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About The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923 | View Entire Issue (Aug. 1, 1902)
WILLIAfl J. BRYAN, EDITOR AND PROPRIETOR,
Vol. a. No. 28.
Lincoln, Nebraska, August 1, 1903.
Whole No. 80.
Morgan Rightly Measured.
Americana will be interested tor-know that
Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany has surveyed J. Pier
pont Morgan and correctly measured him. The
kaiser is reported as saying: "Try as I could his
conversation failed to reveal to me that ho had
any clear comprehension of the vast harmonies
and conflicts of the commercial universe. I was
amazed to find him not well informed regarding
the historical and philosophical development of
nations." He added that Mr. Morgan struck him
as being "a man who is absorbed in Immediato
problems and incapable of seeing consequence?
far ahead." The kaiser is a discerning man; in a
Bhort visit with Morgan ho found out what seems
not to be apparent to many Americans, namely,
that the. great financier is perfectly blind to tho
natural and necessary consequences that will fol
low his schemes. If Morgan were a philosopher
or a student of human nature he would know that
evil and only evil can follow from tho monopolies
which ho Las' helped to organize. He is either
without conscience" or without judgment and it is
more charitable to take the kaiser's view and con
sider hiih as "incapable of seeing consequences
far ahead." Ho is on a par with the drayman who
-starves his horse, or the farmer who impoverishes
the soil, or the merchant who extorts from his
customer, or the parent who puis his child to
work 'in the factory when it ought to bo in
school, only he cannot-plead necessity as an ex
cuse. America 'lias no foreign foe half so dangerous
as Mr. Morgan and the plutocracy for -which ho
stands. It would bo fortunate for this country if
all of our .people understood Mr. Morgan as well
as Germany's monarch does.
Interest on Public Funds.
In 1900 Mr. William O'Keefe of Plymouth,
Ind:, was elected treasurer of Marshal county.
Upon entering upon the duties of the office, Jan
uary 1, 1902, he issued the following statement:
In entering upon the office of county
treasurer it is my purpose to discharge all tho
duties connected therewith to the best of my
ability and in strict accordance with the law.
I believe that a public office is a public trust,
and that it should be administered in the in
terest of the people, and not for the benefit of
the incumbent of the office. So believing, I
shall deposit in safe banking institutions all
funds received by me as -such treasurer, where
the same will be kept until paid out to the par
ties authorized to receive the same; and all in
terest received by mo from said banks on all
county funds so deposited will be paid into the
county treasury for the benefit of the tax
payers. I will no.t use any of the money in tho
transaction of my private business, nor will I
Joan any of the funds of the, county to private
individuals or others, as .the money is not
mine to use in that way.
', " During the first six months of his term che
interest on public moneys - in his possession
amounted to $700.26, and this sum has been turned
into the county treasury. Mrj O'Keefe believes
that public office is a public trust and, holding this
opinion, believes that he is not entitled to interest
that arises from tho deposit of public money. In
defending his position he says that in loaning only
to the 'banks and in accounting for all tho in
terest received he avoids . tho temptation to pay
political debts with county money or -to loan at in
sufficient security. Ho is thus protecting himself
while he protects tho county.
Mr. O'Keefo has set an excellent example, and
treasurers, Btato, county and municipal, may well
imitate him. There is no reason why a treasurer
should be allowed to increase his salary indefinite
ly by tho loaning of public moneys, and it is
neither safe to tho county nor kind to him to sub
ject him to tho temptations which naturally and
necessarily follow tho old method of handling
public funds. Most of the embezzlements which
have brought loss to counties and ruin to offi
cials can bo traced to one of three causes: First,
tho use of public funds in business investments
and speculation in such cases defalcation Rpmcs
when the business investment proves bad or tho
speculation unfortunate; second, tho loaning of
public moneys at insufficient security for tho pur
pose of getting a higher rate of interest in such
cases the official mortgages his honor and his
office on the promise of an increased return; third,
tho use of public moneys to pay political debts, or
to make political friends.
The laws should everywhere regulate the dis
position to be made of public funds and removo
from the official all temptation to profit at the ex
pense of the government In 1888 the republican
national platform denounced Mr. Cleveland's first
administration for depositing money in favored
banks, but it has followed the same plan and
there is no doubt that it has thus secured large
additions to its campaign funds (which are really
an indirect form of interest although paid to tho
political party malting tho loan instead of to tho
government representing the whole people). Thero
is no doubt that state funds are often used in tho
same manner and, to a lesser degree, the funds of
county and city. It would bo well for all public
officials to make and keep the resolve published
by Mr. O'Keefo upon tho assumption of his du
ties, but it would be better still if the laws com
pelled all officials to do as "Mr. O'Keefo has vol
untarily done, for while thero is power in a good
example it is wise for the community to strengthen
the officials by removing the temptation from
them. The public will find no difficulty in secur
ing officials who will do the work for the salary
paid. In fact, tho public will get better service
from the men who will accept the office for the
salary tha- from men who enter the office with
the expectation of making money on the side.
As a True Democrat.
Commenting upon the letter written by David
B. Hill to the effect that he was "still a democrat
very still" in 1896, the Now York World says:
As a true democrat Governor Hill could
only have brokon-his silence in that campaign
to expose the fallacy and to denounce the
essential dishonesty of tho demand for the
free, unlimited and independent coinage of
silver at the false ratio of 16 to 1.
Then the World says that democrats ought
to be very grateful to Mr. Hill for keeping "very
If "as a true democrat" Mr. Hill could only
have broken his silence in 1896 "to expose the
fallacy and to denounce the essential dishonesty of
the demand for the free, unlimited and indepen
dent coinage of silver at the ratio of 16 to 1,"
what was Mr. Hill in 1900 when we are told ha
gave sincere and cordial support to tho democratic
The platform of 1900 contained a demand for
the free and unlimited coinage of silver at the"
ratio of 16 to 1. Mr. Hill's friends claim that in
that campaign ho was sincere in his support of
the ticket. Was he "a true democrat" in 1900
when he broke his silence and yet failed to "ex
pose the fallacy and to denounce the essential dis
honesty" of a plank in tho national platform? Or
was he "a true democrat" in the campaign of 1896
when he was "still very still?"
Cleveland and Tariff Reform.
Tho Richmond Telegram, which announce
editorially that it would be willing to vote for Mr.
Cleveland again, although preferring somo one
else, takes Mr. Bryan to task for doubting Mr.
Cleveland's fidelity to tariff reform. It says:
If he (Mr. Bryan) is an honest man ho
must admit that Mr. Cleveland, whatever may
bo his sins, has for twenty years been tho
earnest, consistent and unswerving advocato
of low tariff, tho present live issue, and tho
only rational means yot discovered to properly
curb tho trusts, and yot ho tries to produce
the impression that Mr. Cleveland Is opposed
to low tariff. Until wo road this wo belloved
that Mr. Bryan was at least honest and sincere.
Mr. Cleveland's message sent to congress near
tho close of his first administration did not con
tain adlscusslon of the principles of tariff reform;
It was merely a protest against tho accumulation
of tho surplus. Tho wholo message might bo con
densed into tho epigram which did service in 1888,
"Unnecessary taxation is unjust taxation."
After receiving credit for tho message ha
favored the adoption of a platform In 1883
which on tho tariff question did not differ ma
terially from tho republican platform. Tho con
vention of 1892 was compelled to reject tho plat
form prepared by Mr. Cleveland and his friends,
and the campaign that year was fought upon a
platform which was far more radical than Mr.
Cleveland or his managers desired. When the
campaign was over Mr. Cleveland refused to call
congress together to take up the tariff question
upon which tho party was united. Ho waited un
til tho financiers demanded further legislation in
the direction of tho gold standard, and then he
called congress together and divided his party by
trying to compel its support of a bill Identical in
purpose and almost identical in language with one
Introduced by John Sherman a year before.
When congress did get a chance to legislate
upon the tariff question, moro than a year after
the campaign of 1892, ho became disgruntled be
cause the bill did not contain the specific provi
sions which ho desired and refused to sign the
measure, allowing it to become a law without hia
signature. The Wilson bill was a much bettor
tariff measure when it passed the house than when
it came back from the senate with amendments,
but as passed it was the best that could be se
cured under tho. circumstances, and Mr. Cleveland
did not show any great interest in tariff reform
when he refused to sign the bill and gave tho re
publicans a weapon to use against it.
In 1896, when Mr. McKInloy, tho representa
tive of ultra-high tariff views, was a candidate,
Mr. Cleveland threw all his influence to his elec
tion, and after the election, at the Waldorf dinner, '
boasted of his part in tho republican victory. He
defended his action on the ground that the money
question was moro important than tho tariff, but
whatever his excuse was he suppressed his hos
tility to high tariff long enough to help install a
protectionist administration. In 1900 he again,
by silence, threw his influence to the side of high,
tariff, although he contended that the money
question was dead and even though he had de
nounced Imperialism as a menace to the very ex
istence of tho republic.
Now this is his record, and the editor of the
Telegram will not dispute a single fact herein
stated. Yot ho insists that if Mr. Bryan is an
honest man he must admit that "Mr. Cleveland has
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