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"At that period our Navy consisted of a collection of antiquated wooden ships, already almost as out of place against modern war vessels as the galleys of Alcibiades and Hamilcar-certainly as the ships of Tromp and Blake. Nor at that time did we have men to handle a modern man-of-war.”
The same politicians who fought against all national ships, except revenue cutters, are those now persistently engaged in advocating the belittlement of the country, by giving up all the North American islands.
One of the methods of assisting the efficacy of the Army is stated by the President in his most trenchant style:
"Pressure for the promotion of civil officials for political reasons is bad enough, but it is tenfold worse where applied on behalf of officers of the Army or Navy. Every promotion and every detail under the War Department must be made solely with regard to the good of the service and to the capacity and merit of the man himself. No pressure, political, social, or personal, of any kind, will be permitted to exercise the least effect in any question of promotion or detail; and if there is reason to believe that such pressure is exercised at the instigation of the officer concerned, it will be held to militate against him. In our Army we cannot afford to have rewards or duties distributed save on the simple ground that those who by their own merits are entitled to the rewards get them, and that those who are peculiarly fit to do the duties are chosen to perform them."
“Every effort,” says the President, “should be made to bring the Army to a constantly increasing state of efficiency. When on actual service no work save that directly in the line of such service should be required. The paper work in the Army, as in the Navy, should be greatly reduced. What is needed is proved power of command to work out in the field. Constant care is necessary to prevent dry rot in the transportation and commissary departments.”
One of the striking paragraphs about the Army is this:
“A great debt is owing from the public to the men of the Army and Navy. They should be so treated as to enable them to reach the highest point of efficiency, so that they may be able to respond instantly to any demand made upon them to sustain the interests of the Nation and the honor of the flag. The individual American enlisted man is probably on the whole a more formidable fighting man than the regular of any other Army. Every consideration should be shown him, and in return the highest standard of usefulness should be exacted from him. It is well worth while for the Congress to consider whether the pay of enlisted men upon second and subsequent enlistments should not be increased to correspond with the increased value of the veteran soldier."
Respecting the heritage of veterans, the President is most impressive, saying:
"No other citizens deserve so well of the Republic as the veterans, the survivors of those who saved the Union. They did the one deed which it left undone would have meant that all else in our history went for nothing. But for their steadfast prowess in the greatest crisis of our history, all our annals would be meaningless, and our great experiment in popular freedom and self-government a gloomy failure. Moreover, they not only left us a united Nation, but they left us also as a heritage the memory of the mighty deeds by which the Nation was kept united. We are now indeed one Nation, one in fact as well as in name; we are united in our devotion to the flag which is the symbol of national greatness and unity; and the very completeness of our union enables us all, in every part of the country, to glory in the valor shown alike by the sons of the North and the sons of the South in the times that tried men's souls.
“The men who in the last three years have done so well in the East and the West Indies and on the mainland of Asia have shown that this remembrance is not lost. In any serious crisis the United States must rely for the great mass of its fighting men upon the volunteer soldiery who do not make a permanent profession of the military career; and whenever such a crisis arises the deathless memories of the Civil War will give to Americans the lift of lofty purpose which comes to those whose fathers have stood valiantly in the forefront of the battle.”
The military education policy is strongly pressed:
"And in addition to the regulars the advantages of this education should be given to the officers of the National Guard and others in civil life who desire intelligently to fit themselves for possible military duty. The officers should be given the chance to perfect themselves by study in the higher branches of this art. 'At West Point the education should be of the kind most apt to turn out men who are good in actual field service; too much stress should not be laid on mathematics, nor should proficiency therein be held to establish the right of entry to a corps d'elite. The typical American officer of the best kind need not be a good mathematician; but he must be able to master himself, to control others, and to show boldness and fertility of resource in every emergency.”
There is a striking similarity between the views held by President Roosevelt and those of George Washington, whose last letter was pressing upon Alexander Hamilton the value of West Point.
The most notable suggestion with respect to the Army is to give the higher officers and the enlisted men the chance to "practice manoeuvers in mass and on a comparatively large scale. In time of need no amount of individual excellence would avail against the paralysis which would follow inability to work as a coherent whole, under skillful and daring leadership. The Congress should provide means whereby it will be possible to have field exercises by at least a division of regulars, and if possible also a division of national guardsmen, once a year. These exercises might take the form of field manoeuvers; or, if on the Gulf Coast or the Pacific or Atlantic Seaboard, or in the region of the Great Lakes, the army corps when assembled could be marched from some inland point to some point on the water, there embarked, disembarked after a couple of days' journey at some other point, and again marched inland.”
That is the special application of the Tampa and Santiago experience.
The important work done by the President in the Navy Department gives rise to much in the message that shows expert ability. This is an illustration:
"To send a warship against a competent enemy unless those aboard it have been trained by years of actual sea service, including incessant gunnery practice, would be to invite not merely disaster, but the bitterest shame and humiliation. Four thousand additional seamen and one thousand additional marines should be provided; and an increase in the officers should be provided by making a large addition to the classes at Annapolis. There is one small matter which should be mentioned in connection with Annapolis. The pretentious and unmeaning title of “naval cadet” should be abolished; the title of “midshipman," full of historic association, should be restored.
"Even in time of peace a warship should be used until it wears out, for only so can it be kept fit to respond to any emergency. The officers and men alike should be kept as much as possible on blue water, for it is there only they can learn their duties as they should be learned. The big vessels should be manoeuvered in squadrons containing not merely battle ships but the necessary proportion of cruisers and scouts. The torpedo boats should be handled by the younger officers in such manner as will best fit the latter to take responsibility and meet the emergencies of actual warfare.
"Every detail ashore which can be performed by a civilian should be so performed, the officer being kept for his special duty in the sea service. Above all, gunnery practice should be unceasing. It is important to have our Navy of adequate size, but it is even more important that ship for ship it should equal in efficiency any Navy in the world. This is possible only with highly drilled crews and officers, and this in turn imperatively demands continuous and progressive instruction in target practice, ship handling, squadron tactics, and general discipline. Our ships must be assembled in squadrons actively cruising away from harbors and never long at anchor. The resulting wear upon engines and hulls must be endured; a battleship worn out in long training of officers and men is well paid for by the results, while, on the other hand, no matter in how excellent condition, it is useless if the crew be not expert.”
Here we have the sort of talk the people have long longed to read. It is significant of business, and that battleships may take risks of usefulness in times of peace.
The President seems to be as much at home in the Postal Department as elsewhere. He says:
"The full measure of postal progress which might be realized has long been hampered and obstructed by the heavy burden imposed on the Government through the intrenched and well-understood abuses which have grown up in connection with second-class mail matter.' The extent of this burden appears when it is stated that while the second-class matter makes nearly three-fifths of the weight of all the mail, it paid for the last fiscal year only $4,294,445 of the aggregate postal revenue of $111,631,193."
The loss on this item would pay, if the money were saved, the cost of the Navy, enlarged as the President proposes.
In regard to the consular service, the President recommends promotion on merit. He stands by his well known Civil Service ideas, which he has largely caused to be made practical. He says:
“The gain to the government has been immense. The navy yards and postal service illustrate, probably better than any other branches of the Government, the great gain in economy, efficiency and honesty due to the enforcement of this principle.
“Not an office should be filled in the Philippines or Porto Rico with any regard to the man's partizan affiliation or services, with any regard to the political, social, or personal influence which he may have at his command; in short, heed should be paid to absolutely nothing save the man's own character and capacity and the needs of the service.
“The administration of these islands should be as wholly free from the suspicion of partizan politics as the administration of the Army and Navy. All that we ask from the public servant in the Philippines or Porto Rico is that he reflect honor on his country by the way in which he makes that country's rule a benefit to the peoples who have come under it. This is all that we should ask, and we cannot afford to be content with less.”
Referring to prosperity, the President congratulates the country that it is "abounding.” The “Gold Standard" act is pronounced "timely and judicious.” One of the best points in the message is this: "The men who are idle or credulous, the men who seek gains, not by genuine work with head or hand, but by gambling in any form, are always a source of menace, not only to themselves but to others. If the business world loses its head, it loses what legislation cannot supply.”
The first essential in dealing with "trusts,” the President says, is "publicity,” and "in the interest of the public, the government should have the right to inspect and examine the workings of the great corporations engaged in interstate business. Publicity is the only sure remedy which we can now invoke.”
There probably needs to be something else, but that will do as a beginning; "the large corporations, commonly called trusts, though organized in one State, always do business in many States, often doing very little business in the State where they are incorporated. There is utter lack of uniformity in the State laws about them; and as no State has any exclusive interest in or power over their acts, it has in practice proved impossible to get adequate regulation through State action. Therefore, in the interest of the whole people, the Nation should, without interfering with the power of the States in the matter itself, also assume power of supervision and regulation over all corporations doing an interstate business.”
Nothing more striking has been said of the railroad questions than this: “The captains of industry who have driven the railway systems across this continent, who have built up our commerce, who have developed our manufactures, have, on the whole, done great good to our people.”
The President remarks in the further trust division: “It is no limitation upon property rights or freedom of contract to require that when men receive from Government the privilege of doing business under corporate form, which frees them from individual responsibility, and enables them to call into their enterprises the capital of the public, they shall do so upon absolutely truthful representations as to the value of the property in which the capital is to be invested.”
The most intelligent attention is given by the President to the immigration questions, the preservation of forests, and the reclamation of arid land. This follows the general drift of remark:
“The reclamation and settlement of the arid lands will enrich every portion of our country, just as the settlement of the Ohio and Mississippi valleys brought prosperity to the Atlantic States. The increased demand for manufactured articles will stimulate industrial production, while wider home markets and the trade of Asia will consume the larger food supplies and effectually pre vent Western competition with Eastern agriculture.”
Of the present tariff system the President remarks:
"There is a general acquiescence in our present tariff system as a National policy. The first requisite to our prosperity is the continuity and stability of this economic policy. Nothing could be more unwise than to disturb the business interests of the country by any general tariff change at this time. Doubt, apprehension, uncertainty are exactly what we most wish to avoid in the interest of our commercial and material well-being. Our experience in the past has shown that sweeping revisions of the tariff are apt to produce conditions closely approaching panic in the business world. Yet it is not only possible, but emi