Edward Everett Hale.

We, the people : a series of papers on topics of to-day online

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A Series of Papers
on Topics of To-day



Author of " The Man Without a Country,"
" Memories of a Hundred Years," Etc., Etc.



Copyright, 1902,

Copyright, 1903,






Nation and State 3

Government by the People 7

Government by the People 10

What is the American People? .... 14

Bet on the Country 17

Forests . . 20

Forests . 27

We, the People : or, War Lords ... 30

People or Kings? Taxes 34

Local Option 37


Our Wealth in Common 40

CO-OPERATION . ... . . . .46

CO-OPERATION AGAIN . . . . . .50

CO-OPERATION AGAIN . '. . . . .52

Fire and Water . * .. . . .60

His Majesty the People . . - . .63

Old-Fashioned Fuel 65

Better and Better . . ... . .68

The President's Arbitration . . . . .72


Mrs. Stanton 78

Women's Clubs . ., 82

What Do the Girls Need? 85

Open-Air Life for Women 88


Half a Million Dollars 92

What Next? 96

The New Journalism ..*... 100




Space Writing . . 103

The City of Washington 113

Sodom and Gomorrah 116

Charity Corporations 121

Industrial Education 127

Old-Age Pensions 133

The Boston Forum 137

The Larger World 143

The Pan-American Railway 148

A Wider Programme 153

Around Home 158


October Twenty-one What? 165

Daniel Webster 169

Forefathers' Day 173

The Way and How They Found Christmas . . 182

The New Year 189


How Shall We Spend Sunday? . . . . IQ5

The Ideal Sunday 201

Sunday in Cities 206

"Everyman" 212

Religious Education 216

Sunday and Monday 220

The Chicago Convention 223

Right or Wrong 228

Duty Men Who Succeed 231



The Five Duties . . . . . ' .239

The Educated Citizen ....... 259

Old-Age Pensions . . . , . . 278



In the autumn of 1902, Mr. Hearst, of the
New York American, asked me if I would fur-
nish three articles for that paper in every week
of the next three months.

I was very glad to have this opportunity for
addressing a great number of people every few

Mr. Hearst is kind enough to permit me to
collect these papers and print them together. In
the collection, mixed in with the other papers, I
have included articles which I wrote at the same
time and later in the winter for The Record of
Lend a Hand, and for the Christian Register.

My younger friends think that the younger
readers of the new century will not know that
to us old fellows "leader" means a leading
article. But for some doubt here, I should have
called this collection "Thirty-Nine Leaders.*'
I find in the Century Dictionary that Mr. David
J. Hill in writing of William Cullen Bryant says,
"He was the first of our journalists to adopt the



English practice of 'leaders,' which has since
become the universal habit of our journalism."
And the Century gives in its sixth heading this
statement: Leader, that which precedes . . .
the principal editorial article in a newspaper;
one of the longer articles in a newspaper appear-
ing as its own utterance or expression of edito-
rial views, whether written by the ostensible
editor or by leader-writers or contributors."

In New England we do not regard Mr. Bry-
ant as introducing the English custom in Amer-
ica. Old men have told me, and I believe, that
my father, Mr. Nathan Hale, introduced it in
the Weekly Messenger as early as 1810. For
the American newspaper of either of the cities
had been made up till that time by contributors
who signed some name, fictitious or real, or by
the paragraphs of news which were collected
from shipmasters, travellers, or others. But in
England the custom and the word were much
older. DeFoe wrote "leaders." Lestrange
wrote "leaders." What we call the Tattler,
the Spectator, the Idler, or the rest was a col-
lection of "leaders" which Addison, Steele, and
such men wrote for those journals.

The Oxford Dictionary quotes no earlier use
of the word than Disraeli in "Coningsby" in
1844. "Give me a man who can write a leader."


They cite from Matthews's "Americanisms,"
1892, "The American calls that an editorial
which an Englishman calls a leader." But I am
quite sure that as early as 1840 the word was
perfectly well known in American journalism.
The foreman of the printing office would him-
self come down into the editorial room, and say
to whoever was in charge, "What shall we lead
with?" By which he meant, "which of the edi-
torial articles shall be the leader?"

Of course in a book made up as this is, some
suggestions will be repeated again and again;
no harm, according to me, if it is repeated thirty-
nine times. It would be ridiculous to try to
digest these chapters into one treatise. That is
precisely what they are not.

In the second part of the book will be found
some longer papers which discuss the same sub-
jects with further illustration.

I have made no attempt in editing these
papers, long or short, to strike out sentences or
paragraphs which repeat in one what has been
said in another. In such a collection repetition
is a matter of course. The leading article is the
expression of the thought of the day as to the
necessities of the day. There is a very fair ques-
tion, which I understand as well as this reader
does, whether there is any need of reproducing



it all. But if it is to be reproduced, it must be
"in its entirety."

This is as good a place as any to tell for the
last time one of the office stories of 1848. Its
merit is that it is true.

In February, 1848, the Journal des Debats
was the Government paper. It had stood
bravely by Guizot, whom the radical opposition
called the Valpoule of the Government, meaning
Walpole, which I suppose he was. The Pari-
sian Revolution took place, which Guizot
had brought on his head. The King had run
away, Guizot had run away, everybody who
could run away had done so. The miracle was
that the office of the Journal des Debats was
standing. The mob hated the Journal and
could naturally have broken the windows first
and set fire to the office next. But there was no
such good excuse. The editors had not run
away, or at least some of them remained. And
the paper must appear the next morning.

Of course there must be a leader. And the
leader must be about something, or pretend to
be. What should this something be? Not
royalty, oh, no! Not Democracy, oh, no! Not
Socialism, oh, no ! Not anything which the last
fortnight had discovered, oh, no! All these
[ viii ]


were dangerous. But there must be something 1
"We cannot lead with a blank half column as
they do in St. Petersburg!" No! But the
gentleman on duty was equal to the occasion.
There is one central subject which may be dis-
cussed in any ill-fitting dinner party, and the
excellent editor wrote his column and sent it to
the frightened foreman. The Journal appeared
on the first morning of the New Born Republic.
The leader was an article on "The Independ-
ence of the Judiciary."

In my younger days, as young editors parted
at midnight for the last hour's work, the stand-
ing joke was,

"What shall you lead with, Charles?"

"Oh, we will lead with the Independence of
the Judiciary."

In this volume we lead with AMERICA.






THE great difficulty of the American
people in the American Revolution
was their need of a National Govern-

In truth, men hardly knew what the word
"nation" meant. On the other side of the
ocean very few people know now what it means.
The great victory of the American Constitu-
tion was that for us it defined the word "nation."
The "States" were to be independent for all local
purposes; they were united and are one for all
"National" purposes.

So the National Constitution defined the
duties of our National Government. There are
six important ones :

i. The care of intercourse with foreign
nations. And now no State and no man can



carry on private negotiations on matters of
state with England or Russia.

2. The relations with Indian tribes.

3. Regulation of commerce among the States.

4. A part of this, if you please, the Post
Office and the coinage of money.

5. Justice between every American and every
other. A Georgian is as good as a man in the
Bowery if he behaves as well.

6. And this was intentionally left indefinite
"the common defence and the general welfare."

This accurate distinction between the duties
of the nation and the duties of the local govern-
ment gives their glory to the men who made the
Constitution. Mr. Gladstone said of them, and
he is right, that they struck off in a few days the
most important piece of work which was ever
done in that time in that line. And this is true.

But besides Mr. James Bryce, nobody of any
importance in the British Empire seems to under-
stand it. If a thousand men in the British Em-
pire understood it, there would be no quarrel
between the English Government and Ireland.
I sat in the gallery of the House of Commons
once for half an hour to hear a discussion
whether the British Empire, Empress-Queen,
Privy Council, Bishop, Lords and Commons in
Parliament meant to pay a pension to an Irish



school-mistress on whose head a blackboard had
fallen. That is, the nation was asked to inter-
fere in a local affair. So is it that an eminent
European publicist wrote last week to the Amer-
ican Journal, talking about the right of Eminent
Domain, while he does not know more than a
baby whose the eminent domain is. Mr. Bryce
says that a Swiss schoolmaster knows about the
distinction of State and Nation. But I never
saw his book.

For the first half century, public parties
formed themselves here on questions regarding
the rights and privileges of the National Gov-
ernment and the State Government. But we
have got well beyond that now. We found out
in the Civil War that this was a Nation and not
a Confederation. We found out that the State
of Massachusetts must fly the United States flag
on the State House in Boston. We have found
that the rule of God requires that the United
States mail shall be carried through the State
of Illinois without the detention of one-thou-
sandth part of a second. And, at the same time,
we know that the National Government leaves
to the forty-five States the local government to
settle their own affairs as they choose. Mr.
Harris, the Superintendent of Education, must
not tell the State of Massachusetts what spelling



book shall be studied in Cranberry Centre. But,
on the other hand, when the matter relates to
any of the six Constitutional articles, or to the
general welfare, the general Government must
take hold must, because this is a Government
of Laws and not of Men. For instance, in the
State of Maine, a man may not legally buy liquor
at an open bar. In the State of New York he
can. But if the man in New York chooses to
put his drink into a vial and send it by express
to the man in Maine, the man in Maine may
open the bottle and drink it in the presence of
the Supreme Court and all the magistrates of
the State; because the State of Maine cannot
interfere with the regulation of commerce be-
tween the States.

True statesmanship in America cultivates a
passionate loyalty to the nation; because the
nation has the charge of national affairs, and at
the same time passionate loyalty to the State
where the State is engaged in its local affairs.
The fine distinction drawn between the two in the
Constitution has made the nation the America
that it is.




THERE is a curious balancing of opinion
and belief about government by the
people. The scale which is up to-day
is down to-morrow.

Mr. Wiseman, for instance, is quite clear that
some measure shall be carried through. He
wishes, perhaps, that the open season for par-
tridge shooting shall begin a fortnight later or
a fortnight earlier. He writes a nice article
about it, and sends it to the Extinguisher. The
editor does not read it, for the ink is too pale;
but he prints it. But only three people read
beyond the seventh line. The legislature meets,
and the governor does not even refer to Mr.
Wiseman's wishes in his message or speech. Mr.
Wiseman is indignant. He retires to Paris for
a year to spend his dividends or to reinvest them.
He is much pleased with the cleanness of the
sidewalks in Paris. He asks the Count of
Monte Cristo to dinner. And, as they chat
"over theirwalnuts,"he tells the Count that there
is no government by the people in America, that
the streets are very dirty there, and that no gen-
tleman can live there.

At the same moment his friend and classmate,
Mr. Horace Holworthy, is riding up from the



gare in Paris to his hotel. One of the French
gentlemen of the quarter is not pleased with his
appearance, and throws a ruta-baga, weighing
three or four pounds, at his head. It is well
aimed, and, for a minute, Mr. Holworthy is not
able to converse. When he does converse, he
says that he does not find the streets of Paris
more agreeable than those of Boston.

People who write for the press, especially
say people like me are signally apt to take in
this way some special grievance or some special
triumph for a text, and on this text to work out
a conclusion, "that which must be demonstrated,"
the Q. E. D. of the logicians, as to the great
question whether the people does govern or does

Mr. James has cited a fine story of Carlyle,
which applies here. Dear Margaret Fuller had
perhaps taken herself the least bit too seriously.
She had said that she had determined "to accept
the universe."

"Gad! she had better!" said Carlyle.

Our practical friend from Ecclefechan had
himself tried some experiments in that direction.

Now if, in his college days, Mr. Wiseman had
looked in at the East Cambridge prison once or
twice, had once or twice walked through the
Riverside printing-office, had learned the meth-



ods of the Prospect Union, had perhaps taken
a subdivision in the Associated Charities, he
might have learned two things. First, he might
have known, what he does not know, what sort
of persons make up the American people. Sec-
ond, he would have learned how little the doc-
trinaires, people like himself, affect the average
intelligence of the American people; and he
would know why the doctrinaires are of so little
use as they are.

Freeman Clarke once said of a great peace
congress : "The effect of such meetings is often
exaggerated. To bring together those who hold
certain opinions does not necessarily increase
their number. . . . The members mistake the
sentiment of the meetings for public opinion."

This wise statement of a wise man precisely
fits the case of the critical and exclusive Mr.
Wiseman. He meets at his club, or union, a
certain set of men he knows; and they all agree,
perhaps, that gray is a mixture of black and
white, and that they should be mixed in the pro-
portion of 43 to 57. Every time they meet,
they talk of the shade of gray, so they think
everybody else is talking about it. They see
nobody else, and they are angry that no one does
anything about it. They perhaps write books
about it which nobody reads.



Meanwhile the People does not know that
there are any such people as Mr. Wiseman in
the world. It never heard of the club, and does
not know that there is any question about "gray."
The people goes about its business in a rough
sort of way, in a way which could be improved
upon. But its improvement does not come from
the Girondists, or the doctrinaires, or the exiles
in Paris. It comes from the Abraham Lincolns,
the Booker Washingtons, the John Workmans,
and the Nathan Spinners. The men of the peo-
ple, who know the people, have to trust the peo-
ple, to commit power to the people.

It was the People of America who settled the
Mississippi Valley in opposition to all the Wise-
mans of their time.

It was the People of America who made the
Constitution of America.

It was the People of America who abolished
American slavery.


YOU cannot make an European writer
understand what government by the
People is. It takes ten years for a
man who has come over from Europe
to America to understand it. They all think
generally that if the people turn out and choose


a king, and he does exactly what a king would
have done in Wurtemberg or Bavaria, you have
government by the People. In precisely this
way Napoleon III. persuaded or compelled the
people of France to vote that he should be
emperor, and then he was emperor. He was as
much an autocrat as the Emperor of Russia is,
and yet that is called "government by the Peo-
ple." At the present moment the French Re-
public is called a republic. If you choose to
name it so, you can name it so; but the French
people do not know what government by the
People means.

You have Government by the People when the
people of North Norumbega get together and
vote that the bridge over Otter Creek shall be
moved twenty-five rods and rebuilt there. When
they appoint a committee to see to this, there
is government by the People. When the people
of Greater New York vote as to this system of
license or that, or another, there will be govern-
ment by the People. When the National Acad-
emy of Fine Arts votes to give a medal to Mr.
Sargent or Mr. Chase, there is government by
the People. When the Second Church of the
Secession in Stand-Still Corner votes to shingle
the meeting-house, there is government by the


On the other hand, when the Department of
Roads and Bridges in Paris sends down M.
Champernoon from Paris to select the place for
a bridge at Fontleroy, that is not government by
the People, even if the people choose the presi-
dent who appoints the Minister of Bridges, who
appoints the engineer to build the bridge.

Now it is worth while to remember this dis-
tinction, because the rule which America has over
the world and is going to have more and more,
results from the habit here of government by the

The Parliament of England comes together
when King Edward VII. bids it come together.
It acts as a body of his loyal subjects whom he
has called together to advise him. The Assem-
bly of New York, on the other hand, comes
together because the People of New York in-
structs it to come together. In that Assembly
any man can be a member who has obtained so
far the confidence of the people round him that
they like to send him there. The people of New
York have said that members of the Assembly
must be so many years old, but with that excep-
tion the only condition for his membership is
that the neighbors think he is a man of sense
enough to assist in making the laws.

What happens from this is that the prime


advances in the legislation of the world are made
from the suggestions of men who are sent by
their neighbors to such legislative assemblies.
Albert Paine of Bangor, a man still living and
active, took it into his head that persons indicted
for offences had a right to tell their own story
in court if they wanted to. He went to the
legislature of Maine, and said so in the legis-
lature of Maine. The legislature hesitated,
because the law of England and America did not
permit a person to testify. But Paine saw the
sense of it, and the legislature gave way and
passed an act by which if a person wish to tell
his story, he might tell it. The good sense and
humanity of the act proved itself in Maine, it
was copied by State after State in America. It
worked well where it was tried; it gained more
and more approval every day, and now it has
been copied here and in England and in Aus-
tralia, and this is now the law of the more im-
portant part of the civilized world. That sort
of thing happens all the time, when the people
are permitted to send men of the people into an
assembly of the people. Judge Hoar used to re-
mind us that ever since the days of the Fathers
the Public Proclamation has been, "Whereas,
. . . JOHN HANCOCK [or any other] has been
chosen GOVERNOR, the people of the Common-
wealth may GOVERN THEMSELVES accordingly."



THE American People is the sovereign of
America. We cannot say this too
often. It is as well that people of
other countries should begin to under-
stand it.

Governors, Presidents, Secretaries of State,
editors of newspapers, are not the persons who
rule the country. The American People rules
the country, and all these personages are the
officers of the American people.

I am saying this all the time in the pulpit,
from the platform, in conversation and in print.
I say it in any way, because I think it is very
necessary that the servants of the people shall
not take on airs and think they are the barons
or squires or knights of the shire. People who
come from other countries and write about our
affairs are apt to make mistakes. Every one in
Europe makes the mistake, excepting the Swiss
schoolmaster of whom I have written in this col-
umn before. Whoever says this, however, is apt
to run against some fool like the mock soldier
who made Hotspur so mad, the man who, if it
had not been for gunpowder, would like to have
been a soldier himself. Somebody who wrote
an article for a newspaper about the way in which


he wanted to govern America, and then was
disappointed because seven million people did
not agree with him, turns around and says that
the people have no will in the matter, that they
are led by some tricky designer, and that they no
more govern America than the flag of the ship
governs the master who takes it to port. It is,
however, just such people as he who do the snif-
fling, the snuffing, and the snorting which make
republics very disagreeable to the looker-on
from the outside.

The truth remains that the people of America
govern America. It is quite worth while before
we put too much trust either in critics on the other
side of the ocean or any heartsick critics at home,
that we open our eyes and ears and find out what
the American people is.

In the first place, the American people is made
up in a very large proportion of men and women
who can read and write, who know enough
for the formation of an intelligent opinion, and
who mean on the whole to do what is right. All
Shakespeare's sneers at the groundlings, at the
rabble, and the mob were true enough when he
described people of Rome in Julius Caesar's
time. They are not true of the American peo-
ple now. Four per cent of the people of the
State of New York are people who can bring



only their muscle and their weight to their daily
work. These are the people who dig the drains,
the sewers, who "lay the stun wall," as Yankees
say, who carry buckets of coal up five stories or
ten. The other ninety-six per cent of the work-
men of New York are persons who work with
their brains, such men as an expressman, who
keeps a delicate account of three hundred and
fifty customers in the course of a day and in the
course of a year does not make ten mistakes.
That man is as fit to read his newspaper and to
make a judgment between Judas Iscariot, if he
is a candidate, and Joseph of Arimathea, if he is
a candidate, as is any intelligent reader of these

It was the American people who colonized
the West; it was the American people who de-
veloped our world-wide commerce; it was the
American people who contrived to carry through
the system of internal improvements; it was the
American people who freed the slaves. You
cannot ascribe one of these triumphs to any
Charlemagne or any Augustus Caesar. They
illustrate the government by the people.




OH, it was years ago. Purkett was alive,
the great banker. We were all sit-
ting at the club, some smoking, some
gaping, and all talking or listening,
when Questionmark said to Purkett, "Purkett,
you never make a mistake. You are never
cleaned out like us poor lambs. Tell us the

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Online LibraryEdward Everett HaleWe, the people : a series of papers on topics of to-day → online text (page 1 of 15)