United States. President (1901-1909 : Roosevelt).

Addresses and presidential messages of Theodore Roosevelt, 1902-1904; online

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themselves typifying in no small degree the extraordinary
development of the public-school system of the United
States. It was some sixty-four years ago that this institu-
tion was first established under a man of great eminence
alike in the work of pedagogy and in other fields — Profes-
sor Biggs. At the time when it was started the public-
school system of the United States had begun and was in
the process of its first development. Now, in the city of
Philadelphia in attendance upon the public schools, in-
cluding the night schools, there are some hundred and
seventy thousand pupils and over four thousand teachers.
The development of the high school, especially during
the last half century, has been literally phenomenal.
Nothing like our present system of education was known
in earlier times. No such system of popular education
for the people by the representatives of the people

It is, of course, a mere truism to say that the stability
and future welfare of our institutions of government de-
pend upon the grade of citizenship turned out from our



public schools. And no body of public servants, no body
of individuals associated in private life, are better worth
the admiration and respect of all who value citizenship at
its true worth, than the body composed of the teachers
in the public schools throughout the length and breadth
of this Union. They have to deal with citizenship in the
raw and turn it out something like a finished product. I
think that all of us who also endeavor to deal with that
citizenship in the raw in our own homes appreciate the
burden and the responsibility. The training given in the
public schools must, of course, be not merely a training
in intellect, but a training in what counts for infinitely
more than intellect, — a training in character. And the
chief factor in that training must be the personal equation
of the teachers; the influence exerted, sometimes con-
sciously and sometimes unconsciously, by the man or
woman who stands in so peculiar a relation to the boys
and girls under his or her care — a relation closer, more
intricate, and more vital in its after-effects than any other
relation save that of parent and child. Wherever a bur-
den of that kind is laid, those who carry it necessarily
carry a great responsibility. There can be no greater.
Scant should be our patience with any man or woman
doing a bit of work vitally worth doing, who does not
approach it in the spirit of sincere love for the work, and
of desire to do it well for the work's sake.

Doubtless most of you remember the old distinction
drawn between the two kinds of work, the work done for
the sake of the fee and the work done for the sake of the
work itself. The man or woman in public or private life
who ever works only for the sake of the reward that comes
outside of the work, will in the long run do poor work.
The man or woman who does work worth doing is the
man or woman who lives, who breathes that work ; with
whom it is ever present in his or her soul ; whose ambition
is to do it well and to feel rewarded by the thought of


having done it well. That man, that woman, puts the
whole country under an obligation. As a body all those
connected with the education of our people are en-
titled to the heartiest praise from all lovers of their coun-
try, because as a body they are devoting heart and soul
to the welfare of those under them.

It is a poor type of school nowadays that has not
a good playground attached. It is not so long since,
in my own city at least, this was held as revolutionary
doctrine, especially in the crowded quarters where play-
grounds were most needed. People said they did n't
need playgrounds. It was a new-fangled idea. They
expected to make good citizens of the boys and girls who,
when they were not in school, were put upon the streets
in the crowded quarters of New York to play at the kind
of games alone that they could play at in the streets. We
have passed that stage. I think we realize what a good
healthy playground means to children. I think we under-
stand not only the effects for good upon their bodies, but
for good upon their minds. We need healthy bodies.
We need to have schools physically developed.

Sometimes you can develop character by the direct in-
culcation of moral precept ; a good deal more often you
cannot. You develop it less by precept than by your
practice. Let it come as an incident of the association
with you ; as an incident to the general tone of the whole
body, the tone which in the aggregate we all create. Is
not that the experience of all of you, in dealing with
these children in the schools, in dealing with them in the
family, in dealing with them in bodies anywhere? They
are quick to take the tone of those to whom they look
up, and if they do not look up to you, then you can
preach virtue all you wish, but the effect will be small.

I have not come here to try to make any extended
speech to you, but I should hold myself a poor citizen if I
did not welcome the chance to wish you Godspeed in


your work for yourselves and to wish you Godspeed in
your work as representatives of that great body of public-
school teachers, upon the success of whose efforts to train
aright the children of to-day depends the safety of our
institutions of to-morrow.



22, 1902

Mr. President, gentletnen of the Union League :

Forty years ago this Club was founded, in the dark
days of the Civil War, to uphold the hands of Abraham
Lincoln and give aid to those who battled for the Union
and for human liberty. Two years ago President Mc-
Kinley came here as your guest to thank you, and through
you all those far-sighted and loyal men who had supported
him in his successful effort to keep untarnished the na-
tional good faith at home and the national honor abroad,
and to bring back to this country the material well-being,
which we now so abundantly enjoy. It was no accident
which made the men of this Club who stood as in a pecul-
iar sense the champions and upholders of the principles
of Lincoln in the early sixties stand no less stoutly for
those typified in the person of McKinley during the clos-
ing years of the century. The qualities apt to make men
respond to the call of duty in one crisis are also apt to
make them respond to a similar call in a crisis of a differ-
ent character. The traits which enabled our people to
pass unscathed through the fiery ordeal of the Civil War
were the traits upon which we had to rely in the less seri-
ous, but yet serious, dangers by which we were menaced
in 1896, 1898, and 1900.

From the very beginning our people have markedly
combined practical capacity for affairs with power of de-



votion to an ideal. The lack of either quality would have
rendered the possession of the other of small value. Mere
ability to achieve success in things concerning the body
would not have atoned for the failure to live the life
of high endeavor; and, on the other hand, without a
foundation of those qualities which bring material pros-
perity there would be nothing on which the higher life
could be built. The men of the Revolution would have
failed if they had not possessed alike devotion to liberty
and ability (once liberty had been achieved) to show
common-sense and self-restraint in its use. The men of
the great Civil War would have failed had they not pos-
sessed the business capacity which developed and organ-
ized their resources in addition to the stern resolution to
expend these resources as freely as they expended their
blood in furtherance of the great cause for which their
hearts leaped. It is this combination of qualities that has
made our people succeed. Other peoples have been as
devoted to liberty, and yet, because of lack of hard-
headed common-sense and of ability to show restraint
and subordinate individual passions for the general good,
have failed so signally in the struggle of life as to become
a byword among the nations. Yet other peoples, again,
have possessed all possible thrift and business capacity,
but have been trampled under foot, or have played a sor-
did and ignoble part in the world, because their business
capacity was unaccompanied by any of the lift toward
nobler things which marks a great and generous nation.
The stern but just rule of judgment for humanity is that
each nation shall be known by its fruits ; and if there are
no fruits, if the nation has failed, it matters but little
whether it has failed through meanness of soul or through
lack of robustness of character. We must judge a nation
by the net result of its life and activity. And so we must
judge the policies of those who at any time control the
destinies of a nation.


Therefore I ask you to-night to look at the results of
the policies championed by President McKinley on both
the occasions when he appealed to the people for their suf-
frages, and to see how well that appeal has been justified
by the event. Most certainly I do not claim all the good
that has befallen us during the past six years as due solely
to any human policy. No legislation, however wise, no
administration, however efficient, can secure prosperity
to a people or greatness to a nation. All that can be
done by the lawmaker and the administrator is to give
the best chance possible for the people of the country
themselves to show the stuff that is in them. President
McKinley was elected in 1896 on the specific pledge
that he would keep the financial honor of the nation
untarnished and would put our economic system on a
stable basis, so that our people might be given a chance
to secure the return of prosperity. Both pledges have
been so well kept that, as is but too often the case,
men ate beginning to forget how much the keeping of
them has meant. When people have become very pros-
perous they tend to become sluggishly indifferent to the
continuation of the policies that brought about their
prosperity. At such times as these it is of course a mere
law of nature that some men prosper more than others,
and too often those who prosper less, in their jealousy of
their more fortunate brethren, forget that all have pros-
pered somewhat. I ask you soberly to remember that
the complaint made at the present day of our industrial
or economic conditions never takes the form of stating
that any of our people are less well off than they were
seven or eight years back, before President McKinley
came in and his policies had a chance to be applied ; but
that the complaint is that some people have received
more than their share of the good things of the world.
There was no such complaint eight years ago, in the sum-
mer of 1894. Complaint was not then that any one had


prospered too much ; it was that no one had prospered
enough. Let each one of us think of the affairs of his
own household and his own business, let each of us com-
pare his standing now with his standing eight years back,
and then let him answer for himself whether it is not true
that the policies for which William McKinley stood in
1896 have justified themselves thrice over by the results
they have brought about.

In 1900 the issues were in part the same, but new ones
had been added. Prosperity had returned; the gold
standard was assured; our tariff was remodelled on the
lines that have marked it at all periods when our well-
being was greatest. But, as must often happen, the Presi
dent elected on certain issues was obliged to face others
entirely unforeseen. Rarely indeed have our greatest
men made issues — they have shown their greatness by
meeting them as they arose. President McKinley faced
the problems of the Spanish war and those that followed
it exactly as he had faced the problems of our economic
and financial needs. As a sequel to the war with Spain
we found ourselves in possession of the Philippines under
circumstances which rendered it necessary to subdue a
formidable insurrection which made it impossible for us
with honor or with regard to the welfare of the islands
to withdraw therefrom. The occasion was seized by the
opponents of the President for trying to raise a new
issue, on which they hoped they might be more success-
ful than on the old. The clamor raised against him was
joined in not only by many honest men who were led
astray by a mistaken view or imperfect knowledge of the
facts, but by all who feared effort, who shrank from the
rough work of endeavor. The campaign of 1900 had to
be fought largely upon the new issue thus raised. Presi-
dent McKinley met it squarely. Two years and eight
months ago, before his second nomination, he spoke as
follows :


We believe that the century of free government which the
American people have enjoyed has not rendered them irreso-
lute and faithless, but has fitted them for the great task of lift-
ing up and assisting to better conditions and larger liberty
those distant peoples who through the issue of battle have
become our wards. Let us fear not. There is no occasion
for faint hearts, no excuse for regrets. Nations do not grow
in strength, the cause of liberty and law is not advanced by
the doing of easy things. The harder the task the greater will
be the result, the benefit, and the honor. To doubt our power
to accomplish it is to lose faith in the soundness and strength
of our popular institutions. . . . We have the new care
and cannot shift it. And, breaking up the camp of ease and
isolation, let us bravely and hopefully and soberly continue
the march of faithful service, and falter not until the work is
done. . . . The burden is our opportunity. The oppor-
tunity is greater than the burden.

There spoke the man wfho preached the gospel of hope
as well as the gospel of duty, and on the issue thus fairly
drawn between those who said we would do our new
work well and triumphantly and those who said we would
fail lamentably in the effort, the contest was joined. We
won. And now I ask you, two years after the victory,
to look across the seas and judge for yourselves whether
or not the promise has been kept. The prophets of dis-
aster have seen their predictions so completely falsified
by the event that it is actually difficult to arouse even a
passing interest in their failure. To answer them now,
to review their attack on our army, is of merely academic
interest. They played their brief part of obstruction and
clamor; they said their say; and the current of our life
went over them and they sank under it as did their pre-
decessors who, thirty-six years before, had declared that
another and greater war was a failure, that another and
greater struggle for true liberty was only a contest for
subjugation in which the United States could never sue-


ceed. The insurrection among the FiHpinos has been
absolutely quelled. The war has been brought to an end
sooner than even the most sanguine of us dared to hope.
The world has not in recent years seen any military task
done with more soldierly energy and ability ; and done,
moreover, in a spirit of great humanity. The strain on
the army was terrible, for the conditions of climate and
soil made their work harassing to an extraordinary de-
gree, and the foes in the field were treacherous and cruel,
not merely toward our men, but toward the great multi-
tude of peaceful islanders who welcomed our rule.
Under the strain of well-nigh intolerable provocation
there were shameful instances, as must happen in all
wars, where the soldiers forgot themselves, and retaliated
evil for evil. There were one hundred thousand of our
men in the Philippines, a hundred thousand hired for a
small sum a month apiece, put there under conditions
that strained their nerves to the breaking point, and some
of the hundred thousand did what they ought not to have
done. But out of a hundred thousand men at home,
have all been faultless? Every effort has been made to
detect such cases, to punish the offenders, and to prevent
any recurrence of the deed. It is a cruel injustice to the
gallant men who fought so well in the Philippines not to
recognize that these instances were exceptional, and that
the American troops who served in the far-off tropic
islands deserve praise the same in kind that has always
been given to those who have well and valiantly fought
for the honor of our common flag and common country.
The work of civil administration has kept pace with the
work of military administration, and when on July 4th
last amnesty and peace were declared throughout the
islands the civil government assumed the complete con-
trol. Peace and order now prevail and a greater measure
of prosperity and of happiness than the Filipinos have
ever hitherto known, in all their dark and checkered


history ; and each one of them has a greater measure of
liberty, a greater chance of happiness, and greater safety
for his life and property than he or his forefathers have
ever before known.

Thus we have met each task that has confronted us
during the past six years. Thus we have kept every
promise made in 1896 and 1900. We have a right to be
proud of the memories of the last six years. But we
must remember that each victory only opens the chance
for a new struggle ; that the remembrance of triumphs
achieved in the past is of use chiefly if it spurs us to fresh
effort in the present. No nation has ever prospered as
we are prospering now, and we must see to it that by
our own folly we do not mar this prosperity. Yet we
must see to it also that wherever wrong flourishes it be
repressed. It is not the habit of our people to shirk
issues, but squarely to face them. It is not the habit of
our people to treat a good record in the past as anything
but a reason for expecting an even better record in the
present ; and no administration, gentlemen, should ask to
be judged save on those lines. The tremendous growth
of our industrialism has brought to the front many prob-
lems with which we must deal ; and I trust that we shall
deal with them along the lines indicated in speech and in
action by that profound jurist and upright and fearless
public servant who represents Pennsylvania in the Cabinet
— Attorney-General Knox. The question of the so-called
trusts is but one of the questions we must meet in con-
nection with our industrial system. There are many of
them and they are serious ; but they can and will be met.
Time may be needed for making the solution perfect;
but it is idle to tell this people that we have not the
power to solve such a problem as that of exercising ade-
quate supervision over the great industrial combinations
of to-day. We have the power and we shall find out the
way. We shall not act hastily or recklessly ; but we have


firmly made up our minds that a solution, and a right
solution, shall be found, and found it will be.

No nation as great as ours can expect to escape the
penalty of greatness, for greatness does not come with-
out trouble and labor. There are problems ahead of us
at home and problems abroad, because such problems are
incident to the working out of a great national career.
We do not shrink from them. Scant is our patience with
those who preach the gospel of craven weakness. No
nation under the sun ever yet played a part worth play-
ing if it feared its fate overmuch — if it did not have the
courage to be great. We of America, we, the sons of a
nation yet in the pride of its lusty youth, spurn the
teachings of distrust, spurn the creed of failure and de-
spair. We know that the future is ours if we have in us
the manhood to grasp it, and we enter the new century
girding our loins for the contest before us, rejoicing in
the struggle, and resolute so to bear ourselves that the
nation's future shall even surpass her glorious past.



Mr. Toastmaster, ladies, and gentlemen :

Throughout our history, and indeed throughout history
generally, it has been given to only a very few thrice-
favored men to take so marked a lead in the crises faced
by their several generations that thereafter each stands as
the embodiment of the triumphant effort of his genera-
tion. President McKinley was one of these men.

If during the lifetime of a generation no crisis occurs
sufficient to call out in marked manner the energies of the
strongest leader, then of course the world does not and
cannot know of the existence of such a leader; and in
consequence there are long periods in the history of every
nation during which no man appears who leaves an in-
delible mark in history. If, on the other hand, the crisis
is one so many-sided as to call for the development and
exercise of many distinct attributes, it may be that more
than one man will appear in order that the requirements
shall be fully met. In the Revolution and in the period of
constructive statesmanship immediately following it, for
our good fortune it befell us that the highest military and
the highest civic attributes were embodied in Washing-
ton, and so in him we have one of the undying men of
history — a great soldier, if possible an even greater states-
man, and above all a public servant whose lofty and dis-


interested patriotism rendered his power and ability —
alike on fought fields and in council chambers — of the
most far-reaching service to the Republic. In the Civil
War the two functions were divided, and Lincoln and
Grant will stand forevermore with their names inscribed
on the honor roll of those who have deserved well of man-
kind by saving to humanity a precious heritage. In
similar fashion Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson
stand each as the foremost representative of the great
movement of his generation, and their names symbolize
to us their times and the hopes and aspirations of their

It was given to President McKinley to take the fore-
most place in our political life at a time when our country
was brought face to face with problems more momentous
than any whose solution we have ever attempted, save
only in the Revolution and in the Civil War; and it was
under his leadership that the nation solved these mighty
problems aright. Therefore he shall stand in the eyes of
history not merely as the first man of his generation, but
as among the greatest figures in our national life, coming
second only to the men of the two great crises in which
the Union was founded and preserved.

No man could carry through successfully such a task
as President McKinley undertook, unless trained by long
years of effort for its performance. Knowledge of his
fellow-citizens, ability to understand them, keen sym-
pathy with even their innermost feelings, and yet power
to lead them, together with far-sighted sagacity and reso-
lute belief both in the people and in their future — all
these were needed in the man who headed the march of
our people during the eventful years from 1896 to 1901.
These were the qualities possessed by McKinley and de-
veloped by him throughout his whole history previous to
assuming the Presidency. As a lad he had the inestima-
ble privilege of serving, first in the ranks, and then as a


commissioned officer, in the great war for national union,
righteousness, and grandeur ; he was one of those whom
a kindly Providence permitted to take part in a struggle
which ennobled every man who fought therein. He who
when little more than a boy had seen the grim steadfast-
ness which after four years of giant struggle restored the
Union and freed the slave was not thereafter to be daunted
by danger or frightened out of his belief in the great
destiny of our people.

Some years after the war closed McKinley came to
Congress, and rose, during a succession of terms, to
leadership in his party in the lower House. He also be-
came governor of his native State, Ohio. During this
varied service he received practical training of the kind
most valuable to him when he became Chief Executive
of the nation. To the high faith of his early years was
added the capacity to realize his ideals, to work with his
fellow-men at the same time that he led them.

President McKinley's rise to greatness had in it nothing
of the sudden, nothing of the unexpected or seemingly
accidental. Throughout his long term of service in Con-

Online LibraryUnited States. President (1901-1909 : Roosevelt)Addresses and presidential messages of Theodore Roosevelt, 1902-1904; → online text (page 8 of 37)