페이지 이미지

this great department would be so administered as to effectuate the purposes for which it had been created.

As to appointments generally, he did not recognize the rule of party rewards for party work, although, when party opposition became clearly defined, he wrote Pickering that to "bring a man into any office of consequence knowingly, whose political tenets are adverse to the measures which the General Government is pursuing," would be, in his opinion, "a sort of political suicide." To integrity and capacity, as qualifications for high civil office, he added that of "marked eminence before the country, not only as the more likely to be serviceable, but because the public will more readily trust them." As in appointments, so in the conduct of affairs, prudence, conciliation and accommodation carried the experiment successfully along, while firmness in essentials was equally present, as when, at a later day, the suppression of the whiskey rebellion and the maintenance of neutrality in the war between France and England gave information at home that there existed a central Government strong enough to suppress domestic insurrection, and abroad, that a new and self-reliant power had been born into the family of nations.

The course taken in all matters, whether great or small, was the result of careful consideration and the exercise of deliberate judgment as to the effect of what was done, or forborne to be done, upon the success of the newly constructed fabric. Thus, the regulation of official behavior was deemed a matter of such consequence, that Adams, Jay, Hamilton and Madison were consulted upon it, for although republican simplicity had been substituted for monarchy and titles, and was held inconsistent with concession of superiority by reason of occupancy of official station, yet the transition could not be violently made, and the people were, in any event, entitled to expect their agents to sustain with dignity the high positions to which they had been called.

During the entire Presidency of Washington, upon the details of which it is impracticable here to dwell, time for solidification was the dominant thought. The infant giant could defend himself even in his cradle; but to become the Colossus of Washington's hopes, the gristle must have opportunity to harden.

After more than seven years of devotion to the interests committed to his charge and intense watchfulness over the adjustment and working of the machinery of the new system, having determined upon his own retirement, thereby practically assigning a limit to the period during which the office could with propriety be

occupied by his successors, still regarding the problem as not solved, and still anxiously desiring to contribute to the last to the welfare of the constant object of his veneration and love, he gives to his countrymen in the farewell of "an old and affectionate friend," the results of his observations and of his reflections on the operation of the great scheme he had assisted in creating and had so far commended to the people by his administration of its provisions.

Punctilious as he was in official observances, and dear as his home and his own State were to him, this address was one that rose above home, and State, and official place, that brought him near, not simply to the people to whom it was immediately directed, but to that great coming multitude whom no man could number, and towards which he felt the pathetic attachment of a noble and prophetic soul. And so he dates it, not from Mount Vernon nor from his official residence, but from the "United States."

Hamilton, Madison and Jay had, in the series of essays in advocacy of the Constitution, largely aided in bringing about its ratification, and displayed wonderful comprehensiveness of view, depth of wisdom and sagacity of reflection in their treatment of the topics involved. Throughout Washington's administration they had to the utmost assisted in the successful carrying on of the Government, in the Cabinet, in Congress, upon the bench, or in diplomatic station, and to them as tried and true friends and men of a statesmanship as broad as the country, Washington turned at one time and another for advice in the preparation of these closing words.

Notwithstanding that innate modesty which had always induced a certain real diffidence in assuming station, he was conscious of his position as founder of the state; he felt that every utterance in this closing benediction would be cherished by coming generations as disinterested advice, based on experience and knowledge and illuminated by the sincerest affection, and he invited the careful scrutiny of his friends that it might "be handed to the public in an honest, unaffected, simple garb." But the work was his own, as all his work was. The virtue went out of him, even when he used the hand of another.

If we turn to this remarkable document and compare the line of conduct therein recommended with the course of events during the century — the advice given with the results of experience — we are amazed at the wonderful sagacity and precision with which it lays down the general principles through whose application the

safety and prosperity of the Republic have been secured. To cherish the public credit and promote religion, morality and education were obvious recommendations. Economy in public expense, vigorous exertion to discharge debt unavoidably occasioned, acquiescence in necessary taxation, and candid construction of governmental action in the selection of its proper objects, were all parts of the first of these. The increase of net ordinary expenditures from three millions to two hundred and sixty-eight millions of dollars, and of net ordinary receipts from four and one-half to three hundred and eighty millions of dollars, renders the practice of economy, as contradistinguished from wastefulness, as commendable to-day as then, but it must be a judicious economy; for, as Washington said, timely disbursements frequently prevent much larger.

The extinction of the public debt at one time, and the marvellous reduction, within a quarter of a century of its creation, of a later public debt of more than twenty-five hundred millions of dollars, demonstrate practical adherence to the rule laid down. It is true that the great material prosperity which has attended our growth has enabled us to meet an enormous burden of taxation with comparative ease, but it is nevertheless also true that the general judgment has never wavered upon the question of the sacred observance of plighted faith; and if at any moment the removal of the bars designed to imprison the powerful giant of a paper currency seemed to imperil the preservation of the public honor, the sturdy common sense of the people has checked through their representatives the dangerous tendency before it has gone too


Education was one of the two hooks (the other was local selfgovernment) upon which the continuance of republican government was considered as absolutely hanging.

The action of the Continental Congress in respect to the western territory was next in importance to that on independence and union. Apart from its political significance we recall the familiar fact that one section out of every township was reserved under the ordinances of 1785 and 1787 for the maintenance of schools, because religion, morality and knowledge were considered essential to good government and the happiness of mankind. The one section has been made two, and many millions of acres have been granted for the endowment of universities, of normal, scientific and mining schools, and institutions for the benefit of agriculture and the mechanic arts, including from three hundred and fifty to

four hundred and fifty thousand acres for educational and charitable institutions, to each of the new States recently admitted, by an act appropriately passed into law on the birthday of Washington. A thousand universities, colleges and institutions of learning, twelve millions of children attending two hundred thousand public schools, with three hundred and sixty thousand teachers, at an expenditure of one hundred and twenty-five millions and with property worth two hundred millions, and sixty-two million dollars in private benefactions for education in the decade of the last census, testify that the importance of education is not underestimated in a country whose institutions are dependent upon the intelligence of the people.

Washington insists that national morality cannot prevail in exclusion of religious principle, though the influence of refined education on minds of a peculiar structure may have induced an opposite conclusion.

History accords with this view. Plutarch said, "You may travel over the world and you may find cities without walls, without king, without mint, without theatre or gymnasium, but you will never find a city without God, without prayer, without oracle, without sacrifice;" and the eighteen centuries since his day confirm the truth of his words.

"Take from me," said Bismarck, "my faith in a divine order which has destined this German nation for something good and great, and you take from me my fatherland."

Washington declares that "the mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and cherish religion and morality as the firmest props of the duties of men and citizens." He did not mean that the value of trust and faith has no relation to the reality of the objects of that trust and faith, nor that those to whom he referred should indulge in religious observances as mere mummeries to deceive, while smiling among themselves, as Cicero with his fellow-augurs, nor that faith should be betrayed by accommodation to superstition, as in the action of the town clerk of Ephesus, but he demanded that they should recognize in fact the indispensability of these supports of political prosperity.

And here again the answer of the century's watchman tells that the night is passing.

Crime, drunkenness, pauperism have steadily decreased in proportion as population has increased, philanthropic agencies have multiplied, moral sensitiveness has become keener, and higher standards of personal and official conduct have come to be required,

while at the same time the statistics of religious progress exhibit wonderful and most gratifying results.

Washington had never permitted his public action to be influenced by personal affection or personal hostility, and in urging the avoidance of political connections or personal alliances with any portion of the foreign world, he characteristically condemned indulgence in an inveterate antipathy towards particular nations and a passionate attachment for others, while observing good faith and justice towards all. No reason existed for becoming implicated in the ordinary vicissitudes of the politics of Europe, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities. Intervention meant war, not arbitration; the assumption of obligation meant force, not words. No field was to be opened here for foreign intrigues, and no necessity created here for standing armies and the domination of the civil by the military authority.

So scrupulous was Washington's abstinence from the slightest appearance of interference, that, notwithstanding his tender friendship for La Fayette, he would not make official application for his release from Olmutz. So absolute was his conviction that this country must not become a make-weight in Europe's balances of power, that he sternly held it to neutrality under circumstances which would have rendered it impossible for any other man to do so. Such has been the policy unchangeably pursued, but it has not required the concealment of our sympathy with all who have wished to put American institutional ideas into practical operation, or our confidence in their ultimate prevalence. Nor has the rule prevented the Republic from the declaration that it should take its own course in case of the interference by other nations with the primary interests of America.

In the lapse of years international relations have been constantly assuming larger importance with the growth of the country and the world and the increasing nearness of intercommunication. We are justified in claiming that the delicate and difficult function of government involved has been from the first discharged in so admirable a manner that the solution of the grave questions of the future may be awaited without anxiety.

It is matter of congratulation that the first year of our second century witnesses the representatives of the three Americas engaged in the effort to increase the facilities of commercial intercourse, "consulting the natural course of things, diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of intercourse, but forcing nothing," success in which must knit closer the ties of fraternal


« 이전계속 »