Whitelaw Reid.

Our new duties : a commencement address at the seventy-fifth anniversary of Miami University, Thursday, June 15, 1899 online

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Hon. John W. IIekuox. LL. D., (;'incinn.iti. Ohio.
President of the Board of Trustees.

Miss ANNA .1. BlfiHOr, Oxfoi(i, oliio.

Secretary of the Board of Trustees.

Kev. W. O. THOMPSON, D. 1)..

I^esident of the Vnirersity.

Oxford, Ohio, June 27, 1S9G.
Hon. Whitelaw Reid, LL. D,

New York.
Dear Sir :

At the request of Dr. Thompson, tlie President (who is writing you on the subject),
I enclose you a copy of a resolution adopted by the Board of Trustees of Miami Uni-
versity, at a meeting held June 17, 1896.

Hoping it may be possible for you to be present, as requested, at our Seventy-fifth
Anniversary, I am Very truly yours,

Anna J. Bishop,

Secretary of the Board.

Excerpt from Mixnlct of Meeting of Board of Trusteei/ of Miami Uiiiversifij,
held June 17, 1896.

Mr. Hunt offered the following resolution, which was adopted :

" Wliereas the Seventv-fifth Anniversary of the founding of Miami University will
mark an important event in the history of the educational work — not only in the
Miami Valley, but in the Western Country ; and

" Whereas, this Board contemplates the commemoration of that occasion by appro-
priate exercises in every way worthv of the fame of the institution :

"Therefore, Be it Resolved: That the Board of Trustees of Miami University, m
recognition of the importance of that anniversary and the fitting ability of the Hon-
orable Whitelaw Reid, of the chiss of 1856, and tlie interest wliich he has always
manifested in his Alma Mater, does hereby tender to him, in behalf of all the friends
of Miami University, a cordial in\'itatiou to be present and participate in the exercises
by delivering the address at that time."



July 10, 1896.
Miss Anna J. Bishop,

Secretary Board of Trustees,

Miami University, Oxford, O.

Dear Madam :

I beg to acknowledge your courteous transmission of a resolution by the Board of
Trustees of Miami University, inviting me to deliver an address on its Seventy-fifth

I am very sensible of the great honor done me by the Trustees of my Alma Mater
in this invitation. The time is still remote, and one cannot always be sure of his
ability to fill engagements made so far in advance ; but it would give me the greatest
pleasure to undertake the work, and I shall endeavor so to shape my affairs as to
prevent anything from interfering with it.

With renewed thanks, I am, dear madam,

Very truly yours,

Whitelaw Reid.


Sons and FririuJs of Miami :

I join you in saluting this venerable mother at a notable way-
mark in her great life. One hundred and seven years ago the
Congress voted and George Washington approved a foundation
for this university. Seventy-five years ago it opened its doors.
Now si monumentum quseris, circumspice. There is the cata-
logue. There are the long lists of men who so served the State
or the Church that their fives are your glory, their names your
inspiration. There are the longer lists of others to whom kinder
fortune did not set duties in the eye of the world. But Miami
made of them citizens who leavened the lump of that growing
West, which was then a sprawling, irregular line of pioneer set-
tlements and is now an empire. Search through it, above and
below the Ohio, and beyond the Mississippi. So often — where
there are centres of good work, or right thinking and right liv-
ing—so often and so widely spread will you find traces of Miami,
left by her own sons or coming from those secondary centres
that grew out of her example and influence, that you are led in
grateful surprise to exclaim : If this be the work of a little col-
lege, God bless and prolong the little coliege ! If, half-starved
and generally neglected, she has thus nourished good learning
and its proper result in good lives through the three-quarters of
a century ended to-day, may the days of her years be as the
sands of the sea; may the Twentieth Century only introduce
the glorious prime of a career of which the Nineteenth saw but
modest beginnings, and may good old Miami still flourish in
ssecula steculorum !

But the celebration of her past and the aspirations for her
future belong to worthier sons — here among these gentlemen
of the Board who have cared for her in her need. I make them
my profound acknowledgments for the honor they have done
me in assigning me a share in the work of this day of days; and
shall best deserve their trust by going with absolute candor
straight to my theme.


New Duties ; I shall Speak of the new duties that are upon us and the new
a New World ^qy\^ ^j^at is opening to us with the new century — of the spirit
in which we should advance and the results we have the right to
ask. I shall speak of public matters which it is the duty of edu-
cated men to consider; and of matters which may hereafter
divide parties, but on which we must refuse now to recognize
party distinctions. Partisanship stops at the guard line. " In
the face of an enemy we are all Frenchmen," said an eloquent
imperialist once in my hearing, in rallying his followers to sup-
port a foreign measure of the French Republic. At this moment
our soldiers are facing a barbarous or semi-civilized foe, which
treacherously attacked them in a distant land, where our flag
had been sent, in friendship with them, for the defence of our
own shores. Was it creditable or seemly that it was lately left
to a Bonaparte on our own soil to teach some American leaders
that, at such a time, loyal men at home do not discourage those
soldiers or weaken the Government that directs them '? *

Neither shall I discuss, here and now, the wisdom of all the
steps that have led to the present situation. For good or ill
the war was fought. Its results are upon us. With the ratifica-
tion of the Peace of Paris, our Continental Republic has stretched
its wings over the West Indies and the East. It is a fact and
not a theory that confronts us. We are actually and now re-
sponsible, not merely to the inhabitants and to our own people,
but in international law, to the commerce, the travel, the civili-
zation of the world, for the preservation of order and the pro-
tection of life and property, in Cuba, in Porto Rico, in Guam
and in the Philippine Archipelago, including that recent haunt
of piracy, the Sulus. Shall we quit ourselves like men in the

* My Dear Sir — I have received your letter of the 23ii inst. notifying to me my
election as a Vice-President of the Anti-Imperialist League. I recognize the compli-
ment implied in this election, and appreciate it the more by reason of my respect for
the gentlemen identified with the league, but I do not think I can appropriately or con-
sistently accept the position, especially since I learn through the press that the league
adopted at its recent meeting certain resolutions to which I cannot assent. ... I may
add that, while I fully recognize the injustice and even absurdity of those charges of
' ' disloyalty " which have been of late freely made against some members of the league,
and also that many honorable and patriotic men do not feel as I do on this subject, I
am per.sonally unwilling to take part in an agitation which may have some tendency
to cause a public enemy to persist in armed resistance, or may be, at least, plausibly
represented as having this tendency. There can be no doubt that, as a matter of
fact, the country is at war with Aguinaldo and his followers. I profoundly regret
this fact. . . . But it is a fact, nevertheless, and, as such, must weigh in determining
my conduct as a citizen. . . .


Baltimore, May 25, 1899.


discharge of this immediate duty ; or shall we fall to quarrelling
with each other like boys as to whether such a duty is a good or
a bad thing for the country, and as to who got it fastened upon
us? There may have been a time for disputes about the wisdom
of resisting the stamp tax, but it was not just after Bunker Hill.
There may have been a time for hot debate about some mistakes
in the Anti-Slavery contest, but not just after Sumter and Bull
Run. Fui'thermore, it is as weU to remember that you can never
grind with the water that has passed the mill. Nothing in hu-
man power can ever restore the United States to the position it
occupied the day before Congress plunged us into the war with
Spain ; or enable us to escape what that war entailed. No mat-
ter what we wish, the old Continental isolation is gone forever.
Whithersoever we turn now, we must do it with the burden of
our late acts to carry ; the responsibility of our new position to

When the sovereignty which Spain had exercised with the
assent of all nations over vast and distant regions for three
hundred years was solemnly transferred under the eye of the
civilized world to the United States, our first responsibility be-
came the restoration of order. Till that is secured, any hin-
drance to the effort is bad citizenship — as bad as resistance to
the police ; — as much worse, in fact, as its consequences may
be more bloody and disastrous. "You have a wolf by the ears,"
said an accomplished ex-Minister of the United States to a de-
parting Peace Commissioner last autumn. " You cannot let go
of him with either dignity or safety, and he will not be easy to

But when the task is accomplished — when the Stars and Policy for
Stripes at last bring the order and peaceful security they typify, ""^ ^'^'^
instead of wanton disorder, with all the concomitants of savage
warfare over which they now wave — we shall then be con-
fronted with the necessity of a policy for the future of these
distant regions. It is a problem that calls for our soberest,
most dispassionate and most patriotic thought. The colleges
and the educated classes generally should make it a matter of
conscience — j^aiustakingly considered on all its sides, with ref-
erence to international law, the burdens of sovereignty, the
rights and interests of native tribes, and the legitimate demands
of civilization — to find first our National duty, and then our
National interest, which it is also a duty for our statesmen to
protect. On such a subject we have a light to look to our col-
leges for the help they should be so well equipped to give.


From these still regions of cloistered thought may well come
the white light of pure reason — not the wild, whirling words
of the special pleader, or of the partisan, giving loose rein to
his hasty first impi'essions. It would be an ill day for the col-
leges if crude and hot-tempered incursions into ciirrent public
affairs, like a few unhappily witnessed of late, should lead even
their friends to fear that they have been so long accustomed to
dogmatize to boys that they have lost the faculty of reasoning
with men.

When the first duty is done, when order is restored in those
commercial centres and on that commercial highway, somebody
must then be responsible for maintaining it — either ourselves
or some Power whom we persuade to take them off our hands.
Does anybody doubt what the American people in their present
temper would say to the latter alternative I — the same people
who, a fortnight ago, were ready to break off their Joint Com-
mission with Great Britain and take the chances, rather than
give up a few square miles of worthless land, and a harbor of
which a year ago they scarcely knew the name on the remote
coast of Alaska. Plainly it is idle now, in a government so
purely dependent on the popular will, to scheme or hope for
giving the Philippine task over to other hands as soon as order
is restored. We must then be prepared with a policy for main-
taining it ourselves.

Of late years men have unthinkingly assumed that new terri-
tory is, in the very nature of our Government, merely and
necessarily the raw material for futui-e States in the Union,
Colonies and dependencies it is now said are essentially incon-
sistent with our system. But if any ever entertained the wild
dream that the instrument whose preamble says it is ordained
for the United States of America could be stretched to the
China Sea, the first Tagal guns fired at friendly soldiers of the
Union and the first mutilation of American dead that ensued
ended the nightmare of States from Asia admitted to the
American Union. For that relief, at least, we must thank
the uprising of the Tagalogs. It was a Continental Union
of independent sovereign States our Fathers planned. Who-
ever proposes to debase it with admixtures of States made
up from the islands of the sea, in any archipelago. East or West,
is a bad friend to the RepubHc. We may guide, protect, elevate
them, and even teach them, some day, to stand alone ; but if we
ever invite them into our Senate and House to help rule us, we
are the most imbecile of all the offspring of time.




Yet we must face the fact that able and conscientious men The
believe the United States has no constitutional power to hold Constitutional
territory that is not to be erected into States in the Union, or to
govern people that are not to be made citizens. They are able
to cite great names in support of their contention ; and it would
be an ill-omen for the freest and most successful constitutional
government in the world if a constitutional objection thus forti-
fied should be carelessly considered or hastily overridden.

This objection rests mainly on the assumption that the name
"United States," as used in the Constitution, necessarily in- |
eludes all territory the Nation owns, and on the historic fact ?
that a large part of this territory, on acquiring sufficient popu- «
lation, has already been admitted as States, and has generally ';
considered such admission to be a right. Now, Mr. Chief Justice \^
Marshall — than whom no constitutional authority carries greater \
weight — certainly did declare that the question what was '■
designated by the term " United States " in the clause of the ;
Constitution gi\Hng power to levy duties on imposts " admitted ;
of but one answer." It " designated the whole of the American |
empire, composed of States and Territories." If that be accepted )
as final, then the tariff must be applied in Manila precisely as
in New- York, and goods from Manila must enter the New- York
Custom House as freely as goods from New-Orleans. Sixty
millions would disappear instantly and annually from the
Treasury, and our revenue system would be revolutionized by
the free admission of sugar and other tropical products from the
United States of Asia and of the Caribbean Sea. On the other
hand, the Philippines themselves would be fatally handicapped
by a tariff wholly unnatural to their locality and circumstances.
More. If that be final, the term " United States " should have
the same comprehensive meaning in the clause as to citizenship.
Then Aguinaldo is to-day a citizen of the United States, and
may yet run for the Presidency. Still more. The Asiatics south
of the China Sea are given that free admission to the country
which we so streniiously deny to Asiatics from the north side
of the same sea. Their goods, produced on wages of a few cents
a day, come into free competition in all our home markets with
the prodiicts of American labor, and the cheap laborers them-
selves are free to follow if ever our higher wages attract
them. More yet. K that be final, the Tagalogs and other tribes
of Luzon, the Yisayas of Negros and Cebu, and the Mahometan
Malays of Mindanao and the Sulus, having each far more than
the requisite population, may demand admission next winter


into the Union as free and independent States, with representa-
tives in Senate and House, and may plausibly claim that they
can show a better title to admission than Nevada ever did, or
Utah or Idaho.

Nor does the gi-eat name of Marshall stand alone in support
of such conclusions. The converse theory that these territories
are not necessarily included in the constitutional term "the
United States" makes them our subject dependencies, and at
once the figure of Jefferson himself is evoked, with aU the
signers of the immortal Declaration grouped about him, renew-
ing the old war-cry that government derives its just powers from
the consent of the governed. At different periods in our history
eminent statesmen have made protests on grounds of that sort.
Even the first bill for Mr. Jefferson's own purchase of Louisiana
was denounced by Mr. Macon as " establishing a species of gov-
ernment unknown to the United States"; by Mr. Lucas as
"establishing elementary principles never previously introduced
in the government of any territory of the United States," and
by Mr. Campbell as " really establishing a complete despotism."
In 1823 Chancellor Kent said with reference to Columbia River
settlements that " a government by Congi-ess as absolute sov-
ereign, over colonies, absolute dependents, was not congenial to
the free and independent spirit of American institutions." In
1848 John C. Calhoun declared that " the conquest and retention
of Mexico as a province would be a depai-ture from the settled
policy of the Government, in conflict with its character and
genius and in the end subversive of our free institutions." In
1857 Mr. Chief Justice Taney said that " a power to rule territory
without restriction as a colony or dependent province would be
inconsistent with the nature of our government." And now,
following warily in this line, the eminent and trusted advocate
of similar opinions to-day, Mr. Senator Hoar, of Massachusetts,
says : " The making of new States and providing National
defence are constitutional ends, so that we may acquire and hold
territory for those purposes. The governing of subject peoples
is not a constitutional end, and there is thei'efore no constitu-
tional warrant for acquiring and holding territory for that

An Alleged We have now, as is believed, presented with entire fairness

Consiitutioiiai ^ simamary of the varied aspects in which the constitutional
^ objections mentioned have been urged. I would not under-

rate by a hair's breadth the authority of these great names, the
weight of these continuous reassertions of principle, the sanc-



tion even of the precedent and general practice through a cen-
tury. And yet I venture to think that no candid and competent
man can thoroughly investigate the subject, in the light of the
actual provisions of the Constitution, the avowed purpose of its
framers, theii* own practice and the practice of their successors,
without being absolutely convinced that this whole fabric of op-
position on constitutional grounds is as flimsy as a cobweb.
This country of our love and pride is no malformed, congenital
cripple of a Nation, incapable of undertaking duties that have
been found within the powers of every other Nation that ever
existed since governments among civilized men began. Neither
by chains forged in the Constitution, nor by chains of precedent;
neither by the dead hand we all revere, that of the Father of His
Countrj', nor under the most authoritative exponents of our
I organic act and of our history, are we so bound that we cannot
I undertake any duty that devolves, or exercise any power which
I the emergency demands. Our Constitution has entrapped us
I in no impasse, where retreat is disgrace and advance is impossi-
ble. The duty which the hand of Providence rather than any
purpose of man has laid upon us is within our constitutional
powers. Let me invoke your patience for a rather minute and
perhaps wearisome detail of the proof.

Every one recalls this constitutional provision : " The Con-
gress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful rules
and regulations respecting the territory or other property of the
United States." That grant is absolute, and the only qualifica-
tion is the one to be di-awn from the general spirit of the Gov-
ernment the Constitution was framed to organize. Is it con-
sistent with that spirit to hold territory permanently, or for
long periods of time, without admitting it to the Union f Let
the man who wrote the very clause in question answer. That
man was Gouverneur Morris, of New York, and you will find
his answer on the 192d page of the third volume of his writings,
given only fifteen years after, in reply to a direct question as to
the exact meaning of the clause : " I always thought, when we
should acquire Canada and Louisiana, it would be proper to
govern them as provinces and allow them no voice in our coun-
cils. In wording the third section of the fourth article, I went
as far as circumstances would permit to establish the exclusion."
This framer of the Constitution desired then, and intended defi-
nitely and permanently, to keep Louisiana out ! And yet there
are men who tell us the provision he drew would not even per-
mit us to keep the Philippines out ! To be more Papist than
the Pope will cease to be a thing exciting wonder, if everyday


modern men iu the cousideratiou of practical and pressing prob-
lems ai"e to be more narrowly constitutional than the men that
wrote the Constitution !

Is it said that at any rate our practice under this clause of the
Constitution has been against the view of the man that wrote
it, and in favor of that quoted from Mr. Chief Justice Marshall f
Does anybody seriously think, then, that though we have held
New-Mexico, Arizona and Oklahoma as territories, part of it
nearly a century, and all of it half a centuiy, our representa-
tives believed all the while they had no constitutional right to
do sof Who imagines that when the third of a centiiry during
which we have already held Alaska is rounded out to a full
I century, that unorganized Territory will even then have any

I greater prospect than at present of admission as a State, or who

I believes our grandchildren will be violating the Constitution in

I keeping it out? Who imagines that under the Constitution

I ordained on this continent specifically "for the United States

I of America^'' we will ever j^ermit the Kanakas, Chinese and Jap-
I anese, Avho make up a majority of the population in the Sand-
I wich Islands, to set up a government of their own and claim

i admission as an independent and sovereign State of the Ameri-

I can Union ! Finally, let me add that conclusive proof relating

? not only to practice under the Constitution, but to the precise

construction of the constitutional language as to the Territories
by the highest authority, in the light of long previous practice,
is to be found in another part of the instrument itself, delib-

/erately added, three-quarters of a century later. Article XIII
provides that " neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall
I exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jiiris-
I diction.'''' If the term " the United States" as used in the Consti-
I tution really includes the Territories as an integral part, as Mr.
Chief Justice Marshall said, what, then, does the Constitution
mean by the additional words, " or any place subject to their
jm-isdiction " 1 Is it not too plain for argument that the Con-
stitution here refers to territory not a part of the United States,
but subject to its jurisdiction — teri'itory, for example, like the
Sandwich Islands or the Philippines ?
What, then, shall we say to the opinion of the great Chief
I Justice ? — for after all his is not a name to be dealt with lightly.
Well, fii'st, it was a dictum, not a decision of the court. Next,
in another and later case, before the same eminent jurist came
a constitutional expounder as eminent, and as generally ac-
cepted — none other than Daniel Webster — who took preciselj'
the opposite view. He was discussing the condition of certain


\ territory on this continent which we had recently acqiiired.
Said Mr. Webster: "What is Florida? It is no part of the
. United States. How can it be f Florida is to be governed by
gCongi'ess as it thinks proper. Congress might have done any-
I thing, might have ret'nsed a trial by jury, and refused a Legis-

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Online LibraryWhitelaw ReidOur new duties : a commencement address at the seventy-fifth anniversary of Miami University, Thursday, June 15, 1899 → online text (page 1 of 3)