The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, April 01, 1914, Page 10, Image 10

Below is the OCR text representation for this newspapers page. It is also available as plain text as well as XML.

The Commoner
VOL. 14, NO. 4
was being made by our coastwise shipowners
until congress undertook to provide for the civil
government of the canal and fix the tolls to be
paid by vessels passing through it.
"Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that it would be
highly dishonorable on our part to contend for
a construction of the treaty which, if contended
for at the time, would have prevented the mak
ing of the treaty, nor do I think that we, in
honor and good conscience, have any rights
under the Hay-Pauncefote treaty that England
would not have had had she constructed the
canal under that treaty instead of ourselves.
Now, does it stand to reason that if England was
in our shoes that we would admit that the terms
of that treaty would permit England to send the
vessels of its citizens through the canal free of
charge whenever engaged in commerce exclusive
ly between Great Britain and her numerous
coldnies, while demanding a toll charge for all
vessels of citizens of the United States engaged
in the coastwise traffic? Why should not nations
as-well as individuals be governed by the Golden
Rule? But, for the sake of argument, let it be
admitted that under the terms of the Hay
Pauncefote treaty we can pass our coastw'se
vessels through the canal without charge; would
lUnot bq a foolish and unwise policy for us to do
so in the face of the charge and belief by all
other nations of the world that such action was
unfair and discriminatory to all other users of
the canal? How are we to build up our foreign
tra'det if we at the same time so demean our
Belves toward them as to give them just cause to
complain that we are a selfish and greedy nation;
tnat we are a driver of hard bargains; that we
arb "harrow, illiberal, and plcayunish? Much of
tne: foreign commerce of the world is so situated
as to make the Suez and the Panama canals com
petitors. Now, why should we give our own
nforiopolistic coastwise shipping a free service
ttfrbugh the canal over the protests of all other
nations when no such a course is pursued with
reference to the Suez canal, the policy of which
Is largely dominated by Great Britain, and espe
cially when our treaty provides that the rules of
the Suez canal, as to conditions and charges of
traffic, shall be the rules of the Panama canal?
Does it not stand to Teason that in such portions
ofthe world where other nations may use either
of these canals they will prefer Suez to Panama?
"Mr Speaker, there is a much greater portion
of the commerce of the world that by reason of
natural conditions on equal tolV charge and equal
treatment will go through the Suez canal; but
with the discriminating, unjust,' and preferen
tial treatment shown by ' the United States to
the owners of vessels in the coastwise trade, will
it noi tend to cause the nations of the world to
prefer the Suez canal to even a greater degree
than they otherwise would?
"Mr. Speaker, I can not bring myself to any
other conclusion than that our policy is short
sighted and on the whole very injurious to our
country in its efforts to build up our foreign
commerce. Even though thero should bo no
question as to our right under the treaty to pur
sue' such a course, a legal right to do a moral
wrong does not make it wise to do such a wrong.
"Mr. Speaker, is it reasonable to suppose that
the great masses of the people are going to be
lieve that the president of the United States, who
has direct charge of the enforcement of all our
treaties with foreign countries, is going to sur
render the rights of the American people, whose
trusted: representative he is, by accepting an
erroueoua construction of a treaty upon the un
warranted demand of any one or all the foreign
nations of the world? Would not any president
thi& "country has ever had or ever will have hesi
tate long before being guilty of such cowardly
and treasonable conduct toward the citizens of
his own country? And yet such is the charge
that is being made every day against President
Wilson, and it is humiliating and mortifying to
know that members of his own party are guilty
of making this charge. For one, I do not believe
it, and 1f -I did-1 would feel that I was a moral
coward if I did not immediately ask for his im
peachment by the house of representatives If
our' president is as bad a man as these charges
would make him, no self-respecting member of
the house so believing can ever again cross the
threshold of the White House even to pay his
respects to the present president of the United
States, for certainly, Mr. Speaker, up man worthy
of a seat in this house could have any respect
for President Wilson while entertaining such an
opinion of him.
"Mr. Speaker, the perpetuity of our institu
tions depends upon the confidence in. and respect
for the agencies'of our government, selected by
the people to do their will, and whenever the
people of the United States lose confidence in the
honor and integrity of public officials our form
of government will be immediately abolished.
"Mr. Speaker, it is being charged and stoutly
maintained that to pass this bill is to violate the
democratic platform of 1912 exempting Ameri
can ships engaged in coastwise trade from the
payment of canal tolls. That such a paragraph
appears in the platform all must admit. This
paragraph is part of the declaration of the party
as to its position on the proper method of build
ing up an American merchant mar'ne. The
major premise or leading and dominating para
graph with regard to the merchant marine is as
" 'We believe in fostering, by constitutional
regulation of commerce, the growth of a mer
chant marine, wh'ch shall develop and strengthen
the commercial ties which bind us to our sister
republics of the south, but without imposing ad
ditional burdens upon the people and without
bounties or subsidies from the public treasury.'
"So it must appear that it is impossible to
carry out the purposes of the exemption para
graph without rendering nugatory the dominat
ing and controlling preceding part of the plat
form prohibiting the use of bounties or sub
sidies fropi the public treasury for the fostering
of a merchant marine. In construing an instru
ment every part of it must be considered, and
especially with regard to conflicting clauses or
paragraphs in the same instrument, and in all
such cases the ent're context of the instrument
must be examined and a fair and reasonable con
struction placed upon every paragraph, as the
same may or may not agree with the entire in
strument, and especially so with reference to the
context bearing upon a special subject matter
of the instrument in which the conflicting para
graphs are found. The toll-exemption provision
is a minor paragraph of that part of the platform
giving expression to the democratic position as
to the means to be used in building up our mer
chant marine, and the exemption paragraph
being subsequent to the major or controlling
paragraph can not be accepted as of greater
we'ght or as of equal weight with the major or
controlling paragraph by which everysubsequent
provision in the- platform muBt be determined.
"In aid of arriving at a proper construction'
of the exemption paragraph much light is shed
upon the question under consideration ny refer
ence to the party's position on the subject of a
merchant iriarine in the platforms of 1904 and
190S. In the platform of 190'4 we find the fol
lowing paragraph:
" 'We favor the upbuilding of a merchant
marine, without new or additional burdens upon
the people and without bounties from the treas
ury. "In the platform of 1908, upon the merchant
marine we find the following plank:
" 'Wo believe in theupbuilding of the Ameri
can merchant marine without new or additional'
burdens upon the people and without bounties
from the public treasury.'
"So, Mr. Speaker, in construing the exemption
clause by the democratic platforms of 1904 and
t iL? ? Well,as 1912e fina that'any attempt
to build up the merchant marine by imnosinc
new or additional burdens upon the people or
by the use of bounties: or subsidies from the
pubic treasury is positively, unequivocally, and
absolutely prohibited. Therefore, if the toll-exemption
clause adds to the burdens of the peo-
?newh JS e,dfi,Cally, in violation of the platform
in which it is found, as-ell as the two preced
tag Platforms which ij have just read The
maintenance and upkeep of the canal, and the
operation of the same, must either be paidfo?
out of the. public treasury or collected ih the
way of tolls from those! who use the canal
There is no sort of contention that any tol
charges that will not be prohibitive on all' vessels
going through the canal, Including those-in the
coastwise trade, will afford a sufficient fund to
pay the current expenses and charges incident to
.".enance and operation of the cana?, its
sanitation, and defense for many years to con 1
and thkt there will necessarily fallMpon the peol
Pie a burden to the extent of -the deficit thar
will be required for the' purposes just expressed
in he. way qf public taxation, which bSden is
fflj; frLT be largeiy au
be put in practice withSut being in direct con
flf ' lth the prohibitions and inhibitions sue
oifically provided lor in our three last nnnl
Platforms. -It seems to me, Uv" Spe"Z
there can not be a particle of doubt that the
free-tolls clause found in the platform of 19 12
is in direct conflict with and renders nugatory
the preceding specific limitations upon the meth
ods to be used in building up a merchant marine
in our present and two preceding platforms.
"But, Mr. Speaker, who is to decide as to the
proper construction of apparently conflicting
paragraphs of our party platform? As to the
construction and meaning of our national plat
form, the president of the United States is the
court of last resort, and his decision on such
questions is final and unreviewable, and in this
sense is infallible. No other position is tenable.
"If every member of a political party is at
liberty for himself apd of himself to determine
what each clause or paragraph of p. platform
means, with no higher authority to pass on the
correctness of his views, what is your platform
worth? Who is the highest political authority
to whom an appeal can be taken until another
national convention meets and a new platform
is adopted? The president of tne United States
is now the highest authority upon his party
platform's construction, however much he may
be mistaken in his construction. fany of you
believe the supreme court of the United States
has been mistaken, and that the supreme courts
of your qwn states have been mistaken But
the law-abiding citizens of all-countries obey
and comply with the law as determined by their
respective supreme courts. That court may con
sist, possibly, of a single man Qn .questions of
party doctrine our president is. supreme, being
the court of last resort; and if we have a right
to turn him down, we may refuse to obey the
laws of the state or nation as , interpreted by the
supreme court of the United States it we. differ
with the court. ,
"Now, does anybody believe? tha.the president
of tlie United States has not as much interest in
the proper construction of our platform as any
other living man? He is charged in part with
responsibility for legislation' to carry it out in
the interest of the whole country, -and yet gentle
men are heard to say that we. are surrendering
to. a foreign. country, and' thatWe-are repudiat- '
ing a plank in. the platform.,1n,ldoing'so. -
'"Why this'cbhtiohY-'y ttfis'MeteViiiiha
tion liere to destroy this1 adminls'tlbV'Wap"-'
pealing to prejudiced pOliticalMhfeVest?7' On 'the
other- side are two 'political'" leaders'; 'one in :
charge of the stahdpat republi6an party and its
interests, and' the other in-charge of an offshoot
of that party known as the progressive party.
"It has been contended that this matter slifatild
go to The Hague. Everyone knows now the con,- ,
struction .that .we place upon the treaty. 'Almost
eveiy man who has written a word in opposition
to tolls has claimed that The Hague court could
have no jurisdiction. They contend that' the
question of national hono'i can not be submitted
to the court, but some of dur.opiiouents are be
ginning to think that the right is on our- side and
are willing to go to The Ha'gue' court. "
" ?wJwa8 this illegitimate free-tolls 'plank
born? Who is its father?' How did it get in
there? Show me a single state that sent dele
gates to that convention thaf'gave any instruc
tion as to this question one way or another,
btate conventions were as silent as the grave.
Not a particle of discussion was had before the
national convention. I venture to say there were
not 50 delegates in the national convention who
knew it was in there or that it was contemplated
to have such- a plank in our platform. It was
no more in response to tin demand of the peo
ple of the several states. than it was the voice of
England hersejf. ' ;'"
"In. whose .interest was this done;?' The -coastwise
shipowners, who, are largely;, the Railroads
on both coasts, but more especially on, the
Atlantic and Gulf coasts, are tlie only " bene
ficiaries, . ' ' r
"In the same act we provided 'tht' no '"railroad
company could operate a ship or vessel anywhere
on any waterway in competition with itself. The
nn HaHS f UIlt11 JUlV ' 14, t make
application to the interstate' commerce commis
si! ?uth2 purPSG of avowing that the' vessels
owned by them were not competing with them
selves. I wrote to the interstate' commerce com- '
mission to let me know how many applications
mZl 2, and hl What railro4 s they were
made and the number of vessels, owned by each
Slfl0TfWns; The reply. covrs alout 15
E' " ia t0. lonS to read, but? it practically
? ?n ni -entiro coastwise. shipping interests.
' 1 VS ? le 8aiU(? as an aPPendix to my remarks.
ttw- u Pr0pose t wretak (m 'administration :
with a program of antitrust legislation not yet
carried out. The report made rtcehtly by Judge 4