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growth of intelligence and the diffusion of wealth in such a manner as will measurably avoid the extremes of swollen fortunes and grinding poverty. This represents the ideal toward which I am striving. I hope we can fairly realize it."
HAGUE CONFERENCE ESTIMATE OF JEFFERSON INTERVENTION IN CUBA-BROWNSVILLE INCIDENT
IMMEDIATELY after the adjournment of Congress in June, 1906, the President went with his family to Oyster Bay where he enjoyed a quiet and restful summer, in strong contrast to that of 1905 when he was directing the work of the Portsmouth Peace Conference. A letter which he wrote to Andrew Carnegie, August 5, 1906, is interesting as showing his views of the Hague tribunal:
“In such matter as the Hague Conference business the violent extremists who favor the matter are to be dreaded almost or quite as much as the Bourbon reactionaries who are against us. This is as true of the cause of International peace as it is of the cause of economic equity between labor and capital at home. I do not know whether in the French Revolution I have most contempt and abhorrence for the Marat, Hébert, Robespierre, and Danton type of revolutionists, or for the aristocratic, bureaucratic, and despotic rulers of the old régime; for the former did no good in the Revolution, but at the best simply nullified the good that others did and produced a reaction which reenthroned despotism; while they made the name of liberty a word of shuddering horror for the time being.
“I hope to see real progress made at the next Hague Conference. If it is possible in some way to bring about a stop, complete or partial, to the race in adding to armaments, I shall be glad; but I do not yet see my way clear as regards the details of such a plan. We must always remember that it would be a fatal thing for the great free peoples to reduce themselves to impotence and leave the despotisms and barbarians armed. It would be safe to do so if there were some system of international police; but there is now no such system.
A glimpse of some of the annoyances to which a President on vacation is subjected is furnished in a letter to Senator Lodge on August 6, 1906:
“I have been having a real rest this summer, and incidentally have grown to realize that I have reached that time of life when too violent physical exercise does not rest a man when he has had an exhausting mental career. We have been having a delightful summer. The secret service men are a very small but very necessary thorn in the flesh. Of course they would not be the least use in preventing any assault on my life. I do not believe there is any danger of such an assault, and if there were it would be simple nonsense to try to prevent it, for as Lincoln said, though it would be safer for a President to live in a cage, it would interfere with his business. But it is not only the secret service men who render life endurable, as you would realize if you saw the procession of carriages that pass through the place, the procession of people on foot who try to get into the place, not to speak of the multitude of cranks and others who are stopped in the village. I have ridden and rowed and chopped and played tennis."
His estimate of Jefferson and Hamilton, as well as his views upon other interesting subjects are disclosed in a letter, August 9, 1906, to Frederick Scott Oliver, the English author of a 'Life of Alexander Hamilton' and 'Ordeal by Battle':
“I have so thoroughly enjoyed your book on Hamilton that you must allow me the privilege of writing to tell you so.
I have just sent a copy to Lodge. There are naturally one or two points on which you and I would not quite agree, but they are very few, and it is really remarkable that you, an English man of letters, and I, an American politician largely of non-English descent, should be in such entire accord as regards the essentials. .
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“Thank Heaven, I have never hesitated to criticize Jefferson; he was infinitely below Hamilton. I think the worship of Jefferson a discredit to my country; and I have as small use for the ordinary Jeffersonian as for the ordinary defender of the house of Stuart-and I am delighted to notice that you share this last prejudice with me. I think Jefferson on the whole did harm in public life. He did thoroughly believe in the people, just as Abraham Lincoln did, just as Chatham and Pitt believed in England; and though this did not blind Lincoln to popular faults and failings any more than it blinded the elder and the younger Pitts to English failings, it was in each case a prerequisite to doing the work well. In the second place, Jefferson believed in the West and in the expansion of our people westward, whereas the northeastern Federalists allowed themselves to get into a position of utter hostility to western expansion. Finally, Jefferson was a politician and Hamilton was not. Hamilton's admirers are apt to speak as if this was really to his credit, but such a position is all nonsense. A politician may be and often is a very base creature, and if he cares only for party success, if he panders to what is evil in the people, and still more if he cares only for his own success, his special abilities merely render him a curse. But among free peoples, and especially among the free peoples who speak English, it is only in very exceptional circumstances that a statesman can be efficient, can be of use to the country, unless he is also (not as a substitute, but in addition) a politician.
“This is a very rough-and-tumble, workaday world, and the persons, such as our 'anti-imperialist' critics over here, who sit in comfortable libraries and construct theories, or even the people who like to do splendid and spectacular feats in public office without undergoing all the necessary preliminary outside drudgery, are and deserve to be at a disadvantage compared to the man who takes the trouble, who takes the pains, to organize victory. Lincoln, who, as you finely put it, conscientiously carried out the Hamiltonian tradition, was superior to Hamilton just because he was a politician and was a genuine democrat, and therefore suited to lead a genuine democracy. He was infinitely superior to Jefferson of course; for Jefferson led the people wrong, and followed them when they went wrong; and though he had plenty of imagination and of sentimental inspiration, he had neither courage nor far-sighted common sense, where the interests of the nation were at stake.
“I have not much sympathy with Hamilton's distrust of the democracy. Nobody knows better than I that a democracy may go very wrong indeed, and I loathe the kind of demagogy which finds expression in such statements as the voice of the people is the voice of God’; but in my own experience it has certainly been true, and if I read history aright it was true both before and at the time of the Civil War, that the highly cultivated classes, who tend to become either cynically worldly-wise or to develop along the lines of the Eighteenth Century philosophers, and the moneyed classes, especially those of large fortune, whose ideal tends to the mere money, are not fitted for any predominant guidance in a really great nation. I do not dislike but I certainly have no especial respect or admiration for and no trust in, the typical big moneyed man of my country. I do not regard them as furnishing sound opinion as regards either foreign or domestic policies.
“Quite as little do I regard as furnishing such opinion the men who especially pride themselves on their cultivation—the men like many of those who graduate from my own college of Harvard, and who find their organs in the New York Evening Post and Nation. These papers are written especially for cultivated gentlefolk. They have many minor virtues, moral and intellectual; and yet during my twenty-five years in public life I have found them much more often wrong than right on the great and vital public issues. In England they would be howling little Englanders, would be raving against the expense of the navy, and eager to find out something to criticize in Lord Cromer's management of Egypt, not to speak of perpetually insisting upon abandoning the Soudan."