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the legislature whose doings have been exposed was guilty of the foulest and basest corruption, and, therefore, of the most infamous treason to American institutions.

Now, I am a good party man, but I am an American first. When we come to questions affecting the vital principles of American life, I know no party. When such a question as corruption is involved, we cannot afford to divide on party lines.

I take just this much account of party in such a case. While I will do my best to get hold of the thief of the opposite party, I will try, if possible, a little harder to get hold of the thief of my own party.

When I was President I endeavored to act so that there should be no need of raising the cry among my opponents of “Turn the rascals out,” because I turned them out myself just as fast as I could get at them.

Now, mind you, take my words as worth less than nothing, unless, in looking back, you can see that they were justified by my deeds.

Examine what went on in the Post Office Department, or anywhere else, when corruption was alleged with anything like an offer of proof.

Now, in making these investigations I struck two different sets of cases. There was one set of cases where prosecutions would lie. In those cases I turned the matter over to the Department of Justice. In addition, there was the larger class of cases where there was not sufficient ground for prosecution, but where it was evident that the man was an unfit and an improper public servant; and there I turned him out; and when now and then the man back of him, occasionally belonging to a

coördinate branch of the government, would come up and say: "Oh, there is no conviction against him," I said, “No, I dare say that he has practiced law-honesty, but he is a crook, and out he goes."

Now, I could do that with the appointive officers, who held office under me; with the elective officers there is but one body that can do that, and that is the people.

If the people of America are content to send to represent them in the State or the National legislature men who they know in their heart of hearts have not obtained their offices honestly, but have obtained their offices dishonestly and by corruption, who they know have practiced corruption in public life, they may make up their minds that they will get the government to which they are entitled, and a bad government it will be.

Now, my friends, I do not suppose that if we decline to be honest and to insist on honesty in public life for our own sakes, we can be expected to do so for the sake of others; and yet, in addition to making the appeal for honesty to you and to the citizens of Illinois, for the sake of Illinois, and for the sake of America, I make the appeal also for the sake of the world.

Last spring, in Europe, there were two things that struck me especially as I talked with the average man. The first was that the man looked toward America as the land of golden hope, as the land of a partially realized ideal, as a land where it was really being shown that the people could govern themselves justly and righteously and in their own interest.

And the second thing was that that faith in America was continually being shaken by stories that reached them of corruption in American business and in Amer.

ican public life. Every act of corruption here, every gross scandal, every bit of flagrant dishonesty in big business or in politics, or in connection with the complex web that weaves together strands of big business and strands of politics — every such instance, when carried abroad, brings sneering satisfaction to the heart of every reactionary, who is glad to say: “Yes, that is what comes of democracy. That is what you get when the people try to govern themselves. It shows that they cannot govern themselves.” And every such instance dims the hope of the poor and the oppressed who strive to believe and haltingly do believe that here, somehow or other, we have arranged a condition of things in which the injustices of the world elsewhere are at least partially remedied.

My friends, I ask you men of Illinois that you purify your politics, that you hold accountable the scoundrel, great or small, who has been guilty of corruption, that you insist on cleanliness in your public life; and I ask it in your name and for your sakes; I ask it for the sake of the American people; and I ask it for the sake of all the nations of the world, that their hope may not be made dim, and that they may continue to cherish the ideal of the possibility of having a government of, by, and for the people, that shall mean also a government of justice and a government of honesty.

II IF I were asked to name the three influences which I thought were most dangerous to the perpetuity of American institutions, I should name corruption, in business

1 Speech before the Hamilton Club, Chicago, September 8, 1910. From The New Nationalism. Copyright, 1910. The Outlook ComDany, publishers.


and politics alike, lawless violence, and mendacity, especially when used in connection with slander.

Corruption: You cannot afford to tolerate in your ranks the corrupt man, and the first duty of a constituency should be to see that its representative is not merely honest in the sense that he cannot be legally shown to be dishonest, but that he is a dead straight man whom no one can think of as crooked. I do not want it to be praise to a man that he is honest; I want it to be an impossible supposition for a representative to be thought of as anything else; but you cannot get that honesty unless you insist upon it among yourselves in your own relations of life. If you train up your children to hear a shady scoundrel spoken of with a certain half admiration as, “Well, he is smart"; if you let your children hear a man's crookedness excused on the ground that he is clever, that he is a cheat, but that he cheats mighty well, you have yourselves to blame if your legislatures betray you. More than that, distrust anything in the nature of class privilege; distrust the labor leader who will inveigh against corruption only when it is shown by the rich man; and distrust equally the rich man who will subscribe heavily to put down lawbreaking among small politicians, and who is shocked at corruption among labor leaders, but who leaves you instantly as soon as you try to bring the big corporation to book. If you elect a man because you think he will be honest towards your class — capitalists, farmers, laborers — and if you are indifferent as to whether he is honest towards other people, you can make up your minds absolutely that he will betray you if he gets the chance. You cannot afford not to have a man honest all the way through, because if he is not, you do not know quite where the breaking down will come.

Lawless violence: Here again remember that in time of mob violence all reform has to wait until order is restored. As a people it is gravely to our discredit that there should be so much unpunished murder, so many deeds of lawlessness and mob violence. Let the friend of the people who is severe upon the corruption of wealth make up his mind that he is a mighty poor public servant if he does not set his face against disorder when it takes the form of violence, just as much as against corruption. The man who can only see evil in the corruption of the rich, and the man who can only see evil in the lawless violence of the poor, stand on the same plane of bad citizenship. Keep order. War both against corruption and against lawless violence. That is what you and public officials need to keep in mind.

Now as to critics: I don't like the thief, but I like the liar just as little. The very fact that we need to have corruption in every phase unflinchingly exposed, the very fact that we need to have every man shown up who has acted improperly, because it is not merely a disgrace but a vital injury to us to permit corruption in public life or corruption in business life, that very fact emphasizes the wrong done by the man who without warrant accuses another of corruption. He has committed one of the cardinal sins against the body politic. It is not merely an injury to the man accused, it is an injury of the deepest type to the body politic, because after awhile, when accusations are continually and sweepingly made against all men, good and bad, the public as a whole grow to believe in each accusation a little and in

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