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futile. With strong popular support, constantly exercising his influence both in party conferences and on the Legislature, the Governor was able to translate into law the most important of the measures demanded by the progressives. He himself summed up the essence of the situation when he said: “The moment the forces in New Jersey that had resisted reform realized that the people were backing new men who meant what they had said, they realized that they dare not resist them. It was not the personal force of the new officials; it was the moral strength of their backing that accomplished the extraordinary result.” Supreme confidence in the force of public opinion exerted by the common man characterizes much of Wilson's political philosophy, and the position in the world which he was to enjoy for some months towards the end of the war rested upon the same basis.
In 1912 came the presidential election. The split in the Republican forces promised if it did not absolutely guarantee the election of a Democrat, and when the party convention met at Baltimore in June, excitement was more than ordinarily intense. The conservative elements in the party were divided. The radicals looked to Bryan for leadership, although his nomination seemed out of the question. Wilson had stamped himself as an antimachine progressive, and if the machine conservatives threatened he might hope for support from the Nebraskan orator. From the first the real contest appeared to be between Wilson and Champ Clark, who although hardly a conservative, was backed for the moment by the machine leaders. The deciding power was in Bryan's hand, and as the strife between conservatives and radicals waxed hot, he turned to the support of Wilson. On the forty-sixth ballot Wilson was nominated. With division in the Republican ranks, with his record in New Jersey for legislative accomplishment, and winning many independent votes through a succession of effective campaign speeches, Wilson more than fulfilled the highest of Democratic hopes. He received on election day only a minority of all the votes cast, but his majority in the electoral college was overwhelming.
The personality of an American President has seldom undergone so much analysis with such unsatisfactory results; almost every discussion of Wilson's characteristics leads to the generation of heat rather than light. Indeed the historian of the future may ask whether it is as important, in this age of democracy, to know exactly what sort of man he was as to know what the people thought he was. And yet in the case of a statesman who was to play a rôle of supreme importance in the affairs of the country and the world, it is perhaps more than a matter of merely personal interest to underline his salient traits. Let it be premised that a logical and satisfactory analysis is well-nigh impossible, for his nature is self-contradictory, subject to gusts of temperament, and he himself has pictured the struggle that has gone on between the impulsive Irish and the cautious Scotch elements in him Thus it is that he has handled similar problems in different ways at different times, and has produced upon different persons diametrically opposed impressions.
As an executive, perhaps his most notable characteristic is the will to dominate. This does not mean that he is the egocentric autocrat pictured by his opponents, for in conference he is apt to be tolerant of the opinions of others, by no means dictatorial in manner, and apparently anxious to obtain facts on both sides of the argument. An unfriendly critic, Mr. E.J. Dillon, has said of him at Paris that "he was a very good listener, an intelligent questioner, and amenable to argument whenever he felt
free to give practical effect to his conclusions." Similar evidence has been offered by members of his Cabinet. But unquestionably, in reaching a conclusion he resents pressure and he permits na one to make up his mind for him; he is, said the German Ambassador, "a recluse and lonely worker.” One of his enthusiastic admirers has written: “Once in possession of every fact in the case, the President withdraws, commences the business of consideration, comparison, and assessment, and then emerges with a decision.” From such a decision it is difficult to shake him and continued opposition serves merely to stiffen his resolution. Wherever the responsibility is his, he insists upon the finality of his judgment. Those who have worked with him have remarked upon his eagerness, once he has decided a course of action, to carry it into practical effect. The President of the Czecho-Slovak Republic, Thomas G. Masaryk, said that of all the men he had met, "your visionary, idealistic President is by far and away the most intensely practical." One of the Big Four at Paris remarked: “Wilson works. The rest of us play, comparatively speaking. We Europeans can't keep up with a man who travels a straight path with such a swift stride, never looking to right
or left.” But with all his eagerness for practical effect he is notably less efficient in the execution than in the formation of policies.
Wilson lacks, furthermore, the power of quick decision which is apt to characterize the masterful executive. He is slow to make up his mind, a trait that results partly, perhaps, from his Scotch blood and partly from his academic training. Except for his steadfast adherence to what he regards as basic principles, he might rightly be termed an opportunist. For he is prone to temporize, anxious to pre vent an issue from approaching a crisis, evidently in the hope that something may "turn up” to improve the situation and obviate the necessity of conflict. “Watchful waiting" in the Mexican crises and his attitude towards the belligerents during the first two years of the European war are cases in point. There are instances of impulsive action on his part, when he has not waited for advice or troubled to acquire exact knowledge of the facts underlying a situation, but such occasions have been infrequent.
Wilson's dislike of advice has been widely advertized. It is probably closer to the truth to say that he is naturally suspicious of advisers unless he is certain that their basic point of view is the same as