Page images
PDF
EPUB

cessful attempt should be proportioned to the enormity of the offence against our institutions.

“Anarchy is a crime against the whole human race, and all mankind should band against the Anarchist. His crime should be made an offence against the law of Nations, like piracy, and that form of manstealing known as the slave trade; for it is of far blacker infamy than either. It should be so declared by treaties among all civilized powers. Such treaties would give to the Federal Government the power of dealing with the crime.

A grim commentary upon the folly of the Anarchist position was afforded by the attitude of the law toward this very criminal who had just taken the life of the President. The people would have torn him limb from limb if it had not been that the law he defied was at once invoked in his behalf. So far from his deed being committed on behalf of the people against the Government, the Government was obliged at once to exert its full police power to save him from instant death at the hands of the people. Moreover, his deed worked not the slightest dislocation in our Governmental system, and the danger of a recurrence of such deeds, no matter how great it might grow, would work only in the direction of strengthening and giving harshness to the forces of order. No man will ever be restrained from becoming President by any fear as to his personal safety. If the risk to the President's life became great, it would mean that the office would more and more come to be filled by men of a spirit which would make them resolute and merciless in dealing with every friend of disorder. This great country will not fall into Anarchy, and if Anarchists should ever become a serious menace to its institutions they would not merely be stamped out, but would involve in their own ruin every active or passive sympathizer with their doctrines. The American people are slow to wrath, but when their wrath is once kindled, it burns like a consuming flame.”

CHAPTER XX.
THE PRESIDENT AS A PEACEMAKER.

Auspicious Conditions at His Succession-Distinction from Vice-Presidents Gone

Before-Conservatism, Not Revolution-British Study of the Senate, with an
Erroneous Theory—The Senate Has Ratified an Isthmian Treaty with England
Roosevelt Strong for Peace because His Word Stands- His Admirable Deportment
in Time of Trouble.

NHERE is no case in our history that parallels the succession of Theodore

Roosevelt to the Presidency upon the death of William McKinley.

It is a horror upon the land that we have had three Presidents murdered, as President Roosevelt reminds us in his message, "out of the seven last elected.” The distinction he makes officially between the Presidents elected, and those succeeding to the office, as prescribed by the Constitution, when the formally elected President dies, should be remarked, for it shows the scrupulous care President Roosevelt has to be accurate, and the assertion of the absolute integrity of truth.

The first President who died in office, General William Henry Harrison, was succeeded by John Tyler, not of the same political persuasion with Harrison. The change was a revolution, almost as great as if, under the original form of the fundamental law, William J. Bryan had succeeded William McKinley. The old, original rule was that the candidate having the highest number of electoral votes cast for him for the Presidency should be President, and the next highest Vice-President. Owing to the Jefferson and Burr contest in 1800, the Vice-President's name was placed on the electoral ballot. VicePresident Thomas A. Hendricks died when a President Pro Tempore of the Senate had not been elected. President Cleveland had no successor provided to take his place, and for that reason declined, on legal advice, to go to the funeral at Indianapolis of the Vice-President. Hence, another wise law, turning the Presidential succession into the Cabinet, in case the Vice President is called to fill a Presidential vacancy. As the case stood when Theodore Roosevelt took the oath as President, his successor was, under the law, John Hay, Secretary of State, and next the Secretary of the Treasury, then the War, then the Navy; and there is one member of the continued McKinley Cabinet not eligible to the Presidency, that office alone being reserved for native born Americans.

General William Henry Harrison died a month after inauguration from exposure on that occasion, and fatigue imposed by the rush of office-seekers. Tyler was placed on the ticket to heal a political grievance in Virginia, and in his views of public policy he was sympathetic rather with the Democracy than the Whigs.

General Zachary Taylor was the card played by Thurlow Weed to beat the Democrats with a Mexican war hero. Taylor ranked as a "Whig, but not an ultra Whig.” There was no little labor expended in adjusting language to give the Whigs confidence they were not to be Tylerized. Millard Fillmore was Weed's idea of the best that could be done when Daniel Webster declined the Vice-Presidency with Taylor for head of the ticket, just as he had declined the honor of running as the second man of the Harrison ticket. This explains the tradition that Webster twice refused the Presidency. He refused nominations that would have carried him into the great office.

Under Fillmore's Administration, the Whig party took decisive steps toward ultimate extinction.

The three murdered Presidents were Republicans, two of them from Ohio. No Democratic President ever died in office. The succession of Andrew Johnson to Abraham Lincoln was not a success, and there are still traceable evil consequences flowing from the anxiety of Republicans to put on the appearance of nationality, in response to the reproach that they were sectional, as the force that was conservative of slavery in a great section of the common country. Mr. Johnson was not a gentleman of delicate balance of the faculty termed the judicial. It never was fair to call him a traitor. He was capable of swinging dangerously far between extremes. His oscillations might have damaged our form of government. Still, he abolished slavery in Kentucky, with the urgency and help of General Palmer, and expanded the country by taking the advice of William H. Seward and Charles Sumner, in annexing Alaska.

Garfield was murdered by a squabbler for spoils, a wretch whose vanity was a disease. Chester Arthur was nominated to conciliate the supporters of Conkling in pressing General Grant for a third term; but his position was that of the faction that assailed Garfield, and he suffered greatly because he was misunderstood and sensitive. He sought manfully to meet and subdue the cross currents in the vortex into which he was thrown, and it was practically impossible for him to keep Garfield's Cabinet to the end. He treated all with courtesy, and won respect as President; but though nearly all the States in Republican Convention approved his administration, his battle for election to the Presidency was lost when it was begun.

Mr. Roosevelt does not suffer from the disabilities and inheritance of hostility which affected his predecessors who reached the Presidency through

[graphic]

OYSTER BAY ON NORTH SHORE OF LONG ISLAND, BATHING BEACH

[graphic][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »