The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, February 22, 1901, Page 3, Image 3

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"Warnings of a Parting. Friend."
"The disinterested warnings of a parting
friend," is the way George "Washington referred
to the adinonitionq, contained in His farewell ad
dress. The observance of the birthday of that
great American will be of no value to this generation
unless the American people shall turn seriously
and intelligently to an inspection of the things
which made this man great, and a careful study
of the warnings which his love for his country
prompted him to place before the American
Washington's birthday is a national holiday,
and it will be very generally celebrated through
out the country. Aud yet at this time the men in
charge of our national affairs arc violating every
admonition contained in the farewell address of
the soldier and statesman whose memory all
should revere.
It was Washington's solicitude for his coun
try's welfare, which he declared could not end
but with his life, that prompted him to give de
tailed warnings against the dangers which his expe
rience and foresight anticipated for this nation.
Liberty and the "Washington wrote of the love of
Constitution. liberty as being "interwoven
with every ligament of your
hearts," and, he added, that n) recommendation
of his was necessary "to fortify or confirm the
attachment." If Washington lived today, would
he not be justified in suspecting that this attach
ment was in need of at least some "fortification?"
"Washington urged that "the free constitution
which is the work of your hands may be sacredly
maintained." Can it be said that this hope has
been fulfilled when today the executive- branch of
the government violates with impunity the letter
and the spirit of the constitution?
Washington expressed the hope that the hap
piness of the American people "under the au
spices of liberty" might be so complete that the
people might acquire the glory of recommending
liberty "to the applause, the affection and adop
tion of every nation which is yet a stranger to
it." Can it be said that this hope approaches ful
fillment at a time when we have turned our backs
upon two republics in South Africa, whose peo
ple are fighting for freedom, and when we are
sending armed forces to the Philippine Islands to
subjugate a people who aspire to liberty?
Overgrown Washington urged us to avoid the
nilitary necessity of "those overgrown
Establishments, military establishments, which,
under any form of government
are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be
regarded as particularly hostile to republican lib
erty." And yet today our national authorities
have just completed an "overgrown ntilitary
establishment," and the army and navy appropri
ation, exclusive of pensions, made at the present
session of congress amounts to $23, GOG, 870.
"Washington declared that "the constitution,
which at any time exists till changed by an ex
plicit and authentic act of the whole people, is
sacredly obligatory upon all." How widely did
Washington's views differ from those of the re
publican leaders of today? A republican con
gress violates the constitutional requirement that
tariff duties shall be uniform, and ignores the con
stitutional prohibition against a tax: on exports.
A republican president in the absence of congres-
The Commoner1.
sional authority declares war, signs an agreement
whereby purchase is the method for emancipation
on United States territory, transfers to a commis
sion of individuals appointed by himself the
power to make laws, to collect and disburse the
revenues, and to exercise all powers of sovereignty
in a territory which our national authorities claim
to bo subject to United States jurisdiction.
The Spirit of Washington warned us to "rc
Innovatlon. sist with care the spirit of inno
vation" upon the principles of
our government, "however specious the pretexts."
Have wo manifested the anxiety on this point
which Washington would have had us cultivate?
Washington warned us against a disposition
toward factionalism, pointing out that "soonor or
later the chief of some prevailing faction more
able or more fortunate than his competitors would
turn this disposition to the purposes of his own
elevation on the ruins of public liberty." It is
not difficult to see how this admonition has been
ignored at a time when congress and president
have abdicated their privilege of originating and
enacting wholesome measures, have surrendered
their duty of disposing of public questions in the
light of public interests all in favor of one indi
vidual, whose public importance is due to the skill
lie has displayed as a politician.
The Spirit of No more striking warning was
Encroachment, given by Washington than when
he said :
"It is important that the habits of thinking in a
free country should inspire caution in those entrusted
with its administration, to confine themselves within
their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding" in
the exercise of the powers of one department any
encroachment upon another.
The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the
powers of all the departments in one, and thus to
create, whatever the form of government, a real des
potism. A just estimate of that love of power and
proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the
human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of
this position. The necessity of reciprocal checks in
the exercise of political power by dividing and dis
tributing it into different depositories, and constitut
ing each the guardian of the public weal against
innovations by the others has been evinced by experi
ments, ancient and modern, some of them in our own
country and under our own eyes. To preserve them
must be as necessary as to institute them.
Of all of Washington's warnings none are
more pertinent to the present day than this. In
every instance where one department has en
croached upon the other, it has been on the
pretense of public good, and on this point Wash
ington gave to us an explicit admonition.
"Though this in one instance," said Washington,
"may be the instrument of good, it is the cus
tomary weapon by which free governments are
destroyed. The precedent must always greatly
overbalance in permanent evil any partial or
transient benefit which the use can at any time
Foundation of
The Fabric.
Washington held that virtue or
morality was "a necessary spring
of popular government," and he
added that no sincere friend to free government
"can look with indifference upon attempts to
shake the foundation of the fabric." What lias
become of this "necessary spring" when ship
subsidy grabbers, trust magnates, and other rep
. reseutatives ' of a privileged class are accorded
high scats in the national councils, and make and
unmake laws according to their own whims and
to the advautago of their own interests? What
has become of the "necessary spring" when we
are appropriating millions of dollars in order to
carry on a war of conquest, in order to subjugate
a peoplo who arc fighting for principles declared
by Washington and the men of his time to 1q
true principles, and in their truth eternal as the
Washington admonishes us to economy in all
public affairs, and at this moment there is draw
ing to a close a congressional session that is ap
propriating, or will appropriate before its con
clusion, very nearly a billion dollars.
Insidious Wiles Washington admonishes us
of Foreign against inveterate antipathies to-
Influence. ward any nation, and at the same
time took occasion to remind us
that "affectionate attachment for any nation
should also be excluded." And yet today our
national authorities are cultivating a devotion
toward Great Britain so ardent that it precludes us
from building a canal on American soil without
British consent; that prevented us from protest
ing against the American Hag being hauled down
on territory which for thirty-two years had been
United States property, and that denied us the
traditional privilege of expressing sympathy with
two republics struggling for existence and doing
battle against the encroachments of an empire.
Washington warned us against foreign in
fluence, and so earnest was he on this point that
lie pleaded: "I conjure you to believe me, my
fellow citizens." Pointing out the wide differ
ence between the interests of a government by
free men and a government by monarchs, Wash
ington said: "Against the insidious wiles of
foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me,
my fellow citizens) the jealousy of a free people
ought to be constantly awake, since history and
experience prove that foreign influence is one of
the most baneful foes of republican gdvernment."
Americans of today are in a position to realize the
value of this admonition; and Americans of to
day a'ro in a position to know that Washington
prophesied well when in warning us against "ex
cessive partiality for one foreign nation" he said:
"real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the
favorite are liable to become suspected and odious,
while its tools, and dupes usurp ths applause and
confidence of the people to surrender their in
terests." In the opinion of some of the men of
today, the John Hays, whose favorite pastime is
exchanging compliments with British ambassa
dors, are statesmen and patriots' of the highest
character; while men who protest against the "in
sidious -wiles" of British influence are enemies to
national progress and dangerous foes to national
Counsels of
An Old and
These admonitions were, in the
language of Washington, "the
counsels of an old and affection
atp friend." He said he dared
not hope they would make the
strong and lasting impression he could wish; but
they did make a strong impression, and, written
in 1700, they were lasting for a period of 100
years. Until the days of the present administra
tion they provided the rules for our national coik,
duct. That these principles are yet strong in the!,
American heart cannot be doubted. Washington S
himself said that if these suggestions might "now
and then recur" to warn "against the mischiefs of
foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures
of pretended patriotism, this hope will be a full
recompense for the solicitude for your welfare by
which they have been dictated."
If it was ever important that interest be re
vived in a great state paper, it is important at
this time that interest be revived in Washington's
farewell addregs.