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resignation of Porfirio Diaz in 1911 Mexico had been subject to what might be termed indifferently a succession of revolutions or a perpetual anarchy. American lives had been lost and American property destroyed. Madero, the constitutional President, had announced that intervention by the United States would mean war. Mr. Taft had so far successfully averted that catastrophe, but with the situation growing steadily worse, he left an unenviable legacy to his successor.
But it was in its effect on domestic legislation and administration that the fruits of the election of 1912 were looked for first. Mr. Wilson had come in on a programme of radical Democracy. Almost every speech he delivered in the preelection campaign had pledged him to a reassertion of the control of the people over legislation -expressed directly in the re-establishment of the freedom of election—to an attack on monopoly and privilege in industry and finance, to an abolition of the sectional burdens and sectional endowments created by a high tariff, and to the extension of ameliorative legislation and social reforms.
In entering on that crusade the new President had the mass of public sentiment with him. The Progressive platform had been even more radical than the Democratic. The newly constituted party had declared that it was “born of the nation's awakened sense of injustice," and that its supreme purpose was the maintenance of the ideal of government of the people by the people for the people. It was clear that Mr.
Wilson had little to fear from Progressive opposition either in Congress or in the country so long as he held to the course mapped out in his own campaign speeches.
His own party stood solid at his back. Since the Currency Act of 1900 the Democrats had abandoned the controversial issue of “free silver," and so removed a fertile source of dissension in their own ranks. More than that, in their insistence on the regulation of corporations and on industrial and administrative reforms in other directions they had committed themselves to the principle of a much more vigorous assertion of authority by the Central Government than the academic Democrat of the past could have approved. It is true that the Baltimore platform of 1912 had insisted, in its section on State Rights, that “ Federal remedies for the regulation of inter-State commerce and for the prevention of private monopoly shall be added to, and not substituted for, State remedies," but that rather perfunctory act of homage to party tradition did not prevent the Convention from registering emphatic demands for the vigorous application and extension of existing Anti-Trust Laws ; for the ratification of the proposed Constitutional Amendment providing for a Federal Income Tax ; for more drastic regulation of railway, telegraph, telephone, and other corporations discharging public services ; for Federal development of waterways; and, finally and more comprehensively, for a return to the unfettered rule of the people, whereby alone “can they (the people]
protect themselves from the misuse of delegated power and the usurpation of governmental instrumentalities by special interests."
It was clear, therefore, that a President committed to effective action along these lines would enter on his task free from the fear of opposition proceeding from that school of States Rights exponents that had in the past dominated the Democratic Party. The States Rights doctrine had not been jettisoned, but the party, largely through the educative influence of its candidate's campaign speeches, had by the time Mr. Wilson entered on his office in March 1913 swung itself completely into line with the President in its acceptance of such Federal action as the national situation demanded. President Wilson and his party were at one in the resolve to right certain wrongs. His vision went beyond theirs, and he foresaw that measures would be called for that the party as a whole had neither contemplated nor discussed. That raised no question of a mandate, for a President of the United States is at liberty to go where he will if his majority in Congress will follow him. But it meant that the success of the Administration must be dependent on Mr. Wilson's power to consolidate and reinvigorate his party and use it as a great instrument of national reform. It was twenty years since it had last been so used by a Democratic President, and in the interval dissension, disappointment, and the absence of responsibility had gone far towards rendering it a negligible influence in national (though not in State) affairs.
Mr. Wilson had not been forced to party supremacy by the machine. He had been called Vto leadership by rebels against machine rule,
and he took with him into the party councils new ideals and an invigorating disregard for obsolescent political traditions. He had been chosen as candidate by delegates who realized what type of man they were nominating, and elected President by voters who realized what type of man they were calling to office. It was a new type but a welcome type, and by thus expressing their confidence in him the rank and file of the Democratic Party committed themselves to the loyal acceptance of his leadership. It was manifest already to the discerning that if he was to lead successfully he would necessarily remake the party in the process.
THE ATTACK ON PRIVILEGE
The nation has awakened to a sense of neglected ideals and neg. lected duties; to a consciousness that the rank and file of the people find life very hard to sustain, that her young men find opportunity embarrassed, and that her older men find business difficult to renew and maintain because of circumstances of privilege and private advantage which have interlaced their subtle threads throughout almost every part of the framework of our present law. She has awakened to the knowledge that she has lost certain cherished liberties and wasted priceless resources which she had solemnly undertaken to hold in trust for posterity and for all mankind ; and to the conviction that she stands confronted with an occasion for constructive statesmanship such as has not arisen since the great days in which her Government was set up.--Speech of Acceptance, July 1912.
PRESIDENT WILSON lost no time in putting his principles to the proof. He had pledged himself to an attack on privilege, and even before his actual inauguration preparations for that attack were in train. He was installed on March 4th. On April 7th Congress, which under normal circumstances would not have met till December, assembled in special session, summoned by the President to consider a new Tariff Revision Bill.
“Every business question," Mr. Wilson had declared a few weeks earlier, “comes back sooner or later to the tariff.” Accordingly it was to tariff revision that his attention was first turned. The details and destiny of the Bill prepared