Johnson had learned how to speak to them in their own language, and they got the impression that, for all his publicized support of the New Deal, Roosevelt's measures didn't mean much to him one way or another. Consequently they contributed heavily to his campaign fund. But victory also depended on the support of the voters in the hill country, ''one of the most remote, most isolated, most neglected - and most impoverished - areas of a wealthy nation,'' who took little interest in elections since politicians always made promises but never delivered.
Talking to these country people in the crossroads stores, where he would stop to have a hasty, indigestible lunch of sardines and a soft drink, or walking across fields to interrupt a farmer who was plowing, Johnson convinced them that ''he was a poor man like them,'' that ''he was fighting for the President who was helping the poor,'' and they turned out in numbers unequaled since the Populist crusade of the 's to give him the victory.
Caro's account of how Johnson repaid his debts to both elements in his coalition. In behalf of Texas businessmen he fought tenaciously and successfully for Federal contracts - for dams, for Army and Navy bases, for roads. For his poorer constituents, he battled just as fiercely, and the most moving chapter in Mr. Caro's book tells how Johnson, by twisting arms and breaking rules, forced the Rural Electrification Administration to extend light and power to the isolated Texas hill country. The most original and persuasive chapters in ''The Path to Power'' concern Johnson's using ''money as a lever to move the political world.
Caro learned that Herman Brown, George's brother and the firm's senior partner, was so grateful to Johnson for expediting Federal financing for the Marshall Ford Dam on the Colorado River that he promised to show his ''appreciation through the years to come with actions rather than words.
As untitled assistant to the nearly defunct Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that year, Johnson also tapped ''the newly rich Texas independent oilmen'' and the ''sulphur and gas and defense barons of the Southwest,'' who belatedly came to realize that if the Democrats lost control of the Congress, their cherished depreciation allowances might be reduced or abolished.
Lyndon Johnson became ''the conduit for their cash. Persuasive when he recounts such stories, Mr. Caro is less convincing when he sits in judgment on them. Almost without exception his judgments on Johnson are not merely negative but hostile. At the very outset he announces his conclusion: That Johnson had a ''hunger for power in its most naked form, for power not to improve the lives of others, but to manipulate and dominate them, to bend them to his will This same harsh judgment he renders on every phase of Johnson's career.
It was at San Marcos State that Johnson first clearly demonstrated that he was a ''mixture of bootlicker and bully. Approvingly Mr. Caro quotes the verdict of another Congressional aide: ''With men who had power, men who could help him, Lyndon Johnson was a professional son. Toward his subordinates he was brutally overbearing: If they did not demonstrate ''a slavish obedience'' to him, he humiliated them by forcing them to converse with him or to take dictation from him while he was defecating.
And always Johnson ''was unencumbered by even the slightest excess weight of ideology, of philosophy, of principles, of beliefs.
Caro's it is hard to evaluate all these judgments. When extracts from this biography began to appear, prior to book publication, in The Atlantic, there was sharp criticism, mostly from former Johnson associates, because Mr. Caro did not document his charges, particularly the accusation that Johnson as Senator and Vice President had personally accepted large cash payments from lobbyists. Since ''The Path to Power'' traces Johnson's career only to , that particular charge remains undocumented and unverified. It is difficult to fathom why this allegation was printed in advance of the volume in Mr.
Caro's trilogy that will deal with Johnson's later years. But the nearly 50 closely printed pages of notes appended to this book, giving specific citations for facts and quotations, make it clear that this biography is based upon extensive research. Caro has studied his sources. It is not always clear, however, that he knows how to evaluate those sources.
Caro, a former investigative reporter for Newsday, has a tendency to believe sources that he himself ferreted out rather than those that are a matter of public record and to stress new and sensational accounts in preference to those more clearly grounded in fact.
For instance, his sharply hostile version of Johnson's college years minimizes the favorable testimony of classmates, collected in oral histories at the Johnson Library, and relies mainly on the belated recollections of two disgruntled San Marcos graduates who had for half a century been nursing a grievance because Lyndon Johnson took over leadership of a student movement they had started.
Even more dubious is Mr. Caro's account of an alleged love affair between Johnson and the beautiful Alice Glass, the mistress and later wife of Charles Marsh, a wealthy Texas newspaperman. Necessarily, the cases were small; that is, the amount of cash involved was not great. But here, again, what is the difference whether one plays with a blue chip or a white one? The important thing is to play. And habit has much to do with the way one views the importance of the game. I am satisfied that no one with a moderate amount of intelligence can tolerate life, if he looks it squarely in the face, without welcoming whatever soothes and solaces, and makes one forget.
Every one instinctively, automatically, seeks satisfaction from the annoyances and banalities of existence. Some resort to play, some to work, others to alcohol or opiates, and even to religion. But, whatever one takes, and quite regardless of relative values, we all seek something and accept something that gives rest and allays the tension of strenuous living.
Much of the business of the country lawyer in my day was the trial of cases before justices of the peace. These often seemed to be exciting events. And right now I am not so sure but that the old-time country lawyers fighting over the title to a cow were as clever, and sometimes as learned, as lawyers now whose cases involve millions of dollars, or human lives.
The trials then were not so much a matter of rote. A lawsuit, then, before a justice of the peace, was filled with color and life and wits. Nor was the country lawsuit a dry and formal affair. Every one, for miles around, had heard of the case and taken sides between the contending parties or their lawyers. Neighborhoods, churches, lodges, and entire communities were divided as if in war. Often the cases were tried in the town halls, and audiences assembled from far and near. An old-time lawsuit was like a great tournament, as described by Walter Scott.
The combatants on both sides were always seeking the weakest spots in the enemy's armor, and doing their utmost to unhorse him or to draw blood. A country lawsuit not only gave the farmers and others not employed somewhere to go, but it left in its wake a chain of hatreds and scars that never healed.
In Ashtabula I was quite content, as I had been before in Andover. I had my friends and enemies, my cronies and critics; my arenas in which to fight, and my poker games at night. And, after all, even though now that life may appear small and superficial, and wasteful of time and opportunity--what does it matter? I am now so near the end of the trail that I can look back and contemplate and compare.
Would it have made the slightest difference whether I had remained in Ashtabula, or even in Andover, instead of coming to Chicago, whether the stage was larger; or, whether I had been born at all? Considering my age and the town, I was prospering in Ashtabula, and would doubtless be there now except for an important event for which I was no more responsible than I am for the course of the earth around the sun. I was married when still a youth and was living there with my wife and son Paul, then four or five years old.
I had been practicing law since I came of age, and was nearing my twenty-ninth birthday. Like most other young men I concluded to buy a home, and found one that I thought would do. I had five hundred dollars in the bank, and I bought the place for thirty-five hundred. The five hundred was to be paid down and the balance over a series of years. The owner was to deliver the deed to my office the next day. He appeared at the appointed time only to tell me that his wife refused to sign the document, so he could not sell the house.
As I had made up my mind to buy this home I was peeved, to put it mildly, but managed to control my temper and answered bluntly, "All right, I don't believe I want your house because--because--I'm going to move away from here. It is perfectly plain that the wish or whim of the woman shaped my whole future, and perhaps hers and her family's as well. Had I bought the house I would probably be in Ashtabula now trying to meet overdue payments.
Perhaps I would be in the graveyard, perhaps in a little law office. No one can possibly guess. But certain it is, whether for better or worse, my life would have been a radically different one. It was easy enough to decide to leave Ashtabula when the woman refused to sign the deed, but where should I go? The world looked big and lonely, and my savings very small. My brother Everett was teaching in Chicago, and this doubtless had something to do with choosing that city for my new venture. Because of Everett's age and intelligence and kindliness all the family, including myself, always respected him and went to him for advice and assistance; and up to the time of his death, a few years ago, none of us ever looked to him in vain.
From my youth I was always interested in political questions. My father, like many others in northern Ohio, had early come under the spell of Horace Greeley, and, as far back as I can remember, the New York Weekly Tribune was the political and social Bible of our home. I was fifteen years old when Horace Greeley ran for the presidency.
My father was an enthusiastic supporter of Greeley and I joined with him; and well do I remember the gloom and despair that clouded our home when we received the news of his defeat. From Greeley our family went to Tilden in , but I was not old enough to vote. Of course most of the people in our neighborhood were for Hayes. In our town it was hard to tell which was the chief bulwark, Republicanism or religion. Both were sacred; but not to my family, who always lined up against the great majority.
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Our candidate, Samuel J. Tilden, was elected in , but was not allowed to take his seat. The Civil War was not then so far in the background as it is now, and any sort of political larceny was justifiable to save the country from the party that had tried to destroy the Union. So, though Tilden was elected, Rutherford B.
Hayes was inaugurated and served Tilden's term. The Tilden campaign stimulated me to find out all I could about political questions, and I tried to carefully form an opinion on the issues of the day. My reading of history and political economy convinced me that states' rights and free trade were both sound doctrines. When the campaign between Blaine and Cleveland disturbed the political life of the Republic, I was for Cleveland. As political questions have come and gone I have clung in my political allegiance to the doctrines of states' rights and free trade. To me they are as true and almost as important as they were in the historical campaign of , when Cleveland was elected President of the United States.
While I have always been interested in the political situation, I have never wanted a political career. The scheming and dickering and trading for political place never appealed to me, and I concluded early in life that if one entered a political course he must leave his independence behind, and this I could never abide. For a young man I took a considerable part in each of the three campaigns for Grover Cleveland, and then, and ever since, this President has been one of my idols. His courage, independence and honesty have always seemed far above those of most of the political figures of his time, or since his day.
Strange as it may seem, a banker in Ashtabula, Amos Hubbard, was the first man to give me some insight into radical political doctrines. He, like many others in that period, had been greatly influenced by Henry George's "Progress and Poverty. While Mr. Hubbard gave me a first insight into advanced political economy, Judge Richards, a police judge in Ashtabula, gave me my first sane idea of crime and criminals. Altgeld, of Chicago, which was a revelation to me. This book and the author came to have a marked influence upon me and my future.
I came to Chicago in Soon after my arrival I joined the Single Tax Club, and took part in the second Grover Cleveland campaign, then going on. This club met regularly every week for several years. In due time I realized that at every meeting the same faces appeared and reappeared, week after week, and that none of them cared to hear anything but a gospel which they all believed.
It did not take long for Single Tax to become a religious doctrine necessary to salvation. But, the Single Tax Club furnished a forum for ambitious young lawyers to win a hearing in; and I generally participated in the debates, which led to my speaking at ward meetings and other public gatherings from time to time. In those days I was rather oratorical. Like many other young men of that day, I did the best, or worst, I could to cover up such ideas as I had in a cloud of sounding metrical phrases.
In later years nothing has disturbed my taste along that line more than being called an "orator," and I strive to use simpler words and shorter sentences, to make my statements plain and direct and, for me, at least, I find this the better manner of expression. When I arrived in Chicago I rented a very modest apartment and took desk room in an office. I had no money to waste and never liked to borrow or be in debt, so I tried to live within my means, but in this I did not fully succeed in that first year in Chicago.
I had few friends and acquaintances, and these did not have enough money to indulge in the extravagance of litigation. In that first year, all told, I did not receive in fees, or any other way, more than about three hundred dollars. I began to feel discouraged. From the very first a cloud of homesickness always hung over me. There is no place so lonely to a young man as a great city where he has no intimates or companions.
When I walked along the street I scanned every face I met to see if I could not perchance discover some one from Ohio. Sometimes I would stand on the corner of Madison and State Streets--"Chicago's busiest corner"--watching the passers-by for some familiar face; as well might I have hunted in the depths of the Brazilian forest.
Had all my associates in Ohio suddenly come to Chicago en masse it would not have been possible to detect them there in the solid, surging sea of human units, each intent upon hurrying by and attending to his own small affairs. At the Henry George Club I formed some congenial friendships and never missed one of their meetings; here I found a chance to talk so that I would not completely forget how to form sentences and feel at home on my feet.
As the election of approached I was invited to make some speeches for the Democratic party in various halls throughout the city. When I appeared at a meeting it was with a long line of other ambitious young lawyers, each of us eager to make his voice heard in the general palaver; I was usually put down toward the end of the list, by which time I had little chance for attracting attention even if any one cared to listen.
If by any luck I seemed to be getting the ear of the audience, I was soon interrupted by a string of candidates entering the hall anxious for their turn. The audience would rise and cheer and call for their favorite leaders, and the opportunity of the evening would be gone in the all-around din.
Yet, in spite of all handicaps, I did make some acquaintances. Gradually it came to pass that some member of an audience would call for me, and I would respond without any pretense at reluctance. I knew that if I waited some other favorite would appropriate my chance. Now and then I was invited to make a talk at some civic meeting, but I did not seem to make a hit. Generally there were others whose faces were better known to the listeners. Then, my training had been neglected.
My father had directed my reading, and had insisted that I study political economy, and speak only if I had something worth saying; at a political hubbub this was the worst thing one could do, and the last thing the audience expected or wished. One night I was asked to speak at a West Side meeting, called to discuss some civic problem.
The leading speaker was William B. Mason, who was at that time a State senator, and afterwards became a United States senator. I had long wanted the newspapers to notice my existence, but the reporters refused to even look at me. I entered the theatre through the back door and noted with joy that the place was packed. In front of the stage were a half-dozen or more newspaper reporters that gladdened my heart. Easily I sized up the situation and felt that my time had come.
After a few preliminaries I was introduced amidst loud calls for Mason. I looked around and over at the audience, trying to gain their attention. The eyes can be very useful for quelling an audience or forcing people to focus on a speaker. I made my speech. I feel sure that it was not very bad. Probably not bad enough. I could see that the audience was waiting for William B. Mason, so I took no chances in delaying them too long. But the one thing that forcibly impressed me while I spoke was that not one of the newspaper men wrote a single line.
They leaned back in their chairs and glanced at me with the complacent and sophisticated countenances of newspaper men. They knew why they were there, and whom their editors and the public would want to read about the next day. When I sat down there was slight applause. No speaker can get along without at least a little of that. Such approval as was manifested by the politest and kindliest there was drowned in the cries for "Mason! When he arose and stepped to the front of the platform, the entire audience stood up and wildly cheered; the newspaper men grabbed their books and pencils and began to write.
The next morning I hopefully looked over the newspapers. The front pages were covered with Senator Mason, but not a word about me. It was very discouraging for an energetic young man with the world before him.
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It began to look as though the world would always be before me. I had no envy for Mr. Mason, but what would I not have given for just a few lines of all that space devoted to him! After that evening I came to know Senator Mason very well, and never have I known a more kindly, humane and genial fellow. He, also, was an idealist, but not too far ahead of the crowd.
He was a man of ability, filled with gentleness and good will toward all the world. I was disappointed and discouraged, especially because the newspapers had made no mention of my speech. I did not know the press so well then as I do to-day. Since then they have given me more attention than I deserved, and often much more than I wanted. Through the first half of my life I was anxious to get into the papers; in the last half I have often been eager to keep out.
In neither case have I had much success. Often I have felt that newspapers were unkind and unfair to me; and sometimes they have been. But, when I reflect that I have never been on the popular side of any issue, that I have always seemed to court opposition, that I have always stood with the minority against all popular causes and mass hysteria--that I have always voted "No" and been independent to the point of recklessness, I feel that I have gotten off easily. After all is said and done I am inclined to think that they have treated me very well.
I always, really, have had many warm friends among newspaper men; a good many who were also minority men. Every large office has a number of this sort, and they have never failed to be as considerate as it was possible for them to be. After the meeting at the West Side hall I was in gloom amounting almost to despair. If it had been possible I would have gone back to Ohio; but I didn't want to borrow the money, and I dreaded to confess defeat. I did not then know the ways of Fate. I did not know that Fortune comes like the day, sometimes filled with sunshine, sometimes hidden in gloom.
I had not then learned that one must accept whatever comes along without regret; that he must not take either gratification or disappointment too seriously. I did not know, as Bret Harte put it, that the only sure thing about luck is that it will change.
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And luck can change as suddenly as daylight and darkness in a tropical land. The closing session was held in Central Music Hall, at that time the most popular auditorium in the city; Henry George was to be the big drawing-card. George was then in the zenith of his power. I was invited to appear on the same programme. The great auditorium was packed, to my satisfaction.
I looked out upon the audience with renewed hope. Every Single Taxer in Chicago seemed to be present, and a great throng besides. George was the first speaker, which looked ominous to me. I was afraid of either the first or last place; either one seemed fraught with peril. No one knew the tariff question better than Henry George. More than this, he was a strong idealist, and had the audience in his grasp from the first moment to the last. Every one but me was carried away with his able address.
I was disappointed. I was sorry that it was so good. I twitched nervously in my chair until he had finished and the applause began to die away. I felt that after his wonderful address I would not be able to hold the audience. I realized that the crowd had come to hear him, and that but a few among them had ever heard of me. When the applause subsided people began getting up and going away. The show was over. I said to the chairman, "For goodness sake get busy before every one leaves the house! I had discovered enough about public speaking to sense that unless a speaker can interest his audience at once, his effort will be a failure.
This was particularly true when following a speaker like Henry George, so I began with the most striking phrases that I could conjure from my harried, worried brain. The audience hesitated and began to sit down. They seemed willing to give me a chance. I had at least one advantage; nothing was expected of me; if I could get their attention it would be easier than if too much was expected.
Not one in twenty of the audience knew much about me. As a matter of fact, I had taken great pains to prepare my speech. The subject was one that had deeply interested me for many years, one that I really understood. In a short time I had the attention of the entire audience, to my surprise. Then came the full self-confidence which only a speaker can understand; that confidence that is felt as one visits by the fireside, when he can say what he pleases and as he pleases; when the speaker can, in fact, visit with the audience as with an old-time friend.
I have no desire to elaborate on my talk, but I know that I had the people with me, and that I could sway those listeners as I wished. But the crowning triumph had come as I warmed to my subject and waxed earnest in what I had to say, and became aware that the newspaper men down in front were listening, and were plying their pencils, recording my words, or seeming to record them, as fast as they shot past.
When I finally finished, the audience was indeed generous and encouraging with its applause and appreciation. Henry George warmly grasped my hand. My friends and others came around me, and it was some time before I could leave the stage. I have talked from platforms countless times since then, but never again have I felt that exquisite thrill of triumph after a speech.
This was forty years ago, and even now I occasionally meet some one who tells me that he heard my speech at Central Music Hall the night I was there with Henry George. I know that at least a part of this enthusiasm came because I was unknown, and nothing was expected of me. The next morning I was awake early and went out and bought all the papers.
This time my name was all over the front page. The reporters had certainly done their best. I read them all carefully, and then I read them all over again. It was exceedingly pleasant to my senses. Since that day I have often seen my name prominently featured on the outsides and insides of newspapers; often I have refrained from reading what was said, and have felt that only by closing my eyes and steeling my heart could I go on with the work on which I had set my mind.
I went to my office earlier than usual the next morning. No customers were there. Soon some of my Single Tax friends and Socialist companions began coming in to congratulate me on my speech. This was pleasing but not profitable. Single Taxers and Socialists never come for business; they come to use your telephone and tell you how the world should be organized so that every one could have his own telephone.
But of course I enjoyed their visit and appreciated their good will, and began to feel more hopeful. The city did not look so big, nor feel so cold now. All through the day I received some real invitations to speak at good meetings in the campaign then in progress. DeWitt C. Cregier was running for mayor of Chicago on the Democratic ticket. I had been asked to speak at various meetings before, but never until then had I been invited to choose my hall and colleagues.
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This time I was asked to do both. I named my hall, but I took no chances, and said that I would speak alone. And I did. In spite of my fond hopes, business did not come with a rush. Strange to say, the meeting did not bring clients, and these were what I needed most. Cregier was elected mayor of Chicago. Although I had taken part in his campaign I had never met him, and did not even try to make his acquaintance. I knew that almost every one who had voted for him would expect some favor in return, and I had no ambition to enter into that sort of contest.
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It was perhaps two months after the election that I was wearily sitting in my office when a messenger brought me a letter. It was from DeWitt C. Cregier, asking me to come over and see him when I had time. The latter part of the sentence sounded like a joke. I had time right then. So I put the letter into my pocket and went to see the mayor.
The hall and the offices were crowded with politicians looking for jobs. I sent in my name and was not kept waiting. After a little preliminary conversation Mr. Cregier asked me if I would take the position of special assessment attorney. I had very little idea of the duties of a special assessment attorney. I was told that the salary was three thousand dollars for only a year's time, and this seemed to me a fabulous sum, so I told him that I would be glad to take it and do the best I could.
He asked me when I could be ready to begin. I answered that I saw no reason why I should not begin right now. So I was placed on the pay roll before I left the office, and immediately and recklessly started in. Very soon I grew familiar with the work. Of course many questions came up for immediate answers which I did not fully understand, but I used the best judgment I had and always answered promptly. Seldom did I find that I had guessed wrong. I thought, then, that it was my natural judgment and wisdom that led me to always answer right.
Since that time I have modified my opinion. I was working for the city of Chicago. I had all the strength of a large city behind my decision; few were able to contest my opinion, and even if they did, the tendency of the courts was always to decide for the city. All my experience in life has strengthened this conclusion. Every advantage in the world goes with power. The city, the State, the county, the nation can scarcely be wrong. Behind them is organized society, and the individual who is obliged to contest for his rights against these forces in either civil or criminal courts is fighting against dreadful odds.
When I had been special assessment attorney for about three months some political complication compelled the resignation of the assistant corporation counsel and I was given his place. My salary then became five thousand dollars a year. My duties were more strenuous and I gave them all my time and attention. This position kept me in court a great deal in contested cases.
At the same time every alderman and city official had the right to ask my advice, which I learned to give as promptly as possible, often simply making the best guess I could, and almost invariably finding that my advice settled the whole controversy. For about ten months I remained in this office, and then the corporation counsel was stricken with an illness that compelled him to go south to a warmer climate, whereupon I became acting corporation counsel, and was the head of the law department of the city of Chicago. When luck began to change everything seemed rapidly to come my way.
As acting corporation counsel I was in daily conference with the Mayor, and we came to be good friends. In one of my interviews I asked him how he happened to send for me and ask me to be special assessment attorney, never having met me before. He replied, "Don't you know? Why, I heard you make that speech that night with Henry George. How much had I to do with all this? I had nothing whatever to do with my birth, which was a rather important event in the whole scheme. It seemed that in the infinite chances that bring forth life I was to be I.
Nor had I the slightest thing to do with the sort of being that was spawned out with all the rest; nor the environment in which I found myself. Every turn of the development came from a cause that was controlling to me. Had I been able to deliberate, I could only have considered the arguments for and against each step, and my answer would necessarily have been in the way that seemed best to me in view of all circumstances, including my structure.
Passing by an endless number of influences of equal import that determined my destiny, I had nothing to do with the woman refusing to sign the deed that drove me to Chicago. Had she signed that deed I should not have left Ashtabula, Ohio. I had nothing to do with being invited to speak at the Henry George meeting. I had nothing to do with a man being in the audience who afterward became mayor.
I had nothing to do with being invited to become special assessment attorney. I had nothing to do with political differences that made me assistant corporation counsel. I had nothing to do with illness coming upon the corporation counsel, which placed me at the head of the department for the time. But, while I did not make the corporation counsel ill, I am afraid that I fully approved it. His sickness seemed to be what is generally called "an act of Providence. For the following two years I was very busy with the affairs of the city of Chicago. Every man was my client; that is, every one who had any business with the city of Chicago.
I found most of the officials, like the average office-holders, anxious to shirk responsibility. Nothing could be done without the advice of the Corporation Counsel's office. It was my business to assume the responsibility. I always took my share of the burden, and made no attempt to dodge. In cases of doubt I resolved the doubt in favor of the city, as all officials do, but I never let this rule prevent me from deciding in favor of the property holder and the citizen when I was satisfied that he was right.
In this place I made the acquaintance of all the aldermen and most of the politicians of Chicago. I never admired politicians, though they are generally kindly and genial, and often very intelligent; but seldom is there one with real courage. Their constituency is that mysterious entity known as "the people"--with all its ignorance, its prejudices, its selfishness, and, worst of all, its insincerity as to either men or principles.
This is the despair of ever accomplishing anything of real value in the affairs of state. While I liked political questions, I did not like politicians, as such, and never wanted political office. During these early years in Chicago I was very much interested in what passes under the name of "radicalism" and at one time was a pronounced disciple of Henry George.
But as I read and pondered about the history of man, as I learned more about the motives that move individuals and communities, I became doubtful of his philosophy. I never believed that land should be reduced to private ownership, and I never felt that any important social readjustment could come while any one could claim the unconditional right to any part of the earth and "the fulness thereof. I grew weary of its everlasting talk of "natural rights. In this dilemma they evolved the theory of natural rights. If "natural rights" means anything it means that the individual rights are to be determined by the conduct of Nature.
But Nature knows nothing about rights in the sense of human conception. Nothing is so cruel, so wanton, so unfeeling as Nature; she moves with the weight of a glacier carrying everything before her. In the eyes of Nature, neither man nor any of the other animals mean anything whatever. The rock-ribbed mountains, the tempestuous sea, the scorching desert, the myriad weeds and insects and wild beasts that infest the earth, and the noblest man, are all one. Each and all are helpless against the cruelty and immutability of the resistless processes of Nature.
Socialism seemed to me much more logical and profound; Socialism at least recognized that if man was to make a better world it must be through the mutual effort of human units; that it must be by some sort of co-operation that would include all the units of the state. Still, while I was in sympathy with its purposes, I could never find myself agreeing with its methods. I had too little faith in men to want to place myself entirely in the hands of the mass. And I never could convince myself that any theory of Socialism so far elaborated was consistent with individual liberty.
To me liberty meant only power to do what one wished to do. Free will had nothing to do with the wanting. Man did not create the wishes; he simply struggled to carry them out. I never could imagine life being worth while without the opportunity to carry out individual desires. I always have had sympathy for the Socialistic view of life, and still have sympathy with it, but could never find myself working for the party. Anarchism, as taught by Kropotkin, Recluse and Tolstoy, impressed me more, but it impressed me only as the vision of heaven held by the elect, a far-off dream that had no relation to life.
So, without having any specific radical faith, I always was friendly toward its ideals and aims, and could feel and see the injustice of the present system, and generally found myself in conflict with it. This is still my attitude on social and political questions. I believed in keeping society flexible and mobile, and embracing what seemed like opportunity to bring about a fairer distribution of this world's goods.
Living in the North, and holding these views, I have always been driven to the support of the Democratic party, with few illusions as to what it meant. Neither government nor political economy is an exact science. They concern the arrangement of human units. If it were possible to demonstrate what sort of an arrangement would be best for the individuals of the state, it would be of no avail. Humans cannot be controlled like inanimate objects, or even like the lower animals. Each human unit is in some regard an independent entity with his own ideas, his hopes and fears, loves and hates.
These attitudes are constantly changing from day to day, and year to year. They are played upon by shrewd men, by influential newspapers, by all sorts of schemes and devices which make human government only trial and success, and trial and failure.
Little Masterpieces of Autobiography: Actors. Stream audiobook and download chapters. Audiobook downloads. Search by: Title, Author or Keyword. By: George Iles The playwright gives a play its plot, characters, dialog and form, but its sense of living reality is conveyed by the art of the actor.
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