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THE UNIVERSITY LIBRARY
OHHERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN DIECT
fcA JOLLA, CALIFORNIA ( f



THE SPIRIT OP
DEMOCRACY

BY
LYMAN ABBOTT




HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY

<3tbe Jtttttrjrtbe pre^ Cambridge
1910



COPYRIGHT, 1910, BY LYMAN ABBOTT
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Published November iqzo







CONTENTS

I. THE BIRTH OF DEMOCRACY 1

II. THE TENDENCY OF DEMOCRACY ... 14

III. THE PAGAN IDEAL OF THE FAMILY ... 28

IV. THE HEBREW IDEAL OF THE FAMILY . . 44
V. THE EVOLUTION OF EDUCATION .... 69

VI. THE HOME, THE CHURCH, THE SCHOOL . . 71

VII. PRESENT CONDITIONS IN INDUSTRY ... 93

VIII. POLITICAL SOCIALISM ..... 109

IX. INDUSTRIAL DEMOCRACY ..... 132

X. THE ORIGIN AND NATURE OF GOVERNMENT . 156

XI. WHO SHOULD GOVERN? 177

XII. THE SPIRIT OF DEMOCRACY IN RELIGION 198



THE SPIRIT OF DEMOCRACY

CHAPTER I

THE BIRTH OF DEMOCRACY

EVERY age is a transition age. But in some eras
the transition is more rapid and more noticeable
than in others. As sometimes in a year the girl
develops into womanhood, as sometimes in a
week the skeleton plant bursts into leafage and
perhaps into bloom, so a nation, which has been
growing silently, suddenly puts forth the evi-
dence of its growth, and both surprises and per-
plexes itself by the transformation. Such is the
phenomenon now taking place in America. It is
as though a new-created world were springing up,
and we were taking part in the process of crea-
tion. Nothing is as it has been. Science, litera-
ture, education, art, politics, religion, all are
being new-born. There is a new astronomy,
a new biology, a new chemistry ; there are new
methods of architecture, lighting, locomotion,
manufacturing; new types of fiction, drama,
poetry, philosophy; new methods of teaching
and an immense increase in the number of sub-



2 THE SPIRIT OF DEMOCRACY

jects taught ; a new alignment of political parties
and new policies as yet not even named save as
they bear the names of some representative ex-
pounder, as Cleveland or Bryan Democracy, or
Koosevelt or Taft Republicanism ; and a new
theology which has not only shortened and sim-
plified all creeds but has sometimes threatened
to destroy them altogether.

These changes are not incidental; they are
radical. Schumann, in " Warum ? " musically in-
terprets the questioning spirit of the age which
puts an interrogation point after every affirma-
tion of the past, however long it may have been
accepted. In industry the right of laborers to
organize is denied by capitalists, and the right of
capitalists to organize is denied by laborers. On
the one hand property is so concentrated in a
few hands for administration purposes as to fill
thoughtful men with a not wholly unreasonable
dread of what plutocracy may grow to, and on
the other hand a class of Socialists appear to
deny all right, if not of private property, at least
of private property industrially employed. In
politics there are both a New Jefferson ianism
and a New Federalism. Neither the Democracy
of Cleveland nor that of Bryan is a copy of
Thomas Jefferson's Democracy ; neither the Fed-
eralism of Roosevelt nor that of Cannon and Al-






THE BIRTH OF DEMOCRACY 3

drich is a copy of the Federalism of Alexander
Hamilton. No Church is immune from the New
Theology, not even the Roman Catholic Church,
as the Pope himself by his syllabus on Modernism
has attested. And the New Theology questions
the basis of authority, and questions it so effect-
ually that neither the Bible nor the Church
speaks to even the churchman with the authority
with which they spoke to the churchmen of a
century ago. What does all this mean ? To what
does it all tend ? What will it do with us ? Per-
haps more important is the question, What can
we do with it?

Two democracies were born in America about
a century and a half apart : one in the early half
of the seventeenth century, and the other in the
latter half of the eighteenth century; one of
Hebrew, the other of Latin, ancestry. They mar-
ried. The democracy of this twentieth century
is their child. It inherits characteristics from
both its parents. They are not only diverse;
they are inconsistent. The child is perplexed by
its contradictory inheritance. He does not under-
stand himself. If we are to understand him, we
must understand his ancestors.

Ten or twelve centuries before Christ there
grew up in the Near East a new form of social
organization which we may call the Hebrew Com-



4 THE SPIRIT OF DEMOCRACY

monwealth. All the neighboring governments
were absolute despotisms all power being con-
centrated in the hands of a single autocrat. In
the Hebrew Commonwealth government was for
the first time organized in three departments
a legislative, an executive, and a judicial. In all
the neighboring governments the power of the
autocrat was unlimited. In the Hebrew Common-
wealth the king was a constitutional monarch
whose powers were somewhat carefully limited.
In the Hebrew Commonwealth no hereditary caste
or class was permitted ; there was the State Church,
but the priesthood were forbidden to become land-
owners, and were made dependent for their sup-
port on the voluntary offerings of the people ;
methods of worship were carefully defined, but
attendance on worship was not compulsory; pri-
vate ownership in land was allowed, but only for
a limited tenure ; labor was honorable and idle-
ness a disgrace ; slavery, though not prohibited,
was hedged about with such conditions that in
the course of a few centuries it disappeared;
woman's position, if not absolutely equal to that
of man, was one of unexampled honor in that age;
provision was made for the education of all the
children by home instruction, aided by itinerant
school-teachers, out of which later grew the first
popular school system in the then known world.



THE BIRTH OF DEMOCRACY 5

And this whole system was founded on a religion
which had in its creed but two articles : that God
is a righteous Father who has made man in his
own image, between whom and man, therefore,
the comradeship of father and son is possible ;
that he requires of his children righteousness and
requires nothing else, and therefore the way to
his favor is not by sacrifices and offerings but by
doing justly, loving mercy, and walking reverently
in fellowship with him.

How far this ideal was ever actually realized in
the history of Israel is doubted by scholars. It is
certainly incorporated in their sacred books. With
Christianity these sacred books, translated into the
Latin tongue, bound together, and bearing the
title of " The Books " (now generally, by a trans-
literation of the Greek, "The Bible"), passed over
into the nominally converted Roman Empire.
Alfred the Great, the first great king and leader
of the English people, translated portions of these
books into the Anglo-Saxon tongue, and incor-
porated certain of their fundamental ideals into
the English Constitution. Gradually the political
and religious principles of these books made their
way, against much opposition and more indiffer-
ence, into the life of the English people. Inspired
by them, Simon de Montfort led the movement
which brought representatives of the common



6 THE SPIRIT OF DEMOCRACY

people into the National Council, and created out
of it a House of Commons. Imitating the ex-
ample of the itinerant Levites, the "preaching
friars" carried the simple precepts of these books
to the homes and imbedded them in the hearts of
the people. These principles made of Wyclif a
social reformer before socialism, a democrat be-
fore democracy, and a Protestant before Protest-
antism. Tyndale carried on the work which
Wyclif began, and created a public opinion
which made possible Henry VIII's separation of
the English Church from Italian control. At
length, in the beginning of the seventeenth cen-
tury, the long campaign between the autocratic
principles which the English people had inherited
from the Rome of the Caesars, culminating in the
despotism of Charles I, and the democratic prin-
ciples which they had inherited from the Hebrew
Commonwealth culminating in the principles of
the Puritans, issued in the overthrow of the Stuart
oligarchy, and incidentally in the immigration to
New England of Puritan and Pilgrim. These
brought with them the purpose to found on these
shores a new republic patterned after the Hebrew
theocracy, embodying its social and religious prin-
ciples, and inspired by its spirit. The earliest
democracy in America was a Puritan child with
a Hebrew ancestry.



THE BIRTH OF DEMOCRACY 7

The other democracy had a very different line-
age, and inherited from its ancestry different prin-
ciples and a different spirit.

Imperial Rome was an absolute despotism,
with labor enslaved, popular education unknown,
marriage a commercial partnership, religion
wholly dissociated from morality a ceremo-
nialism framed to appease the wrath of angry
gods or win the favor of corruptible gods. The
Bourbon dynasties of Italy and Spain and France
had inherited this imperialism, modified and ame-
liorated by a Roman Christianity. But Roman
Christianity had done nothing to ameliorate the
despotism of the government in France, nor much
to promote the education of the people ; though
under its influence slavery had given place to
feudalism as an industrial system, and marriage
had become, in the estimate of Christian believers,
an indissoluble sacrament. But in the latter half
of the eighteenth century the influence of the
Christian Church with the common people in
France was greatly weakened, especially in the
great cities. The Renaissance had brought with
it a revival of paganism; persecution had de-
stroyed the adherents of the reformed religion ;
the mocking laughter of Voltaire had done more
to shake the faith of the people in the Church of
Rome than all the arguments of Calvin ; the vices



8 THE SPIRIT OF DEMOCRACY

of the higher clergy and their identification with
the oppressive oligarchy had done more than Vol-
taire. The Church retained the appearance but
not the reality of power when it lost its hold on
the conscience of France. It could neither inspire
the ruling classes with a spirit of reform nor re-
strain the passions of the mob when hunger drove
them to desperation. The aristocracy was over-
thrown, but the people had no other conception
of government than government by force, and no
other conception of liberty than the substitution
of an unchecked rule by many for an unchecked
rule by the few. " As nature," says Rousseau,
"gives to every man absolute power over the mem-
bers of his body, the social pact gives the social
body absolute power over all its members." l The
despotism of an unrestrained mob proved to be
as despotic as that of an unrestrained oligarchy,
and France soon sought relief from the Reign of
Terror in a new imperialism.

Meanwhile the theories of the French political
reformers had crossed the Channel into England,
where Jacobinism proved a temporary and un-
popular exotic. They simultaneously crossed the
sea to America, where, mingled with and modi-

1 Quoted by H. A. Taine in his French Revolution, vol. iii, p. 54.
Taine gives a graphic picture of the length to which this despot-
ism of the majority was carried under Jacobin rule.



THE BIRTH OF DEMOCRACY 9

fied by the Anglo-Saxon sturdy love of individ-
ual independence, they gave birth to a new type
of democracy. The fundamental theory of Rous-
seau, that government is founded on a social com-
pact and that the authority of government is
derived from and dependent on the will of the
people assenting to it, found expression in the
statement of the Declaration of Independence
that just government rests on the consent of the
governed. But the Anglo-Saxon love of indepen-
dence also found expression in the statement
that man possesses certain inalienable rights, as
to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,
which no pact by him or on his behalf can take
from him. To protect the individual in these in-
alienable rights should be the end, so said the
advocates of the new democracy, and the sole
end, of government. " The Constitution of Ala-
bama," says Mr. Lecky, "expresses admirably
the best spirit of American statesmanship when
it states that ' the sole and only legitimate end
of government is to protect the citizen in the en-
joyment of life, liberty, and property, and when
the government assumes other functions it is
usurpation and oppression.' '

Thus the new American democracy differed
from the original Jacobin democracy of France

1 W. E. H. Lecky, Democracy and Liberty, vol. i, p. 118.



10 THE SPIRIT OF DEMOCRACY

as the English monarchy had differed from the
French monarchy. In France the democracy pos-
sessed absolute power; in America that power
was limited by definite checks. Absolute mon-
archy was succeeded by absolute democracy in
France ; the constitutional monarchy of the
English was followed by a constitutional demo-
cracy in America.

At the close of the eighteenth and the begin-
ning of the nineteenth century this naturalized
and modified French democracy had in America
hosts of enthusiastic and devoted disciples. How
many, how influential, and how enthusiastic they
were is indicated by the fact that in Yale College
there were two Thomas Paine societies, and many
of the students substituted for their Christian
names the names of some chosen and idealized
French encyclopedists. The philosophy of this
Latin or French democracy as modified by its
migration to America may be summarized for my
purpose in a paragraph, as I have endeavored to
summarize that of the Hebrew or Puritan de-
mocracy.

The state of nature is the ideal state ; let us
get back to it. In a state of nature every man is
free to live his own life, direct his own energies,
carve out his own destiny. Every impediment
upon this freedom is an injury to humanity. All



THE BIRTH OF DEMOCRACY 11

government is such an impediment. A little
government is absolutely necessary to protect the
weak from the strong, but government is a nec-
essary evil, and the less we have of it the better.
Humanity has simply consented to it in order to
protect itself. It should constrain only to free
from constraint. On this consent of the governed
government is founded. This is the basis of all
authority. The ultimate appeal is to the people ;
for the voice of the people is the voice of God
that is, if there is a God. Whether there be
one or not, it is not material to inquire ; for the
voice of the people is final. A just government
is a government carried on in accordance with
the will of the majority; an unjust government
is one carried on not in accordance with that
will

Thus at the beginning of the nineteenth cen-
tury there were two democracies in America:
one having its birthplace and home in New Eng-
land, though gradually extending its influence
beyond the boundaries of New England; the
other having its birthplace and home in Vir-
ginia, and much more rapidly extending its in-
fluence beyond the boundaries of Virginia. One
was founded on faith in God, the other was un-
theistic if not atheistic. To one, the basis of all
authority is the will of God ; to the other, the



12 THE SPIRIT OF DEMOCRACY

will of the majority. To one, law is the will of
God, the expression of that will is in the Ten
Commandments, and human laws are just only
when they are in harmony with that will ; to the
other, law is the expression of the will of the ma-
jority, and any government is just which is
founded on and is the expression of that will,
and no other government is or can be just. One
desired to limit the suffrage to those who were
obedient to the will of God, though they found
it difficult to provide a satisfactory test; the
other believed in universal and unqualified suf-
frage. One honored labor whether it was man-
ual or intellectual, and condemned idleness
whether of poverty or wealth. The other soon
learned to engraft upon its free States a system
of slavery not materially different from that of
pagan Rome. One borrowed from Hebraism the
synagogue school, transformed it into a public
school supported by the State ; the other left
education to be carried on by the family as a
private enterprise, aided by the private school, by
the Church, and by occasional charity. One was
social, the other individual. One tended toward
cooperation, combination, organization; the other
toward competition. One looked forward toward
realizing the kingdom of God on the earth, the
other sought to return to the state of nature.



THE BIRTH OF DEMOCRACY 13

The motto of one was the law of Christ : One is
your Master, even Christ, and all ye are breth-
ren. The motto of the other was the law of the
forest: Struggle for existence, survival of the
fittest.

Out of these two democracies, one the child of
French and Roman ancestry, the other the child of
Puritan and Hebrew ancestry, the American dem-
ocracy of the twentieth century was born. In the
child the contradictory characteristics of its ances-
tors are struggling, each modifying the other. By
the principles furnished by these two democracies
the individual and the social the twentieth-
century democracy is guided in opposite direc-
tions. By the impulses which they furnish it is
urged now upon the one path, now upon the
other.



CHAPTER II

THE TENDENCY OF DEMOCRACY

IN which of these directions, the fraternal or the
individual, has America been tending for the last
hundred and thirty years ? In which of these
directions should thoughtful Americans endeavor
to guide the country?

In which direction America has been tending
is tolerably clear to all observers, whether they
approve or disapprove the tendency.

The immediate occasion of the Civil War was
the question between the sections, whether slav-
ery was a beneficent form of industrial organiza-
tion and should be protected throughout the Na-
tion, or an unjust and injurious form of industrial
organization and should be confined within its then
existing limits in the expectation of its ultimate ab-
olition. The proximate cause of the Civil War was
two contrasted opinions respecting the interpreta-
tion of a written Constitution upon two questions
on which that Constitution was absolutely silent :
Had a State a right to secede? If it attempted
to secede, had the Federal Government a right to
compel it to remain in the Union ? But underly-
ing both questions was the still more f undamen-



THE TENDENCY OF DEMOCRACY 15

tal issue between the Hebraic or Puritan concep-
tion of government and the Latin or French con-
ception of government.

The doctrine that all government is founded/
on a compact, when applied to the United States^
naturally led to the affirmation that the Nation 1 !
was a confederation of independent and sovereignf
States. The doctrine that all government rests'
on the consent of the governed, when applied to
such a supposed confederation, naturally led to
the conclusion that if the consent of any one or
more of these sovereign States was withdrawn, the
government over them ceased to be a just govern-
ment, and the right either of repudiation or of
revolution followed. To Calhoun and his politi-
cal associates this meant nullification, or the right
of a sovereign State in the exercise of its sover-
eignty to refuse its assent to any Federal law
which it deemed unjust. To Jefferson Davis and
his associates it meant the right of a sovereign
State to withdraw from the confederacy alto-
gether when the acts of the confederation were
injurious to its interests. How pervasive this
doctrine that government rests on the con-
sent of the governed had become in America is
evidenced by the fact that Mr. Buchanan, who
denied the right of a state to secede, also denied
the right of the Federal government to prevent



16 THE SPIRIT OF DEMOCRACY

secession, and that Horace Greeley, the foremost
anti-slavery editor of the North, besought the
nation to let the erring sisters depart in peace.

The result of the Civil War has been to expel
absolutely from the consciousness of the nation,
both North and South, the doctrine that just
government depends on the consent of the gov-
erned. The Union of to-day is not what Horace
Greeley feared it would be, that of a triumphant
North over a subjugated South. It is a Union ce-
mented by mutual respect, affection, and esteem,
based on the tacit assumption that government
is something more than copartnership, whether
of individuals or of States ; that it is a divine or-
ganism, deriving its authority, not from the con-
sent of the governed, but from the justice with
which the governors exercise their authority, and
is neither founded on consent nor can be dis-
solved by dissent. Thomas Jefferson advocated an
occasional revolution, much as the doctors of the
old school advocated an occasional blood-letting,
as a useful measure of hygiene. "God forbid
that we should be twenty years without a rebel-
lion. We have had thirteen States independent
for eleven years. There has been but one rebel-
lion. That comes to one rebellion in a century and
a half for each State. What country ever existed
a century and a half without a rebellion ? What



THE TENDENCY OF DEMOCRACY 17

signifies a few lives lost in a century or two ?
The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time
to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It
is its natural manure." 1 That phase of Jeff ersonian-
ism would to-day find no advocate in America in
any section of the country. Even the wildest-eyed
anarchist, if he ventured to afiirm it, would be
listened to, if at all, with scant politeness.
i. The doctrine that government rests on the
consent of the governed carried with it by nec-
essary implication that all the governed must
have some share in making the government.
Universal suffrage as one of the natural rights of
man was a logically necessary element in the
Latin theory of law and liberty. " The right to
vote for representatives," says Professor Dun-
ning, " was held to be an immediate corollary of
the principle that every man was by nature free
and could be subjected to government only by
his consent; for government must be by law, and
law must be the will of each individual, expressed
either in person or through a representative." 2
The omnipotence of the majority carried with
it, in the minds of certain theorists, the infalli-
bility of the majority. Strictly speaking, there

1 W. E. Curtis, The True Thomas Jefferson, p. 81.

2 W. A. Dunning, A History of Political Theories from Luther to
Montesquieu, p. 236.



18 THE SPIRIT OP DEMOCRACY

was no real minority and could be none. Says
Kousseau :

When a law is proposed in an assembly of the people,
what is asked of them is not exactly whether they ap-
prove of the proposition or whether they reject it, but
whether or not it conforms to the general will, which
is theirs ; each one in giving his vote gives his opinion
upon it, and from the counting of the votes is deduced
the declaration of the general will. When, however,
the opinion contrary to mine prevails, it shows only
that I was mistaken, and what I had supposed to
be the general will was not general. If my individual
opinion had prevailed, I should have done something
other than I had intended, and then I should not have
been free. 1

The Puritan doctrine, on the other hand, re-
garded suffrage as a prerogative to be earned by
a worthy character. "The saints should govern
the earth," said the Puritan; and not all men
were saints. In the early New England colonies,
therefore, suffrage was conditioned on possession
of property, possession of intelligence, paying of
taxes, and, in some cases, on church membership.
It is true that the disciples of neither school were
always consistent. Political theories in practical
application rarely are consistent. Thomas Jeffer-
son advocated a restricted suffrage based on edu-
1 J. J. Rousseau, The Social Contract, book iv, Chap. 2.



THE TENDENCY OF DEMOCRACY 19

cational and property qualifications. Henry Ward
Beecher, the Puritan son of Puritan ancestors,
advocated universal suffrage as a natural right,
and would have it given to women, to the newly
landed immigrant, and to the just emancipated
negro.

In this respect, curiously, the doctrine of uni-
versal suffrage, as a natural right, has dominated
the North, and limited suffrage now dominates
the South. I believe that Massachusetts is the
only New England state which requires educa-
tional qualifications as a condition precedent to


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