Charles Evans Hughes.

Addresses and papers of Charles Evans Hughes, governor of New York, 1906-1908; online

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Online LibraryCharles Evans HughesAddresses and papers of Charles Evans Hughes, governor of New York, 1906-1908; → online text (page 1 of 16)
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Addresses and Papers


Charles Evans Hughes

Governor of New York

With an Introduction by

Jacob Gould Schurman

President of Cornell University

G. P. Putnam's Sons

New York and London
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Copyright, 1908



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There is no more interesting figure before
the American pubHc to-day than Charles Evans
Hughes, Governor of New York. His sudden
rise into poHtical prominence is one of the most
hopeful and significant signs of the great
moral awakening now in progress in the United
States. Three years ago he was almost un-
known outside of the legal profession of his
own State. All over the country people are
watching his career with eagerness and hope,
and many of them have come to the conclusion
that he is worthy of the presidency. But.
although there is s^eneral confidence in his
ability and honesty, comparatively little is
known of his political views, especially on
national issues. He has wished to be judged
by his performances and not by his professions,
consequently the messages and speeches con-
taining his opinions on the questions of the
day are buried among official documents or
lost in the files of the daily papers. Believing
that Mr. Hup;hes's views should be better

ii Preface

known, TJie Independent arranged for the pub-
lication of the present volume of his letters
and speeches. This gives the American people
for the first time an opportunity to study his
utterances and to form an intelligent opinion
of his fitness for the high ofifice for which he
has been sucfofested. President Schurman's
introduction is reprinted from The Indepc7ide7it
of December 26, 1907. The material has
been gathered together by Robert H. Fuller,
Secretary to the Governor ; and the proofs
have been read by Gardner Richardson of
Tke hidcpendent.

Hamilton Holt,

Managing Editor of The Independe7it.



Introductory vii

By Jacob Gould Schurman, LL.D.

I. — Public Office and Party Principles.

I. — Reply to Committee Appointed to Notify
him of his Nomination for Mayor of
New York City, October 9, 1905 3

II. — Speech in Response to Formal Notifi-
cation of his Nomination as the Re-
publican Candidate for Governor, at
the Republican Club, New York City,
October 3, 1906 9

III. — Inaugural Address, Albany, N. Y., Jan-
uary I, 1907 19

IV. — Speech at the Dinner of the Republican
Club of the City of New York, October
18, 1907 24

V. — Correspondence with James S. Lehmaier

of New York City 37


iv Contents


VI. — Address before the Republican Club of
the City of New York, January 31,
1908 40

VII. — Address at the Union League Club Meet-
ing in the Auditorium at Chicago,
Saturday, February' 22, 1908 62

II. — Regulation of Public-Service Corporations.

I. — Message to the Legislature, January- 2,
1907, Recommending the Passage of
the Public-Sendee Commissions Law 89

II. — Speech at the Banquet of the Utica

Chamber of Commerce, April i, 1907 . 100

III.— Speech at the Glens Falls Club, April 5,

1907 113

IV. — Speech at the Banquet of the Buffalo

Chamber of Commerce, April 18, 1907 126

V. — Speech before the Elmira Chamber of

Commerce, May 3, 1907 133

VI.— Veto of the Two-Cent Fare Bill 147

III. — Occasional Addresses.

I. — Speech at the Banquet of the Albany
Republican Organization, February
27, 1907 ^57

II. — Speech at the National Arbitration and
Peace Congress, New York City, April

15. 1907 ^63

Contents v


III. — Address at the Dedication of the Build-
ings of the New York State College
of Agriculture, at Cornell University,
April 27, 1907 171

IV. — Address at the Unveiling of Tablets at
the Hall of Fame, New York Uni-
versity, May 31, 1907 179

V. — Address at the Jamestown Exposition on
Jefferson Memorial Day, July 5, 1907,
in connection with the Reunion of
the Descendants of the Signers of the
Declaration of Independence 190

VI. — Address at Chautauqua, August 24, 1907 203

VII. — Speech at the Washington County Fair,

Sandy Hill, N. Y., August 27, 1907 .. 215

VIII. — Speech at the Dedication of the Mc-
Kinley Monument in Buffalo, Septem-
ber 5, 1907 231

IX. — Address at the National Encampment
of the Grand Army of the Republic,
Saratoga, September 10, 1907 235

X. — Address at the Dedication of the Monu-
ment to General Greene at Gettys-
burg, September 27, 1907 239

XI. — Speech at the Jamestown Exposition on

New York Day, October 10, 1907 ... . 243

vi Contents


XII. — Address at the Dedication of the Monu-
ment to General Franz Sigel, New
York City, October 19, 1907 255

XIII. — Address at the Charity Organization
Society, Carnegie Hall, New York
City, November 19, 1907 263

XIV. — Speech at the Opening of the Civic Forum
at Carnegie Hall, New York City,
November 20, 1907 272

XV. — Speech at the Meeting in the Interest
of Tuskegee Institute, Held at Carne-
gie Hall on the Evening of January'
17, 1908 284




In complying with the request of the editor
of The Inclcpende7it'^ to write an article on
Governor Hucrhes, I have assumed that what
is desired is, not an intimate account of his
personality, but an estimate of his attitude and
career as a public man. Even for this pur-
pose, however, a brief sketch of his life will
prove a helpful introduction.

Charles Evans Hughes was born at Glens
Falls, New York, on April ii, 1862. On the
father's side he is of pure Welsh stock, on
the mother's side in the maternal line of pure
Holland Dutch stock, and in the paternal line
of Irish, English, and Scotch blood, with a pre-
dominance of Irish. At the time of the son's
birth the father was a pastor of the Baptist
Church at Glens Falls, though he had formerly
been a teacher. The mother had also enjoyed

• Reprinted from The Independent, December 26, 1907.

viii Charles Evans Hu^rhes


a superior education and had an unusual apti-
tude for mathematics, which was transmitted to
her son. During his early years the boy stud-
ied at home under his parents, and at the age
of fourteen he entered Madison — now Coltrate
— University. After two years he migrated to
Brown University, from which he graduated in
1881. His high standing was attested by his
election to the Phi Beta Kappa Society ; he
received honors in the classics and in English
literature; and scholar as he was, he was also
known among the students as a good fellow,
who not only enjoyed social intercourse but
participated in the amusements, pranks, and
innocent follies of youth.

Graduating at nineteen years of age, he
taught school for a year to earn the means
necessary to begin the systematic study of law,
which meanwhile he read out of school hours
in the office of a friendly lawyer. Then he
entered the Columbia Law School, from which
he graduated in 1884 with the highest honors.
For the next three years he was clerk in a law
office in New York City, while in the evenings
he gave some instructions to law students. In
1888 he became a member of the firm of
Carter, Hughes, & Cravath, from which he
withdrew in 1891, to accept a professorship of

Introductory ix

law in Cornell University, where his extraor-
dinary abilities and attainments as a scholar,
teacher, and lawyer were immediately recog-
nized. At the earnest solicitation of Mr. Carter
he joined him again in 1893, in the practice of
law. And until his election as Governor he
was continuously engaged in the active practice
of his profession.

I may here record some of the impressions
made by Mr. Hughes on those who knew him
at Cornell University and have since known
him as a lawyer in New York City. In his
physical build he was about six feet in height,
slender rather than stout, but sturdy, tough,
and wiry. Then, as now and always, he was
a most indefatigable worker ; in this respect
indeed he excels any man I have ever known.
His mental outfit is not less remarkable. To
understand things is a necessity of his nature.
Like Lord Bacon he must have the " dry
licrht " of reason on whatever he deals with —
the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the
truth, unaffected by any distorting or discolor-
ing rays of passion, prejudice, or emotion. He
possesses a powerful intellect, which is at once
acute in action and comprehensive in range.
Analysis is the mark of the great lawyer, and
Mr. Hua;hes has this faculty in its highest

Charles Evans Hu^ij-hcs


potency. Not less admirable is his ability to
grasp quickly a complicated mass of facts and
arran^re them in lo^-ical order. I have seen
him work himself into new questions, feel his
way to the heart of them, then gradually
marshal the facts with reference to some fun-
damental principle or some significant cir-
cumstance until the whole situation became
luminous even to the mind of a layman ; and
all this time the speaker talked literally " like
a book," and what he said might have been
printed almost without change in a treatise on
law or a commentary on cases. But this gift
of intellectual divination and synthesis marks
the creative mind. I\Ir. Hughes is not only
analytic and critical but creative and con-
structive. His friends, his associates at the
bar, and the judges of the courts have long
admired this remarkable combination of gifts.
And the general public have become aware of
them also since Mr. Hughes followed up his
wonderful eas and insurance investiorations with
drafting remedial legislation, and especially
since as Governor he framed his Public
Utilities Bill as a solution of the gravest
question of public policy now before our

Quite as remarkable as his intellectual gifts

Introductory xi

is his sense of justice and fair play. This was
impressively recognized the other day by Mr.
Ahearn when, at the close of his examination,
he said that, whatever the finding of the Gov-
ernor, he desired to thank him for the courtesy
and fairness of the examination. Similarly,
Mr. Hughes's fearlessness and independence
have for many years been well understood by
those who know him. And his firm attitude
toward hostile politicians and legislators since
he became Governor has given open proof of
these characteristics to the public. Indeed,
the moral attributes of the man are quite on a
par with his intellect, powerful and capacious
as that is, even if they do not surpass it. For
Mr. Hughes has always been distinguished by
absolute integrity of character and fidelity to
duty. It is no accident, but the deepest in-
stinct and conviction of his nature, that has
made him the exponent and champion of the
sacredness of fiduciary obligations alike in busi-
ness and in politics. His own personal life is
built on that foundation and his own profes-
sional practice as a lawyer has been regu-
lated by that principle. It meant fidelity to
all his clients, but subserviency to none. He
never accepted general retainers involving
his commitment to any and every kind of

xii Charles Evans Hughes

service. Both his integrity and his sense of
independence forbade truckhng to any chent
and condoning dubious or crooked ways.

I have said that Mr. Hucjhes is a marvellous
worker ; he also becomes absorbed in his work
so that for the time being nothing outside the
range of his duties can greatly interest, much
less excite him. It is not merely power of
voluntary concentration, but involuntary ab-
sorption in the object of his activity. His
work literally takes possession of him and has
at command the best that is in him. It is con-
sequently impossible for him to do anything
he undertakes in a half-hearted or slipshod
manner. Whether teaching law, defending a
client, or administering the affairs of the State
of New York, he gives himself to the duty in
hand with such whole-souled earnestness and
devotion that no energy or interest is left for
outside matters which do not concern him.
And this circumstance, alontr with a laree
natural endowment of common sense and ex-
cellent practical judgment will explain why his
course as a public servant has been so sure-
footed and unerring. Few men have entered
on public office surrounded by so many dan-
gerous pitfalls; I recall no man who has made
fewer mistakes. In view of it all one mieht

Introductory xiii

say that he is not only safe and sane, but
almost infallibly sagacious.

He has clearly defined to himself the scope
and functions of his office as determined by
the Constitution and the laws. So much the
intellect of the man imperiously demanded.
Then, having made clear to himself what ought
to be done, he has dedicated all his powers to
the service of the State ; at the same time he
has rigidly and inexorably drawn the lines
which separate the office of Governor from
the functions of the Legislature on the one
hand and of the Judiciary on the other. And
being Governor, he has felt it incompatible
with the dignity of the office or the duty he
owes to all the people of the State to give any
attention whatever to party politics or to party
organization and manac^ement. While he was
nominated by a party, he holds himself since
his election the servant of the people and of
the people alone.

Mr. Hughes is under no illusions concern-
ino- his nomination and election to the Gover-
norship. He knows that the party leaders in
general were opposed to him. They accepted
him only because it was finally recognized
that no other Republican nominee could win
victory at the polls. My own personal belief

xiv Charles Evans Hughes

is that no one contributed more effectively to
the enforcement of that view than President
Roosevelt. As a most sagacious party leader,
the President recognized in the hero of the
gas and insurance investigations a name to
wrest victory in a critical contest in his own
State. I believe that in the interest of the
party he urged the nomination, and that this
pressure was the deciding influence in the con-
vention. But all the while Mr. Hugrhes stood
aloof as though the matter were no concern of
his. And indeed he regarded it as no concern
of his. He would not say he desired the
office ; he would not authorize any one present
to present his claims or herald his availability.
It was a matter solely for the people of the
State to decide.

In the Latin lanoruaofe ambition meant a
candidate's going about to solicit office. Of
such a quality Mr. Hughes is absolutely devoid.
It is one thino- to fill an office and another thinof
to get an office. To get an office has never
been Mr. Hughes's aim or desire. His oppor-
tunities of public service have come to him
unsought. It is not that he regards himself
as superior to other men or that he does not
value the good opinion of his fellow citizens.
He does appreciate the confidence and es-

Introductory xv

teem of his fellows. But if they want him
for public service he feels that the call should
come from them ; and if they do not want
him he does not desire the office ; so that in
any event there is absolutely nothing for him
to do. And he is so far from cherishing any
illusions as to his comparative standing with
other men that he recognizes very clearly that
his nomination to public office was due to a
combination of circumstances which made him,
in the estimation of his party, the most avail-
able man. He is the last man in the world to
think himself a Moses, he knows he is not
essential to the State, he does not pretend to
be a leader with a mission, he claims only to
be an every-day American citizen, who was
selected for the Governorship (out of a number
of others any one of whom might have been
chosen) because of his prominence in the
insurance investigation, which he had under-
taken, not on his own initiative, but at the
request of a legislative committee. As he
would have nothing to do with getting the
nomination, as the coming of the nomination
to him was no concern of his, so there remained
open to him only one way of showing his
appreciation of the confidence which had been
vouchsafed to him by the people of the State,

xvi Charles Evans Hughes

namely, by discharging the high duties to
which they had called him with all the ability,
wisdom, and virtue he could command. To
thank any person or persons for the nomina-
tion would have been tantamount to the con-
fession that these persons had done him a
favor. But from Mr. Hughes's way of look-
ing at a nomination as a call of the people
to serve them, with which he had no concern, it
will be obvious that such a procedure would
have been a stultifying of himself. On the
other hand, inclination, duty, pride, and self-
respect all conspire to move him to make a
record as Chief Executive which shall amply
justify the wisdom of the convention and the
confidence of the people.

" A disposition to preserve, and an ability
to improve, taken together, would be my
standard of a statesman," says Burke.
Whether Mr. Hughes is in the habit of read-
ing Burke I do not know. But his record
since he became Governor admirably illustrates
Burke's conception of a statesman. Recog-
nizing that government is a marvellous con-
trivance of human wisdom to provide for
human wants, that it embodies the collective
judgment, intellectual, moral, and practical, of
many generations, including individuals wiser

Introductory xvii

and juster than any now alive, and that the
government of the United States, in partic-
ular, is the best and noblest system which the
political genius of mankind has yet pro-
duced, a statesman of the type described by
Burke would look with suspicion on all sorts
of projectors of innovation that threatened
the Constitution and the well-established in-
stitutions of the country. But he would also
recognize with Burke that " a state without
the means of some chang-e is without the
means of its conservation." The principle of
correction is as essential as the principle of
conservation. But changes are not to be
made at random, still less for the satisfaction
of some abstract theory or dogma. Every
change is to be made for the remedy of some
definite evil, and it should be confined to the
peccant part only and not extended to unof-
fending members of healthy functions. And
as it is circumstances which render every civil
and political scheme beneficial or noxious to
mankind, every proposal of reform should be
considered on its own merits and especially
with reference to its suitability and potency to
remedy some particular evil in the existing

Now look at Governor Hughes's utterances

xviii Charles Evans Hu-j^hes


and official acts. " Human Society," he de-
clared at Chautauqua in August last, "cannot
be stable unless it is progressive." The repub-
lic, like every other living and growing organ-
ism, must by successive changes adapt itself to
its environment. But these affect, as it were,
the outer parts of its organization. In itself
considered, the republic, the Governor went
on to say, " may be likened to a man of excel-
lent constitution and native vitjor who finds
there is no evidence of decay in his vital func-
tions, and that there is every indication of
fundamental soundness and of steady improve-
ment." The analogy will be complete if we
suppose this fundamentally sound man "de-
termined by a proper system of hygiene and
suitable rules of conduct to correct some dis-
orders in his system and come as closely as
possible to perfect health." And the first
hygienic rule laid down by the Governor is
"to avoid undue excitement of the nervous
system." A most characteristic precept !

Happily we are not concerned with organic
evils in the body politic. There are, indeed,
functional disorders to be corrected. To
diagnose them and to prescribe remedies is
the business of reason and judgment. The
first step is a knowledge of the facts. But this

Introductory xix

is not to be found in " scrappy sensationalism
or distorted emphasis," still less in shrieking
hysteria. It is a work of quiet, careful, and
painstaking analysis and reflection. And till
the truth regarding both the existing evil and
the proposed remedy is accurately and ex-
haustively known, no healthful or sensible
action can be taken. Consequently, the reign
of reason in government implies patience.
And the need of patience "is the hardest
lesson for a democracy to learn." Yet Gov-
ernor Hughes has no vague fears about the
outcome. He has a profound belief in the
ability of the American people "to cure exist-
ing evils without disturbing their prosperity."
This is because the vital parts of our political
organization are not impaired and retain effi-
ciency to regenerate any defects. Thus con-
servation and correction go hand in hand.
And the way of salutary correction of reform is
always by patience, by deliberation, by wisdom,
by truth, by justice and fair play, as Governor
Hughes never wearies of proclaiming.

But we may submit the Governor's theories
to the test of actual practice. How has he in
his official acts managed to combine reform —
not merely specious, but thoroughgoing and
effective — of notorious abuses with a tender

XX Charles Evans Hughes

and reverent conservation of the Constitution
and the existing institutions and machinery of
government ?

A test case is found in the Governor's pohcy
of regulating the Public Service Corporations.
It was for the State the problem which Presi-
dent Roosevelt had stamped upon the con-
sciousness of the nation, and solved in a way
that will give him a permanent place in Ameri-
can history.

" By his vigorous administration," said Governor
Hughes in his speech before the Republican Club of
New York City, "his virility, his broad humanity, and
his determined opposition to notorious abuses, our fellow-
citizen, the distinguished President of the republic, has
won the hearts of the people. We have not only his
example, but we know that he is and has been in cordial
sympathy with every effort for efficient administration
for the correction of evil and for the improvement of
our laws."

But not only the interests concerned, the
legislators of both parties were at first opposed
to the Governor's measure of reform. The
Governor, on the other hand, was deeply per-
suaded that it was the duty of statesmanship
"to remove the causes of unrest which lie in
abuses of public privilege." A fundamental
purpose of his measure of reform was to vindi-
cate the adequacy of our institutions to put an

Introductory xxi

end to abuses without tumult or disorder, with-
out injustice or demagoguery." The measure
itself provided, to the fullest extent consistent
with constitutional requirements, methods of
investigation and redress through which the
public obligations of reasonable, impartial, and
adequate service could be enforced and public
safety and convenience be conserved. In a
speech delivered at Utica on April i the Gov-
ernor explained his measure to the public, and
four days later he defended it against criticism
in a speech at Glens Falls. The proposed bill
for the regulation of the public service corpo-
rations was, I might perhaps not incorrectly
say, based on the recognized principle that the
tenure of their property was the performance of
some duty. The Governor calmly, dispassion-
ately, but with logical impressiveness, pointed
out " that the people, without animosity to-
ward the rights of property, but with a just
insistence upon the performance of public
obligations, demand that the State shall exer-
cise its power over its creatures and compel
due regard for the duties which are correlative
to the privileges it has granted." Every power
which a corporation has is derived from the
Legislature, which creates it. A Public Service
Commission is an administrative board, which

xxii Charles Evans Husrhes


represents the Legislature in the supervision
and control of these creatures of the laws, its
function being to secure for the public safety
impartiality, adequacy of service, and reason-
able charges. Nor is the existence and exer-
cise of this power inconsistent with property
rights. For "the property of a public service
corporation has been acquired subject to this
power." And as no person can, under the

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Online LibraryCharles Evans HughesAddresses and papers of Charles Evans Hughes, governor of New York, 1906-1908; → online text (page 1 of 16)