Reflections in a Whirlpool


IN the spring of 1918 a friend, whose son was an officer in the army, prophesied that the young men had been raised by the war to such a pitch of moral enthusiasm that they would live on a higher plane than their fathers; and I am afraid I shocked him by answering that, on the contrary, this war would be followed by an era of materialism.

Why should it be? Because wars always have been, and because any great moral effort is always followed by moral lassitude. Certainly the materialism came; and we had better begin by confessing that since the war we — no! that is no longer good form — by admitting that ot hers have all erred grievously. When it was over we were told to return to normal conditions, which was never done; for in one way or another the people of this country turned to speculation. Investors, expecting great prosperity and rising prices, sought to get rich quickly in the stock market, commonly on margin, while the brokers tempted them by issues of securities too often of doubtful value. Industrialists enlarged their factories, and increased their product beyond any permanent capacity of consumption. Farmers doubled their acres by mortgaging their farms; the public at large bought what they did, or did not, need on the installment plan; and so the merry dance went on until the flood came and overwhelmed them all. Then everyone laid the blame on someone else.

Do not understand me as implying that the depression was due wholly to overproduction; for it had, no doubt, many contributing causes of which this was one, and I am no economist with a claim to unravel them; but certainly men did not behave in a way to fend off any such calamity that might be impending. They helped to increase it. Again, do not think that I am charging with misconduct the people who sought in any of these ways to swell their wealth; for I said, not that they sinned, but that they erred, grievously.

Instead of laying by for lean years during the fat ones, people in the floodtide of business told us that, owing to the purchasing power of our high scale of wages, we were living on a plane of prosperity from which there could be no descent ; and after the crash they reflected gloomily that, because of the vast growth of labor-saving machinery, employment and trade could never again be what we had known in the past. Neither of these was true; but each in its turn was so generally believed that the first caused a wild rush for the golden apples to be had for the picking, and the second a popular acclaim of any plan that purported to show the path out of the slough. So there are new ways of getting into difficulties as well as getting out of them; but are they so very new?

In the days of man’s ignorance psychology was an art; and so it is still for those who try to manage their fellows. As an art Machiavelli wrote a treatise upon it, so devoid of moral considerations that it shocked mankind; and to the present day there are men who condemn the principles he taught — and practise them. Like other practical arts, psychology stored the knowledge gained from ages of trial and error in the form of maxims or proverbs; for, so far as they relate to conduct, such sayings are in the main brief summaries of many observations put into portable forms easily remembered and transmitted. They are the results of long experience, and our forbears were largely guided by them in the conduct of both public and private affairs, for they were a real glossary of wisdom.

But now the times have changed, old knowledge has become uncouth and unsuited to a new unprecedented world. Is human nature at the present day so wholly new and without precedent? Have the means of rapidly diffusing information greatly changed mankind? They have made it possible to reach a vastly larger number of people in a far shorter space of time; they have given the speaker on the radio power to address multitudes without a corresponding opportunity of reply, and, if they are listening in their homes, with less chance of comparing their impressions at once with those of others; but has all this changed fundamentally the reactions of men? Has the existence of all these modes of addressing masses made the processes of recent upheavals essentially different from those of the French Revolution, before railways, telegraphs, motor cars, aeroplanes, and radios were invented?

Although human nature has altered little, the conditions under which it acts have changed very much; and it is worth while to see what some of these changes are, and how they have affected that old chameleon, man, who thinks that because he has adapted his coloring to his environment he has transformed his qualities.


In the first place, the World War differed from all earlier ones by the universality of the effort it demanded from the whole people. In preceding wars the parts of a country not within the theatre of operations were affected comparatively little, save by the calls for recruits and the rise in taxation. Otherwise the people pursued in general their customary vocations in much the usual way. The channels of trade were, of course, shifted to some extent, but for most men business went on much as before. But in the World War the demand for weapons and ships, not only for oneself but also for foreign comrades in arms, became far larger than it ever had been. Food also must be sent t hem; and we were informed by the government what we should eat and on what days — directions with which we cheerfully complied. Our colleges became, to an extent never known in previous conflicts, preliminary training camps. In short, the World War was a national effort in a degree far exceeding any earlier one. This was true in every country, but it was the more remarkable in our own, since at no time was any part of our territory in the slightest danger of invasion.

Truly a notable spectacle when we consider that apart from sentiment for the Allies, which was far from universal, the obvious cause of our action was the vindication of our rights as neutrals at sea; for the real peril to ourselves that would have flowed from a conclusive victory by the Central Powers seemed, no doubt, to the mass of our citizens very remote. For that reason most of them have been asking themselves ever since why we entered the war, and, unable to give a sufficient answer, have concluded that we made a mistake. Imponderables, like the impulse to stop a powerful nation from becoming dominant by conquest, make slight appeal to a people suffering from the after effects of the conflict.

It would take too long, nor am I competent, to make for other countries a similar comparison between this and other wars; but everyone is aware of the vastly greater popular effort put forth in the World War, of the intensity of the patriotic sentiments aroused, of the control by the government of the conduct of industry in manifold directions, and of its interference, by rationing and otherwise, with the citizen’s daily life. The immensity of the conflict, the huge supplies required for carrying it on, the momentous consequences involved, and the uncertainty of the result, rendered this inevitable; and at the same time they entailed consequences that no one seems to have foreseen at the time.

The intense spirit of patriotism aroused by the war persisted, with results which we shall examine; but curiously enough the sentiment of comradeship with allies evaporated quickly. Nor is this contrary to former experience, for it is a natural result of people with differing social habits fighting side by side. Whatever the reason may be, after the peace had been made no love was lost between England, France, Italy, and Russia, or, naturally enough, between Germany and most of the dismembered fragments of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Each nation turned upon its own separate interests the patriotism the struggle had called forth, in an effort to repair its losses, and regain its economic position and prestige, with little regard to the general condition of the world on which these must ultimately depend.

It is worth while to recall some of the steps in the process, and watch the gradual growth of the spirit of nationalism and distrust that pervades the world to-day. When the victorious nations met at Paris to make the peace, there was no doubt much desire by many of them to divide the spoils in a way favorable to themselves, but this can be easily exaggerated; and, especially on the part of the three that played the leading rôles, there was a sincere intention of making a division in Europe that would prove just and permanent. There was an attempt to give so far as possible to every nation an access to the sea, and to make the boundaries of states coincide with those of race — impossible with anything like completeness, but backed up by provisions for the protection of minorities where racial boundaries could be only approximate. All this was well meant; but you may say that it was not well done. Granted! Yet, if the leading victors had builded better, and stood together to uphold their work, it might have been maintained long enough to acquire a presumptive right to endure.

In the hope of putting an end to war they formed the League of Nations, which some took more seriously than others, but all the victors, save the United States, joined. Thereby they were to unite in complete non-intercourse with an aggressor. Yet no sooner were practical applications discussed than hesitation, reluctance, and manifold obstacles appeared, and by the time these were circumvented no available road to the end desired was left open; with the result that the sanctions were never used until a few months ago, and they are not now being applied with the thoroughness originally provided, or so far in a way likely by themselves to be effective.

Partly, not wholly, owing to the failure of the League of Nations to act in harmony and with decisive force against aggressors, and thereby give a sense of security to countries dreading attack, all nations have come to rely upon themselves for defense. Mind, I am not finding fault with anyone. That is a very easy thing to do, but a very harmful one, for when we have laid the blame on someone we have salved our own conscience, and feel that we are to some extent absolved from considering what ought to be done about it. The results in this case may well have been inevitable, and I am merely trying to review events as they occurred.

Again, at the meetings to make peace after the war, the victorious nations agreed on the principle of reducing armaments, and there is no doubt they meant to do so. In fact, by the Treaty of Washington they actually did limit them at sea. But in spite of the League of Nations, of the Treaty of Locarno, and of many well-meant conferences on disarmament, the feeling that each nation must rely primarily on itself for defense has caused a general increase in preparation for war, until the world is more heavily armed than ever before. This does not necessarily mean war. It may even mean the opposite, for herein lies one of the strange paradoxes into which poor man in his blindness is constantly falling. No people, at the present time, wants to fight with any other considerable military power, and yet they all feel that they may be forced to do so.

The same lack of mutual confidence that has caused increased armaments has given rise to restrictions on international trade. The classical theory of universal free trade whereby English doctrinaires argued that it was everyone’s interest for Great Britain, with her then superiority in coal, iron, and machinery, to do the bulk of the manufacturing for the rest of the world — that theory, under changed conditions, has lost its charm even in the land where it held its greatest sway. It has been replaced by something more akin to the long-discredited mercantilist principle; for every nation now wants to manufacture, and to control her own trade, while in some nations the conditions are more favorable than in England. This change in general attitude is partly because of the wealth that comes from factories, partly because every nation wants to be selfsufficient in case of war.

Now, among the legacies from the World War was the habit of looking to governments for direction and control; and hence, instead of leaving to private enterprise the problem of finding the paths back to international prosperity, the political authorities of each nation have sought to regulate these things for the immediate benefit of their own people — a tendency greatly increased by the universal suffering caused by the depression.

Moreover, it has seemed to me that statesmen take even shorter views than they did before the war threw so much into the melting pot. Of course the tendency is a very natural effect of democracy, with its recurrent elections at short periods here, or the constant hauling of ministers over the coals in parliamentary governments. There is no time to lay plans that will take long to bear fruit; the politician rarely looks ahead much beyond the next election, and so he tends to take more interest in quick results than in permanent ones.

Whether it be due to the nervous excitement of the war, — not yet becalmed, — to lack of mutual confidence, to a desire for the more lucrative occupations and for self-sufficiency in case of hostilities, to the habit of looking to government for guidance, to the prevalence of short views, to the pressure of economic distress, or to all these in varying proportions, there is no doubt that each nation, while professing a desire to enlarge international trade, has restricted that trade for its own commercial benefit — to protect its own economic life, it would say, and I do not quarrel with the expression, which is no doubt perfectly genuine in every case, for we all feel it when it touches some form of industry or occupation with which we are familiar.

The causes of such a condition are complex, the cure at present not apparent. That, unless Western civilization is doomed, this condition will not continue indefinitely we may assume; that it can be overcome at a stroke by a universal agreement among the nations is improbable; that, unless a great war should fling the world into chaos, it will be bit by bit improved, until workable internation trade returns, we are entitled to hope; but that will require wisdom, a quality of which one still may say, as in the days of Job, that it is not to be found in the land of the living.


Let us turn to something else the nations have been doing since the war. Beside increasing their armaments, setting up barriers to international trade, they have been debasing their currency. Why this last? The increased industrial activity due to making up for the losses caused by the war brought about an excess of production, which, with other causes, resulted in the depression. Now it was the habit formerly in cases of business crisis to allow the effects to take their normal course; people and concerns that had become overextended failed, wages that had been raised in the prosperous years fell, — often too far, — and industry started again on a lower level, gradually working its way up; while the people thrown out of work by the depression were taken care of by public and private charity, until the revival of business furnished again an opportunity to employ them.

But in this last depression men had, by the experience in war time, become accustomed to a large degree of administrative control; and partly from sympathy, partly from fear of disturbances, they were unwilling to let matters produce their usual results, a method of avoiding them being found in what Jefferson called tricks of legerdemain with money. By lowering its value, debts and wages were both reduced; the loss from the former falling largely on people of moderate means, receivers of fixed salaries, depositors in savings banks, holders of bonds and insurance policies, a class unorganized and unlikely to make trouble; while the wage earners were unaware of the loss coming to them. They have always had an impression that plentiful money, an increase of the amount in circulation, and therefore an ultimate decrease in its purchasing value, are somehow a benefit to the poor; whereas there is no one to whom the maintenance of the value of a pound, a dollar, a franc or mark, is more important than the man who receives a certain number of them for his daily toil. The effect on him of inflation is masked at first, because he is apt to get some immediate rise in nominal wages, and the discrepancy between that and the rise in prices — and hence his loss in real wages — is not evident for some time.

The reason that a reduction in the value of the currency affects the workman particularly is that wages move much more slowly than commodity prices, which can be put up or down with comparative ease to meet changes in demand of the market. Every manufacturer knows that he can raise or lower the price of his product as he pleases — provided his rivals are doing the same — and that such changes may be temporary; but both he and his employees are aware that an increase or decrease in wages will probably endure for a considerable period. On one side or the other, a sense of permanence is attached to them, so that a rise or fall is accomplished with difficulty, often involving a sharp dispute, a strike, and the temporary closing of a factory.

After the World War some countries, with monetary systems wrecked by the huge expenses incurred, were living on paper money of a value so reduced that it was hopeless to restore its rate in gold, and a number of them strove to stabilize their currency again on a lower level. That meant that all prices, and especially wages, with the standard of living, had fallen; and thus the lesser cost of production — that is, the lower scale of wages — gave them an advantage in the world’s markets over other countries where wages were higher. In order to compete, these must get the price of their wares, and hence the cost of production, — mainly wages, — down to a point nearer to that of their competitors.

Great Britain was particularly concerned. To preserve her dominant financial position in the world, she had returned after the war to the gold standard at the old rate of the pound sterling, but found that she was doing so at a sacrifice of her manufactures and exports. Therefore in 1931 she changed her policy, and reduced the value of the pound to about two thirds of its former gold content. It placed her in a more favorable position for international trade, particularly as compared with the United States, which remained as yet on the basis of the old gold dollar. She was planning some general agreement among the nations for monetary stabilization, when suddenly we followed her lead by reducing the dollar in about the same proportion that she had the pound. This the English thought hard, and in fact it did take away, for the benefit of our producers, a part of what they had gained in foreign markets.

The rise in prices expected from the reduction in the value of money has been slow in coming, and hence the effect in the reduction of real wages has not yet been obvious everywhere. How far the various governments intended it, how far they were aware that their actions would have the effect of reducing the standard of living of working people, it is impossible to know. Incredible as it seems, we are told that no one in the German financial administration foresaw that the prodigal issue of paper money to support the workers in the Ruhr during the French occupation would reduce the value of the mark to nothing; and yet that was its obvious result. Truly governments at the present day look very little way ahead, and hence tend to treat symptoms rather than causes.

We all desire, and certainly every good citizen should desire, that the standard of living among the workers should be as high as possible, but this can only in small part be arbitrarily controlled. If labor is not remunerative, if it does not yield some profit, it cannot be long employed, either by a capitalist or by a government that owns all the means of production. The aftermath of war has, indeed, left a feeling that everything can be arbitrarily managed, whereas, like all human affairs, this is true only within limits.


Whatever the causes may be, the present relations between nations, diplomatic, military, commercial, and financial, are a manifestation of profound distrust among the most advanced peoples of the world, founded, let us hope, not on untrustworthiness, but on the hysteria caused by the war and its aftermath; for if due, not to that, but to permanent causes, it will — more than war itself — break up our civilization. It may, if unchecked, spread from the nations to the divergent interests within them. In fact we may observe that the governments most distrusted by their neighbors do not trust their own people with the use of free speech, but exert a strict control over meetings, the press, the radio, and even the mails; do not permit free entry or departure of their own citizens, and clearly feel insecure without arbitrary rule. Civilization, as we know it, is based on mutual confidence that each man will conform to the moral code of the community; and the comity and prosperity of nations depend upon similar relations.

As a rule, the essential qualities of a race develop gradually and long persist, growing and changing very slowly. They are apt for long periods to run true, and a sudden turn away from these lines is apt to be followed by a countermarch, as happened in the case of the Commonwealth in England and the violence of the Revolution in France. Those who cry out that a wholly new spirit has come, and that a sharp and lasting turn has taken place in human nature, are apt to exaggerate, and find permanent tendencies stronger than they had supposed. Edward Jackson Lowell, the author of The Eve of the French Revolution, remarked that while radicals had at various periods differed wholly in their special tenets, they had always agreed on one principle — that human reason began about thirty years ago.

Now people had believed that the trend of all Western nations was toward democracy; and we have not recovered from a war fought, we were told, to make the world safe for it, when three great nations have come under dictatorships, two of them by the overthrow of governments popular in form, and the third after it had taken the first steps in that direction. But in fact none of these countries had enjoyed popular institutions long enough to understand by doing, to learn to deal with one another, to fight hard for the control of the State, but within the limits tacitly or legally imposed upon the contestants. For the basic element in self-government is self-restraint, and that cannot be acquired by adopting a constitution and electing an assembly, but by living under them until the qualities needed to maintain the system become a second nature, an inseparable part of the heritage of the nation.

Since so large a part of Europe is now subject to dictatorship, and something tending in that direction is in practice advocated here, it may not be out of place to point out some of its essential qualities at the present day. However diverse the aims the three European dictators purport to follow, we may observe that they have one characteristic in common — the ruthless suppression of opinions inconsistent with their own. This is not an accident, or the result of narrow bigotry on the part of the dictators. It is a necessity. In Oriental monarchies, and even in the Roman Empire, such precautions were not needed; for, with the very slender means of diffusing opinions, personal criticism was not a serious danger, the chief peril to a ruler being not so much objections to his policy as rivals to his throne. But with the vast increase in the extent, and speed of communication by print and through the air, and the consequent susceptibility of people to cleverly devised appeals, the dictator, to retain his prestige and carry out his plans, must control these agencies for the forming of opinion. Therefore, men who seek to-day the benefits of any type of autocratic rule, assumed to be benevolent and progressive, must accept with its merits the inevitable evils, and among them the loss of free expression of opinion — a right, by the way, that Americans will not abandon.

Another characteristic of despotism is arbitrariness. In fact, this is its real reason for existence. We live in an age of movement, rapid movement, demanding for its success freedom of action, unshackled by formal rules, legal technicalities, or rigid statutes. It is a time of personalities, energetic and willful, seeking results, as Woodrow Wilson said some thirty years ago, by a method more rapid than changing t he law — that of the approach of their own desire. They want discretion, the power to do what they personally think best about such questions, for example, as which among deportable criminals shall be exempted from the operation of the law; w hether it shall be pigs, chickens, or sheep, cotton, corn, or lumber, that shall be subject to a processing tax; where and which roads, schoolhouses, and other structures shall be built at the joint expense of the nation, state, and town.

Everyone likes authority, some people a great deal of it. But there is one thing the American cares for more, and that is to be free from arbitrary interference in his affairs. A law passed for the common good he accepts and obeys, albeit he may not think it wise and just. He can accommodate himself to it; he can lay his plans with regard to it. It is quite different from arbitrary, unstable, incalculable, discretionary rules. It was to be free from these that his forbears strove for centuries, working toward a government of laws and not of men; and if he is told not only that arbitrary measures are needed in an emergency, but that they are intrinsically better than fixed and equal laws, he simply will not believe it. Nor, for any great length of time, will he abide it.


Far more important to a nation than economic prosperity, or material wellbeing, is the character of its people, their hardihood, enterprise, and selfreliance; and one who has been proud of these qualities developing from the early settlers, through the American seamen all over the world, and the frontiersmen pushing their way across the continent, is not a little shocked by the doctrine that every body of citizens that has suffered hard luck, or been improvident, should apply for help to the national government. To give aid to the unfortunate is noble, but to depend upon such assistance is demoralizing.

But someone will say that our inheritance is Anglo-Saxon, and that the people of this country are no longer in vast majority of that stock. It is true; and we shall, no doubt, get from the others qualities that will permanently enrich our mixture; but I do not believe that it will enfeeble our social and political traditions. Even in the existing turmoil of thought and sentiment caused by the war, and enhanced by the depression, our newer stocks, save in a very minute proportion chiefly among the newcomers, still regard America as a land of liberty and would have it remain so. They believe in our institutions as fully as the descendants of the early settlers, and find fault with them less. When we entered the war the Germans expected the people of their race here to be more loyal to their Fatherland than to the country of their adoption; but they were disappointed, and so will anyone be who thinks that the later elements in our people will be in favor of fundamental changes in our institutions or ideals.

If our traditions are, in the main, Anglo-Saxon, may we not wisely follow in legislation where Great Britain leads? In fact, some of our good friends — chiefly among the descendants of the early settlers of this country — are continually telling us how much better things are done in England. No doubt the use of appointments in the civil service to secure votes at elections has been much more fully outgrown there. No doubt the party system has so much more cohesion that groups of members cannot force what they want upon the government, which is therefore more responsive to the opinions of the people as compared with sectional or organized interests. No doubt the whole machinery runs more smoothly, and has less need of lubrication by pork barrels, local and personal, that here shock even those among us who would like to get a larger share of them than they do.

The English and American political machinery may be compared to the railway locomotives of the two countries. The English is smaller, lighter, more rigid, capable of very fast work on a smooth and level track, but little suited to a poorer roadbed with many grades and curves; the American is larger, seems more clumsy, but with its movable bogie truck can work better in a rough country.

The people of Great Britain are highly homogeneous, with a common history, traditions, and language, a climate much the same throughout, a country small, compact, and from the standpoint of agriculture fairly uniform. In such a nation a government like theirs works very well; but the many attempts to copy it in other European countries have not reproduced its excellencies; nor in the British Isles has it been highly successful beyond the limits of national uniformity. Had Southern Ireland been in the position of one of our states, — part of a federal system with the control of her own land tenure, education, and religion, — she might never have desired to break away. One may go farther, and recalling the fact that when our present Union was formed it took about as long to go from Georgia to the seat of government in New York as it did when the Dominion of Canada was established to go to London from the farthest of its provinces, then Ontario — recalling this, one may ask whether the Canadian provinces might not have been included in a British federal system, if such had existed. If they had been, a true federation of the Empire might have developed with some of the states in the British Isles and some overseas, each with its own government, and also a common federal executive and legislature for them all. But, with the unitary form of government, to have attempted to include Canada would have been bad both for her and for England — as was the case with Ireland.

Instead of that, the dominions, when granted self-government, have tended steadily toward a consciousness of distinct nationality, and a desire for separate conduct of their own affairs, until the Statute of Westminster has virtually made them legally independent. To imagine how a federal imperial system might have been constructed is, of course, futile speculation, for to be effective it would have required for centuries past a wholly different course of political development in Great Britain from that which took place. All I want to point out is that a federal government would have been a thing very unlike that which now exists at Westminster, with different merits and defects; and that the English parliamentary system, as it stands, excellent in the smoothness of its operation, and admirably suited to the people of the country, tends, for the purposes of self-government beyond the shores of Great Britain, to be distinctly centrifugal.

If with this we compare the federal system of the United States we find something far more complex, a vast number of officers, elected or appointed with no consistent reason why one of these methods of selection should be used rather than the other, responsible to different authorities, or practically to an invisible party group. We find parties united by no fixed or distinguishable political principles; or separated by traditions about politics that have long ceased to exist, as in the case of the Southern States, where men still cannot vote for a Republican candidate for President because of doctrines about Negro suffrage in the South which that party abandoned so long ago that most of the present members never held them.

Yet the system has bound together the largest number of people in the greatest variety of climates, occupations, natural conditions and resources, that has ever lived as one truly self-governing nation upon the planet. The thin line of thirteen original states has admitted to full membership one block of territory after another across the whole continent, and, save for the War of Secession, no one of those states has ever desired to withdraw. That war was due to the institution of slavery, which in the nineteenth century would have disrupted any nation where the two forces were so nearly evenly balanced as they were here; and it is notable that, in spite of emancipation and the infliction of Reconstruction, the Southern people, since they regained full control of their own affairs, have never shown any desire for independence. They cherish the memory of those who fought for it, but do not regret their failure to attain it.

The creation of a single self-governing nation from Minnesota to Florida and from Calais to San Diego, containing people from all the jealous and hostile races of Europe, is no small feat for little more than a century. The fact that the greater part of the newer states were first settled by people from the older ones helped, no doubt, in the process, but should not obscure the achievement of forming so elastic and yet so solid a structure. It was accomplished because the plan was federal and each of the forty-eight states could, to a great extent, develop in its own way. Truly, in its influence upon its membership, the American federal system has shown itself centripetal.

No doubt the distribution of powers between the nation and the states devised by the framers of the Constitution was not what we should make to-day. It was adopted at a time when, save for printing, the means of communication and travel had little changed since the Roman Empire, with the result that the interdependence of the states in trade and other matters has become much closer than it was then. Concentration of power in the national government has, in fact, increased, but such an extension should be gradual, following rather than anticipating the need. Our national union is based on mutual assistance and support, and to use it to procure advantage for any part at the expense of another, especially for political objects, would involve an element of danger. To force centralization too fast is liable to cause an undesirable tension that we have so far in the main escaped.

Errors made in the past should, like the buoys upon reefs where ships have gone aground, be warnings of dangers to be avoided in the future. If we were asked what, in general estimation, were the two legislative mistakes in our national history most nearly universally condemned by public opinion, we should probably agree that they were the Reconstruction of the Southern States after the Civil War and Prohibition. For Reconstruction no one has now a good word; it has long gone, but it has not been forgotten, and it has left a bitterness that has not yet passed away; while the repeal of the Prohibition Amendment was carried with such rapidity, and well-nigh unanimity, on the part of the states as to indicate a highly decisive public opinion that to have given the national government power to legislate on the matter was a serious blunder. The public had become convinced that Congress, under the pressure of wellmeaning enthusiasts, had used the power to pass statutes which could not be enforced, which caused respectable citizens to abet their violation, and which produced contempt for law, dangerous groups of bandits, with a legacy of crime difficult to suppress.

Now it may be observed that both of these measures, Reconstruction and National Prohibition, came from attempts by overzealous people to vest prematurely in the federal government powers much better left to the states. It is often declared that powers so conferred will be used moderately and wisely; but this is just what does not happen, because the members of Congress assume that the power having been given is intended to be used, and pressure is brought by those whose efforts conferred it to carry out their object fully, while the great mass of citizens with more moderate views make little effort to resist the proposals, and the harm is done before their silent opinions are known.

That our methods of government are far from perfect, that there are grave blemishes in their operation, especially in the large cities, we all know only too well. That we have been misled by false applications of the blessed word ‘democracy’ into methods that do not give effect to the will, or promote the welfare, of the public, is obvious to anyone who can see clear and think straight. That much can be done by hard work to improve political conditions, to overcome the too selfish side of political activity, and that the effort to bring about better conditions may be more general, made with a broader view of the end to be attained, we most earnestly hope. But that this must be done within our institutions, rather than by impairing their vitality, most citizens with high aspirations are firmly convinced.