Page images
PDF
EPUB

tions do cultivate, that is, the manly qualities, the qualities of strength no less than the qualities of passive virtue. It should be your part not only to be able to abstain but to be able to hold your own in the world; not merely to endure but to fight; not merely to refrain from doing evil but to war valiantly for righteousness against evil. I want to preach the sword of the Lord and of Gideon, and have the men who represent your ideas like Cromwell's Ironsides in battle; you should be, in our civic strife, the Ironsides of peace.

Just one word in closing, for I have spoken longer than I intended to. I appreciate enormously the work your associations are doing here in this State among our people, quietly, almost unmarked, day by day. You are one of the great potent forces for good, one of those forces which must continually be built up if we wish to overcome the forces of evil, for they are continually being built up too. But while dealing with our own State and with the people at peace, I hope you, all of you, will realize the special and peculiar duty we owe to those whose life-long task it is to uphold by arms the national honor. I hope that you will keep up the work you did in the army last year, for our regular arıny and for our navy. See that in the navy yards, in the barracks, in the home camps and in the camps in the foreign islands to which our men must now go, they have the chance given them to enjoy what is rational, what is elevating and not debasing. Remember what the soldier and sailor does for all of us; what they jointly do for the flag that is the pride of each of us. In return, you and I, each of us, all of us, must try, according to his or her capacity, to make it easier for the soldier and sailor, while remaining good fighting men, to remain good citizens and good men.

RESPONSE TO THE TOAST “THE STATE OF NEW YORK,"

AT THE LINCOLN CLUB DINNER, IN NEW YORK CITY,
FEBRUARY 13, 1899

MR. PRESIDENT, OR AT LEAST, MR. SENATOR FOR THE PRESENT: I last had the chance of speaking to this club just one year ago, three days before The Maine was blown up. It has been a year big with events that tell upon the entire future of this people. It has been a year, Mr. President, our Senator, which has given a chance for America to win honor undying through the men — through the soldiers by sea and land — like the general and the admiral whom we have with us to-night.

Before I make my formal speech I ask your permission to say one thing. Since coming to New

York this afternoon there has been very vividly brought home to me, what perhaps all of you have realized the last two or three days, the terrible distress this unprecedented weather is causing, and, although I cannot say I had exactly warrant in law for what I have done, yet I trust that the Senator will see that the Legislature supports me. I have directed the commander of the State Guard, Major-General Roe, to throw open five of the armories, those of the Eighth, Ninth, Twelfth, Sixty-ninth and Seventy-first Regiments, which were in the parts of the city where we thought the greatest distress could with most celerity be relieved — to throw open those five armories for the reception of destitute and houseless people. And the General has notified the Police Headquarters to instruct all the precinct commanders that the armories were open, so that in case there is not elsewhere accommodation for those without homes in this bitter weather, they can find shelter there. I have no means for providing food for any of the unfortunates who come there, and I want to take this opportunity of asking publicly that any charitable organization or any individual who wishes to try to alleviate the distress will put itself or himself in communication with Major-General Roe, of 35 East Thirty-seventh street, so as to work with him in tiding over the storm-bound period that seems to be immediately ahead of us. I am informed that there is a great shortage not only of food but of coal, and I want that all that can be done in an organized way to relieve the distress should be done. Major-General Roe has been instructed also to communicate with the Mayor, so that the municipal authorities shall know that all the State authorities can do to aid them and to aid individual charitable effort in dealing with the distress, shall be done. As I say, I have gone a little outside of my authority in it, but if I need any backing I know I can count on the Legislature for it.

Besides preparing a speech in advance, one must always be ready, if one sits beside the Senator, to meet some new issue, for the Senator has the happiest of gifts — the capacity not only to say, but to do the right thing at the right moment. And I want to say in answer to what he has just said, gentlemen, that I have striven, so far as in me lay, to keep every promise I made on the stump or off the stump during or prior to the last campaign, and that my only aim has been to feel that I had the right to have behind me all the divisions, so far as there are any, of the Republican party, and I have certainly had them so far.

I am to speak to the toast, “ The State of New York." In the year that has just closed the great interest that each State has had has been the interest common to all the States, the interest of the nation; and I speak of that which is closest to the hearts of New Yorkers when I speak of that which is closest to the hearts of all Americans within or without New York. The last year has been the year of all others most important to the future of this country since the close of the Civil War. It has seen one of the most righteous wars of modern times brought to a triumphant conclusion. And I am glad to feel, when I am speaking to the Republican Club, that I can take for my text to-night the admirable speech delivered in the Senate of the United States by the Republican Senator from the State of New York, Senator Thomas C. Platt, in support of the ratification of the treaty — a speech admirable in temper and in tone, in which all of us as Republicans may take pride; a speech, also, which set forth in the broadest spirit the reasons why all patriotic Americans should desire the ratification of the treaty, no matter what their views might be as to the question of expansion in the abstract. But, indeed, in this matter, while we must shape our national course as a whole in accordance with a well settled policy, we must meet such an exigency as it arises in a spirit of wise patriotism.

No sensible man will advocate our plunging rashly into a course of international knight errantry; none will advocate our setting deliberately to work to build up a great colonial empire. But neither will any brave and patriotic man bid us shrink from doing our duty merely because this duty involves the certainty of strenuous effort and the possibility of danger. Some men of high reputation, from high motives, have opposed the ratification of the treaty just as they had previously opposed the war; just as some other men whose motives were equally high in 1861 opposed any effort to restore the Union by force of arms. The error was almost as great in the one case as in the other, and will be so adjudged by history. But back of the high motives of these men lay the two great impulses — the impulses now in 1899 as in 1861 — the impulses of sloth and fear; and well it was for us that the Administration and the Senate disregarded them.

We should not lightly court danger and difficulty, but neither should we shirk from facing them, when in some way or other they must be met. We are a great nation and we are compelled, whether we will or not, to face the responsibilities that must be faced by all great nations. It is not in our power to avoid meeting them. All that we can decide is whether we shall meet them well or ill. There are social reformers who tell us that in the far distant future the necessity for fighting will be done away with, just as there are social reformers who tell us that in that long distant time the necessity for work — or, at least, for painful, laborious work — will be done away with. But just at present the nation, like the individual, which is going to do anything in the world must face the fact, that in order to do it, it must work and may have to fight. And it is only thus that great deeds can be done, and the highest and purest form of happiness acquired. Remember that peace itself, that peace after which all men crave, is merely the realization in the present of what has been bought by strenuous effort in the past. Peace represents stored-up effort of our fathers

« PreviousContinue »