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No. 54 "The Blessings of Stability" Speech of James W. Wadsworth, Representative and Former Senator from New York, July 12, 1935. American Liberty League. 400dpi TIFF G4 page images Digital Library Services, University of Kentucky Libraries Lexington, Kentucky Am_Lib_Leag_54 These pages may freely searched and displayed. Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically. No. 54 "The Blessings of Stability" Speech of James W. Wadsworth, Representative and Former Senator from New York, July 12, 1935. American Liberty League. American Liberty League. Washington, D.C. 1935. This electronic text file was created by Optical Character Recognition (OCR). No corrections have been made to the OCR-ed text and no editing has been done to the content of the original document. Encoding has been done through an automated process using the recommendations for Level 1 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines. Digital page images are linked to the text file. Pamphlets Available â˜… Copies of the following pamphlets and other League literature may be obtained upon application to the League's national headquarters: Statement of Principles and Purposes American Liberty League Its Platform An Analysis of the President's Budget Message Economic Security Inflation The Thirty Hour Week The Pending Banking Bill The Holding Company Bill Price Control Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow The Labor Relations BiU How Inflation Affects the Average Family Speech by Dr. Ray Bert Westerfield The Bituminous Coal Bill Regimenting the Farmers Speech by Dr. G. W. Dyer Extension of the NRA Human Rights and the Constitution Speech by R. E. Desvernine The Farmers' Home Bill The TVA Amendments The New Deal, Its Unsound Theories and Irreconcilable Policies Speech by Ralph M. Shaw Is the Constitution for Sale? Speech by Capt. William H. Stayton How to Meet the Issue Speech by William E. Borah The Supreme Court and the New Deal The Duty of the Church to the Social Order Speech by S. Wells Utley An Open Letter to the President By Dr. Neil Carothers The Revised AAA Amendments The Return to Democracy Speech by Jouett Shouse The President's Tax Program The American Bar The Trustee of American Institutions Speech by Albert C. Ritchie Two Amazing Years Speech by Nicholas Roose- Fabian Socialism in the New Deal Speech by Demarest Lloyd Recovery by Statute Speech by Dr. Neil Carothers The People's Money Speech by Dr. Walter E. Spahr The Principles of Constitutional Democracy and the New Deal Speech by R. E. Desvernine Which Road to Take? Speech by J. Howard AMERICAN LIBERTY LEAGUE NATIONAL PRESS BUILDING WASHINGTON, D. C. The Blessings of Stability Speech of JAMES W. WADSWORTH Representative and Former Senator from New York and Member of the National Executive Committee of the American Liberty League at the Institute of Public Affairs University of Virginia July 12, 1935 AMERICAN LIBERTY LEAGUE National Headquarters NATIONAL PRESS BUILDING WASHINGTON, D. C. Document No. 54 The Blessings of Stability * When we glance over the world of today we cannot escape the conclusion that the political institution generally denominated democracy is facing a crisis. Prior to the World War most of the nations of Europe were devoted to the democratic ideal and there seemed to be little doubt that, step by step, the nations, with few exceptions, were gaining ground toward the objective, government by the people. For years prior to 1914 autocratic governments, governments in control of privileged classes, despotic governments, encountered emphatic challenges in ever-increasing number challenges uttered by those who, devoted to a true liberalism, insisted upon the American theory that governments should derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. As the years passed the challengers made headway and the general tendency was in the direction of a more effective democracy. The movement even spread to the ancient peoples of Asia. Here and there were exceptions, in that in certain countries the challengers, though persistent, accomplished little. But these exceptions proved the rule. With the Great War the movement was halted, for during that crisis internal political differences were largely forgotten and in most nations, by common consent, all efforts were concentrated upon the objectives of the war itself. For a comparatively short period following the cessation of hostilities a great wave of democratic feeling seemed to spread over the world and justify the hope that government by the people would shortly go forward with tremendous strides. In fact, this hope had been voiced in the slogan, "Make the world safe for democracy." For that short period the tendency was all in the direction of democracy and the hopes of millions of people who prior to that time had lived under autocratic government 3 were raised as never before. Shortly, however, those hopes were shattered and in large measure they lie shattered today. FOR example, in Russia, where the Roman oils had ruled for generations with scarcely any approach toward government by the people, the imperial dynasty was overthrown and for a brief moment a government was set up parliamentary in form, to the great joy of the liberals. It lived but a day and was succeeded by a regime which achieved power by the exercise of force and has kept that great nation to this very hour subject to a dictatorship no less complete and intolerable than that of the Czar. In Italy, where the parliamentary form had existed for years, a national political crisis resulted in its overthrow and the establishment in its place of a virtual dictatorship under the leadership of the impelling Mussolini. Scarcely any of the elements of democracy survive in that nation. In Germany the imperial government perished with the departure of the Hohenzollerns and a republic was set up to take its place. It lasted but a few years and now that great people have given themselves up to a dictatorship established and maintained by the picturesque Hitler. In Austria, in Hungary, and in other European countries the attempts to reach the more democratic form since the War have been virtual failures and we find in most of them dictatorships more or less complete. Apparently the world is today less safe for democracy than it has been for a long, long time. For the time being at least the true liberal must drink of a bitter cup when he contemplates what has been going on over the world in these last few years. This widespread reversal of the trend which we were all counting upon so confidently only a few years ago should give pause to all thoughtful people. Even we Americans would better do some thinking for ourselves, for there are among us many who contend that our government in its present form has outlived its usefulness and should be changed in most substantial fashion. If we are to give serious consideration to such proposals (and I assume we should for they are being pressed upon us with great energy), we would better first take into account an extraordinary fact one which I have endeavored to emphasize upon several occasions in the past. That fact is that the government of the United States is today, with certain very minor exceptions, the oldest government upon the face of the earth. By that I mean that it has been in existence, without substantial change in its form or in the principles underlying it, longer than the present-day government of any other important nation. Such a statement may come as a surprise to those who are accustomed to regard us as a very youthful nation. True, we are a young nation, but compared to others our government is very, very old. Let us look into it for a moment. Washington was our first President. He took office in 1789. In that year the new government of the United States started to function in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution which had been ratified by the requisite number of states a short time before. That government, under the Constitution, has been functioning ever since without substantial change in form or in underlying principle. It functions today, despite some attacks upon it attacks, happily, unsuccessful. Compare that record with that of other governments. Since 1789 France has seen a succession of monarchical, terroristic, imperial, republican, monarchical and imperial again, and, finally, republican governments. Since 1789 Spain has seen at least two republics, two monarchies and one practical dictatorship. The principalities and petty kingdoms of the Italian Peninsula were not welded together until the 1850's under the leadership of Cavour. Our government was more than sixty years old at the time. It was not until 1870 that the German kingdoms and states were merged under one imperial government by Bismarck. Now the Hohenzollerns are gone and we have seen two distinct governments since they departed. I have already mentioned Russia. In that great nation the Romanoffs are gone and we have Stalin. The Austro-Hungarian empire has been scattered to the winds, the Hapsburgs are gone, and its constituent states have been set up under separate governments as lately as 1919. In several of them dictatorship has already displaced the parliamentary form. Follow the story down into the Balkan Peninsula and we find nothing but change and disruption. Approaching the Bosporus we no longer find a sultan wielding despotic power and hailed as defender of the faithful. Mustapha Kemal and his followers established a republic across the Straits in Asia Minor only a few years ago. Turning our attention to more ancient peoples we find that only about a generation ago the Manchus were expelled from the imperial throne of China and desperate efforts inaugurated to establish a republic efforts characterized by a welter of banditry and blood. Prior to the 1850's the Shogunate wielded its despotic power in Japan. It was not until an American naval officer, Commodore Perry, dropped in at a Japanese port in the middle of the nineteenth century that the Japanese people consented to have dealings with the rest of the world. That consent was followed shortly by the establishment of that parliamentary form of government which today rules over Nippon. Even in Great Britain, whose people have contributed so tremendously to the cause of liberty, whose government for generations has been stable far, far above the average, we find a substantial change taking place only a few years before the World War. In 1911, I think it was, pressure against a small remnant of class rule in Great Britain became so great as to result in taking away from the House of Lords that equal legislative power which it had enjoyed along with the House of Commons and giving to the latter practically exclusive control over all money bills a change as substantial as if we were to exclude the Senate of the United States 6 from all consideration of taxes, revenues and appropriations and concentrate their consideration in the House of Representatives. I have not time to trace the story of all the governments, but I think I have followed it far enough to prove the substantial correctness of my assertion that of all great governments the government of the United States is the oldest. Dynasties have toppled from their thrones. Democracies in one form or another have been set up and have tumbled down. Revolutions have come and gone. Power has been transferred from one extreme to the other, from the democratic to the dictatorial. Nearly all the world has been in a state of flux and instability, and yet through it all, ever since 1789, our government has stood like a rock. This is not a mere accident. There must be some reason for it. Ours is an intelligent people, but I do not think our intelligence so superlative as to make us proof against error. We are humans, and under ordinary circumstances we would probably make as many mistakes as other people. There must be something in the circumstances themselves, something out of the ordinary, which has kept us comparatively free of destructive error. In fact, there must be something in the form of our government and in its philosophy which accounts for this extraordinary record. To identify it and understand it we must go to the Constitution, the fundamental law upon which our government is founded. Its authors dreaded the tyranny which comes from a concentration of power in the hands of one man or group in the government, and they knew that parliaments, swayed by ruthless majorities, could be just as tyrannical as kings. Hence the checks and balances which prevent either the Congress or the Chief Executive acquiring complete predominance. Should one subdue the other we would have despotism in short order. We came perilously near it with the impeachment of Andrew Johnson. The pendulum of prestige may swing a little from the legislative toward the executive and 7 back again, but year in and year out the balance is pretty well preserved and no true liberal can assent to its destruction. I like to think of the continued maintenance of this balance as the carrying out of a pledge made by our forefathers, binding upon themselves and upon their posterity a pledge that liberty shall live. Occasionally the Congress or the Executive steps over the line, whereupon any citizen, feeling himself injured, may appeal for a judicial determination of his rights. The judicial power is vested in a Supreme Court, and the final determination of the citizen's rights, guaranteed to him by the Covenant which binds us all, is reached by that independent body. Those who complain against the power of the Court to declare an act of the Congress or of the Executive unconstitutional, and thus null and void, must, if they are consistent, assent to the proposition that the citizen may not appeal to the Court for relief against oppression at the hands of his government. With that privilege gone, liberty as we know it would soon be an ephemeral thing. The function of the Supreme Court in this respect is unique. Scarcely any other government includes such an institution. Ear from being an engine of oppression or obstruction, the Court helps us to preserve our liberty that liberty which we insist upon in our Constitution. It helps us to remain faithful to a great ideal an ideal which in our sober moments we would never abandon. It is the great stabilizer. In very large measure it is responsible for ours being the oldest of governments. Can any thoughtful person ignore the blessings which flow from that stability? Take a look around the world. With what nation would we change places? I have already stated that a demand for a change has been heard in this country. It reached considerable proportions with the advent of the present administration. A number of measures, some of them affecting agriculture, some industry, and some the monetary system, have been passed, which, viewed collectively, present a new conception of government and which, if thoroughly established and maintained, will transform it into something very, very different from the government we have become accustomed to. These measures are intended to inaugurate and carry on a "planned economy," to use the phrase coined by the President. They involve a very wide extension of the Federal power over agriculture, industry, the management of the price level and the control of credit. That the advocates of this conception of the proper function of government, from the President down, are perfectly sincere cannot be questioned, else these measures would not have been urged so emphatically nor would we find each one of them fitting in so perfectly with all the others as to become a part of a general scheme. It IS contended that the time has come for the central government to help plan and to control to an important degree the ways and means by which the citizen seeks to earn his living. The plans must be approved by the government and in certain cases may be actually promulgated by the government. The scheme generally includes machinery for ascertaining the wishes of a majority of the persons engaged in a given business. If the wish of the majority is satisfactory to the government, then it is to be translated into a set of regulations which are to have the force of law. The protesting minority is to be bound by the regulations just as securely as the assenting majority. The prosecuting machinery found in the Federal Courts is to be employed by the government in punishing those who disobey. Thus the element of force enters into the situation. Indeed, it is essential that force be employed if we are to have a planned economy. Aside from its purely constitutional aspects, we encounter in this scheme a new principle, to wit that a majority, backed by the power of the government, may determine how the minority shall earn its living. With the support of government one hundred men engaged in a certain business can impose a rule of conduct upon seventy-five men engaged in the same business. This reaches deep down into the roots of our existence and implies an appalling change in the American conception of liberty. It deprives the individual of his freedom of choice as to the means by which he shall pursue happiness, and thus runs directly contrary to the ideal expressed in the Declaration of Independence. It might be interesting to discuss whether or not any government is so equipped with wisdom as to enable it effectively to plan the economy of all its citizens. We may very well doubt it, but that element of the problem is comparatively unimportant. The all-important and fundamental element can be expressed in the questions: "What is to become of liberty as we have known it since 1789?" "Is it to be supplemented by regimentation?" "Is the citizen to be the master or the subject?" These are questions that are actually facing us today. They have been brought out into the light by the recent Supreme Court decision. In passing the National Industrial Recovery Act the Congress sought to extend its power under the interstate commerce clause in the Constitution to the regulation of a business carried on within a state on the theory, it is to be presumed, that all business, great and small, in some way or other finally affects interstate commerce. This theory, if accepted and carried to its logical conclusion, would mean there is no limit whatsoever to the powers of the Federal government. The Court in its unanimous opinion pointed out that the particular business involved in the suit affected interstate commerce only remotely, that it was essentially intrastate in character and thus outside the scope of Federal power. The decision served as a sharp and enlightening reminder that our Federal government may exercise only those powers which are delegated to it and that the powers not delegated are reserved to the states and to the people as provided in the Tenth Amendment. The Tenth Amendment, so often overlooked, must now belt) come the subject of nation-wide discussion and understanding. Its vast importance is now apparent. To GET a better understanding of it let us go back to 1788 when the new Constitution, written by the Philadelphia convention of 1787, was before the thirteen states for ratification. The people of that day were very jealous, were very fearful and suspicious of concentrated power. They agreed that we must have some central government, but they feared that the government would take more and more power to itself as the years went by and finally become oppressive over the people in their communities and in their local affairs. They demanded that certain specific limitations or prohibitions directed against the new government should be included in the fundamental law, else they would oppose ratification. What might be termed a gentlemen's agreement was finally reached, to the effect that immediately upon the establishment of the new government the Congress should submit to the states a series of amendments designed to protect the individual in the enjoyment of certain rights and privileges deemed essential to the preservation of his liberty. So the first Congress submitted twelve amendments. Ten of them had to do with the preservation of liberty as against encroachment by the government. The remaining two related to other subjects and have never been ratified. Those first ten amendments have been known ever since as the Bill of Rights and have been regarded generally as a part of the original instrument. Paraphrasing them, they are the voice of the people saying to their government; "Thou shalt not deprive us of freedom of speech or of a free press. Thou shalt not seek to control the manner in which we worship God. Thou shalt accord to every one of us the right of trial by jury. Thou shalt not unreasonably search our houses or seize our private papers. Thou shalt not quarter troops upon us in time of peace. Thou shalt not take our property 11 except by due process of law and with just compensation." Thus the people voiced commands to be obeyed by their government. Then, as if to make assurance doubly sure, they said to their government: "We have delegated certain powers to you. Go ahead and exercise them. And remember that we reserve for the states and for ourselves, the people, all powers not delegated. Keep your hands off until you get our permission in the manner prescribed." There is your Tenth Amendment. In a very real sense it is the keystone in the arch of the Federal union of states. Blast it away and you transform our whole government from that of a Federal union to one imperial in character. However that may be, let's return to that decision for a moment and consider its implications a little further. The Court made it very clear that the Federal power does not extend over the business of manufacturing or the business of farming conducted within a state; that the conduct of those businesses was not interstate in character but intrastate. This being the case, the power to regulate farming and industry is reserved to the states and to the people. THE famous N.R.A. with its codes has simply ceased to exist. Practically all manufacturing and all merchandising carried on within a state are out of the picture of Federal control. You will find the Administration and its supporters in the Congress struggling to give the Agricultural Adjustment Act some color of constitutionality by a change of verbiage here and there a desperate attempt to save it. But it is doomed as an effective compeUing Federal agency, for if the Federal government cannot regulate a manufacturing plant it cannot regulate a farm. The same may be said of the Labor Disputes Act recently signed. Its provisions regulating the relations to be maintained between employer and employee are doomed just as surely as was the effort of the Federal government to 12 regulate the chicken picker in the Schechter plant in Brooklyn under an N.R.A. code. Indeed, it would seem that the whole program for a planned economy under the forceful supervision of the Federal government has fallen to the ground, for the simple reason that the people have delegated no such power to the central government but rather have reserved these powers to themselves and to the states. It is not surprising, therefore, that the President should greet the decision of the Supreme Court with certain evidences of dismay. In his carefully planned statement to the press correspondents, delivered four or five days after the decision was handed down, Mr. Roosevelt made plain his disappointment. Incidentally he made it exceedingly plain that he has abandoned the strong views he entertained only four or five years ago when he was Governor of New York regarding the grave menace of Federal encroachment into those fields of power reserved to the states and to the people. He has a perfect right to change his mind. But in changing it he has made the issue exceedingly clear. For that we should be grateful to him. In effect he contends that the government of the United States should possess all these powers for the regulation of factories, stores, repair shops, farms, ranches and every other business or avocation pursued by men; that it is a great pity that the Supreme Court has found that the government does not possess such power; that the people themselves must decide this thing, not this year, perhaps, but within four or five years. Obviously the central government cannot be put into possession of these powers except by an amendment to the Constitution itself specifically delegating them to it. So when the President says that the people must decide, he must mean that they must make the decision through the ratification or the rejection of an appropriate amendment submitted and passed upon in accordance with the amendatory article of the Constitution. While the President refrained from urging the adoption of an amendment, the plain fact 13 is the vast program of planned economy under the New Deal cannot he put into effect without an amendment. That's all there is to it and we might just as well face it. If this Administration is to be consistent it must press for such an amendment. Failure to do so would mean abandonment of the New Deal program by its own champions. I am well aware that it is rash to prophesy concerning political developments in the future, but I venture to state as my belief that the question involved in the preservation or abandonment of the Tenth Amendment, that keystone of the arch, will be pressed upon the attention of the American electorate in 1936. It is very doubtful that it can be settled in one election. The subject is too big. It may take several years. Unless I am very much mistaken a fundamental question is arising in this country of vastly greater importance than anything which we have faced in generations. The issue involved in the Eighteenth Amendment was indeed fundamental, but its potentiality, its ramifications, its effect upon the life of the nation will seem of dwarf-like insignificance when compared to the immensity of the decision which must be rendered finally by the people with respect to the Tenth Amendment and the preservation of a Federal union of states. SHALL we join the procession in which we see so many European nations marching, abandon the form of government which we have maintained since 1789 and concentrate at a central point power sufficient to compel, day by day, the honest citizen to pursue his honest happiness as those in authority shall prescribe? If so, what of liberty, that aspiration which lives deeper in the human soul than any other, that intangible yet precious thing for which men have struggled for centuries, that blessing which, never conferred, must always be earned? It must be the devout prayer of liberals the world over that Americans shall guard well this liberty that Americans have earned, not only for their own sake but for the sake of mankind. Let at least one light burn steadily in a darkened world. 14