The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, March 01, 1914, Image 1

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The Commoner
VOL. 14, NO. 3
Lincoln, Nebraska, March, 1914
Whole Number 659
The New Era and the Present Administration
An Address by Mr. Bryan, Before the Fifth Annual Banquet of the Lincoln Commercial Club, January 6, 1914
Mr. President and Members of the Commer
cial Club:
I appreciate the favorable circumstances that
have made it possible for me to be here just at
this time, and I desire to thank you for your
very hospitable reception. I am grateful, too,"
for the kind words spoken by your presiding
officer, in presenting me to you. It is very
pleasing to come back and to find a club of this
size, so earnestly devoted to the welfare of this
beautiful city. I can very easily imagine that
your enthusiasm, already marked and at high
pitch, will be even increased as you gather in
spirations from your president. He is full of
the spirit that means progress, ' that means ad
vancement, and that means success.
This club is a very harmoniousclub.' I have
been impressed with that tonight and I--want to"
start well by saying something that will have
universal approval. It has not always been my
lot to secure universal approval; sometimes many
years have elapsed before I did. But I want to
night to say something that will immediately
win universal approval. I want to say that, hav
ing traveled throughout the country and the
world, I have never seen a finer body of men
than those whom I face tonight. How many of
you indorse the statement? All. in favor say
aye: (Unanimous ayes.)
I do not know just why it was that this one
club sliould find its membership stopping at the
sixteen hundred mark. It only shows that the
ratio is a sacred thing. I was glad, too, to' learn
tonight that this is a democratic club. It was
not always so, but a great change has come over
the country, and customs grow up to meet
conditions. There is a new custom, adapted to
the new condition; it is not proper now to ask
a man his politics, for if he is a democrat, he
will tell you so, and, if he is not, you should
not embarrass him.
In coming back among you, it is delightful to
see so many faces that are familiar; to some I
can attach a name. I only wish I could connect
a name with each face. I have longed, from the
time I entered politics, for that genius, so useful
to the public man, of being able to remember
the name of everyone whom I know by faca
But while I think I can pick out a great many
of you, and not only give your last name, but
your first name also, and probably tell each ono
of you how many times you voted for me, or
against me, yet I can't do it in every case, and
whenever I come back and see a face and can
not think of the name, it reminds me of th
case of an old colored man of whom I heard.
He lived back in slavery days, and had a
wonderful memory. His master was very proud
of his" memory; so proud, in fact, that one time
he made a contract with the devil, by which he
was to give Hezekiah to the devil, if the devil
could catch him in a lapse of memory. So the
devil undertook it; he found him plowing in the
field one day, and suddenly appeared before him
and said: "Hezekiah, do you like eggs?" Heze
kiah says, "Yes, sir," and the devil disappeared.
He waited for twenty years; then ho suddenly
appeared before Hezekiah and asked: "How?"
Hezekiah answered: " Fried." I wish I could
take up those conversations just where we left
off with them in the campaigns.
I am glad to find an improvement; I think
even the newspapers here do better than they
did. I used to have great trouble- with some of
them some of. the time, and with all of them
most of the time. I used to be ro'minded, by
"some of 'the' things they did-and" said,of a,vstdry
that a Canadian brought down hero. He said
that up there they had a Scotchman named
Duncan Frazier, who got into parliament. Once
when they were discussing Corporal punishment
in the schools, ho made a speech against this
kind of punishment, and at the climax of his
argument shouted, "The worst whipping I ever
got in school I got for tolling the truth." A
voice came out of the audience, "And it cured
you, too, didn't it Duncan?"
I was somewhat at loss to know just what I
should say here. Of course I knew what you
wanted me to say, but I could not say it. I knew
you wanted me to say that the next time I came,
I would bring a. new postofllce building under
one arm and a regional bank under the other.
When you have an expectant audience like this,
it is pretty tame not to be able to say more than
that I will do the best I can. I am especially
anxious to get a regional bank in Lincoln, be
cause from the politics of most of the banks here
I think we need a good bank. But thinking
over this occasion I thought that I might follow
tho suggestion of the great Scottish poet, who
said that men will talk of what runs in their
heads. And probably if I talk about tho things
that run in my head, I can make a more satis
factory speech than I could if I attempted to
guess at what is running through your heads.
And so I take Tor my subject "Tho New Era,"
and I shall tell you something about tho era
upon which we are entering, and of the man
under whoso leadership we are entering it. I am
more encouraged to do it by the fact that this
is, as your president declared early, a demo
cratic rlub.
Someone has said that history is a record of
the lives of great men, and surely wo cannot
overestimate the profound influence that a
human being can exortAunmV the history of his
time. I beiieve that -wirTOferyJwritten,
the'Ufs'tory' of this" timeV that it will be said
that this is tho boginuing of a new era, a new
and great era, and that the one in the White
House, who bears v the burdens of leadership,
measured up to the responsibilities of the time.
I am near enough to Woodrow Wilson to get
his measure. I not only read the things that
you read in the papers, but I hear things that
the newspaper men do not hear. And I have a
chance to measure the man. The surveyor has
to have two points fixed in order to establish a
line, and so in public men you must have two
points fixed before you can measure tho man.
In the case of the individual, you can measure
a man somowhat by one point, but you cannot
get a line on a public man without two. Tho
first point is the matter of conscience. In tho
case of the individual, if ho is a conscientious
man, if ho does what ho believes to be right,
you must respect him whether you agree with
him or not. The man in private life who follows
his conscience, is entitled to the respect of every
one who knows him, no matter how he may err
in the opinion of those about him. And In public
life also, it is as important that a man should
follow his conscience. There is nothing else that
is reliable. The burdens of a high position ara
too great to bo borne by any man who does not
put tho approval of his conscience above tho ap
plause of the multitude. And the wise man
knows that' the more closely he follows hia
conscience, the more likely he is to have tho
applause of the multitude.
I know Woodrow Wilson well enough to know
that he is conscientious. I know him well
enough to know that you can awaken him at
any hour of the night and present to him any
question, no matter what it may be, and he will
decide it according to what he believes to ba
right, and take the responsibility. That is the
first point fixed, but that is not enough in tha
public man. A public man may be conscien
tious and yet wrong, and if he is conscientious