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more, the odds were in favor of their success in 1916. Moreover, the Democrats were definitely expected to do something. Dissatisfaction with the general influence of financial interests in public life, a dissatisfaction which had gradually concentrated on the protective tariff as the chief weapon of those interests, had been growing for years past. In 1908 a public aroused by Roosevelt but afraid of Bryan had decided to trust the Republican Party to undo its own work, and the answer of the party had been the Payne-Aldrich tariff. That tariff broke the Republican Party in two and paved the way for the return of Roosevelt; it had also, in 1910, given the Democrats the control of the House of Representatives.
Now, at last the Democrats had full control of both Legislature and Executive, and the country expected them to do something: unreasonably, it was at the same time rather afraid that they would do something. To do something but not too much, to meet the popular demands without destroying the economic well-being :which the Republican ascendency had undoubtedly promoted, to insure a better distribution of wealth without crippling the pro
had only two years in public life, and most of whose assistants would have to be chosen from men almost without executive experience.
The chief peculiarity of President Wilson's political position lay in a theory of American Government which had first come to him in his undergraduate days at Princeton and which had been steadily developing ever since. That theory, briefly, was that the American Constitution permitted, and the practical development of American politics should have compelled, the President to act not only as Chief of State but as Premier—as the active head of the majority party, personally responsible to the people for the execution of the program of legislation laid down in that party's platform. Fanciful as it had seemed when first put forward by him many years before, that concept of the Presidency was now, perhaps for the first time, within the reach of practical realization.
Dissatisfaction with the general secrecy and irresponsibility of Congressional committees which had charge of the direction of legislation, in so far as there was any direction, had been growing for years; and an incident of the revolt against the Payne-Aldrich tariff and the break in the Republican Party had been the internal revolution in the House of Representatives, taking away from the Speaker the power of controlling legislation which he had for some time enjoyed, and which would have been a serious obstacle to Presidential leadership such as Wilson had in mind. Moreover, the activity of Cleveland and Roosevelt had shown the public that even in time of peace an energetic President had a much wider field of action than most Presidents had attempted to cover, and the more recent example of Taft had increased the demand for a
Early Accomplishments of Administration Underwood-Simmons tariff, establishing the lowest average of
duties in seventy-five years, enacted October 3, 1913. Federal Reserve act, organizing the banking system and stabiliz
ing the currency, December 23, 1913. Clayton Anti-Trust law. Creation of Federal Trade Commission. Repeal of Panama Canal tolls-exemptiuni. End of dollar diplomdcy.' Negotiation of a treaty (never ratified) with Colombia to satisfy
the Colombian claim in Panama,
President who would act, would not leave action to those men around him who “knew exactly what they wanted.”
There were, however, two great obstacles to the operation of Mr. Wilson's theory. The first was constitutional./ In Europe the Premier who directs the legislative policy of the Government is answerable not only in Parliament but to the people whenever his policy has ceased, or seems to have ceased, to command public confidence. The present of the United States finishes out his term, no matter heb his relations with Congress or how general his unpopularity among the people. The check upon his leadership, as Mr. Wilson presently realized, could come only at the end of his term, when the President as a candidate for reelection came before the public for approval or rejection. So, even before his first inauguration, Mr. Wilson had written to A. Mitchell Palmer, then a Congressman, expressing disapproval, quite aside from any personal connection with the issue, of the proposal to restrict the President to a single term. That had been a plank in the Decratic platform of the year before; already it was apparent that this phase of the party's program would have to be sacrificed in order to make the party leader responsible in the true sense for the program as a whole. But that plank had not been seriously intended, and by 1916 the march of events had made it a dead letters
A more serious diselty, in March, 1913, lay in the fact that the President was no ne party leader. There was an enormous amount of Wilson sentiment over the country, and there were many enthusiastic Wilson men; but a good many of these were of the old mugwump type, or men who had hitherto held aloof from politics. In 1912, as later in 1917 and 1918, there was seen the anomaly of a leader who was himself an orthodox and often narrow partisan, yet drew most of his support from independent elements or even from the less firmly organized portions of the
opposition. And not only were most of the Wilson men independents or political amateurs; a still greater stumbling block lay in the fact that very few of them had been elected to office. In the great Democratic landslide of 1912 the Democrats who had got on the payroll were mostly the old party wheel-horses who had been lingering in the outer darkness of opposition for sixteen years past, or more or less permanent representatives of the Solid South.
In so far as the party had a leader at that time, it was Bryan. Bryan had played the leading part in the Baltimore Convention. If he had not exactly nominated Wilson, he had at least done more than anybody else to destroy Wilson's chief competitors. There were not enough Bryan men in the country to elect Bryan, not even enough Bryan men in the party to nominate Bryan a fourth time; but there were enough Bryan Democrats to ruin the policy of the incoming President if he did not conciliate Bryan with extreme care.
So the first efforts of the new Administration had to be a compromise between what Wilson wanted and what Bryan would permit. This was seen first of all in the composition of the Cabinet, which Bryan himself headed as Secretary of State. Josephus Daniels, who as Secretary of the Navy was to be one of the principal targets of criticism for the next eight years, was also a Bryan man. Of the “Wilson men” of the campaign, William G. McAdoo was chosen as Secretary of the Treasure without some grave misgivings as to his ability, which were subsequently justified by his conduct of the office. The rest of the Cabinet was notable chiefly for the presence of three men from Texas, a State whose prominence reflected not only its growing importance and its fidelity to the party but also the influence of Colonel Edward Mandell House, a private citizen who had risen from making Governors at Austin to take a prominent part in the making of a President in 1912. At the beginning of the Administration and throughout almost all of President Wilson's tenure of office he was the President's most influential adve, a sort of superMinister and Ambassador in general; and his position from the first caused a certain amount of heartburning among the politicians who resented this prominence of an outsider who had never held office.
Perhaps because many of his official aids and assistants were more or less imposed upon him, the President showed from the first a tendency to rely on personal agents and unofficial advisers. And this was to become more prominent as the years passed, as new issues arose of which no one would have dreamed in the Spring of 1913, issues for which the ordinary machinery and practice of American Government were but little prepared.
For the eight years, which began on March 4, 1913, were to be
Administration chosen wholly in view of domestic problems was to find itself chiefly engaged with foreign relations of unexampled complexity and importance. The passionate issues of 1912 were soon to be forgotten. Generally speaking, the dominant questions before the American people in 1912 and 1913 were about the same as in 1908, or 1904, or even earlier. But from 1914 on every year brought a changed situation in which the issues of the previous year had already been crowded out of attention by new and more pressing problems.
No American President except Lincoln had ever been concerned with matters of such vital importance to the nation; and not even Lincoln had had to deal with a world so complex and so closely interrelated with the United States. Washington, Jefferson and Madison had to guide the country through the complications caused by a great world war; but the nation which they led was small and obscure, concerned only in keeping out of trouble as long as it could. The nation which Wilson ruled was a powerful, State whose attitude from the very first was of supreme importance to both sides. And the issues raised by the war pushed into the background questions which had seemed important in 1913-andwhich, when the war was over, became important once more. a
None of this, of course, could have been predicted on March 4, 1913. A new man with a new method had been elected President and intrusted with the meeting of certain pressing domestic problems. At the moment the public was more interested in the man than in his method; and not till the crisis had been successfully passed did popular attention concentrate on the manner of accomplishment rather than on the things accomplished.
Problems at Home, 1913-1914
NE of the passages of President Wilson's inaugural address,
contained a list of “the things that ought to be altered,' which included: .
A tariff which cuts us off from our proper part in the commerce of the world, violates the just principles of taxation, and makes the Government a facile instrument in the hands of private interests; a banking and currency system based upon the necessity of the Government to sell its bonds fifty years ago and perfectly adapted to concentrating cash and restricting credits; an industrial system which, take it on all sides, financial as well as administrative, holds capital in leading strings, restricts the liberties and limits the opportunities of labor, and exploits without renewing or conserving the natural resources of the country; a body of agricultural activities never yet given the efficiency of great business undertakings or served as it should be through the instrumentality of science taken directly to the farm, or afforded the facilities of credit best suited to its practical needs.
The items had been set down in the order of their immediate importance. First came the tariff, for the tariff had come to be in the minds of many Americans a symbol of the struggle between the “plain people” and “the interests.” The Payne-Aldrich tariff, enacted by a party pledged to tariff revision, had been not
only an injury but an insult, and if any American Presidential election could ever be interpreted as a popular referendum on any specific policy the election of 1912 meant that the PayneAldrich tariff must be revised. At the time of the enactment of that bill Mr. Wilson had written a critical article in The North American Review which expressed a widespread popular sentiment in its criticism of “the policy of silence and secrecy” prevalent in the committee rooms when this and other tariffs had been drawn up and a demand for procedure in the open where the public could find out exactly who wanted what and why. Joined with this objection to the methods of tariff making were some observations by Mr. Wilson on the principles of tariff revision. He saw and said that a complete return to a purely revenue tariff was not then possible even if desirable, and that the immediate objective of tariff reform should be the adjustment of rates so as to permit competition and thereby necessitate efficiency of operation. /The ideas which in March, 1909, were merely the criticism of a college professor had become in March, 1913, the program of the President of the United States, the leader of the majority party, determined to get his program enacted into law. Congress was convened in special session on April 7, and the President delivered a message on the one topic of the tariff. Going back to the precedent of Washington and Adams, broken by Jefferson and never resumed again, he read his message in person to the Congress 'as if to emphasize the intimate connection between the Executive and legislation which was to be a feature of the new Administration. The principle of tariff. reform laid down in that bill was a practical and not a theoretical consideration the need of ending an industrial situation fostered by high tariffs wherein “nothing is obliged to stand the tests of efficiency and economy in our world of big business, but everything thrives by concerted agreement. . . . The object of the tariff duties henceforth laid must be effective competition, the whetting of American wits by contest with the wits of the world.”
The measure which Democratic leaders had already prepared for that purpose and which eventually became known as the Underwood-Simmons Act was intended to accomplish its end only gradually. Notoriously outrageous schedules of the Payne-Aldrich Act, such as that dealing with wool, were heavily reduced, and the general purport of the bill is perhaps expressed in the phrase of Professor Taussig, that it was the beginning of a policy of much moderated protection.” It went through the House without much difficulty, passing on May 8, and then it struck the Senate committee rooms, from which no tariff bill had ever emerged quite as innocent as it entered. The usual expeditionary forces of lobbyists concentrated in Washington and the Senate talked it over, while Summer came on and Washington grew hotter and