Слике страница

of civilization, would have most speedily recalled the Dartmouth College case and absolutely destroyed all corporate rights?

Well, what are you going to do about it? That after all is the practical question. This much is true, as Senator Root has said. No constitution can possibly exist unless there be behind it the spirit of a free people. It is also true, as a corollary to his proposition, that even our Coustitution, buttressed as it is behind the difficulty of amendment and with all the constitutional limitations, rests in the last aualysis upon public opinion, and whenever the American people, by a clearly preponderating majority, deliberately decide that they do not want the Constitution of WASHINGTON and JEFFEREON and HAMILTON and MADISON, that moment it will be changed, constitutional linitations or not. Therefore how vital it is that there should be, not through any political party, but quite independent of parties, a thorough re appreciation, as there was twenty-five years ago, of the fundamnentals of that compact, and all they mean, not merely to American prosperity but to American liberty. [Applause.]

Let us commence with our colleges. I advance the thought that, in all the great universities in this country, every American youth ouglat to devote at least a portion of his four years at college not only to a superficial study of the constitution, but to a profound study of it. It is not necessary to be a lawyer to understand it, because the great merit of that document is that it expresses its principles in words of such luminous simplicity and in such a context of thought that any man who takes it up may read it as keenly and as clearly as be can read .the perfect English of the King James Bible.

I say not only that, but also that in our colleges we should avoid the teaching of what is anti constitutional. A few days ago I picked up a text book of one of the great universities of this country, at which my son is an undergraduate. It was a text book on economics. I read in it this, the opening sentence of a chapter : “ Property rights must meet the test of social expediency.” Now I deny that. If property rights exist simply by sufferance of the state, if we hold that which we hold only by permission of the majority, then property rights are a delusion and a snare. I say that property rights were pronounced by the fundamental instrument of our government, and by the antecedent Declaration of Independence, to be the inalienable right of man, not dependent upon the state, not due to the state, not to be withheld by the state, but that those rights receive sanction in the great principle of moral law, as it was announced from Sinai. that not an individual, nor even a sovereign state, shall steal. [Applause.)

I am afraid that you think I am unduly pessimistic. Perhaps I am, but it is startling to me, a conservative lawyer, that five millions of Americans could have subscribed to a platform which it cannot be denied challenged the fundamentals of the Constitution. I remember one of the most beautiful incidents of the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787. After the last of the signatures which WASHINGTON's personality and FRANKLIN's inimitable wit had obtained, FRANKLIN pointed to a half disc of the sun upon a chair and he said to some bystander that painters find difficulty in indicating whether a sun is a rising or a setting sun. Then he stated “Now, know that it is a rising sun.” Let us hope that the sun is still rising. At all events let us hope that it has not reached the zenith and is about to set. I think we are passing through a frenzy just as those who framed the Constitution did in the first years succeeding the French revolution when the idlest vagaries were advocated which are now but of historical interest.

I remember an incident that happened to me once when I was visiting Switzerland in the valley of the Lauterbrunnen. You remember that beautiful valley. It rises in precipitous cliffs to the loftiest summits of the Bernese Alps. While I was there a thrifty Swiss villager said he would like to have me hear the echo. He produced a long horn and he blew the four notes of the common chord. Believe me the effect was beautiful beyond the power of expression. Those four notes came back, from the face of the Jungfrau mingled a hundred fold in the reverberations, and it seemed as if some invisible being was playing a sublime organ of infinite and surpassing harmony. Then this villager said, “Let me show you another effect. I have here a little brass cannon, Let me fire that off.” I gave him the requisite franc and he fired the cannon off. The effect was for a moment more startling than I can relate. The smoke of the little cannon passed across my vision and obscured my view of the Bernese Alps so that the snow-clad summits were blotted from my eyes, and the reverberations of that little cannon from the distant cliffs of the Jungfrau range came back a hundred fold repeated until it really seemed that the mountains themselves were toppling from their bases and the wreck of matter and the crash of world had come again. Then it all passed away. The reverberations died away in the far distant snow fields and the smoke cleared from my eyes. And there was the Jungfrau upon its pedestal of granite with its snow capped summit still pointing into the infinite azure. So let us hope that, when the present uproar passes away the ('onstitution will be standing upon a rock of equally granitic character and that this Constitution may endure long after you and I, who are gathered here this evening have “faded like streaks of morning cloud into the infinite azure of the past.” [Loud and long continued applause.]

PRESIDENT CLAFLIN.–Our final toast to-night is “Theory and Experience.” The response will be by an old friend, an ever youthful friend, one whose youth seems perennial even as that of the Chamber itself. We have loved him and honored him for years and we welcome him to night with joy.— The Houorable CHAUNCEY M. DEPEW. [Applause.]


MR. PRESIDENT, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN :-I have been introduced many times in the course of my long career but this is the first time it has ever been suggested that my age was coeval with the one hundred and forty-four years of the Chamber of Commerce. [Laughter.]

Of those years the present year of 1912 is one of the most important and interesting. We cover a wide field, and it is our duty to consider everything which affects our foreign and domestic commerce and business generally.

Three events of the highest iinportance are uppermost in our minds—this terrific war between the Balkans and Greece, on the one hand, and Turkey on the other, which threatens to involve the great powers and will certainly change the map of Europe; next, the International Congress of Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade of most of the commercial cities of the world who held their sessions in our country and were the guests of this Chamber; and, lastly, the government of the United States for the third time in fifty-six years passing into the hands of the Democratic party.

All the power and influence of the Chamber of Commerce of New York has been given to the efforts, so strenuously made in recent years, to promote the peace of the world. Until within a few months it seemed as if the peace movement had made more progress than in all preceding time, and the prospects of early success were very great. Suddenly a war breaks out which proves how unstable are the relations between nations. A savage contest, which was decided by battle for the Turks six hundred years ago, is suddenly renewed after six centuries in one of the bloodiest wars of nodern times. This war illustrates how near the nations are at all times to a sudden and violent appeal for the settlement of their difficulties, and the gratification of their passion, by the arbitrament of the sword.

An American woman writes that she stood beside King NICHOLAS of Montenegro when he gave the order for his son to fire the cannon, the shell from which exploded soon after in the camp of the Turks on the other side of the valley. Within four weeks fifty thousand men were dead or wounded. The victorious hosts were battling with their defeated but defiant and stubborn enemies day after day, the armies of all countries of Europe were mobilizing and their navies put in active commission, and the only barrier to the most terrific and destructive war of modern times was the will and power of the Emperor of Germany and the Premier of Great Britain. The exchanges and the markets of Europe and Asia were facing possibilities and experiencing revolutionary changes which had not occurred since the time of the first NAPOLEON. It is within recent recollection of everybody here present that the United States became a world power and as such interested in this revolution. Nothing illustrates our happy situation better than that while we are in it we are not of it. If the Emperor and the Premier were unable either to prevent others or keep their own countries out of the conflict, happily nothing could drag us into it. But this situation has a pregnant lesson for us. It shows that, after all has been done and is being done for peace between nations, the unexpected may happen at any time. It demonstrates that for our peace, for our commerce, for the protection of our coasts and maintenance of our proper position in the world without war, our fleet should be kept up to a standard adequate to the necessity of any situation in which we may be placed. [Applause.]

The meeting in our country of the commercial representatives of all nations was one of the agencies for peace, but it also demonstrated that we are to be more and more dependent as the years go by upon our share in the commerce of the world. While government farms were plenty and free for the settler, we could live happily in continental isolation, but now the situation is changed. From an almost purely agricultural we have become more largely a manufacturing people. A gathering of the representatives of all the activities and . industries of Europe within our borders was not only a revelation to them but a university for commercial education to us. Their amazement and interest was not as much as to the size and development and resources of our country as to our wonderful internal commerce. Here was the greatest market in the world. Here were more money and more material exchanged than in almost all the rest of the world put together. Here was an internal commerce between the states which was more than double that of their foreign commerce with each other and with all the rest of the world. I met many of them, and their eagerness to share in the commercial possibilities of our fortyeight states mounted almost to hysteria. [Laughter and applause ]

A question of supreme importance, and one in which this Chamber is most deeply interested, is how far and on what terms and on what basis our doors shall be thrown open. Shall this mighty question be decided by theory or experience? We were all glad, however, to see our visitors and there is no doubt but that the results will be beneficial to us all.

A little incident occurred recently to me which shows that after all we are close together. The sense of humor and its development is one of the tests of human relationship. When I was in London last summer a successful banker said to me, “How was the weather on the continent this summer?” “Well," I said, “It was so cold in the hottest place in France that I had to put a spirit lamp under the bulb of the thermometer to raise it to sixty Fahrenheit.” He said, "Just fancy." [Laughter.]

I was in Boston a few weeks since, and on our way in the taxi to the hotel we passed by the Common where the Italians were celebrating some festival with fireworks and bombs. A well known citizen of Boston who met me said, “You have not been to our city recently?" I said, “No, but the cordiality of our reception here to-night was exceedingly gratifying to me and touched me very deeply, with the fireworks illuminating the sky and the exploding bombs filling the air on our arrival.” He said, “I assure you sir, that ther were not for you at all.” [Laughter.]

In these two instances we see the link which GLADSTONE so happily mentioned of the tie that binds us with our kin across the sea. [Laughter.]

Last week the papers recorded that a lady arrived at Joplin, Missouri, who was 113 years of age, and she was accompanied by her youngest son who was 85. She remarked, as a reason for her visit, that neither she nor any of her family had ever seen a railroad, a trolley car, an electric light, or a moving picture show. Inquired of as to the rest of her family, she said that she had left her eldest son at home to take care of the other children, her oldest being 95. [ Laughter.] Now, I am not so old as this good lady, and unlike her I have had some experience in the world. I closed a vigorous campaign in 1856, during which I had for three months made the platform ring with eloquence for FREMONT and freedom, to wake up the morning after election to the victory of BUCHANAN. BUCHA. Nan's administration and its disastrous results were the inspiration of political oratory and Republican party success for many a year, but looking back calmly over the intervening years and recalling the situation as it was at that period, I think that we have done injustice to President JAMES BUCHANAN. He was a statesman, fully capable of the duties of Chief Magistrate in normal times, but unequal to them in periods of revolution. As in the East, the forces of the Crescent and the Cross which have been facing one another for six hundred years have now come to a settlement by arms which all the powers of the world could not stop, so at that time the battle of the ages between freedom and slavery had reached their culmination. BUCHANAN did the best he could, with his lights, to avert the catastrophe, but it was not in human power to do it.

In 1892 the Democratic party came into power with GROVER CLEVELAND as President. I knew CLEVELAND both at the Bar and as President. I offered him the attorneyship of the New York Central Railroad at Buffalo, which included the large business at that time of the western terminal of the New York Central Lines, and told him that he could retain his own business at the same time, and that his income would be more than doubled by the assumption of this post. His answer convinced me that he was a very strong and a very remarkable man. He said, “I am now earning enough for my needs, and no amount of money could tempt me to add to the hours of my work or the diminution of the days of my play.” He always claimed that the difficulties of his administration were two thingsone that he was the heir of the financial and industrial disturbance which had grown out of the surrender of the country to the silver craze; the other that he was betrayed in his policies by a minority of his own party sufficiently strong to prevent his carrying out what he believed would, in practice, have been for the best interests of the country. However, as things go in a country which is governed by parties, every administration is judged by its results and not by its intentions. Nevertheless, I believe that it is already the calm judgment of history that one of the ablest and certainly one of the most

« ПретходнаНастави »