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About The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923 | View Entire Issue (May 10, 1901)
crushing condemnation "but for tho fact that
Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin also
come in for their share of tho censure. Their
principles are swept aside as "generalities"
when 'they attempt to hold nations to tho same
code of ethics which they apply to individuals.
Mr. Wattcrson says that ho will not stop "to
gainsay or dispute" these generalities.
lie apparently admits tho correctness of tho
principles laid down "by tho opponents of im
perialism, but argues that the nation is at lib
erty to disregard them. Tho difference be
tween tho honest man and the dishonest one is
not generally a difference in principles for
nearly all men admit the truth when it is stated
in the abstract but the difference is that tho
former applies his principles to every day life,
while tho latter, in tho hour of temptation,
waives them aside as generalities and then tries
to lay upon his environment tho responsibility
for his sins.
Mr. Wattcrson's definition of statesman
ship is that it is the art of detaching one's pol
icies from his visions or, to speak more plainly,
the art of ignoring moral principles whenever
it is popular or profitable to do so. Fortun
ately this definition has never been and let
lis hope never will be generally accepted. The
statesman must have- ideals, for without them
ho cannot appeal to tho hearts of men; arid ho
must follow his ideals, for unless he does he
cannot long retain tho confidence of the.peo-
pie. Tho politician may "run with tho haro
and hunt with the hounds,?' -but in tho former
caso ho is apt to be caught and in the latter,
v caso ho earns a dog's reputation.
Mr. Wattcrson's illustrations are as unfor
tunate as his logic, as the following will show:
"Mr. Jefferson allowed no theory to stand be
tween him and the purchase of Louisiana, though
in making tho purchase he had to cross his own
tracks." Mr. Lincoln allowed no constitutional
scruple to stand between him and emancipation,
though, being a conscience Whig, to save his con-'
science, he issued the proclamation as a- war
There was no moral principle involved in
the acquisition of the Louisiana Territory.
Jefferson doubted whether tho letter of the
constitution permitted it, but having an op
portunity to purchase it, not for the exploita
tion of a colony but as an integral part of a re
public, ho did so expecting to ask for a consti
tutional amendment approving of it.
The act, however, was so universally com
mended and the opinion that the act was consti
tutional was so general that no effort was made
to amend the constitution.
Lincoln was always opposed to slavery.
While he believed that slavery should be pro
tected where it existed under the constitution,
he never attempted to conceal his opinion as to
the moral question involved, and he justified his
emancipation proclamation as the taking of
property is always justified in time of war;
Neither Jefferson nor Lincoln "detached his
policies from his visions" or justified what ho
regarded as morally wrong on tho ground that
he was swept along by an irresistbile force.
Imperialism is not a transient question; it
is an organic disease and attacks the vital prin
ciples of tho republic. Tho permanent reten-
tion of the Philippine islands necessitates ono
of two coui ses. First, wo can admit the Fil
ipinos to citizenship and allow them to. sharo
with us in shaping the destiny of "Tho United
.States of America and Asia," but no consider
able portion of our people favors this plan.
Second, wo can treat tho Filipinos as subjects
and give them, not such a government as wo
have but such a government as we think they
ought to have, shooting such as interpose an
objection. This is the plan which the republi
can party is now developing.
Buckle said that the English could not de
fend the war against the colonies without as
serting principles which, if carried out, would
havo destroyed English liberty. So today, tho
democratic party cannot defend the adminis
tration's policy in the Philippines without as
serting principles which, if carried out, will de
stroy liberty in the United States.
The commandment thou shalt not steal,
cannot be qualified so as to admit of the stealing
of islands or so moderated as to excuse larceny
when committed by a large nation against a
small one; neither can the principles which
underlie our government be so construed as to
sanction a government founded on force or
"taxation without representation." For more
than a century our nation has been travelling
upward and toward the light. Its history, its
traditions and its songs have breathed the
spirit of liberty and have been an inspiration
to the oppressed in every quarter of the globe.
The democratic party has 'raised its voice in
behalf of human rights and blood bought bles
sings. It will not abandon its ideas; it will
not detach -its policies from its visions; it will
not adopt an "anything to win" policy; it will
not begin bellowing at the scent of blood.
A Defender of Perfidy.
In discussing the Teller resolution some of
the papers describe it as an embarrassment and
express regret that congress adopt it.
Some, however, think that it was then wise
to adopt the resolution, but that the na
tion is at liberty to disregard it now.
The St. Paul Globe says:
"There are times when it is neither prudent
nor sensible ta ' e consistent. Circumstances may
so change that a consistent policy would mean
ruin to an individual or disaster to a nation. It is
then that men and nations must do that which ap
pears the thing to' do, irrespective of consistency.
"The Teller resolution may have been the
proper thing at the time it was passed. Any other
expression of policy toward Cuba migh: have
brought on serious foreign complications. As it
was, France and Germany were openly hostile,
while the whole group of Latin-American repub
lics were suspicious."
It would be difficult to find a bolder state
ment of the position assumed by those who de
fend perfidy. It is bad enough to argue that
now conditions have arisen which show the
resolution to have been unwise, but to say that
the resolution was necessary at the time to
pacify other nations and that having served its
purpose it should be cast aside, discloses a
moral obliquity which is rare even in these
days of commeicialism.
To make tho matter still worse, tho Teller
resolution was merely the verbal acknowledge
ment of a truth which wonldhavc existed even
had no resolution been adopted. Quoting from
tho Declaration of Independence, it declared
that the Cubans were and of right ought to bo
The right of the Cubans to their indepen
dence did not, however, depend upon our reso- -lution,
and it is humiliating to think that a na
tion like the United States has to be held to a
righteous course by the letter of a promise
humiliating to know that but for. that resolu
tion those in control of the administration
would insist upon this nation assuming tho
authority exercised by Spain when the war -began.
A man is more than half a thief when he
stops to consider a proposition to steal, and so
a nation has already suffered degradation when
it admits that it is only restrained from wrong
dbing by a pledge which it regrets.
The Pass in Court.
During the recent session of the Nebraska
Legislature two bills relating to railroad passes
were introduced in the House of represented
tives and favorably reported, but were not con-.
sidcred. The following extracts present tho
parts germane to the present discussion. II.
R. No. 430: "A judge or justice is disqualified,
from acting as such except by mutual consent..
of parties, in any case wherein he is a party, or
or when ho shall have received or usedfrea.
transportation, or transportation at less than ,j
the established or usual rate or price, or had
the promise of the same in any form for his
person or property, from any railroad company
or over or upon any railroad or any such trans
portation within thq time aforesaid, shall havo "
been, directly or indirectly requested by him
for himself or for any other person or prop
erty, and such mutual consent must be in writ
ing and made a part of the record."
H. R. No 428: "It shall be sufficient
cause of challenge of a petit juror that he lacks
any one of the qualifications mentioned in sec
tion two (2) of this acfr
or that he has served as a juror on the trial of
a cause in any court of record in the county
within one year previous to the time of his: -being
offered as a juror; or that within such
time he shall have received or used free trans
portation, or transportation at less than the es
tablished or usual rate or price, or had tho
promise of tho same in any form for his per
son or property, from any railroad company,
or over or upon any railroad, or any such
transportation within the time aforesaid shall
"have been directly or indirectly lequested by "
him for himself or. for any other person or
Judge Muugor of tho United States Court
for the District.of Nebraska has recently held
it cause for challenge in a suit to which a rail
road was a party that a juror after ho was
drawn and summoned asked and received from
such railroad a pass.
The principles embodied in the bills quoted
from and the rule laid down by Judge Hunger
are undoubtedly sound. That a pass has a
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