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The craftsman
Vol. XXIII, Number 2 (November 1912)

Stickley, Gustav
Als ik kan: Thanksgiving and politics,   pp. 245-246 PDF (1.0 MB)


Page 245


THANKSGIVING AND POLITICS
ALS IK KAN
THANKSGIVING AND POLITICS
HATEVER the motives that, al-
          most on the eve of a Presidential
          election, sent a Senatorial com-
          mittee on an exploring expedition
into the domain of campaign funds past
and present, the public is a gainer by the
result. For it has been given a few clear-
cut and significant facts in the place of a
mass of vague, persistent and distorted ru-
mors. And these facts may serve as mile-
stones to mark the distance we have al-
ready traveled toward a finer self-respect
in public affairs, as well as to remind us
that the journey is not yet ended. Look-
ing backward and forward from the point
already reached, it is difficult to repress
an exultant conviction that this nation's
feet are set on the upward slopes of a grad-
ual spiritual evolution from which there
will be no turning back.
  Ever since Judge Parker, just before the
election of 19o4, accused the Republican
managers of accumulating a huge cam-
paign fund by levying a species of black-
mail against the big corporationi, certain
anti-Roosevelt papers have reverted to the
charge on all opportune occasions, building
up around it an imposing and bewildering
edifice of rumor and suspicion. But now,
under the investigating committee's search-
light, this misty structure has faded and
vanished   In its place stand a few sharp-
ly outlined facts--facts which constitute an
indictment, it is true, but an indictment of
methods, not of men.
  Thus with the light for the first time
turned on the cost of electing Presidents,
we learn that the Republican campaign
fund in 1896 was $3,5oo,000; in 1900, $3,-
ooo,ooo and, in 1904, $2,o88,ooo. As it is
with the 19o4 fund that rumor has most
persistently busied itself, we will pause at
that. A treasurer of the Republican Na-
tional Committee testified that 73Y/ per
cent. of the money used in the Roosevelt
campaign that year was contributed from
the coffers of corporations. J. P. Morgan
gave $I50,ooo; H. C. Frick, $S0o,ooo; John
D. Archbold, $ioo,ooo and George J.
Gould, $Iooooo. Mr. Morgan testified that
any campaign contributions made by his
company were made "for the good of the
country," and with no expectation of any
special consideration in return. "And we
never got any return, either, from any-
body," he added. The matter was even
more sweepingly dealt with when Colonel
Roosevelt himself took the stand.   "I
asked no man to contribute to the cam-
paign fund when I was elected President
of the United States, and I wish to reiterate
that Mr. Bliss and Mr. Cortelyou both as-
sured me that no promise had been made
as a return for any contribution. Neither
they nor anyone else having authority
asked me to act or refrain from acting in
any matter while I was President because
any contribution had been made or with-
held." And when one of the members of
the investigating  committee asked him
whether, as a practical man, he would not
naturally think that "some of the people
might be expecting favors," he answered
with emphasis: "As a practical man of
high ideals, who has always endeavored to
put his high ideals into practice, I think
that any man who would believe that he
would get any consideration from making
any contributions to me was either a crook
or a fool."
  But even when we have frankly accepted
Colonel Roosevelt's point of view and con-
ceded Mr. Morgan's sincerity in declaring
that he expected nothing in return for his
money, there remains something disturb-
ing to the self-respect of the average citi-
zen in the thought that our Presidential
campaigns have been financed by A few im-
mensely rich men. For after all, choosing
a President is your business and mine no
less than Mr. Morgan's or Mr. Archbold's,
and if there are unavoidable expenses con-
nected with it we have no excuse for shirk-
ing our individual responsibility in the mat-
ter. No matter how exalted and disinter-
ested may be the motive that prompts a
millionaire to assume the upkeep of our
Governmental machinery, the act tends to
pauperize the electorate. No point of view
can make healthy the conditions under
which nearly three-quarters of the victori-
ous party's campaign fund is contributed
by the great corporations which dominate
and overshadow the industrial situation in
this country.  Such things are not com-
patible with our boasted spirit of indepen-
dence, our claim to a Government controlled
and cared for by the people.
  Some of the more progressive Western
States have already awakened to this fact
in advance of the rest of the country, and
have passed laws safeguarding their State
elections from the possibility of incurring
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