I am here by command of silent
lips to speak once and for all upon the Cuban situa
tion. I trust that no one has expected anything sensational from me. God forbid that the bitterness of a personal loss should induce me to color in the slightest degree the statement that I feel it my duty to make. I shall endeavor to be honest, conservative, and just. I have no purpose to stir the public passion to any action not necessary and imperative to meet the duties and necessities of American responsibility, Christian humanity, and national honor. I would shirk this task if I could, but I dare not. I cannot satisfy my conscience except by speaking, and speaking now.
Some three weeks since, three Senators and two Representatives in Congress accepted the invitation of a great metropolitan newspaper to make a trip to Cuba and person
ally investigate and report upon the situation there. Our invitation was from a newspaper whose political teachings I have never failed to antagonize and denounce, and whose journalism I have considered decidedly sensational. But let me say, for the credit of the proprietor of the paper in question, that I believe the invitation exended to us was inspired by his patriotic desire to have the actual condition of affairs in Cuba brought to the attention of the American people in such a way that the facts would no longer remain in controversy or dispute.
We were not asked to become the representatives of the paper; no conditions or restrictions were imposed upon us; we were left free to conduct the investigation in our own way, make our own plans, pursue our own methods, take our own time, and decide for ourselves upon the best manner of laying the results of our labors before the American people. For myself I went to Cuba firmly believing that the condition of affairs there had been greatly exaggerated by the press, and my own efforts were directed in the first instance to the attempted exposure of these supposed exaggerations.
Mr. President, there has undoubtedly been much sensationalism in the journalism of the time, but as to the condition of affairs in Cuba there has been no exaggeration, because exaggeration has been impossible. I have read the careful statement of the junior senator from Vermont [Mr. Proctor), and I find that he has anticipated me in almost every detail. From my own personal knowledge of the situation, I adopt every word of his concise, conservative, specific presentation as my own; nay, more, I am convinced that he has, in a measure, understated the facts. I absolutely agree with him in the following conclusions :
After three years of warfare and the use of 225,000