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tralization in government continues and the people are more generally deprived of the chance to obey the better instructions of their natures what may be expected? Not merely a return to the method of selecting presidential electors by the legislatures, as was formerly done, and the rise of a man merciless and resolute to the presidency. A greater reaction than this may be expected.
There is a commonplace optimism which insists that either everything is for the best or that the right is predestined to triumph. Both propositions are false. Very many things are for the worse. Whole nations have gone down to destruction as the result of the excesses, the follies and the villainies of aristocracies.
That nothing can be hoped for from the present administration; that its ideals are wholly wrong; that its desires are selfish, reactionary and despotic, and that it is capable of any perfidy, is a pardonable pessimism. The optimism to be cherished consists in the belief that democracy is not the battle cry of a fraction of men, but that it is a passion, a philosophy, an ineradicable aspiration of the human heart. Armies and navies may be created and the people may be taxed to support them; expensive flummery and glitter may be maintained out of the sweat of labor. All of this may be used to trample down justice and to despoil a helpless race. And yet in the heart of the humblest man there remains the belief that he has a right in this world to live, to labor, to earn and be free. The most ignorant tribes of the Filipinos are equal in intelligence to the natives of Britain in the
days of the glorious Julius. Who knows what use the Filipinos may make of our ideals and the spirit of freedom which vibrates in their hearts today? And who knows what will be the relative positions of the Philippine islands and what we now call the United States 1,000 years hence? The thought should teach humility. For did Augustus imagine that the unconquerable Belgae would found a great republic, or that the savages in the worthless islands north of Gaul would produce those great luminaries of civilization before whom Cicero and Virgil pale their ineffectual fires ?
THE NEW POLICY.
Since the campaign of 1900 a good deal has been spoken and written concerning the plight of the democratic party. That of itself can be of little consequence except as that plight affects those principles upon which the welfare of the whole people depends. But in so far as democratic defeat has introduced mischievous and perilous conditions into American polity, the plight of that party must come home to all Americans with a message of grave significance.
The republic was born of political idealism. If it had sprung from expediency—that is, from a desire to put away present evil-nothing more would have been necessary than a declaration of war against Great Britain. Such a declaration could have been made good by force of arms. And a government of some form could have been founded growing out of the mere selfish, but proper, impulse on the part of our forefathers to have a government of their own. But our forefathers went much farther than that. They spoke not only for themselves, but for all people and for all time. They laid down political principles in precise and comprehensive language. Were those principles true? The English derided them, although we are told that "there are certain principles of natural justice inherent in the Anglo-Saxon character which need no expression in constitutions.” The
English found a violent conflict between the utterances of the declaration of independence and those "principles of justice inherent in the Anglo-Saxon character.” It resulted that the declaration triumphed through war over those Anglo-Saxon principles and the republic was born.
But after these things had happened did the fathers go about to construct a government which could perpetrate against some other people the oppressions which the English had perpetrated upon them? Was it only their taxation without representation which constituted tyranny? And did they immediately put into action a government which could, according to expediency, tax some other people without representation? It is to this pass of vulgarity and cynicism that the argument is reduced which seeks to extract from the silence of the constitution a power in congress to tax the Porto Ricans without representation.
The words liberty and freedom are words of general significance and mean everything or nothing, according to the peculiar views of him who uses them. They are found in magna charta. But magna charta did not prevent James II from overriding the most sacred rights of liberty. This infamous despot habitually assured the English people that he stood for liberty even while a slavish parliament cooperated with him in the destruction of human rights and human life. This was only a little over 200 years ago and “the principles of natural justice inherent in the AngloSaxon character” laid no obstacles in the way of the bloody assize and the temporary extinguishment of every ray of liberty. Except for the infusion of re
publicanism which came with William from Holland the English would have had no more to boast of in the way of inherent principles than the Russians. And the English constitution would have been even more vague and elastic than it is.
When our fathers adopted the constitution the English parliament, in the language of Mr. Bryce, had the same powers which it has today, as follows: “It can make and unmake any and every law, change the form of the government or the succession to the crown, interfere with the course of justice, extinguish the most sacred private rights of the citizen. Between it and the people at large there is no legal distinction. It is, therefore, within its sphere of law irresponsible and omnipotent."
Did the fathers then intend to make congress an "irresponsible and omnipotent” body upon the theory that those “principles of natural justice” would be sufficient limitation upon congressional despotism? That is the argument, and that is the theory upon which the Porto Rican tariff was sustained by the supreme court.
The opinion of the court delivered by Mr. Justice Brown is historically, legally, politically and ethically false. It is a tissue of sophistry. It is a jumble of assumption. It is a flat reversal of all former decisions. It overrides the solemn deliberations of the fathers. It incurs the sound reasonings of Jefferson, Madison, Marshall, Webster, Story, Lincoln and Taney. It flies in the face of common sense. It twistifies and splits the English language into meaningless refinements in an endeavor to overcome palpable and indub