The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, December 13, 1901, Image 1

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The Commoner.
Vol. i. No. 47.
Lincoln, Nebraska, December 13, 1901.
$1.00 a Year
The President's Message.
President Roosevelt's first message to congress
contains much that can be commended by members
of all parties. After paying a high compliment to
his predecessor he discusses, the question of an
archy at some length, and proposes certain rem
edies which The Commoner will discuss hereafter
when those remedies are embodied in bills presented
for consideration of congress. He pays a deserved
tribute to agriculture and emphasizes the import
ance of the preservation of the forests. His recom
mendations on the subject of irrigation are espe
cially good. He seems to fully appreciate the
magnitude of the subject and the limitations
which he suggests are eminently wise. It is to be
hoped that congress will heed his advice and in all
legislation bear in mind that "the only right to
water which should be recognized is that of use,"
and that "in irrigation this right should attach
to the land reclaimed and be inseparable there
from." His comparison between the granting of
"perpetual water rights to others than the' users"
and the "giving away of perpetual franchises to
the public utilities of cities" is just and timely.
His indorsement of the Monroe doctrine' is em
phatic and comprehensive. His remarks on the
ldbor question indicate that he has a clearer con
ception of the laborers' struggles and difficulties
assumes what is not true, namely, that "there is
general acquiescence in our present tariff system
as a national policy." He recommends a limited
system of reciprocity, but wants it distinctly un
derstood that we must not concede anything that
U really of any value to us. No one can read thai
portion of his message without being convinced
that the reciprocity idea will be entirely subordi
nated to the interests and demands of the ben
eficiaries of a high tariff. In fact, he says as much
when he declares that "reciprocity must be treated
as the handmaiden of protection," and, therefore,
like a handmaiden, subject to discharge on shoit
The president follows the republican platform,
and recommends the creation of a new cabinet po
sition to be filled by a representative of the com
mercial and industrial interests. It will be re
membered that the democratic platform advo
cated the creation of a department of labor, with
a cabinet officer in charge. The difference between
a representative of commerce and industry (al
ready represented to a largo extent by the secretary
of the treasury, who is closely associated with
the bankers, by the secretary of state, who is in
contact with our consular representatives, and
by thev attorney general, who has for years been
thansomepraviQUS, .presidents;-"- his" plausjhuwintimato'
over, ror tno amelioration 01 xne cumuuuu ui
the laboring man are open to discussion.
The democrats will dissent from his high tariff
remedy the laborer has been suffering from the
administration of that remedy for about a quarter
of a century. There is virtue, however, in the
president's advocacy of the eight-hour law, and of
regulations to prevent over-work and unsanitary
conditions. He failed to condemn government by
injunction and the blacklist, both of which have
caused much injustice to the wage-earners
' The president's recommendations on the Chi
nese question are welcome; they will insure a
prompt extension of the Chinese exclusion act.
"While many of the republican leaders lean to the
cheap labor side of the Chinese question, there wilt
bo enough republicans ready to act with the demo
crats to make futile any attempt to open our doors
to Chinese emigration.
The president has stated his position with
clearness on the general subject of emigration
and on the subject of civil service, and he pledges
Lis administration to make the appointments in
the army and navy depend upon merit and not
upon personal, political or social influence. He
gives considerable attention to the ,size of the navy,
and urges a considerable increase in the naval
strength of the nation.
m His recommendations upon the subject of. the
merchant marine and on the subject of interstate
commerce are not specific. He wants to see the
American merchant marine "restored to the
ocean," but he does not definitely indorse the ship
subsidy bill, which gives the interpretation which
republican leaders have placed upon the republi
can platform. While he favors an enlargement
of the scope of the interstate commerce law in
the interest of the patrons of the road, his lan
guage raises a suspicion .that he is also willing .to
concede to the railroads the pooling privileges for
which they have contended for several years.
In discussing the tariff question the president
speaking for and representing the great wage-earn
ing classes of tho United States ought to be appar
ent to anyone.
The president's recommendation in regard to
an isthmian canal also follows the republican plat
form, and leaves out all mention of the route to bo
followed. There is a widespread opinion that the
Panama canal project has been used by the rail
roads to prevent the digging of the Nicaragua
canal. The message indicates that the president
appreciates the importance of the canal, and this
gives us some room to hope that even though ho
does not specifically indorse the Nicaragua route,
he will not permit the railroads to further delay
the inauguration of this great enterprise.
The president makes no reference to the Boar
war. Whether he has been so occupied with pub
lic affairs as not to have learned of the struggle
going on in South frica; whether, having learned
of it, he considers it a matter of trivial importance;
whether he sympathizes with the Boers, but is pre
vented by allegiance to his party from giving ex
pression to that sympathy, or whether his sym
pathies are with England in her efforts to extend
her empire, all these are left to conjecture.
Scant attention is given to the money ques
tion; less than three hundred words are used to
set forth the, president's position on a questioj
which the republican papers declared to be para--mount
in the last campaign. Below will be four.d
the only reference to this important subject:
The act of March 14, 1900, intended un
equivocally to establish gold as t'ie standard
money and to maintain at a parity therewith
all forms of money medium in use with us,
has been shown to bo timely and judicious,
The price of our government bonds in the
world's market, when compared with the price
of similar obligations issued by other nations,
is a flattering tribute to our public credit.
This condition it is eminently desirable to
In many respects the national banking
law furnishes sufficient liberty for the proper
exerciso of tho banking function, but there
seems to bo need of better safeguards against
tho deranging influenco of commercial crises
and financial panics. Moreover, tho currency
of tho country shall be made responsive to
the demands of our domestic trade and com
merce. Does this mean that the president does not
favor the proposed measure making tho silver
dollar redeemable in gold," or does it mean that ho
is going to adopt the plan followed by the gold
standard advocates in the past and prevent as far
as possible the discussion of financial measures?
He docs not mention tho branch bank or tho asset
currency? Does it mean that ho does not favor
them, or that ho prefers to have them sprung upon
congress and rushed through before tho peoplo
have a chanco to understand them? If measures
are necessary to protect the peoplo "against the
deranging influence of commercial crises and
financial panics," why not present such measures
for tho consideration of tho people? If tho cur
rency should be made "responsive to tho demands
of our domestic trade and commerce," why riot out
line a plan so that, tho public generally can ex
amine and discuss lt?J- Everybody reads tho presi
dent's message, but comparatively few peoplo know
anything about the uni, ratntmi) JEajLbqii' g
as time passes, whether the currency question oc
cupies as small a place in congressional considera
tion as It has in tho president's message.
The president's recommendations on the postal
system will bo discussed at another time when
they can be considered more fully.
The two subjects specially emphasized in tho
president's message are tho trust question and tho
Philippine situation. On another page will ho
found those portions of the message which relate
to these two subjects. These extracts are given in
order that the readers of The Commoner may judge
l'or themselves whether the comments to be mado
are justified. A perusal of the president's utter
ances on the trust question will convince any un
prejudiced reader that the president has heard
from the trust magnates since he made his Min
neapolis speech. His famous phrase in regard to
the shackling of cunning is reproduced, but it is so
diluted with warnings, cautions and fears, as to be
scarcely recognizable. It is evident that the presi
dent has been deeply impressed by the doleful
prophecies and threatenings of the monopolists.
He is willing to admit that the consolidation of
capital which is going on is a process which has
avoused much antagonism, but he feels it neces
sary to add "a great part of which is wholly with
out warrant." He borrows the phraseology of trust
defenders when he asserts that "the average man,
the wage-earner, the farmer, the small trader, have
never before been so "well off as In this country and
at this time." The inference is natural that tha
trust evil is not really serious, if Industrial condi
tions are as favorable as the president asserts.
He borrows the epithets of the trust magnates
when he warns the country against "ignorant
violence," against "tho ignorant or reckless agi
tator," against "crude and ill-considered legisla
tion" and against "appeals, especially to hatred
and fear." It is doubtful whether any one as bad
ly scared as the president seems to be Is in a
proper frame of mind to calmly consider an effec
tive anti-trust law. He gives the benefit of the.
JuLi.ii is