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manding although temporary position in State and even in national politics.
This was done by the efforts of some twenty or thirty young fellows who devoted a large part of their time to thoroughly organizing and getting out the respectable vote. The moving spirits were all active, energetic men, with common sense, whose motives were perfectly disinterested. Some went in from principle; others, doubtless, from good-fellowship or sheer love of the excitement always attendant upon a political struggle. Our success was due to our absolute freedom from caste spirit. Among our chief workers were a Columbia College professor, a crack oarsman from the same institution, an Irish quarryman, a master carpenter, a rich young merchant, the owner of a small cigar store, the editor of a little German newspaper, and a couple of employees from the post office and custom house, who worked directly against their own seeming interests. One of our important committees was composed of a prominent member of a Jewish synagogue, of the son of a noted Presbyterian clergyman, and of a young Catholic lawyer. We won some quite remarkable triumphs, for the first time in New York politics carrying primaries against the machine, and as the result of our most successful struggle completely revolutionizing the State Convention held to send delegates to the National Republican Convention of 1884, and returning to that body, for the first and only time it was ever done, a solid delegation of independent Republicans. This was done, however, by sheer hard work on the part of a score or so of men; the mass of our good citizens, even after the victories which they had assisted in winning, understood nothing about how they were won. Many of them actually objected to organizing, apparently having a confused idea that we could always win by what one of their number called a "spontaneous uprising,” to which a quiet young fellow in our camp grimly responded that he had done a good deal of political work in his day, but that he never in his life had worked so hard and so long as he did to get up the “spontaneous” movement in which we were then engaged."
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.2
i From American Ideals. Copyright, 1897. G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York and London, publishers.
* Speech at the City Club, New York City, May 9, 1899.,
III. POLITICAL MORALITY
THERE are two chief sources of danger to the American people: lawless violence and corruption; lawless violence, which we most often have to face from among the people who have least of the world's goods; and corruption, which we most often have to face from among the people that have most of the world's goods.
The last time I was in Chicago you were engaged in a struggle with the first evil. It was at the time of the great teamsters' strike, that you remember here, and there was some question of the city authorities not being able to deal with it. You were then face to face with an assault by lawless violence upon the foundation of the American government.
I was coming back from the Rocky Mountains at the time, and I had good friends who earnestly advised me to go around Chicago. I decided to go through it, and stopped here. A deputation of the labor men called upon me, and to them I said what I subsequently said at a dinner at which the then Mayor and the then Governor were present, that, vitally interested though I was in all real reforms for the betterment of our people, and eagerly though I desired to help uplift those who were down, and so far as was possible do away with the inequalities of fortune that come from the inequalities of opportunity, yet when there was disorder, when there was lawless violence, all questions of reform had to be postponed until the orderly process of the law was resumed; and that, while I hoped and believed that the municipal authorities themselves would be able to deal with the disorder, yet, if they found it impossible, back of the city stood the State, and back of the State the Nation.
I did not hesitate to speak directly then, and just as little shall I hesitate to speak directly now.
In the program to-night you have done me the honor to print certain quotations from speeches I have made, mostly before the Hamilton Club; and the final quotation is: “We must see that there is civic honesty, civic cleanliness, civic good sense, in our whole administration of the city, State, and Nation."
My friends, the value of a sentence like that consists exclusively in the way in which we try to live up to it. The worth of what I have to say to you, and whether or not it is worth your while to listen to me, depends upon the way in which we translate words into deeds. It is all right to applaud a sentence like that in favor of civic honesty, stating that civic honesty is essential to the welfare of a nation. It is well enough to applaud it, but woe to you if you applaud the sentence in the abstract and fail to act up to it in the concrete.
It has been well said that the progress, the true progress, of a people can best be gauged by their standard of moral conduct, by their judgment as to what conduct is moral and what conduct is immoral, and by the effectiveness with which they make their approbation of the moral and their disapprobation of the immoral felt. No republic can last if corruption is allowed to eat into its public life. No republic can last if the private citizens sit supinely by and either encourage or tolerate corruption among their representatives.
Each state of the nation, each important city of the Union, has from time to time to face this question. More than once we have been brought face to face with it in the State of New York. You are face to face with it now in the State of Illinois.
I have been reading the reports of the investigations by the two state's attorneys, which resulted in the indictment of four members of the legislature, and together with that I have read the reports of the confession of four other members of the legislature. I was advised to-day by a very worthy friend not to talk on this matter, because it was a “delicate” subject, and he added that no one had been convicted. Now, I feel most strongly that we make the question of public honesty a sham if we limit the use of the word “honesty" to mere law-honesty.
There are big business men whom I have counted as among the most insidious enemies of the real welfare of this republic, although they have been so advised that it would be impossible to convict them, and there have been in the United States, including the State of New York, many public men whose careers have been a scandal throughout the country, although they keep clear of the courts.
Read the confessions of the four men. Read what was developed by the two state's attorneys, one belonging to the one party and one belonging to the other, about the four men against whom they secured indictments, and about other men also. Read that, and I defy any honest man of intelligence not to come to the conclusion that