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Attorney General of the United States. I do not wish to drive the distinguished members of our Banquet Committee into immediate consultation with their legal advisers, and I will therefore not pursue this reflection further. [Laughter.]
But if I may not safely dwell on the corporate youthfulness of our age, I may at least comment briefly on the age itself. One hundred and forty-four years. A brilliant thinker has said : “Man probably dates from the Tertiary Period—three hundred thousand years. He has developed more in the last three thousand than in the preceding two hundred and ninety-seven thousand; more in the last three hundred than in the preceding three thousand and in some respects more in the last fifty than in the preceding two hundred and ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and fifty years." This is a striking statement and it is supported by impressive facts. But let us extend the fifty years to one hundred and forty-four, back to the birth of the Chamber. JAMES WATT was then finishing his steam engine. He found great difficulty in having a boiler made that would not leak, for up to that time, as another has said—“All the work that was performed was done by the human hand, and was performed badly." But when WATT's engine began to work efficiently it inaugurated a revolution. It marked the beginning of a control of natural forces which, year by year, has so marvelously increased the effective energy of man that it seems safe to say that the physical progress of tae human race from the time man fashioned bis first rude implement of stone, to the time of WATT, was not greater than its progress during the last one hundred and forty-four years.
Perhaps you will expect me to claim considerable credit for the Chamber on account of this contemporaneous progress. But no, I will simply suggest that most of the illustrious inventors who have made America foremost in the control of the powers of nature to man's use, (some of them our own members) have often enjoyed the hospitality of the Chamber. What more natural than that after eating our dinners and imbibing our good cheer they should go forth inspired to surpass themselves and to astonish the world by new and wonderful inventions. [Applause.]
You see I have claimed little for the Chamber on account of scientific progress. I shall claim more in another direction. The Chamber has always stood for good citizenship. During our one hundred and forty-four years there has been an evolution in free government more important to the individual, more conducive to his security and happiness, .,than all the astounding advances in physical science. This Chamber has witnessed the magnificent Declaration of Rights of 1776 and its maintenance by arms. It has witnessed the weakness of the loosely confederated states and their remarkable binding together by the wisdom and patience of the framers of the Federal Constitution. The Chamber has had a part, sometimes, I may fairly say, an important part, in the life, the trials, the progress of the nation since. It has been proud of what its members have done to make representative government a success, and it has never doubted the reality and the stability of the success. Latterly some able men have expressed anxiety lest the organic law prove inadequate to new needs. They have suggested difficulties; they have proposed extraordinary remedies. The Chamber has not shared their alarm. It has studied the national record of peace and war, adversity and prosperity, for the past century and it has felt, and more than ever it feels to-day, that the wisdom of the fathers was so far.seeing, so abundantly provident of adjustment to changes in national life, that we may well take courage and with abiding hope for the future we may thank God that we live under the Constitution of the United States. [Loud applause.]
PRESIDENT CLAFLIN.–Our first regular toast this evening is to a wise expounder and strong defender of the Constitution [applause.] Let us drink to the health of our honored Chief Magistrate, the President of the United States.
The toast was drunk, every one standing and cheering.
PRESIDENT CLAFLIN.—Some weeks ago we hoped to induce the Governor of New Jersey to address us this evening. [Applause.] Since then there have been notable happenings [laughter] and the Governor of New Jersey has announced that he has been sentenced to four years of hard work [laughter] and that he is taking a preparatory rest. Let us hope that the four years of work will be so fruitful of success to him, and of prosperity to the nation, that the work will prove pleasant and not arduous. [Applause.) I propose the health of the scholar and statesman who is now President elect of the United States, the Honorable WOODROW Wilson.
The toast was drunk with great applause all standing.
PRESIDENT CLAFLIN.-In my early business life an esteemed partner introduced to our firm a young lawyer whom he characterized as of great ability and of remarkably sound judgment. We found that
characterization true. Very soon others discovered the great ability and sound judgment, and the reputation of the young lawyer extended throughout the city. As his years increased, his fame increased and presently his reputation became national, and later, international, until the name of Elihu Root [applause] stood among the great names of the world in jurisprudence and in statesmanship. [Applause.] We are fortunate that while his influence and his interests are world wide he is devoting himself to the service of his native state. I know that every member of this Chamber will delight to join with me in wishing long life and happiness to the senior United States Senator from New York. [Applause.]
Senator Root was received with cheers and spoke to the toast. “ The Spirit of Self Government."
ADDRESS OF THE HONORABLE ELIHU ROOT, UNITED STATES
SENATOR FROM NEW YORK.
MR. PRESIDENT, GENTLEMEN OF THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK.-I thank you with entire sincerity and much feeling for your reception, and for the kind expressions which old friendship and the association of a lifetime have made it possible for your President to utter. However old I may come to be, I shall never pass out from under the impression of reverence for the men who forty to fifty years ago made the Chamber of Commerce ; and first among them in my memory stands the noble and inspiring presence of the father of your present President. [Applause.]
I thought of those men when some dozen years ago, a great excitement had carried a large number of people to the barren and unhabitant land on the shores of the Behring Straits. Fifteen thousand men found themselves there without government, without law, and without organization. In characteristic American fashion they proceeded to organize a Chamber of Commerce of Nome. [Laughter.] And they called upon the War Department to send them some officers and men to enable them to execute the decrees of the Chamber of Commerce for the benefit of the people on that shore. The call was responded to after the fashion in which the American army is all the time doing odd jobs for the promotion of peace and order ; and the Chamber of Commerce speedily grew into an organized government.
The Chamber of Commerce of New York bas been rendering very much the same kind of service during all these one hundred and fortyfour years. It has been giving impetus and form to public sentiment, the effects of which have been put in operation through the ordinary channels of governmental institutions. The institutions themselves are empty forces but for the sentiment behind them ; and the sentiment behind them is furnished by such men as I see before me here and by such institutions as this Chamber of Commerce. The real
government of the country rests with such institutions and the men who compose their membership.
My friends the noise and excitement of a great presidential campaign are over; the stress and strain, the over-statements, the warping of judgment by personal considerations and by old associations, have passed into memory, and we are all at rest ; and during this period of rest, which in this active and vigorous and progressive country must be but short, it seems to be a good time for national introspection.
I have been thinking whether passing beyond and behind all the issues that we have been discussing, we can answer in the affirmative or the negative a crucial question, underlying them all, and that is this : Are we advancing in our capacity for self government ? Are we maintaining our capacity for self government?
All the rest is unimportant compared with that. If we have the spirit of a true self governing people, which ever way we decide the questions of the moment, we come through right. Whatever we do about the tariff or about the trusts, or about the railroads, or about wages, or about corporations, or whatever we do about any of the issues before the American people, if we have at heart the true spirit of a free self governing democracy we come through right. [Applause.] What is it? What is the spirit of a free self governing democracy? What are its essentials, and have we them to a greater or a less degree? What is the tendency, is it up or down?
Of course a people to be self governing must have independence of character and courage; that we know we have. Throughout the length and breadth of our land the Americans have an attitude in which one recognizes no social or political superior, in which every man knows himself to be a man of equal manhood with all others and has the courage to speak his opinions and to maintain them ; and we thank God for that. [Applause.)
But that is not enough ; that is not all. All histories of wild and savage people, all the histories of lawless and undisciplined men, all the histories of civil wars and revolutions, all the histories of discord and strife which check the onward march of civilization and hold a people stationary until they go down instead of going up, admonish us that it is not enough to be independent and courageous.
Self governing people must have the spirit which makes them self controlled, which makes every man competent and willing to govern his impulses by the rule of declared principle. And more than that, men in a self governed democracy must have a love of liberty that means not merely one's own liberty but others' liberty. [Applause.] We must respect the opinions and the liberty of the opinions of our countrymen. That spirit excludes hatred of our opponents. That spirit excludes a desire to abuse, to vilify, to destroy. All of us in foreign lands have felt the blood rush to the head, and felt the heart beat quicker, felt a suffusion of feeling upon seeing our country's flag floating in strange ports and in distant cities. That, my friends, is but a false sentiment, unless it carries with it a love not only for the flag but for the countrymen under the flag. True love of country is not an abstraction. It means a little different feeling toward every American because he is American. It means a desire that every American shall be prosperous; it means kindly consideration for his opinions, for his views, for his interests, for his prejudices, and charity for his follies and his errors. [Applause.] The man who loves his country only that he may be free does not love his country. He loves only himself and his own way and that is not self government, but is the essence of despotism. [Applause.]
Now as to that feeling I will not say that we have gone backward, but I will say, that there is serious cause for reflection on the part of all Americans.
Our life has become so complicated, the activities of our country so numerous and so vast, that it is very difficult for us to understand what our countrymen are doing. The cotton planters understand each other, the wheat farmers understand each other, the importers understand each other, the bankers understand each other, but there are vast masses of the people of our country who totally misunderstand others of our people, and that misunderstanding lies at the bottom of the spirit which I have attempted to describe as so necessary to real self government.
The misunderstanding, and when I say the misunderstanding it implies erroneous ideas, for there are hundreds of thousands of people, outside the great industrial communities, who think you are a den of thieves, and there are hundreds of thousands of people who think that the manufacturers of the country are no better than a set of confidence men. Why, we have before us now great and serious questions regarding the financial problems of the country, and this is what stands in the way of their solution: It is that the men who understand the finances of the country, the bankers, and the merchants engaged in great operations, are under suspicion. Great bodies of people will not accept what they say regarding the subject of finance, a subject complicated by all the currents and movements of finance throughout the world ; they will not accept what the experts say, what the men who understand the subject say, because they do not believe their motives are honest. So that the only one who can be heard is the man who does not understand the subject. How are we to reach any conclusion in that way? On the other hand there are many in this room to-night who way down in their hearts believe that great bodies of the American people really want to destroy their business and confiscate their property, that they are enemies to the men who are carrying on the vast business essential to our prosperity.
Now, neither is true. One misunderstanding leads to conduct which in some respect seems to justify another misunderstanding Nobody in this country wants to destroy business, wants to destroy prosperity. I say nobody. Of course, there are always hangers on in every country who would like to destroy everything in the hope of picking up the pieces. But speaking of the great body of the people, they do not want to destroy prosperity; and when they do things, when they vote for measures, when they elect Representatives,