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About The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923 | View Entire Issue (Sept. 23, 1904)
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WILLIAM J. BRYAN, EDITOR AND PUBLISHER.
Vol. 4tvNo. 36.
Lincoln, Nebraska, September 23, 1904.
Whole Number 193
" IMPROVISING CONVICTIONS "
Charging the democratic party with incon
sistency, Mr. Roosevelt says: "It is doubtful if
they (the democrats) venture resolutely to press
a single issue. As soon as they raise one they
shrink from it and seek to explain it away." Mr.
Roosevelt adds: "Such an attitude is the prob
ably inevitable result of the effort to improvise
convictions; for when thus improvised, it is nat
ural that they should be held in a tentative
Mr. Roosevelt ought to be an authority upon
"improvising convictions." He certainly has had
considerable experience in that line.
When he was vice president, Mr. Roosevelt
had the conviction that the trusts must be sup
pressed and he delivered an address at Minneapolis
on Labor day. He said: "We shall finds it necessary
in the future to shackle cunning, as in the past
we have shackled force." In that address, Mr.
Roosevelt went so far that the Kansas City Star,
a republican paper, printed an editorial comment- "
ing upon Mr. . Roosevelt's speech, in which the
Star said: "William Jennings Bryan, with all his
professed hostility for combinations against trade,
has never said anything in relation to trusts so
emphatic and unequivocal as the utterances of
Vice President Roosevelt at Minneapolis. To the
notable political epigrams of the day must bo
added the declaration of Mr. Roosovelt that 'wo
shall find it necessary in the future to shackle
cunning as in the past we have shackled force.'
The whole range of modern democratic literature
might be searched in vain for a pronunciamento
more courageous than that on the tyrannical cen
tralization of capital." As soon as he became
president, however, Mr. Roosevelt seems to have
"improvised" his convictions; at least, he has
done nothing to "shackle cunning as in the past
we have shackled force." He has not undertaken
to enforce the criminal clause of the Sherman anti
trust law, nor has he attempted to wage a serious
campaign against the trust system.
In his earlier day's Mr. Roosevelt was an ar
dent champion of the civil service, but since he
became president, he seems to have "improvised"
his convictions on that subject.
When Mr. Roosevelt succeeded to the presi
dency he announced that he would carry out the
McKinley policies to the letter. In his last speech
at Buffalo, Mr. McKinley attached great import
ance to reciprocity, and republican papers very
generally commended that speech not as the "hand
maiden of protection," but as an essential depart
ure from the protective theory. Several months
after Mr. Roosevelt was inaugurated president the
Washington correspondent for the New York
World quoted a member of the Roosevelt cabinet
in which that member. said: "We can not come
down from President McKinley's- position too
rapidly. That would be unkind to his memory
and impolitic. But we can come, down and wo
will and by the end of the Fifty-seventh congress,
we will be 'just where we started, with no reci
procity of any consequence and with all our pro
tection." History shows that this cabinet member
knew what he was talking about. Evidently, Mr.
Roosevelt had "improvised" his convictions on
-In his book entitlod "American Ideas and
Other Essays," Mr. Roosevelt protested against
colonies. He seems, however, to have "Impro
vised" his convictions on that subject, and is now
an ardent champion of the colonial system.
Several years ago Mr. Roosevelt was a mem
ber of the New York free trade club. Today he is
a radical protectionist. He seems to have "Im
provised" his convictions on that subject.
In his book "Life of Thomas H. Benton," Mr.
Roosevelt said: "Political economists have very
generally agreed that protection Is vicious in
theory and harmful in practice," and referring to
the tariff of 1828 he said: "It purported to benefit
the rest of the country, but it undoubtedly worked
real injury to the planter states." Today, Mr.
Roosevelt believes that protection is essential
to the welfare of this government. Evidently he
has "improvised" his convictions on that point.
In his book entitled "The Winning of the
West," Mr. Roosevelt said: "Whether the west
erners governed themselves as wisely as they
-should have,- mattered little. The essential point
was that they had to be given the right of self
government. They could not bo kept in pupilage;
Like other Americans, they had to be left to strike
out for themselves and to sink or swim, according
to the measure of their own capacities. When this
was done, it was certain that they would commit
many blunders, and that some blunders would
work harm not only- to themselves, but to the
whole nation. Nevertheless, all this had to be ac
cepted as part of the penalty paid for free gov
ernment." Today, Mr. Roosevelt believes that the
essential point is not the right of self-government.
He believes that men should bo kept in pupilage.
He presents as an argument agafnst self-government,
the probability that the Filipinos left to
themselves would .commit many blunders. Evi
dently, Mr. Roosevelt has "improvlsod" his con
victions on that subject.
In his "Life of Thomas H. Benton," Mr. Roose
velt said: "Of course, no one would wish to see
these or any other central communities now added
to our domain by force. We want no unwilling
citizens in our union." Now, Mr. Roosevelt is in
favor of conquest and believes that men should be
governed without their consent. Evidently, he
has "improvised" his convictions on that point.
In a speech delivered before Harvard Uni
versity, Mr. Roosovelt said: "It was the custom
in England to reward men who did great work
with titles and lands, while in this country the
hero is rewarded by malign attacks and is for
tunate if he is permitted to take up the threads
of business left in a tangled condition when ho
responded to the call of his country." Mr. Roose
velt did not then seem to believe that It was
proper to "reward" heroes by attacking them; and
yet, everyone remembers how Mr. Roosevelt re
peatedly went out of his way to assail Dewey,
Miles and Schley. Evidently, Mr. Roosevelt "im
provised" his convictions as to the manner in
which heroes should be rewarded.
Years ago, as an author, Mr. Roosevelt had
much to say about liberty and the consent of the
governed, but in a Contury Magazine essay which
Mr. Roosevelt wroto, ho said: "But I hove even
scanter patience with those who make a prc
tenso of humanitarlanlsm to hide and cover their
timidity, and who cant about 'liberty,' and tho
'consent of tho governed' In order to excuse them
selves for their unwillingness to play the part of
men." Evidently, Mr. Roosovelt has "Improvised"
his convictions on liberty and the consent of the
In his work on Benton, Mr. Roosevelt referred
to the "manifest destiny" idea, which he said
"reduced to Its simplest term" was tfiat It was "our
manifest destiny to swallow up the land of all
adjoining nations who wore too weak to with
stand us; a theory that forthwith obtained lm
monse popularity among all statesmen of easy
international morality." Today, Mr. Roosovelt
Is an ardent champion of this same "manliest
destiny." Evidently, he has "Improvised" hlo
convictions on that point.
It would scorn that Mr. Roosevelt is treading
upon dangerous ground when he talks about "im
When Panics Raged
In his letter of acceptance, Mr. Roosevelt said:
"It is but ten years since the last attempt was
made by means of lowering the tariff to prevent
some people from prospering too much. Tho
attempt was entirely successful. The tariff of that
year (1894) was among the causes which in that
year and for some time afterwards effectually pre
vented anybody from prospering too much and
labor from prospering at all." This statement Jo
in line with the declaration in the republican
national platform for 1904 that "a democratic tar
iff has always been followed by business adversity;
a republican tariff by business prosperity."
Neither the statement of Mr. Roosovelt, nor
the declaration in the republican platform is justi
fied by history.
As a matter of fact, every panic during tho
last thirty years originated under republican rulo
and developed under republican legislation.
The gold panics which gave history "black
Friday" occurred during the month of Septem
ber, 1869, when the republican party was in
The great panic marked by the failure of Jay
Cook & Co. occurred in September, 1873. Then
the republican party was in power and eleven
months prior to tho time of that panic, the re
publican party had been re-elected to power.
It is true tho Wilson bill was passed ten yeam
ago. That was in 1894. But that panic did not
originate In 1894; it did not originate In 1893; It
began long prior to the presidential election of
1892 . That panic originated and reached its -worst
under that famous tariff law known as the Mc
The republican party was restored to power.
March 4, 1889.
The McKinley bill became a law October 6,
November 11, 1890, the reports showed financial
distress in New York. The New York clearing
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