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that perhaps the fact that it is simply just and fair is to its
present disadvantage. And vet I believe, and I know you and
the others engaged in the cause believe, that ultimately and
with continued effort the friends of this reform will see their
hopes realized. Then it will be great satisfaction to know



ON SOME SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC QUESTIONS. 343

and feel that success was achieved by force of fairness,- justice,
and morality. Yours very truly,

Grover Clkveland.
Mr. R. U. Johnson, Secretary.



VIII.

MORAL ISSUES IN TOUTICS.
(Interview in the New York Commercial Advertiser, September 19, 1889.)

I am very much pleased, as every other true Democrat
should be, both with the utterances of their conventions in
Ohio and New jersey, on national questions, and with the
nominees. The platforms and the candidates stand for sturdy
Democracy and for honest, wholesome tariff reform ; and they
indicate that the Democratic party is in no mood for time-
serving, hand-to-mouth evasion.

The Democracy, believing in certain principles and satisfied
that the triumph of these principles involves the prosperity and
well-being of the people, boldly announce them in full reliance
on the sober thought and the intelligence of our countrymen.
Here is found the very essence of Democratic faith. This
undaunted courage, not born of expediency, and this devotion
to the people's cause, manifested not only in the action of
party organizations in certain States, but in Democratic utter-
ances all over the land, are sufficient to make us all proud of
our party.

Nor do we fight a losing battle, with only the consciousness
of being right as our consolation in defeat. It seems to me
that there never has been such an advance in any political
question as there has lately been in favor of tariff reform. A
fair examination of the subject by the people is bearing fruit
and gives assurance that its triumph is at hand. So, if among
those counted as Democrats, there are found timid souls, not
well-grounded in the faith, who long for the lleshpots of
vacillating shifts and evasions, the answer to their fears should
be : " Party honesty is party expediency."



344 ON SOME SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC QUESTIONS.
IX.

BALLOT REFORM — HOW THE SUFFRAGE IS DEBAUCHED.

(Interview in the Nashville American, February i, 1890.)
Honest government would profit by ballot reform, and so
would every worthy cause which depends upon honest and not
upon corrupt methods for success.

The franchise is not debauched in the interest of good laws
and honest government. It is by those who have special
interests to subserve at the people's expense, and not by those
whose interests are in common with the masses, that the ballot
is corrupted. Inhere are no rich and powerful corporations
interested in buying " floaters " or coercing employees to vote
for a reformation of our tariff laws.

The powers of corruption are employed upon the other side,
and tariff reform, as all other reforms, must depend upon the
unbought suffrage of the people. If the people are capable
of self-government, and are to remain so, there cannot be too
many safeguards about the expression of their will.



THE EDUCATION OF THE COLORED PEOPLE.

816 Madison Avenue,
New York, January 14, 1891.
Isaiah T. Montgomery, Esq.

Mr. Henry F. Downing has put in my hands your letter to
him in relation to the school for the instruction of colored
children at your home. The condition you describe has ar-
rested my attention, and the projects you have in hand for
the improvement of your people interest me so much that I
feel like aiding you, though it be but to a slight extent.

I have an idea that opportunities for education and practical
information among the colored population are most necessary
to the proper solution of the race question in the South. At



O.Y SOME SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC QUESTIONS. 345

any rate, it seems to me to be of the utmost importance. If
our colored boys are to exercise in their mature years the right
of citizenship, they should be fitted to perform their duties
intelligently and thoroughly. I hope that, in the school you
seek to establish, the course of teaching will be directed to
this end.

Inclosed please find my check for $25, which I contribute
with hearty wishes for the success of your patriotic and praise-
worthy undertaking.

Yours very truly,

Grover Cleveland.



XI.

THE CHARACTER OF REPORTERS.

(Interview in Daily Continent, New York, April 12, 1891.)

I believe a large majority of reporters are decent and
honorable men, who would prefer to do clean and respectable
work. Of course there are some among them who are men-
tally and morally cracked, and who never ought to be trusted
to report, for the public anything they claim to have seen or
heard. Eliminate these, and I do not think any of the re-
mainder would deliberately indulge in downright barefaced
falsehood ; but there is something connected with their work
that they appear to think is necessary to its complete finish,
which, for want of a better word, may be called embellishing.
This proceeds so far, sometimes, that, almost unknown to him-
self, the reporter falls into mischievous and exasperating false-
hood—sometimes lacking the intent to annoy and injure and
sometimes not. There ought to be much less of this. The
reporter who sends in these extravagant embellishments can
never know when they may constitute the most outrageous in-
jury to the feelings of the innocent and defenseless.

But, as a general rule, the responsibility for all that is objec-



346 ON SOME SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC QUESTIONS.

tionable in the reportorial occupation should be laid at the
doors of the managers and owners of newspapers. If they
wanted fair and truthful reports, they would be furnished
them with more alacrity than they are now supplied with the
trash so often demanded as a test of the reporter's skill and
ability.

Good, clean journalism and a proper sense of newspaper re-
sponsibility, prevailing at headquarters, would soon v/eed out
the bad among reporters, and would so raise the standard of
the duties of those remaining that they would not only be
gladly welcomed by all who have information interesting to
the public to impart, but would be received, without the sus-
picion of intrusion, at any place where legitimate news could
be collected.



XII.

tribute to dr. oliver wendell holmes.

Upper Saranac Lake,
August 23, 1884.
To the Editors of "The Critic":

Your note suggesting a contribution to the Holmes number
of The Critic has just been forwarded to me. Though I am
not able to send you a word in time for its insertion in the
forthcoming number, and though I should almost fear to place
anything I might write in a collection which I know will be so
rich in precious tributes, yet I cannot refrain from the expres-
sion of my hearty appreciation and admiration of your under-
taking.

Not only the works of such a man as Dr. Holmes, but his
life and years, belong to the country which they enrich and
make more illustrious. God is good in that he has spared
him thus long to his fellow-Americans ; but in a totally un-
thinking and instinctive way, and as if our friend himself
willed his stay with us, we find ourselves cherishing a sense of



0A r SOME SO CIA I. AND ECONOMIC QUESTIONS. 347

gratitude to him for continuing to shed so kindly and benign
an influence upon our Nation's life.

The seventy-fifth birthday anniversary, which the Holmes
number of The Critic commemorates, should be the occasion
of hearty congratulation, not only to the man who has been
spared so long, but to every American citizen.

Grovek Cleveland.



CHAPTER XIV.

THE CHARACTER OF GEORGE WASHINGTON.*
I.

Mr. President and Gentlemen :

It is sometimes said of us that we have too few holidays,
and this perhaps is true. We do not boast the antiquity nor
the long history which accumulates numerous days of national
civic observance; and the rush and activity of our people's life
are not favorable to that conservative and deliberate sentiment
which creates and establishes holidays. So far as such days
might commemorate the existence or achievements of some
conspicuous personage, their infrequency may be largely
attributed to our democratic spirit and the presumption arising
from our institutions. In this land of ours — owned, pos-
sessed, and governed by the people — we, in theory at least,
demand and expect that every man will, in his sphere, be a
patriot, and that every faculty of greatness and usefulness with
which he is endowed will be devoted to his country and his
fellow-men. We have had no dearth of distinguished men, and
no better heroism has anywhere been seen than here. But
they belong so naturally to us, that we usually deem them
sufficiently noticed and commemorated when they are acknowl-
edged as contributions to the common fund of our national
pride and glory.

Thus it happens that in this country but two birthdays are
publicly celebrated. We reverently speak of one as the day
when the Redeemer of Mankind appeared among men. On

* An address, bef.>re the Southern Society of New York, on Washington's
birthday, February 22, 1S90, in response to the toast " The Birthday of
George Washington."

343



THE CHARACTER OF GEORGE WASHINGTON. 349

the other the man was horn whose mission it was to redeem the
American people from bondage and dependence and to display
to the world the possibility oi popular self-government.

It would be strange, indeed, if this day should ever'be neg-
lected by our fellow-countrymen. It would be like a nation's
blotting out the history which cements its governmental edifice,

or expunging its traditions from which flow that patriotic love
and devotion of its people which are the best guarantees of
peaceful rule and popular contentment.

We certainly need at least one day which shall recall to our
minds the truth that the price of our country was unselfish
labor and sacrifice, that men fought and suffered that we might
be free, and that love and American brotherhood are necessary
elements to the full and continued enjoyment of American
freedom, prosperity, and happiness.

We are apt to forget these things in our engrossment with
the activities which attend the development of our country and
in the impetuous race after wealth which has become a charac-
teristic of our people. There is danger that we may grow
heedless of the fact that our institutions are a precious legacy
which, for their own sake, should be jealously watched and
guarded, and there is danger that this condition may induce
selfishness and sordidness, followed by the idea that patriotism
and morality have no place in statecraft, and that a political
career may be entered upon like any other trade for private
profit and advantage

This is a frightful departure from the doctrines upon which
our institutions rest, and surely it is the extreme of folly to
hope that our scheme of government will effect its purpose
and intent when every condition of its birth and life is
neglected.

Point to your immense fortunes, if you will; point to your
national growth and prosperity; boast of the day of practical
politics, and discard as obsolete all sentiment and all concep-
tion of morality and patriotism in public life, but do not for a
moment delude yourselves into the belief that you are navi-



35° THE CHARACTER OF GEORGE WASHINGTON.

gating in the safe course marked out by those who launched
and blessed the Ship of State.

Is Washington accused even in these days of being a senti-
mentalist ? Listen to the admonition he addressed "as an old
and affectionate friend" to his fellow-countrymen, whom he
loved so well and for whom he had labored so long, as he
retired from their service:

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity,
religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man
claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars
of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens.
The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and cherish
them.

And all is summed up and applied directly to our situation
when he adds:

It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of
popular government.

When did we outgrow these sentiments? When did we
advance so far in knowledge above our fathers as safely to cast
aside these beliefs? Let us be sober and thoughtful, and if we
find that these things have lost their hold on our minds and
hearts, let us take soundings, for the rocks are near.

We need in our public and private life such pure and
chastened sentiments as result from the sincere and heartfelt
observance of days like this, and we need such quickening of
our patriotism as the sedate contemplation of the life and char-
acter of Washington creates.

Most of all, because it includes all, we need a better appre-
ciation of true American citizenship. I do not mean by this,
that thoughtless pride of country which is everywhere assumed
sometimes without sincerity, nor the sordid attachment born
of benefits received or favors expected, but that deep and sen-
timental love for our citizenship which flows from the con-
sciousness that the blessing of Heaven was invoked at its birth;
that it was nurtured in the faith of God; and that it grew



THE CHARACTER OF GEORGE WASHINGTON. 35 T

strong in the self-denying patriotism of our fathers and in their
love of mankind.

Such an apprehension of American citizenship will con ;e-
crate us all to the disinterested service of our country and
incite us to drive from the temple of our liberties the money
changers and they who buy and sell.

Washington was the most thorough American that ever lived.
His sword was drawn to carve out American citizenship, and
his every act and public service was directed to its establish-
ment. He contemptuously spurned the offer of kingly power,
and never faltered in his hope to make most honorable the
man who could justly call himself an American.

In the most solemn manner he warned his countrymen
against any attack upon the unity of the government, and
called upon them to frown indignantly upon any attempt to
alienate any portion of the country from the rest, or to enfeeble
the sacred ties that linked together the various parts.

His admonition reached the climax of its power and force
when he said:

Citizens by birth or choice of a common country, that country has a right
to concentrate your affections. The name of " American," which belongs
to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriot-
ism more than any appellation derived from any local discriminations.

In an evil hour, and amid rage and resentment, the warning
cf Washington was disregarded and the unity of our govern-
ment was attacked. In blood and devastation it was saved,
and the name of "American," which belonged to all of us, was
rescued. From the gloom of desolation and estrangement all
our countrymen were drawn again to their places by the mystic
bond of American citizenship which, for all time to come, shall
hold and ennoble them as hearty co-workers in accomplishing
the national destiny which to the day of his death inspired the
faith and hope of Washington.

As we commemorate his birth to-night, we will invoke his
precious influence and renew our patriotic and disinterested
love of country. Let us' thank God that he has lived, and



35 2 THE CHARACTER OF GEORGE WASHINGTON.

that he has given to us the highest and best example of Ameri-
can citizenship. And let us especially be grateful that we have
this sacred memory, which spanning time, vicissitude, and
unhappy alienation, calls us together in sincere fellowship and
brotherly love on "The birthday of George Washington."



sentiment in our national life.*

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Among the few holidays which the rush and hurry of Ameri-
can life concede to us, surely no one of a secular character is
so suggestive and impressive as the day we celebrate on this
occasion. We not only commemorate the birth of the greatest
American who ever lived, but we recall, as inseparably con-
nected with his career, all the events and incidents which led
up to the establishment of free institutions in this land of ours,
and culminated in the erection of our wondrous nation.

The University of Michigan, therefore, most appropriately
honors herself and does a fitting public service by especially
providing for such an observance of the day as is calculated
to turn to the contemplation of patriotic duty the thoughts of
the young men whom she is soon to send out to take places in
the ranks of American citizenship.

I hope it may not be out of place for me to express the
gratification it affords me as a member of the legal profession,
to know that the conduct of these exercises has been com-
mitted to the classes of the Law Department of the University.
There seems to me to be a propriety in this, for I have always
thought the influences surrounding the practice and study of
the law should especially induce a patriotic feeling. The
business of the profession is related to the enforcement and
operation of the laws which govern our people; and its raem-

* An address before the students of the University of Michigan, at Ann
Arbor, February 22, i8g2. *



THE CHARACTER OF GEORGE WASHINGTON. J53

bers, more often than those engaged in other occupations, arc
called to a participation in making these laws. Besides, they
are constantly brought to the study of the fundamental law of

the land, and a familiarity with its history. Such study and
familiarity should be sufficient of themselves to increase a
man's love of country; and they certainly cannot fail to arouse
his veneration for the men who laid the foundations oi our
nation sure and steadfast in a written constitution, which has
been declared, by the greatest living English statesman, to be
"the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by
the brain and purpose of man."

Washington had more to do with the formation of the con-
stitution than our enthusiasm for other phases of the great
work he did for his country usually makes prominent. He
fought the battles which cleared the way for it. He best knew
the need of consolidating under one government the colonies
he had made free, and he best knew that without this consoli-
dation, a wasting war, the long and severe privations and
sufferings his countrymen had undergone and his own devoted
labor in the cause of freedom, were practically in vain. The
beginning of anything like a public sentiment looking to the
formation of our nation is traceable to his efforts. The
circular letter he sent to the governors of the States, as early
as the close of the War of the Revolution, contained the germ of
the constitution; and all this was recognized by his unanimous
choice to preside over the convention that framed it. His
spirit was in and through it all.

But whatever may be said of the argument presented in
support of the propriety of giving the law classes the manage-
ment of this celebration, it is entirely clear that the University
herself furnishes to all her students a most useful lesson when,
by decreeing the observance of this day, she recognizes the
fact that the knowledge of books she imparts is not a complete
fulfillment of her duty, and concedes that the education with
which she so well equips her graduates for individual success
in life and for business and jfrofessional usefulness, may profit'



354 THE CHARACTER OF GEORGE, WASHINGTON.

ably be supplemented by the stimulation of their patriotism,
and by the direction of their thoughts to subjects relating to
their country's welfare. I do not know how generally such an
observance of Washington's birthday, as has been here estab-
lished, prevails in our other universities and colleges; but I
am convinced that any institution of learning in our land which
neglects to provide for the instructive and improving observance
of this day within its walls, falls short of its attainable measure
of usefulness and omits a just and valuable contribution to the
general good. There is great need of educated men in our
public life, but it is the need of educated men with patriotism.
The college graduate may be, and frequently is, more unpatri-
otic and less useful in public affairs than the man who, with
limited education, has spent the years when opinions are
formed in improving contact with the world instead of being
within college walls and confined to the study of books. If it
be true, as is often claimed, that the scholar in politics is gener-
ally a failure, it may well be due to the fact that, during his
formative period when lasting impressions are easily received,
his intellect alone has been cultivated at the expense of whole-
some and well-regulated sentiment.

I speak to-day in advocacy of this sentiment. If it is not
found in extreme and exclusive mental culture, neither is it
found in the busy marts of trade, nor in the confusion of bar-
gaining, nor in the mad rush after wealth. Its home is in the
soul and memory of man. It has to do with the moral sense.
It reverences traditions, it loves ideas, it cherishes the names
and the deeds of heroes, and it worships at the shrine of patri-
otism. I plead for it because there is a sentiment, which in
some features is distinctively American, that we should never
allow to languish.

When we are told that we are a practical and common sense
people, we are apt to receive the statement with approval and
applause. We are proud of its truth and naturally proud
because its truth is attributable to the hard work we have had
to do ever since our birth as a nation, and because of the stern



THE CHARACTER OF GEORGE WASHINGTON. 355

labor we still sec in our way before we reach our determined
destiny. There is cause to suspect, however, thai .mother and
less creditable reason for our gratification arises from a feeling
that there is something heroically American in treating with
indifference or derision all those things which, in our view, do
not directly and palpably pertain to what we (all, with much
satisfaction, practical affairs, hut which, if we were entirely
frank, we should confess might be <alled money-getting and
the betterment of individual condition. Growing out of this
feeling, an increasing disposition is discernible among our
people, which begrudges to sentiment any time or attention
that might be given to business and which is apt to crowd out
of mind any thought not directly related to selfish plans and
purposes.

A little reflection ought to convince us that this may be car-
ried much too far. It is a mistake to regard sentiment as
merely something which, if indulged, has a tendency to tempt
to idle and useless contemplation or retrospection, thus weak-
ening in a people the sturdiness of necessary etideavor and
diluting the capacity for national achievement.

The elements which make up the sentiment of a people
should not be counted as amiable weaknesses because they arc
not at all times noisy and turbulent. The gentleness and
loveliness of woman do not cause us to forget that she can
inspire man to deeds of greatness and heroism; that as wife
she often makes man's career noble and grand, and that as
mother she builds and fashions in her son the strong pillars of
a State. So the sentiment of a people which, in peace and
contentment, decks with flowers the temple of their rule, may,
in rage and fury, thunder at its foundations. Sentiment is the
cement which keeps in place the granite blocks of govern-
mental power, or the destructive agency whose explosion heaps
in ruins their scattered fragments. The monarch who cares
only for his sovereignty and safety, leads his subjects to fbrget-
fulness of oppression by a pretense of love for their traditions;
and the ruler who plans encroachments upon the liberties of



35 6 THE CHARACTER OF GEORGE WASHINGTON.

his people, shrewdly proceeds under the apparent sanction of
their sentiment. Appeals to sentiment have led nations to
bloody wars which have destroyed dynasties and changed the
lines of imperial territory. Such an appeal summoned our
fathers to the battlefields where American independence was
won, and such an appeal has scattered soldiers' graves all over
our land, which mutely give evidence of the power of our gov-
ernment and the perpetuity of our free institutions.

I have thus far spoken of a people's sentiment as something
which may exist and be effective under any form of govern-



Online LibraryGrover ClevelandThe writings and speeches of Grover Cleveland; (Volume 1) → online text (page 30 of 48)