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action. Now it is simply out of the question for me to submit, on behalf of the great mass of our people, to the success of such a movement, so engineered, and for such purposes. It is they who force the fighting, and not I.
“Take another instance--that of legislation I am advocating. I am advocating just the legislation the necessity of which you have again and again pointed out—that is, amendments to the anti-trust and interstate commerce laws in order to make legal proper combinations. But the very corporations that have been loudly insisting that those laws are bad, take not the slightest interest in their amendment. They do not want them changed and they do not care to have them removed from the statute books, but they expect to have them administered crookedly. Of course, as far as I am concerned such expectation is vain.
“Now about the banking and currency system: I agree with you in your main contentions. I would like to see a thoroughly good system of banking and currency; but apparently you think little of the Aldrich bill, and yet this is the only measure that has been proposed that we can seriously consider. The trouble is that the minute I try to get action all the financiers and business men differ so that nobody can advise me, nobody can give me any aid, and only Senator Aldrich has proposed a bill. I have taken the liberty of sending to Senator Aldrich what you say about the banking and currency measure, together with a communication from Andrew Carnegie.
When Congress adjourned he wrote to his son Kermit, May 31, 1908, a statement of what it had done:
“Congress has not given me nearly all the legislation I should have had, but there has been some advance after all. In foreign matters and as regards the navy and the army Congress has really done well. A number of treaties have been ratified, the upbuilding of the fleet continued, the army and navy better paid, the Tokio Exposition has been provided for, the Chinese indemnity returned. Then in home matters we have passed a good Employers' Liability bill and a child labor bill for the District of Columbia. We have handled the Alaska coal fields as they ought to be handled. So that, although I am chagrined that more has not been done, I am glad that we have gone a little ahead and not a little behind.'
To Whitelaw Reid, in London, he wrote, on May 25, 1908:
“Congress is ending, but by no means in a blaze of glory. The leaders in the House and Senate felt a relief that they did not try to conceal at the fact that I was not to remain as President, and need not be too implicitly followed; and they forget that the discipline that they have been able to keep for the last six years over their followers was primarily due to the fact that we had a compact and aggressive organization, kept together by my leadership, due to my hold, and the hold the policies I championed had upon the people. Accordingly they have seen their own power crumble away under their hands and both the House and Senate are now in chaos. All opposition to Taft has died down and he will be nominated easily. But in electing him we shall have no help from the record of the present Congress. The election must be won upon his own personality; upon the general Republican achievement of the past twelve years; and, by no means, upon the rather absurd attitude of the Democracy."
Efforts to nominate him for a third term became rapidly active in May, 1908, and his letters show how earnestly he was opposing them and what his reasons were for objecting to them:
May 28, 1908. To Hon. Alston G. Dayton, U. S. District Judge, Philippi, Virginia: “I see that two of the West Virginia delegates who were elected under instructions for Taft have announced that they will go for me, and I have seen a letter from Governor Dawson in which he stated that he has first-hand information that they have done this in response to pressure from the Standard Oil Company.
I should doubt the trustworthiness of the last, because all the information I have, public and private, is that the first thing the Standard Oil Company wishes is to have anybody else nominated to succeed me in the Presidency, and they are trying to deter all litigation simply to have it passed over the fourth of March next. But the rumor is of importance because it shows the kind of thing that will be said, and will inevitably be said of any man who, having been instructed for Taft, changes and goes for me. ...
.. Can you not quietly inform the gentlemen in question how strongly I feel (and I trust how strongly you also feel) that they ought to abide by their instructions? I think this is important from their own standpoint, and what is of infinitely more consequence, from the standpoint of the party and the country.”
May 29, 1908. A line in addition to what I wrote you yesterday, as I fear I did not express quite as plainly as I should my feeling on one point. I most strenuously object to any friend of mine going for me on any ballot. But what I wanted to convey was that as regards the first ballot the only honorable course, in my judgment, which an instructed delegate can follow is to vote in accordance with his instructions. To do otherwise would necessarily give rise to very unpleasant comment, not only as regards the delegate himself but as regards the man for whom he voted. As a matter of fact, we will nominate Taft on the first ballot by about 700 votes; so we do not really have to concern ourselves with what comes after the first ballot, and my object is to keep men square on this ballot. But I need hardly add that even if there should have to be another ballot, my friends are not to go for me.
May 29, 1908. To the Rev. Dr. Lyman Abbott: As to the matter of my renomination, it seems to me that the proper ground to take is that any one who supposes that I have been scheming for it is not merely a fool, but shows himself to be a man of low morality. He reflects upon him
self, not upon me. There has never been a moment when
Under such circumstances, when I could without the
The facts about the third-term agitation are that it does not come from any men high in public life, but from plain people who take no very great part in politics, and who seem to have been puzzled at my attitude in declining to run. The politicians, like the big business men, all cordially agree with me that I ought not to run again. A few weeks ago there was an article published that you ought to see if you have any desire to know where the third-term talk comes from. It isn't "inspired” from above at all. Yesterday, for instance, Vorys, Taft's campaign manager in Ohio, suddenly told me that he had difficulty in Ohio in preventing the ordinary voters, the men whom he would meet at the drug stores or in the cars, or in similar places, from insisting upon my being nominated. Under such circumstances I would be exasperated, if I were not amused, at so much as anybody talking about the supposition that I was engaged in an effort to have the renomination forced upon me. As a matter of fact I doubt if Taft himself could be more anxious than I am that Taft be nominated, and that any stampede to me be prevented. I wish it on every account, personal and public, and I am bending every energy now to prevent the possibility of such a stampede; because if the convention were stampeded and I were nominated an exceedingly ugly situation would be created, a situation very difficult to meet at all and impossible to meet satisfactorily; whereas if, as I have every reason to believe, Taft is nominated almost by acclamation, certainly on the first ballot, everything is as it should be.