Chauncey M. (Chauncey Mitchell) Depew.

[Speeches, 1892-1914 online

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first, city of the world. If he had failed in his enterprise
this cornerstone would never have been laid, nor the struc-
ture destined for this spot ever erected. Under some other -
name the island would have become a county of New
Jersey. Instead of the executive and imperial functions
which we are celebrating here, it might be rent with fac-
tional strife for a place for one of its citizens on the State
Board of New Jersey, whose functions are to fight the
mosquito.

Everyone here and every inhabitant of Richmond county
should be grateful to the Providence which filled the sails
of the Bentley, to the designer who made her a model for
future victories of American yachts, and to the captain
who so skilfully sailed her upon the voyage, as important
to the destinies of the people of this island as the race of
Atalanta to her. When you begin to erect statues to your
famous men and to those who deserved most of their
country, upon your highest promontory in the chief place of
honor should stand the figure of the savior of the island,
Capt. Christopher Billop.

Staten Islanders have rarely strayed from home. They
have been famous for clinging to this spot which they love
so well, and, if circumstances have ever led them abroad,
they return to pass here the evening of their lives. I have
met Staten Islanders who have become successful in various
walks of life, whom circumstances have compelled to live
far away, and their tales and conversation were always
reminiscent of the delights of the early days when they
roamed over these hills, bathed in these surrounding waters
and breathed this health-giving air.

One captain of industry, the foremost of his time, gave
enduring fame to the possibilities of the Dutch training
of this neighborhood. The wonderful material and indus-
trial triumphs of a few Americans are a source of ceaseless
wonder and speculation, but Commodore Vanderbilt as a
boy indicated the qualities which were to make him a leader
of men and a master of enterprises. His mother promised
him $100 if he would perform a certain task. He called

219



about him the boys of his own age and told them that if
the work was done within the time he would have the funds
to buy a boat and would give free rides to the city of ITew
York.

They did the work, he did the managing, received the
$100 and bought the boat. How many trips he gave them
history does not record, and they could hardly be reckoned^
among that numerous and most importunate class of to-day
kaown as pass iiends. Here you see the germ of a captain
of industry. His initiative, will power and talent for com-
mand made the lesser-gifted so work for him that with his
prosperity and far-sighted grasp of the public necessities,
his boat became a sloop and his sloop became a steamboat.
Earlier than any he grasped the possibilities and the profits
there were in transportation and the carrying trade. Prom
the steamboat he went upon the ocean and soon had a fleet
of steamships. Before any he saw that the railroad was
to supersede in a large degree travel and commerce on the
water, and he became the railway king of the United States.

While from this beginning and with rare talent he
amassed the largest fortune at the time of his death pos-
sessed by anybody in the world, yet every dollar of it during
his life was active in enterprises which increased the area
and opportunities for employment, which opened for de-
velopment new territories and which added proportionately
to the wealth of people and communities, which, but for
him, might have been long without the facilities supplied
by his masterful business genius.

We cannot help, at this point of departure from old
traditions, habits and government, wondering what would
be their feelings if the graves in the old cemetery at New
Dorp should give up their early occupants for our celebra-
tion, and these farmer and fisher fold of the ancient days,
reincarnated, be permitted to join this assemblage. There
would be nothing in the surroundings to remind them of
the farms and forests where they passed happy days. In
the distance would be the skyscrapers of the great city.

They could see the outlines of the Brooklyn Bridge, with
its unequaled span crossing the East Kiver. In the place

2.0



of the shallops of their time they would be amazed at the
mighty steamships continually passing in and out of the
port, the trolley car rushing by would frighten them, and
the automobile with its speed and' its odor would be to
these primitive and pious folk tho vehicle of the devil, and
the chaufEeur in his uniform and glasses, the evil one him-
self. Prom the wild, nerve-racking and brain-splitting
strenuosities of the present, these spirits would pray to be
ledawayagain into the peaceful graves atNewDorp to await
the call of the great trumpet summoning them to a heaven
where the whistle never screeches, the trolley never runs
and the perils of the automobile are unknown. I remem-
ber as illustrating the mind of a former generation, that
when an endowment was given to a church the donor wished
it to be put in trust with one of our strong institutions and
the income only allowed to the church. One of the trustees
said to him : "If all this money is to be invested that way
in a soulless corporation, where does the Lord get His
share ?"

But, friends, we are of to-day. "We may not live in a
better, but we do live in a larger and more important way
in a month than did these ancestors of ours in a lifetime.
The world of which they knew nothing, with its activities
and enterprises, with its science and development, with its
diplomacy and politics, with its battles and sieges, is spread
before us like a panorama, morning and evening. We re-
joice that we live in and are a part of the land which is the
freest, the fullest of happy homes and presents the greatest
possibilities for its people of any upon earth; but we are
here to celebrate more particularly the political union of
Staten Island with New York.

Public opinion was about equally divided at the time of
the- creation of the greater city as to its expediency, but
to-day we are united in our pride and confidence in the
metropolis. The attraction of gravitation is a law as in-
exorable, spiritually and industrially, as it is in its applica-
tion to matter. Greater New York has aroused a civic
pride which before was singularly lacking.

Our supremacy, commercially and financially; our su-

221



perior advankges for capital And. labor, our leading place
in manufactures, our population surpassing that of all
cities of the world but one, draw to this center the wealth,
genius, art, letters, scholarships and culture which are
destined to make New York in every respect the foremost
city of the world. This building is the principal sign
that Staten Island is a part of this mighty and powerful
whole. Your unequaled location will lead to growth and
progress here as little dreamed of now as were the develop-
ments of to-day by your citizens of a hundred years ago.

A great city like New York is dependent upon good
government. Its government will be just what its citizens
want. There may he periods when it ■will degenerate and
become inefficient or corrupt. But I think no one who has
closely studied the question can doubt that there is a con-
stantly rising intelligent patriotism and civic pride in this
vast electorate. There is a population within the bound-
aries of New York larger than twelve States which have
twenty-four seats in the United States Senate. It was a
wise thought in the framers of the charter to put our gov-
ernment upon the federal idea. A trial of the federal
system for over a hundred years in our republic has tri-
umphantly vindicated the wisdom of our fathers.

While the power in the central government which they
feared has increased beyond any idea even of Hamilton,
yet the States and the functions they exercise have grown
proportionately. The secret of successful government
under this system is in giving in matters which pertain to-
localities the largest measure of home rule. State legis-
latures to-day deal with problems and properties far be-
yond those exercised by the federal government a half cen-
tury ago. In great aggregations of populations where
there is so little of the neighborhood and individual contact
which made the township a power and a model, responsi-
bility should be concentrated.

There ought to be greater authority given to the borough
presidents in local appointments and the details of admin-
istration within borough limits. The neighborhood which
elects the borough president and the people who know him

222



should be able to call him to account for bad government
and reward him for good.

In a city so vast and growing so rapidly as New York
there should be a concurrent growth of the federal idea
and of home rule. Publicity and responsibility are our
safety.

I congratulate you, fellow citizens, upon the auspicious
event which made you part of Greater New York. I con-
gratulate you upon this municipal building which is to be
the center of your civic life and government. Of all the
boroughs none has a greater promise for the future in
everything which makes for the prosperity and happiness
of a community than this Borough of Eichmond.



223



At the Meeting of the National Association of

Flour Manafactarers, at Niagara Falls,

J«ne 9, 1904.

Me. President and Gentlemen : Your pursuit is one
of the most practical and pTosaic, and yet has originated
more poetry than any other. Ballads and songs which
have become the best part of the memories of poets, cele-
brate the beauty, kindness and innocence of the miller's
daughter. She has inspired the muse of the most famous
names in literature. There is something in the romantic lo-
cation and associations of the old mill which strikes the fancy
and stirs the imagination. It must necessarily be upon a
water course, and .the stream generally meanders among
picturesque surroundings. Scenery and setting have placed
the miller's daughter in more favorable light than her
sisters, whose fathers are not so well located. The miller
himself has received undue praise for the possession of vir-
tues either more or better than his fellow citizens. The
flour and meal which cover his clothes and hat and face
are supposed to typify a condition of internal integrity be-
longing to no other mortals. It was this miller of the early
day who, in a great ease, enabled a great lawyer and a
great judge to decide a question of treason on the shortest
argument and briefest decision in history. This Pennsyl-
vania miller followed his Quaker training and instincts,
and harbored fugitive slaves on their way to Canada and
freedom. He was arrested and placed on trial for his life
under the fugitive slave law on the charge of waging war
against the United States. The government presented
voluminous testimony and the United States district at-
torney exhausted his eloquence. Thaddeus Stevens, who
appeared for the miller, simply said, "I submit to the court
whether it is possible for the miller without weapons other
than the machinery of his mill, handling meal bags and

225



covered with flour, to be waging war against the United
States." The miller was acquitted and ground grain and
aided fugitive slaves until slavery was abolished.

But, gentlemen, few of you are that kind of a miller.
I fear he has been largely lost in the great combiuations
incident to our times and necessary in the conditions of
industries all over the world. You represent one of the
great elements of American production and exportation.
Every question which affects cost and markets at home or
abroad comes close to you. The world wonders at the
rapidity of American development, the variety of its in-
dustries, the volumes of its production, the extent of the
home market and the distribution around the world. Two
words lie at the base of this marvelous fabric — institutions
and opportunity; institutions which rest upon the indi-
vidual and not upon the mass, ptomoting independence and
initiative, and which liberate and energize every faculty
man possesses in a country of boundless resources in
undeveloped wealth. Other lands have been equally
blessed in fertile soils, navigable rivers, genial climates,
mines and forests. All Latin America has possessed these
and an equal number of years of settlement. There are
parts of Asia where for ages empires have flourished and
decayed which had our physical advantages. We have
illustrated the benefits of free government; we have fol-
lowed the brief charter, which originated in the cabin of
the Mayflower, of just and equal laws, and we have escaped
the paralysis of paternalism by the genius of individualism.

A more striking example than Mexico and South Am-
erica, with the uncertainty of their governments, or of
Asia, with none, is the Australian confederation. The
hundred years of our greatest growth have also been the
chief part of the period of their settlement and activities.
Their area is larger than ours and they have every blessing
of soil and climate. They have the same race and lan-
guage and the same essentials of civil and religious liberty,
a free press and free speech and universal suffrage. While
we settled the spirit of our institutions at the beginning
and our constitution has remained practically unchanged
as originally written, they have been adopting new methods

226



year by year. We left man free to work out his own salva-
tion according to his gifts and character, and the individual
thus freed has experimented with marvelous success on
farms and factories, mines, mills, furnaces and transporta-
tion, in schools and colleges, in every form of materialism
and the highest results of education. The Australian
commonwealth has been experimenting on how to make the
government support its citizens. Eailroads, telegraphs and
public utilities of every kind are owned and operated by
the government. The government puts its hand into the
machinery of industrial operations and development.
Governments naturally lack initiative. They supply exist-
ing needs, but do not create conditions which develop new
countries and provide for increasing populations. The
result is that while the United States in a hundred years
with an area of 3,970,330 square miles (excluding Alaska)
has a population of 80,000,000, imports and exports
amounting to $3,400,000,000, revenues of $694,000,000,
300,000 miles of railways and an internal commerce of
$33,000,000,000, a commerce greater than that of the ex-
ports and imports of all the countries of the world,
Australia, under experimental paternalism, in an area of
3,973,573 square miles, has a population of only 3,771,715,
13,000 miles of railways and in all that constitutes a great
developing and advancing people is far behind the single
State of New York. While in the United States, except in
rare periods of panic, less than one per cent, of the wage
earners are ever out of employment, it is the complaint of
Australia that there is little occupation or opportunity for
its young men.

Liberty and initiative have been the watchwords of Am-
erican progress. With unprecedented development have
come difficult problems, but happily each generation has
successfully solved its own. The American people, im-
patient to work out as speedily as possible their continental
destiny, have preferred stimulation to stagnation. They
have built railroads far in advance of profits and awaited
populations and development. They have built up in-
dustries through processes of trial and failure where the
financiers have been veritably the martyrs whose blood was

227



the seed of prosperity. The great American desert of our
youth is becoming the most fertile portion of the country
through irrigation. The mirage which often led travelers
astray and to their death is now the prosaic canal, turning
alkali plains into farms from which are gathered several
crops a year. Historical students derided the American
experiment and claimed that it could never survive with
crowded populations. They held that there must be a per-
manently trained and specially favored class of military lead-
ers, otherwise the preservation of law and order and defense
of the country would be inadequate. But the conduct of
our citizens in trying emergencies, and our volunteer army,
with men of thought and education carrying the musket
and men from the ranks elected to command, have abund-
antly proved the fallacy of these predictions. Even
Macaulay in his famous letter to the biographer of JefEerson,
gave us less than a century to reach the position where,
being without a strong government and standing army,
hungry multitudes would produce anarchy. Our most
difficult problem has been to compete with the highly
organized industrial nations of the old world, with their
cheap labor, and still keep the standard of American wages
upon a scale which would enable workingmen to live as
self respecting American citizens ought. We pay double
the wages which prevail in these countries and yet are in
vading their markets.

Our school system, which not only invites but compels
universal education, gives to every occupation superior in-
telligence, and our initiative genius has constantly im-
proved the machinery of manufacture. Without machin-
ery and the common school we never could have reached oui
present position or accomplished our industrial triumphs.
With the needs of increasing populations there must be
ever increasing production, and to maintain past and present
conditions, ever widening markets. The conservatism of
Great Britain and continental countries retains the obsolete
machinery, while the enterprise and initiative of America
throws away the new of yesterday if better has been pro-
duced today. The result is that the efficiency of the Am-
erican workshop is two-thirds more than the German and

228



nearly twice that of the British. Our exports this year,
both agriculturaJ and manufacturing, are much greater
than ever hefore in our history and the balance of trade in
our favor is to add to the three billions which already stand
to our credit upon the books. American diplomacy is
winning gratifying triumphs in opening new doors for
American enterprise and productions. Our dangers are
wholly within ourselves. We have received the warning of
experts in the east and in South America that we must
change our methods if*we would distance our competitors.
The speculators in the necessaries of life have done more to
create competitors in foreign lands than all other agencies
combined. They failed in com because of its volume, but
when they cornered wheat some years ago they produced a
panic in Great Britain, which buys most of her food from
abroad. The result was that British capital and enter-
prise went to Argentina, Canada, Eussia, India and Eigypt,
to make Great Britain independent of the United States.
Except for the wonderful increase in the demand of our
home market the results would have been disastrous to the
wheat growers and millers of the United States. The
recent comer in cotton with its spectacular fortunes made
and lost, shut down the mills and threw out of employment
the workmen of Lancashire and New Etigland, and now
British capital and parliamentary commissions are explor-
ing the possibilities of Africa and Asia for cotton, inde-
pendence from the United States. I know of no laws
which can check this tendency. Patriotism will not pre-
vent it. The capital and greed of a few men are so great
that any product can be put temporarily up to such abnor-
mal prices as to ruin manufacturers and dealers. The evil
can be cheeked and lessened by you, gentlemen, with the
power to inflict such losses that men of capital will hesitate
long before risking it in a gamble whose hazards and perils
are so imminent.

Our government needs a navy which shall protect our
citizens in every land and our commerce upon every sea.
Our weakness commercially is on the ocean. If we are
to be the granary and the workshop, and our men of enter-
prise the merchants and bankers of the world, we must have

229



a mercantile marine sailing under the American flag.
There may be disputes about processes, but any process is
cheap and patriotic which enables American products to
be carried in American bottoms and American ships to be
the advance agents in the opening markets all round
the globe.

Our financiers tell us that we are in the midst of a finan-
cial and industrial depression. Popular memories are
proverbially short. Compared with the depression from
1894 to 1897 this one is of the microscopic grade. The coun-
try is simply resting after its wild debauch of promotion
and speculation. That it suffers no more and feels no
worse is a fine tribute to its unimpaired vigor and consti-
tution. The Stock Exchange may only show one-tenth as
many shares dealt in daily as for the past three years, and
market values of stocks may have shrunk to bankrupt fig-
ures, but the efficiency and capacity of the plants of the
great industrial reorganizations have been enormously
increased and the equipment of the railroads for the care
and carriage of freight nearly doubled. The year 1900
was the banner year for exports of manufactures, amoimt-
ing to $433,851,756, but in this year of so called depression
they will reach $450,000,000. We will export this year,
in round numbers, $1,278,000,000 in value from our
farms, mills, mines and factories as against $774,000,-
000 ten years ago. -Imports have fallen off so that there
will be an increased balance of trade in our favor over the
starring figures since 1896. New wealth will be created
this year from farms and industries, to be added to the
stream from abroad, to stimulate our markets and energize
our exchanges. We show our financial health by sending
abroad $40,000,000 in gold to pay for the Panama canal,
and its loss is not felt in the price of money or the facilities
of the banks. When the waiting which always accom-
panies a presidential election is over, the enormous accumu-
lations which are the despair of the money lenders and the
prosperity of the savings banks will be utilized by the
people, made wiser by costly experience, in new enterprises
and old, which enlarge the areas of general enjoyment,
employment and prosperity.

230



At the Buckwheat Breakfast Given by Senator

and Mrs. Piatt, at the Ah-Wa-Ga House,

Owego, N. Y., November 15, 1904,

to Celebrate the Election of

Roosevelt and Fairbanks.

andj^the Republican

State Ticket.

OuE Host and Hostess., Ladies and Gentlemen :

Originality and initiative are the evidences of youth. This
Buckwheat Breakfast, celebrating the election of Roosevelt
and Pairbanks, and our State ticket, is the most original
and unique of political events. It finds its suggestion and
execution in the brain of our host. In bringing us here
to the scene of his boyhood days, his start in life and his
early triumphs, he carries us back to first principles. It
is the country boys, bom and raised on the farm or in the
village, who govern the country in the Cabinet, in Congress,
in gubernatorial chairs, in state legislatures and in the
mayoralty of great cities. Breakfasts of buckwheat cakes,
pie, country sausage and mush and milk have given to their
digestive machinery muscles of steel so tried and tempered
as to defy the luxurious creations of Prench chefs, and a
degenerate civilization has never impaired either their
health or their appetites. They dine with and help bury
generation after generation of city bred men, and remain
as active and vigorous as ever.

I said once to a well known and very successful soldier,
"What is the essential element of victory for an army?"
His answer was, "Plenty of beef and healthy stomachs."

The late Emory Storrs told me once a buckwheat cake
story. This brilliant lawyer always succeeded in acquitting
his man charged with murder and was retained all over
the country. On this occasion court was held in a rural
town in Arkansas. At breakfast the judge and Storrs
were sitting together and delighted with plates piled high

231



with hot buckwheat cakes. The landlady stood behind her
guests with a wide mouthed pitcher of New Orleans mo-
lasses. She said, "Judge, will you take a trickle or a dab ?"
The Judge said, "I am very fond of molasses, so I'll take
a dab." Whereupon she put her hand in the pitcher and,
gathering all it would hold, emptied the molasses on the
judge's cakes. Storr's Chicago stomach could not stand



Online LibraryChauncey M. (Chauncey Mitchell) Depew[Speeches, 1892-1914 → online text (page 47 of 49)