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M and a capital P. Gentlemen, you should watch your representatives in their handling of public measures that come before them. The line of cleavage between the honest man and the dishonest man is not the line which divides the man with means from the man without means. The line does not run that way. Rather it is that virtue and the lack of virtue are divided by a line that runs perpendicular to comparative fortunes. Each measure must stand on its merits. There is nothing good or bad in standing for or against a corporation any more than there is anything good or bad in standing for or against a man. A corporation is simply a collection of men, who may do well or who may do ill. The thing to do is to make them understand that if they do well you are with them, but if they 8o ill you are ever and always against them.
I hope no party will make a direct issue against corporations. There is as much harm in making an issue of this kind as there is in standing for things that are vicious. The thing to do is to be sure your public men live up to the professions they make. Make the man who says he is for the corporations see to it that he doesn't give those corporations undue protection, and let the man who is against corporate wealth remember that he has no right to pillage a corporate treasury.
Now, gentlemen, don't be content with mere effervescent denunciation of one thing or another. Evil can't be done away with through one spasm of virtue. We must cultivate the habit of clean living, and we must cultivate the habit of standing always for clean government. We may have made mistakes at Albany this winter, but no laws are on the statute books, and none will be there, that shouldn't be. We have got a sound Civil Service law, the Amsterdam avenue question has been settled as it should have been, and we have investigated the affairs of this city in such a way as to justify the course of those who started it and those who carried it on. We have started a tax on public franchises, which means that corporations must pay a fair share of the public burdens. We have worked along party lines when it was expedient to do so, and when we thought the party wanted to go wrong we wouldn't let it.
At The Metropolitan Opera House, New York City, May 30, i899
Ladies And Gentlemen And You Men Of The Grand Army Of The Republic: Men whom I should have called comrades if I didn't feel that your war was too big for ours to be set beside it; we of this generation, looking at your records who have fought the wars of the past, can say one thing: that we have the spirit, anyway, and if we had been called upon to perform such a task as yours we should have tried our best to do it. We have learned aright, I hope the lesson taught in the great years of the republic; the days of Lincoln and Grant and Sherman and Farragut. and while our war didn't last long enough to bring the strain upon our strength and endurance, and while our task was over so quickly that we had no time to develop men who should stand, in point of deeds done, beside the great Captains of the civil war, we did add lustre to the arms of the republic almost as great as was added in that war. I won't say that there is any one who can quite come beside Farragut, but Dewey presses him mighty hard: and, ladies and gentlemen — comrades, if you'll allow it—when I say that Dewey presses Farragut hard, I only say what every sailor who served under Farragut would agree to.
The men who went to the war last year went with the \ wholesome feeling that they would be ashamed to come back unless they fought as you had fought. It is no small thing to teach a nation such a lesson. Besides the victory you left the memory. You have made it indeed difficult for the country ever to fall short of its duty, and have put it under the greatest possible burden of obligation, the obligation to be true to the best purposes of our national life. When you had won the victory you came back once more to your useful pursuits and served your country in peace as you had in war. This, too, is a necessary of a nation's greatness: that her citizens should be thrifty and industrious; further, that they should have a high standard of personal honor and of civic honor. The man who would feel an honest pride in his country must be as sensitive to an attack upon the national honor as to an attack upon his own. In our republic our well-being must correspond to the way in which the average citizen performs / his everyday duties.
One of the musical numbers on your program is the "Blue and Gray." What an augury that a gathering such as yours to-night, of men who fought under Grant and Sherman, should select as one of your tunes a commemoration of the foes who fought bravely for what they considered the right, and that last year when we fought an alien nation the sons of the men who wore blue and the sons of the men who wore gray, fought shoulder to shoulder under those very men who wore the blue and those very men who wore the gray, showing the whole world that North and South and East and West, in every class of society, when it came to the call to arms, are Americans — nothing more and nothing less.
As a result of this row we have assumed a great burden. Shame to us had we hesitated; but let us undertake it with an appreciation that it is a serious matter. Having driven out the mediaeval tyranny of Spain from those islands we are under bonds of honor to supplant it with something better; to govern them with firmness and righteousness for their own interest. Let us so carry out this task that the generations to come shall point with pride to the history made in the last of the nineteenth and the first of the twentieth centuries.
At Grant's Tomb, New York City, May 30, i899
Men Of The Grand Army: I regard the opportunity to speak to you to-day, on such an occasion, before this tomb of all tombs in the world, save that containing the body of Abraham Lincoln, as a special honor, and in what I have to say I shall pay special homage to you by seeking to apply to our needs of the present day the lessons you taught in the past. We can best pay reverence to the name and memory of General Grant by living to-day up to the principles he taught, fought and lived for. We can do our duties as citizens best by taking to our hearts the principles of citizenship for which you gave your youth and thousands of your comrades gave their lives.
I think the history of the great Captain on the civil war should be studied by all citizens, especially for two points. One was the note of unyielding resolution in the face of an armed foe, the other the note of firm and generous magnanimity once that foe was disarmed. I think we can afford to practice the lesson taught by these things to-day.
I think we will do well to remember that our flag cannot go back before an armed foe, that we can only treat with an armed foe when the supremacy of our flag is acknowledged. But once that is acknowledged, then we are bound to see that wherever that flag floats justice, mercy and peace shall prevail. I don't have to ask you men of the great war to remember that the two things must go hand in hand. I don't need to tell you, if General Grant had said at Fort Donelson, "Yes, I am a man of peace; go back in your lines and take your horses and your guns with you/' that if he had shown mercy there, it would have meant years more of grief and bloodshed. But again, if he had not shown mercy and justice afterward at Appomattox, it would have meant a widening, perhaps a perpetual widening, of the breach between us and our brethren.
There is a time to be just and there is a time to be merciful, there is a time for unyielding resolution and a time for the hand of fellowship and brotherly love. The great man is the man who knows the time for one and the time for the other. In facing the difficulties the republic now has before it, it must follow the example of General Grant. It must insist that no armed enemy within the territory that has come into our possession through the war with Spain must be permitted to dictate terms to it. To show weakness now would be to invite trouble in the future. When once we have carried the point that peace must come and that our flag must wave over that peace, then we are in honor bound to see that that peace is of the same advantage to the people of the tropical islands of the sea as it is