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In the impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson, one of the managers of the prosecution described the President as nothing but “the constable of Congress.” Had that impeachment been successful, the contemptuous taunt might have seemed simple truth. It was not successful, cause all honest men, not blinded by party passion, felt that the President held great constitutional functions, which made him, in his sphere, little short of the dictator of the republic.
I am glad that we have so great an officer. The foe that threatens American institutions to-day is not absolutism, but anarchy; not the tyranny of a man, but a tyranny of the mob. To meet it, we need the strong hand of power. If we were not a nation before the Civil War, we have been since. A nation must have a head. I have no fear that the President of the United States, absolute as he is within his sphere, will ever act the part of Cæsar. The foundations of American liberty are laid too deep. The checks of the Constitution, backed by the sentiment of a free and intelligent people, are ample for any strain.
Proudly and safely rides the ship of State into the opening harbor of the twentieth century,– prouder and safer because one hand, and one hand only, is on the wheel.
REPORT OF THE GENERAL SECRETARY.
BY F. B. SAN BORN.
[Read Monday, August 30.]
Following the hint conveyed in that monitory Scripture which says, “Let not him who putteth on his armor boast as he who putteth it off” (or words to that effect), your General Secretary, on giving up the office which he has now held for more than twenty years, and the other secretaryship which was given him organization of our society, in October, 1865, will perhaps be pardoned for some preliminary remarks of a personal nature, since he is the only person present who remembers that first meeting in Boston, and the circumstances which led to it.
It was at the close of our great Civil War, when the minds of men, warmed by the events through which they had so recently passed, and touched by a consideration of the new and strange future that seemed then to lie before us, were ready to unite in whatever promised benefit to the restored nation, that a few of us in Massachusetts conceived the thought of an association similar in purpose to that which Lord Brougham and his friends had inaugurated in England eight years before. To none of us was this thought more familiar than to the Massachusetts Board of State Charities (at that time the only one in the country), of which the late Dr. Howe, that eminent philanthropist and revolutionist, had just been made a member, soon to be for years its Chairman, and of which I had been for two years the Secretary.
It seemed fitting, therefore, that our Board should issue the invitation for the first meeting of publicists and philanthropists, educators, sanitarians and statisticians (with other persons of both sexes interested in social questions), which assembled in the Boston State House, and had for its President the illustrious war governor of Massachusetts, John Albion Andrew. As Secre. tary of the State Board, I wrote and circulated the call for this gathering, and naturally became one of its secretaries,- an office which I have held, actually or nominally, ever since. I was also able, through the State office I then held (to which Governor
Andrew had added the secretaryship of the first labor commission ever established in America), to make the people of New England and the rest of the country widely acquainted with the objects and methods of the new Association, and had as much voice as any one, perhaps, in directing those methods and defining those objects.
I was ably and generously supported by associates in this work, most of whom are now dead or retired from active pursuits. One of the earliest to die was our first President, Governor Andrew,a man of great heart, strong convictions, and eminent services to his State and country. Dr. Howe, an older man, and one who from youth had been foremost in active work for the rights and the improvement of mankind, continued for eight years longer in the service of humanity, and on several occasions joined with our Association in labors which resulted in much good. He was active in that movement for the better instruction of deaf children, which soon resulted in the establishment of oral teaching at New York and Northampton,- the first time that this method, long practised with success in Europe, was given a fair trial in America, where it has since revolutionized the course of instruction for this special class. He was also foremost in the movement for decreased restraint, less medication, and a more natural and domestic treatment for the insane; and this, which counted to Dr. Howe for heresy, especially in his own medical profession, is now the orthodox doctrine in all countries of high civilization.
In dealing with the difficult problems of prison discipline, our Association was fortunate in the membership of the elder Dr. Wines; of Mr. Brockway, long at the head of the best prison in the world, - the Elmira reformatory,— but then little known, and engaged in working out by himself, at Detroit, the system he has since so successfully applied; of Judge Washburn, in Massachusetts; and several ladies who were foremost in establishing special prisons for their own sex. The National Prison Congress at Cincinnati, in 1870, in which General Hayes — afterward President of the United States — took a prominent part, was called together, and in good part directed, by members of our Social Science Association; and its declaration of principles – which the course of prison reform in America has since closely followed and put in practice was the work of Dr. E. C. Wines, Mr. Brockway, and myself. Out of this Cincinnati congress grew the international
congresses of Europe, and our own National Prison Association, of which latter I am now, perhaps, the only surviving corporate member, always excepting Mr. Brockway.
In 1874, being again the Secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Charities, of which I soon became Chairman, in succession to Dr. Howe, I called together at our Social Science meeting in New York City the first National Conference of Charities, since grown into so large and important an organization. It continued to meet with our Association until 1879, but has since held separate and much larger meetings than we have brought together in this, its parent society. It will meet again in New York next year, after four-and-twenty years, and after holding conferences in nearly all the larger cities of the land, - in Boston, New Haven, Baltimore, Washington, Louisville, Nashville, New Orleans, St. Louis, Denver, San Francisco, Omaha, Chicago, Milwaukee, Grand Rapids, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Buffalo, and Toronto. Association has been less peripatetic in its meetings, but probably its membership would have been much greater if it had followed the example of this lively child of our early affections. A truly national society in a country so vast as ours must travel from city to city if it would retain its hold on the respect and regard of the nation. If we allow ourselves to be one-sided in our place of meeting, we shall soon be reputed as one-sided in our aims and methods, whether we are really so or not.
In thus recalling to you what must be to most of those who hear me only ancient history, in which they had little or no part, I am following that natural inclination of the aged, from Nestor down, to exalt the past days at the expense of the present. Yet the first ten years of our Association (1865-75) were certainly more fruitful in visible results than the last ten years have been. Still, we have that singular consolation of old age,- to have outlived our contemporaries. The British Social Science Association, upon which ours was rather distantly modelled, has long since deceased; and we now are the oldest society of the sort in the world, I think. But, while we have grown gray in our quiet existence, other organizations, younger, more enthusiastic, or more laborious, have come into existence, and are achieving what we might have done, perhaps, if you had retained a secretary as active and persuasive to activity in others as Henry Villard, whom I succeeded at a long interval. Never has our Association grown in membership as it did in his time; and as I trust it may
yet do, under my successor. The example of certain French societies, of which I am to speak presently, may well stimulate us, and point the way to much which we have not done, but which they, with their wider membership and more efficient organization, have been for some years accomplishing, not only for France, but for the world at large.
The earliest of these societies, two of which owe their origin to an illustrious Frenchman, Frederic Le Play (born in 1806, died in 1882), was the “Society of Social Economy," dating from the year 1856, when Le Play had become famous from his book, "The Workingmen of Europe." His associates in the foundation of this society were: Michel Chevalier, the economist; Count Gasparin, the well-known friend of America ; Cochin, the emancipationist; and many others of equal rank, but of varying opinions. Its work was to investigate facts scientifically, publish results, discuss conclusions, and train observers to an exactness capable of continuing the difficult investigations of Social Science. A second society of more rapid development, and more propagandist in its aim, was the “Union of Social Peace," founded by Le Play in 1872, directly after the national disaster and social convulsion of France, which terminated and followed the long misgovernment of the second Napoleon. This later society multiplied itself speedily into small local groups of social investigators, united to the parent society and having for their watchword the phrase "social reform” (La Réforme Sociale). A valuable periodical with this title has existed since 1880, and has included in its very interesting pages the studies, observations, arguments, and exhortations of what is called “ The School of Social Peace," of which this periodical calls itself the organ.
It would be hard to exaggerate the importance of the investigations and publications made by these societies which claim Le Play as their founder; but the reader must always be on his guard against the prejudices, political, religious, and national, which unconsciously or consciously inspire these earnest economists and philanthropists. The same remark ought not to be made concerning the publications of the “Society of Social Economy"; but these are much less in evidence, and produced with far less vigor and continuity than those issued by the Le Play unions. Consequently, though it is convenient to speak of these two societies as one because they had a single founder, they are in fact to be distinguished from each other as dissimilar in