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lution than it was when Mr. Roosevelt came to the Presidency. While it is true that he never succeeded in solving the trust problem in either his first or his second term, by his procedure in the Northern Securities case he succeeded in demonstrating that the country had laws under which the multiplication of trusts could be curbed, that the highest court of the Nation would sustain these laws and that the Government of the United States was not at the mercy of Wall Street and organized capital. This having been demonstrated, the trust question came to answer itself under the steady pressure of public opinion.
This service stands out more clearly and more distinctly than anything else that Mr. Roosevelt ever did in a political way, and needs less qualification. That he eventually carried the issue to an impossible extreme, then to abandon it later and make peace with his former antagonists, could only indict him for personal inconsistency without in any way detracting from the political and social importance of the actual achievement.
Personal inconsistency is a characteristic of all successful politicians. Otherwise they could not survive. And Mr. Roosevelt was unquestionably one of the most adroit and successful politicians that American institutions have ever produced. What is more, he was one of those extraordinary politicians who cannot be explained. None of his talent for public affairs was inherited. He was not born to public service like four generations of the Adams family, nor did he seek a political career because it afforded the only available opportunity to advancement. His tastes originally were more historical and literary than political, and his political career was more accidental than calculated; yet as it came about, not half a dozen Americans ever wielded so much out-and-out political influence as he, and fewer still exercised so much power over the political thought and imagination of their generation. In all American history there is no other such sheer tour
'de force of political leadership as Mr. Roosevelt's con'duct in deliberately wrecking the Republican Party in 1912 because of his quarrel with Mr. Taft and in reuniting it in 1916 when Mr. Hughes, although beaten, received nearly 1,000,000 more votes than any other Republican candidate for President had ever polled.
Much used to be said about the Roosevelt luck, yet most of the Roosevelt luck consisted in an amazing facility for reading public opinion and for translating thought into action. The American people have always admired strong, aggressive leadership. Even when they were opposed to the policies of such leadership, they have retained their liking for the human force that drove ahead regardless of obstacles, and Mr. Roosevelt was always an elemental force. That was the quality that appealed more convincingly than any other to the average man, that and the general belief that however wrong Mr. Roosevelt might be, his intentions were lofty and patriotic. This, coupled with a fascinating personality, an almost infallible. instinct for publicity and for doing even commonplace things in the most dramatic manner, gave him a following at the zenith of his career such as no other President has had since Jackson.
Yet the political world of Theodore Roosevelt has almost ceased to exist, in spite of the enormous popularity which he retained. The old issues have been blown to fragments from the mouths of tens of thousansd of cannon, and in spite of all the aggressive and virile Americanism that he displayed during the war, it has long been evident that even so acute a politician as Mr. Roosevelt had failed to perceive the new trend of events. As the recognized leader of the opposition to the peace programme of President Wilson, Mr. Roosevelt spoke a language that is no longer understood by the progressive statesmen of a single country that is concerned with the new problems that are now pressing for solution. He
was out of touch with the momentous events that still remain half concealed under the cover of a military censorship. He was still thinking in terms of a world that no longer exists and that can never be put together again in the old way. It is finished, and political leadership here as elsewhere belongs to those who can grasp the full meaning of the most titanic conflict in which mankind has ever engaged.
Mr. Roosevelt never quite understood it. He saw only its military aspects, and he had acquired so strongly the habit of opposition during the years since he left the White House that he had lost his facility in construction. He had become a critic rather than a builder, and when that inevitable stage is reached in the life of a political leader his work is finished. In Mr. Roosevelt's case that work extended over a period of nearly forty years, and they were years of the most extraordinary and diversified activity of any man of his time.
THE CHANGING SCENE
JO articles written by Mr. Cobb 'during his editorship displayed more power or were read with more eager interest than those in which he 'discussed profound changes in the methods and manner of the Government of the United States. Before the Great War much was said, and much was to be said, about the encroachments of Federal power upon the functions traditionally or constitutionally, reserved to the States. An impetuous Executive, Mr. Roosevelt did not a little to hasten this change. After the War, besides the more temporary effect of the contest in abridging freedom of speech and press, a new tendency of constitutional philosophy developed; and Mr. Cobb was one of the earliest commentators to inquire why none of the brand-new governments of Europe, and none of the reconstituted systems of older Powers, followed the framework of our Constitution, as South American Republics had so generally done in an earlier time.
ABOLISHING THE STATES
[May 31, 1907]
TODAY I wish to say a word to you about the first and most important feature of this task, the control of common carriers doing an interstate business; a control absolutely vested in the nation, while in so far as the common carriers can transport the mails it is in my opinion probable that whether
their business is or is not interstate it is to the same extent subject to Federal control under the clause of the Constitution granting to the National Government power to establish post-roads, and therefore, by necessary implication, power to take all action necessary in order to keep them at the highest point of efficiency.-From President Roosevelt's Memorial Day Address at Indianapolis.
This is the most radical, far-reaching claim of Federal power advanced by any President of the United States. "We seek nothing revolutionary," says Mr. Roosevelt, the while he proceeds to elaborate the most revolutionary proposition ever put forward by a Chief Executive of the Nation.
If his contention be admitted, no city can control its own public streets. These thoroughfares are used by mail-carriers and mail wagons, and the power of regulation rests in the Congress of the United States. No State can control its own wagon roads if these roads are used by rural free delivery carriers. No city can regulate its own traction companies. These companies in New York City and in many other places carry United States mail. Where they do not, all that is necessary to take them out of the hands of the local authorities and put them in the hands of the Federal Government is a petty mail contract executed between the corporation and the Post Office Department. Likewise, no State can regulate its own electric or steam railroads, for they too carry mail, and Congress has power "to take all action necessary in order to keep them at the highest post of efficiency."
Under the Constitution as interpreted by Mr. Roosevelt the Public Utilities bill is a piece of State impertinence which usurps the functions of the National Government. The various statutes of other States regulating freight and passenger rates are likewise encroachments on the power of Congress. The cities that have been battling for restricted franchises and lower rates of fare have fought in