a treasure-trove of literature
treasure found hidden with no evidence of ownership
|BROWSE the site for other works by this author
(and our other authors) or get HELP Reading, Downloading and Converting files)
SEARCH the entire site with Google Site Search
Title: Man Abroad (1887) Author: Anonymous * A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook * eBook No.: 0800131h.html Language: English Date first posted: February 2008 Date most recently updated: February 2008 This eBook was produced by: George Snoga Project Gutenberg of Australia eBooks are created from printed editions which are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright notice is included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particular paper edition. Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this file. This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg of Australia License which may be viewed online at http://gutenberg.net.au/licence.html
GO TO Project Gutenberg of Australia HOME PAGE
CONTENTS: CHAPTER I. REFORM IS NECESSARY. CHAPTER II. GHOSTS GOSSIPING. CHAPTER III. THE JINGOES OF JUPITER. CHAPTER IV. VENUS SEEKS REVENGE. CHAPTER V. VENUS BECOMES A REPUBLIC. CHAPTER VI. DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENCE WITH MERCURY. CHAPTER VII. SENATOCRACY AT WASHINGTON. CHAPTER VIII. WEBER LOCKMORE'S JOURNAL. CHAPTER IX. HENRYGEORGIA. CHAPTER X. A POLITICAL REVOLUTION. CHAPTER XI. A HOUSE UNITED AGAINST ITSELF. CHAPTER XII. A CANDIDATE DEFINES AN ISSUE. CHAPTER XIII. THE PRESIDENT ACCEPTS RENOMINATION. CHAPTER XIV. THE SOLAR SYSTEM AT PEACE.
"John," said the President of the United States to his private secretary, "did you send those nominations over to the Senate?"
"I did, sir."
"Were any confirmed?"
"Yes; the Ministers to Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus, and the postmasters at London, Paris, Rome, Berlin and Dublin. The asteroid consulships were laid over, and so were most of the nominations for the home offices, the post offices in South America, and the District Attorneyships of Asia and Africa."
"Well, drop a line to the State Department, telling the Secretary to telegraph to Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn, asking the representatives of the late Administration for their resignations. By the way, the man in Mars is to be retained-don't make any mistake. He is a good business man, represents us well, and I don't care if he is an oppositionist-he's good till he does something to be bounced for."
The private secretary withdrew. The President sat down at a walnut desk and opened a map of the Moon, on which the volume and value of that satellite's principal products were illustrated in a colored chart, while on the representation of the moon's surface itself corresponding colors indicated the regions producing the staples mentioned in the chart. The Moon had just applied for a commercial treaty with the United States, and the question demanded of the President the gravest consideration, in the light of the productive capacity of the territories under American control.
At this point a messenger of Australian extraction entered, with a card.
"Show him in," said the President.
A minute later the Secretary of the Treasury appeared.
"I have just heard from the Secretary of State," said he. "The importers of the Transvaal will be anxious for this treaty, but there will be bitter opposition in Brazil."
"Well, they will have a chance to talk when the treaty goes before the Senate for ratification. Curious, isn't it, that after all the bitter fight which the House made at the end of the nineteenth century against the infringement of its prerogatives regarding revenue legislation, it should have come to yield so completely to the Senate in everything, as it does now?"
"Yes; did you notice how many bills were introduced in the Senate yesterday? two thousand three hundred and sixty."
"How many in the House?" asked the President.
"Fourteen. Speaker Smith told me last night that the members of the House didn't think it worth while to introduce bills any more; the Senate would kill them regardless of party, unless they favored the millionaires, and bills of the latter kind always get introduced into the Senate first."
"By the way, how is Smith's senatorship fight coming on?"
"Oh! between ourselves, he has no show, and he knows it. Why, old man Pluterson, of Calcutta, is running against him, and they say he has bought up the whole East India Legislature."
"A blamed shame!" said the President; "but let's get to business. Who's a good man to negotiate this Moonish treaty?"
"Much Tin, of Pekin."
"Because he is rich enough to be beyond temptation, and honest enough to be a decent sort of a fellow when he isn't tempted."
"Let's see-isn't he vice-president of the Earth and Mars Ether Fast Line?"
"Then I guess he's rich enough for us. I think his grandfather held a controlling interest in that solid concern when it started."
"He's out inspecting the line somewhere, now."
"Any idea where?"
"I think he will be in Mars to-night."
"Telegraph and ask him how soon he can be in Washington."
"I don't think I can get off a despatch before tomorrow-a comet has interrupted the electric current for twelve hours, and is only half-way across its path."
"Oh! then the mail will reach him in time. I'll get Jack to write to him, so that the letter will catch him as he stops in the Moon on his way back."
The President pressed a knob twice, and Jack reappeared.
"Jack, write to the Hon. Much Tin, care American Minister to the Moon, asking him to wait there for a special commission from me, and for further instructions."
Jack retired. Half an hour later the Secretary of the Treasury also went home.
The Australian messenger brought in another card. It read "Weber Lockmore."
"Show him in!" again said the President. "Well, young man," said he, to the new arrival, "I have just half an hour to give you today. What can I do for you?"
"You have now been in office long enough to know your ground pretty thoroughly, and I want an interview."
"I supposed so." They seated themselves on opposite sides of a desk and the Washington correspondent immediately opened fire with questions.
"First, Mr. President, tell me the civil service reform outlook."
"Civil service reform," said the President, "has abolished one ancient maxim: 'To the victors belong the spoils.' It must yet abolish another; namely: 'To the Senate belong the spoils.'"
"Wait a moment, Mr. President. Do you regard the first maxim as entirely abolished?"
"I do, so far as its power for evil is concerned. It has, however, a power for good which must be recognized. In fact, there are very few, if any, doctrines to be found anywhere in the history of the world of thought, which have not a germ of truth at the heart of them. When, therefore, we speak of abolition, we cannot mean total abolition, and at the same time be rational. We can only abolish certain aspects or acceptations of a doctrine. The truth in it will live in spite of us, even if it has to take an entirely new shape to do it. Every doctrine or maxim represents some tendency, some craving of human nature, and in one sense is true. It may be but partially true in that it ignores some opposing but equally essential demand of human nature, and must be translated into some other mode of thought, as into a language, before it can be brought into consistency with that other demand; but that is the fault of mental language, not of the truth expressed by it."
"What, then, is the truth at the bottom of the old spoils doctrine?"
"Why, the truth that your newspapers are continually holding up to your readers, in your efforts to get good men to run for office: the truth that it is an honorable thing to serve one's fellow-men; that it is worth striving after; that the strivers should be rewarded in proportion to their merit in the strife. Now that we have got our principles clear, is it not becoming as clear that the abuse of those principles, and not their right use in harmony with the necessity of pure and effective service, is at the root of all the need of civil service reform?"
"I see, Mr. President. Now, tell me how far the maxim, 'To the victors belong the spoils' can, in your judgment, safely be applied to the public service as a permanent principle."
"It must be applied so far as to keep up the organization of opposing parties, and to stimulate public interest in the affairs of the Government. To understand me, you must imagine the offices of the Government divided into an upper and a lower stratum. Now, the best interest of the public service demands that that lower stratum shall be filled by persons who hold their positions during good behavior, regardless of their politics; in other words, a permanent office-holding class. The original spoils doctrine, you will remember, made all these lower offices the prey of professional politicians. When the notion of civil service reform began to obtain, the spirit of the law would have protected the lower stratum of office-holders but for a term that was introduced into our political vocabulary to suit the occasion. This term was: 'offensive partisanship.' It was extremely elastic, and when executive supremacy passed from one party to another, the members of the defeated party who occupied the lower stratum were removed from their positions by the victorious members of the other party who had entered the upper stratum, on what were, in many cases, inadequate pretexts. An official might have conducted his office to the utmost satisfaction of all reasonable persons, but if he had exercised his right of free speech, or free press, to utter his partisan views in public, he was convicted of 'offensive partisanship' by superior officers, who united in their own persons the capacities of judge, prosecutor and jury. The subordinate official was beheaded, and his place was given to some even more 'offensive partisan,' in every rational sense of those two words, who belonged to the other party.
"But that application of the term was too absurdly unjust to last. It began to dawn on men's minds that a citizen did not forfeit his rights of citizenship-the rights to speak, to participate in campaigns, to manage them and to contribute to campaign funds-when he entered the public service. It was hard to root the idea out, because the vicious rotation principle held it in. One party would say: They turned us out when they had the power; now that we have the power, we will turn them out;' and thus history repeated itself with each party change, until it gradually began to be recognized that the interests of the public service were still suffering. Then a new principle was enunciated; namely, that a subordinate official who did not neglect his public duties, or abuse them for partisan purposes, was valuable in direct proportion to his participation in the duties of private citizenship, regardless of the party in behalf of which he performed the latter duties. At first, close watching was required, but gradually an unwritten law enacted itself-that official privileges must not be abused for party purposes, and official duties must not be neglected for party duties, any more than for any other cause."
"Are you hopeful, Mr. President, that this unwritten law will be universally respected in time?"
"Why, then, may I ask, do you insist on making the upper stratum of public offices the permanent goal of party strifes? Why not make that stratum, as well as the lower one, exemplify civil service reform?"
"Because, my dear fellow, the upper stratum already exemplifies civil service reform. I have not yet told you where I would draw the line between the upper and the lower strata. It is a variable line, because parties and their principles vary. It is simply the line separating the offices in which party policy is carried out from those which have nothing to do with it."
"How, then, can you protect the office holders in the lower stratum by law?"
"I do not want any law. I want to do it by the pressure of enlightened public opinion, by unwritten law, by the right of the public to the best service that their officers can give them. Now, can't you see that when the people think a certain party's policy is demanded by the situation, the interests of the public require that the public service should be modified so far as to include men who will enforce that policy?"
"That is clear."
"Now, is it not equally clear that an office-holding aristocracy can be avoided by making the office-holders of the lower stratum feel that the office-holders of the upper stratum can turn them out if they neglect their duties or abuse their powers; that the offices do not belong to them, but to the public, and that their superiors, (who may, after any election, be new men with new ideas fresh from the people) have a motive to turn them out, if there is an excuse for doing so?"
"Mr. President, I think I understand you now."
"You can now see that civil service reform is not a question of laws, so much as one of the high or low tone of public opinion, and that it depends on the people themselves. The civil masters, and not the civil servants, make or mar governments."
"Now, Mr. President, tell me what you mean by the maxim: 'to the Senate belong the spoils.'"
"Simply this: that the President, no matter how desirous he may be of appointing good men to positions which are subject to confirmation by the Senate, must appoint only such men as the Senate is willing to confirm. Responsibility is divided between the President and the Senate, and each blames the other when things go wrong. I wish the Senate could be induced to surrender its Constitutional privilege of confirmation, but of course it will not. Civil service reform will never be accomplished until it does."
"What remedy can you suggest, Mr. President?"
"First, last, and all the time, the education of public opinion up to a plane at which good, honest, capable and independent men will always be elected to the Senate, and to the House. I say the House, because the President is forced to depend largely on members of the House for his knowledge of the character of those whom he appoints. Our territory now embraces the whole world, and may in time include other worlds, so the difficulty of one man doing more than acting on the recommendations of other men is likely to increase indefinitely. Secondly, the civil service must be reduced in depth, as it, by reason of continual territorial expansion, increases in extent. By this I mean that as many duties as possible must be continually referred back to the States. The States, in time, can distribute their duties among the country or other local district authorities, and the general principle must be pushed and urged everywhere, that individual and unofficial forces should do as much as possible of all that needs to be done, without the aid of any public authority or governmental machinery whatever. This principle must be the ultimate hope of every great country."
At this point the half hour which the President had at the correspondent's disposal expired, and another visitor arrived, evidently by previous engagement. The correspondent, of whom the reader will learn more hereafter, withdrew.
A bevy of ghosts sat gloomily around the edges of an extinct volcano's crater, on an undiscovered asteroid. One of them, an old man in form, with long white beard and a bald head that shone like a will-o'-the-wisp, sadly shook the will-o'-the-wisp from side to side and grumbled thus:
"I wish I could die a real death instead of a ghost of one. Soon there will be no place for us to go to. Hardly a day passes but an aerial and ethereal car lights on one of these asteroids and colonizes it with human beings. Look how they have settled and developed Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Saturn and the Moon. When I was alive on Earth, they used to tell me that a man couldn't live in the Moon or on any other planet; but he is doing so, all the same. He accommodates himself to his environment, just as the oysters and monkeys did before him. He is fruitful, and multiplies, and he is gradually taking possession of the solar system."
"When did he first extend his operations beyond his original planet?" asked another lazy old ghost, rubbing his eyes, and wondering in what century he was, anyhow.
"I think it was done just after the Americans conquered the rest of the world that was worth conquering," said the first ghost. "Nobody else would have thought of it. Do you remember when the Great Comet struck an asteroid out between here and Mars, and carried it toward the Earth?"
"Well, when it passed close to the Earth, some American explorers were wandering about the summits of the Himalayas, experimenting with telegraphy by means of upper air currents. As I understand the story, the solid nucleus of the comet struck the side of a peak on which twenty or thirty of them were holding a picnic, and broke it off, carrying it along in the air until it was farther from the Earth's surface than from that of the nucleus. Then it gravitated to the surface of the latter, and the picnic party were borne along the comet's path. The fog was so thick that they didn't know where they were for forty-eight hours. Two or three chemists in the party analyzed the soil, and found in it all the constituents needed to sustain life, animal and vegetable. They had some canned vegetables among their provisions, and they planted the seeds of these in the soil of the comet. The electricity with which the nucleus was charged caused a much more rapid growth of vegetation than takes place in the Earth-you remember how feeble the electricity is there-and they had a truck patch in full productiveness before they got into the neighborhood of the Moon. The comet struck the Moon more directly than it struck the Earth, and stopped there. The party was shaken off and lodged on the Moon's surface, which they at once began to explore. They had provided themselves, for their mountain explorations, with instruments very sensitive to electric currents, and with the aid of these they soon detected a current flowing in the direction of the Earth. Then they determined to try to communicate with the Earth by intercepting the current. They repeated the following message a number of times:
"'We are in the Moon; do you understand us? We are in the Moon; do you understand us?'
"The current reached a wire on the plains of Russia, and the operators at the lonely country station thought some one of their number insane. They tried to find out who the insane operator was, but they could not trace the message to any terrestrial telegraph office. Then they agreed to telegraph: 'Hello, Moon!' simultaneously from a hundred or so offices. Thirty or forty concurred so exactly as to affect the Moon-bound current, and a conversation was opened. The scientists were told that animal life was not impossible, after all, outside of the Earth's atmosphere, for the electricity was so strong that it could be brought into play upon the Moon's surface to make oxygen, nitrogen and carbonic acid gas, by developing, in proper proportions, the rapid cultivation of plants and herbs that give off these gases.
"An American inventor soon improved the ordinary electric air-car, so as to admit of its being steered outside of the Earth's atmosphere, and in a few months the overcrowded plains of Earth were losing population by thousands. The Moon was rapidly settled up, then Venus, then Mars, then Jupiter, then Saturn, and now the asteroids. I don't think they have discovered this one yet, but there's no telling when they will."
A weary groan ran through the conclave of ghosts at the growing spirit of irreverence for old objects of awe.
"Why, when I was a man," said one who wore the aspect of a priest of the middle ages, "they were afraid of the planets-thought they affected the fortune of men. One man was born under a lucky star, another under a malign star, etc."
"What worries me is the question what we are going to do about it," growled a lank ghost who had been silent heretofore.
"How many years have you old chaps been sitting here?" chirped a frisky young ghost, who suddenly made his appearance in the midst of the group, without asking anybody's-beg pardon, any ghost's-leave.
"What else are we to do," asked the ghost of the middle ages.
"Do? why, do as I did; hang around and watch your chances to occupy the bodies of new-born babies."
"Merciful heavens!" said the long-bearded ghost, jumping up. "I never thought of that."
"The more fool you," said the irreverent young ghost. "Why, I am only off on a midnight call. My temple is asleep in Saturn yonder. I have lots of time yet, before morning."
The young ghost's suggestion made a profound impression, and the ghosts' convention adjourned, soon to try the experiment. One ghost took possession of a new born babe that was murdered in ten minutes by its unwedded mother. It found the ten minutes of life so pleasant, that, being of a benevolent disposition, it stationed itself at the gate of the largest cemetery in the United States, and advised every ghost that came out, after bidding farewell to its dead home, to go and get a new one. A few other benevolent ghosts did this elsewhere. Ghosts whose second bodies died early, found their third bodies sometimes more and sometimes less agreeable. Information of general interest spread rapidly among ghosts, and in the course of time every crowd of ghosts instinctively sought bodies of that constitution best suited to its members. For ghosts of a feather flock together.
"I rise to ask the Administration," said a representative from the First Moon, in the Parliament of Jupiter, "whether it has any information on the subject of a proposed commercial treaty, now being negotiated between the United States of America and the inhabitants of the Moon that accompanies the planet controlled by that nation."
The buzz that followed the remark, from members from the First Moon of Jupiter, showed, that, whether the Administration had any information on the subject or not, the report was news to a great majority of the members. Many faces were turned in the direction of an old man, who wore side-whiskers, and sat on a front bench with his hat pulled down over his eyes. The hat well concealed a settled frown, which evidently became deeper when the inquiry was heard. At length the old man slowly rested his hands on the edge of the bench beside his thigh, and lifted himself to his feet. Then he cleared his throat, and coughed, and cleared his throat again. Then he began to speak, in a drawling, halting and unmusical fashion.
"The Administration--ahem! is not prepared to make public the information which it may--ahem!--happen to--possess on the subject of--of negotiations in progress. There are--ahem! usually--circumstances which render it inadvisable to be premature in announcing--the--ah! the progress of-ahem! well, I may say, incomplete arrangements-which may, when completed, affect the interests of this Government."
After uttering these words, apparently with great difficulty, the old gentleman dropped down into his seat again, with the air of having silenced an impertinent obstructionist. But long before he was comfortably seated again, the impertinent obstructionist was on his feet. His delivery was brisk and decisive, and he resumed possession of the floor with an air of triumph.
"Is the House to understand the Prime Minister to say that he is in possession of the information for which I was so presumptuous as to ask?"
With an annoyed expression, the Premier again went through the arising act, which, in his case, seemed to consist principally of unbending his legs. He said:
"I will simply state, that-the-ahem! the Government positively declines to admit--"
The pauses were so long that there was time enough at each one for a member with a rapid delivery to interject a complete sentence, if he chose to do so. What the first speaker chose to interject was:
"To admit that it knows anything about the negotiations referred to."
"To admit-the gentleman from the First Moon-into its confidence." And he sat down again, this time with the air of saying: "I shan't get up again." The first speaker was on his feet in a second.
"I trust," said he, sarcastically, "it will please the distinguished gentleman to know that, personally, I am entirely satisfied with his reply-or, rather, with his refusal to reply-to a perfectly courteous and pertinent inquiry. The honorable gentleman has succeeded in impaling himself upon both horns of a particularly uncomfortable dilemma. For, if the Ministry has not been shamefully neglectful of its duty to protect Jupitern interests--which, of course, none of us of the Opposition would presume to insinuate--it must possess no inconsiderable amount of information on the subject referred to. But this House has the undoubted right to that information-at any rate this right should be undoubted. The entire Opposition, and apparently not a few ignored supporters of the Administration-to judge from the whispered inquiries I hear upon my left-are anxious to know whether the Administration itself prefers to be in the position of neglecting to observe and inform itself about negotiations between other nations which may involve Jupiter's interests, or to take the responsibility of refusing to trust the people, or the people's representatives, with the truth concerning those negotiations. Either horn is sharp enough to be exceedingly disagreeable to the Administration, but the latter horn is the one upon which the Administration may be tossed so high that its fall will be final."
The cries of "Hear, hear," and the other expressions of applause, created such a hubbub that it was several minutes before any individual speaker could make himself heard without the lungs of a Stentor. The lungs of the Premier were not of that variety, but the enthusiasm of the Opposition over the point that their leader had made, and the anxiety of the Administration party about the consequences of the debate, alike contributed to the general curiosity to hear what the Premier had to say, and the noise ebbed gradually. In the same halting manner as before, he said:
"If the honorable member from the First Moon does not know that there are matters at stake which are of far more concern to the Jupitern nation than commercial negotiations between the United States of America and its Moon, it is high time that he undertook to inform himself better. He has seen fit to impeach the sufficiency of the Ministry's sense of responsibility to the people, because the Ministry refused to admit its responsibility to him. This is a trick which the gentleman, when he is older, will find to be older still than he is. Such tricks are not necessary, however, to bring the Ministry to a sense of what it owes the people. It may be a surprise to the gentleman from the First Moon, but it is nevertheless a fact, that a much more respectful mode of inquiry on his part would have been an equally effectual, and a much more prompt, means of securing the information which, I perceive, many members of this House desire, as he does, to obtain. The Ministry deems it proper to give that information in a general way, and to withhold the details. The Ministry freely makes known to the House the fact that negotiations are in progress between the United States and its Moon, with a view to a commercial treaty; that their progress has been closely watched by this Government from the beginning; that, so far, nothing has occurred to indicate a disposition on the part of either party to encroach on Jupitern rights, and that, consequently, this Government has, so far, had no cause to interfere. The Ministry has the utmost confidence in the people, and is candid enough to make public such information as the people's best interests call for. It assumes, however, that the confidence is not all on one side; that the people, in their turn, have confidence in the Ministry; that they have, in expression of that confidence, entrusted it with the conduct of the details of management; and that they do not desire to burden themselves with these details, or to burden their servants with the added responsibility of continually explaining these details to partisan obstructionists. This is the position of the Ministry, and it is willing to stand or fall, according to the results of this policy."
It was evident, from the applause that broke out as the Premier sat down, and from the nods which his supporters gave each other, that his reply was satisfactory, not only to the fair-minded of both parties in matter, but also to the sticklers for the maintenance of dignity in manner. The member from the First Moon was too shrewd a politician not to recognize the favorable impression which the reply made on most of those around him, so he at once reflected that degree of satisfaction in his own person. When he arose to speak again, his manner was so mollified as to be positively sugary, if not reverential.
"Nothing is farther from my thoughts, because nothing is less desired by my constituency, than the embarrassment of the Ministry by inquiries which cannot properly be answered. For myself, I am free to confess that I am satisfied with the courteous explanation which the venerable Premier has given the House, but, in the interests of those who are more radical than myself, and for whom I am reluctantly obliged to speak on this occasion, I would inquire if there are not grounds to suspect an intention on the part of the United States Government to annex the Moon, and whether the evidences of a desire to exceed the bounds of the planet to which that Government is now confined are not to be regarded as dangerous to Jupitern interests."
The interest excited by this question showed itself in the profound silence with which the reply of the Premier was awaited. But he only said:
"This Government has received no evidence of any such intention on the part of the United States Government."
In a voice tremulous with the perception of an opportunity, the inquiring member said:
"The Opposition has such evidence." (Sensation.) "I have in my pocket a dispatch from a personal friend, now visiting Washington, the Capitol of the United States of America, stating that he knows of a formidable secret organization, the object of which is the extension of American power to the Satellite of that planet."
Immediately, a young and sharp-faced Administration member popped up, and said:
"A secret organization of private citizens is not the Government."
"But it is large enough to make its influence felt with the Government; it includes a majority of the United States Senate, and it is only a question of time when it will include a majority of the House also, by those methods of purchase with which students of American institutions are familiar."
"I would like to ask the honorable member from the First Moon a question," remarked the sharp-faced orator.
"If it was right for the people of Jupiter to conquer the Moons of Jupiter, to one of which the honorable member is accredited, is it wrong for the people of the United States to conquer and annex the solitary moon attached to that planet?"
"I am very glad," said the Opposition leader, "that the gentleman asked me that question. As I interpret the unwritten code of the rights of national extension, it is right, from an American standpoint, for that country to extend its domain. True patriotism should inspire every American to join the secret order referred to, to demand legislation favorable to its purposes, and to fight for them. But exactly the same rule of patriotism requires us to resist those purposes as calculated to interfere with our own similar purposes of gradual and indefinite extension. It is our duty not to wait till America starts out for a conquest of the Moon, but to interfere at the earliest symptoms of close commercial relations. For the great nation that establishes such relations with a small nation will sooner or later absorb it politically, if given a chance."
The Premier here arose, and interrupted him with: "It is our duty to respect the rights of these small nations to independence and self-government. The people of the Moon have as much right to govern themselves as we have to govern ourselves, and far more than we have to govern them."
The Opposition leader resumed: "I am again glad to have been interrupted. I hold, Mr. Speaker, that the right of self-government, as to personal liberty and property, is separable from the right of self-government in the choice of national allegiance. I hold that, when we subdue a world, respecting the private rights of its citizens, and giving them the benefits of Jupitern associations, Jupitern influence, Jupitern civilization, and Jupitern institutions generally, we are doing them a kindness in saving them from themselves, so far as they themselves would choose a different and inferior object of national allegiance. Do we not give them a Provincial Parliament for the conduct of their local affairs? Are they not as well off in that respect as they were before we subdued them? Are they not immeasurably better off in every other respect? Why, sir, it seems to me that the blindness of those who ignore the advantages of such a policy is insane! Their ignorance incapacitates them from the proper performance of Governmental duties. That is the charitable side of it. A more uncharitable man than myself, Mr. Speaker, would call such a policy unpatriotic to the point of treason."
These words, impressively delivered, stirred up a tempest of applause. In fact, there was something in the manner of the orator which commanded a hearing, and smoothed the way for assent to the thing heard. He paused and looked all around him, and saw members clambering on benches, and on each other's shoulders, and waving their hats and handkerchiefs as they cheered. It was another opportunity, and he utilized it. He raised his voice, and its seductive and penetrating tones were heard ringing out above the buzz and roar of the assemblage.
"The time has come to arraign this Administration for its failure to guard Jupitern interests in other worlds, its miserable neglect of the means of information as to what is going on in those worlds that may imperil Jupitern interests, and its stubborn refusal to recognize the principles that should direct its conduct in any event."
The tempest of cheers broke out again, and yells of "Resign! Resign!" were dinned into the ears of the Premier. He sat perfectly still, with bowed head, with hat over his eyes, as before, and with his frown deepened till the lines extended around the sides of his face. An anxious adherent took him by the arm and shook him, shouting in his ear, in a stage whisper: "Reply! Reply!"
The Opposition orator, still on his feet, looked eagerly in the direction of the Premier, and said nothing. As his pause was prolonged, others looked. Many members had arisen from their seats, and were crowding around the Premier with anxious faces. At length one of them motioned the rest back, and the confused buzz grew louder.
Five minutes later the Premier's body was borne out amid an awed hush. The old man was deaf to applause, hisses and other Jupitern expressions of opinion forevermore. Five weeks later a fleet of electric ethereal ships bore an army of one hundred thousand Jupiterns in the direction of the Moon, and Parliament was engaged in fitting out another army to follow it.
No sooner had the Venusian Minister to Jupiter notified the Emperor of Venus that an army of Jupiterns had started to invade the Moon, than that potentate summoned a meeting of his advisers. Handing the telegram to each one in turn, he asked if the welfare of the Empire seemed to demand any action.
"It occurs to me," said the Minister of War, "that now is the time for revenge."
"What reason have we to seek revenge on America?" asked the Minister of Finance, who was conservatively disposed.
"If there is any one here," said the Minister of War, "who does not intuitively feel that America is our enemy, it is useless to reason with him. Did not America drive us out of the world?"
"A few of us, but not many."
"Does not every patriotic Venusian feel, in his heart, that the few who were actually driven out by America represent the great bulk of our younger generation, in their wish that justice be done to them? Have we not an indefinable sense of wrong, received at the hands of America, as though the spirits of some who have suffered much from those avaricious aggressors had passed into our bodies at birth?"
"Come! come!" said the Emperor, "let this wrangling cease. What does the Minister of War wish?"
That official, being directly appealed to, proceeded to justify his desire for a policy that would enable him to magnify his office. "I wish," said he, "to give counsel that will be to the national advantage, when I say that this is an excellent opportunity to feed fat the ancient grudge which many of us bear America. We cannot conquer America alone. Mars has tried it, Saturn has tried it, Neptune has tried it, and with what result? All have failed. But now that Jupiter is engaging America in a war, we can attack the same nation, divide its energies, perhaps conquer it, and control a Hemisphere, leaving Jupiter in possession of the other. Thus we will be revenged."
"There is another consideration," remarked the Minister of Public Morals, "which is of great weight with me just here. Should we succeed, as is probable under the circumstances, we can capture enough American women to make good the growing deficiency in our female population. Has your Imperial Majesty read the new census statistics? There are now only half as many women in Venus as there are men. There are four hundred thousand women in Venus who have five husbands, one million who have four, two million who have three, and four million, eight hundred thousand who have two. I am convinced that our polygamy system is evil, and that one husband for each wife is the proper proportion. I have refrained from expressing this opinion heretofore, because of the impracticability of remedying the present state of affairs. But this war between America and Jupiter offers us the opportunity we want. It is the only war between two other planets which has offered us a prospect of successful interference. The result of America's wars with Saturn, with Mars, with Neptune, could be foreseen by impartial powers. We foresaw it. The result of the war just declared cannot be foreseen. The two nations are so nearly equal in power that, without the interference of a third party, a long and bloody struggle is inevitable; with it, the fighting will be brief and decisive. If the peace party here can rise above country in this crisis, they will see an opportunity for the establishment of universal peace at the cost of a little self-sacrifice on our part. We fight, we win, we divide the American world with Jupiter. We make a Peace League with Jupiter, and the two strongest nations in the Solar System can influence the rest to join them."
"That is well said," remarked the Emperor, while the Minister of Finance frowned; for, peace man as he was, he would have felt just a little delight in being able to report such a deficit in the treasury as precluded the idea of war. Unfortunately, there was no such deficit, and he could not dissuade his colleagues.
That quick, impulsive temperament, for which the Venusians are noted, is of great value in making preparations for war. The sudden recall of the American Minister from the Venusian Capitol to assume the Secretaryship of War was converted into a pretext, by an artificial construction, as an insult. An apology was demanded of the United States, but the President took no notice of the demand, and, in his haste to fill the vacancy before giving his attention to the war details that might make him forget it, appointed a citizen of German descent. The Venusians were furious, and the Emperor had no difficulty in raising a large volunteer army to man the electric transports. No time was lost in concluding terms of alliance with Jupiter, contemplating the equal division of whatever territory should be conquered. The Jupitern authorities, however, knew that this arrangement would not be agreeable to either the voters at home nor the soldiers abroad, so they aimed to keep it secret till the close of the war. No officer below the rank of General was permitted to know it.
But a war correspondent of one of the New York daily papers got hold of it. His private electric car happened to cross a current, over which the General commanding the Jupitern army was sending a message to the Premier. An apparatus in his car registered it, and he halted long enough to turn aside into the current itself, and travel far enough in it to read the completion of the message.
It was a stroke of luck, but it was the making of him. He became famous from New York to Rome. At the first great battle, in the neighborhood of the Moon, the Jupiterns captured a brigade of Americans, with several thousand copies of the article containing the message, and the Jupitern soldiers read it eagerly.
Among the captured Americans were a few special agents of the War Department, chiefly detailed for spy duty. The Secretary of War, desiring to ascertain as much about the enemy's purposes as possible, had assigned some of these agents to regiments from sundry doubtful States. The political complexion of these regiments had been carefully canvassed, and the General of the army had been privately instructed to order them to the post of honorable danger, whenever there was a chance of reducing an adverse majority, or a dangerous minority, of the other party's votes, so as to ensure the endorsement of the Administration by the State in question at the next election.
The spies assigned to these regiments were generally men who were not in robust health, and therefore more likely to be exchanged, if taken prisoners of war. They were informed of the destination of their regiments, and were under instructions to surrender, individually, when the fight became lively; find out all they could, while prisoners, and then press their claims for an exchange, or use their discretion if they thought of any plan for misleading the enemy.
Some of these fell into the hands of the Jupiterns, and some were captured by the Venusians. One of the former heard his guards indignantly denouncing the secret agreement that the conquered territory should be divided equally between Venus and Jupiter. He immediately began to talk about his immense stock farm in one of the Asteroids, and what a fine country it was, though thinly settled.
The Jupitern soldiers seemed to take an interest in the Asteroid business, and the guards and others listened to the spy in eager silence. The mutinously inclined inquired if there was any political organization in his Asteroid.
"None," he answered.
"They are not American dependencies?"
"Some few are, but this is not, and others equally fine are as independent."
"Would you like to go back to your stock farm?"
The next day the spy was told that it had been decided to transport certain American prisoners to the Asteroids, and that he was among the number. The mutineers, however, had secretly decided upon this, and not the commanders of the army. The spy's glowing accounts of several Asteroids had suggested a scheme of wholesale desertion to the disaffected. A few hours sufficed for the arrangements. At a given signal, the objectors to the policy of equal division with Venus were to seize the electric transports, or as many of them as they could control, and start immediately to the thinly settled Asteroids, where they would set up an independent government, and fight for it if necessary.
Several of the spies captured by the Venusian wing of the enemy's forces no sooner learned the urgent need of Venus for a reinforcement of the female population, than they began to remember the time when they were attaches of the American Minister to Jupiter. The beauty of the Jupitern women was praised in unmeasured terms, and it was asserted, in the most emphatic manner, that there were many more women in Jupiter than men.
The Venusian wing of the army had been severely handled, and the soldiers were sufficiently discouraged to listen, with unusual interest, to anything that proposed an abandonment of the American invasion. When the news of a vast mutiny in the Jupitern army arrived, the Venusian Generals held a council of war. The desertion of two-thirds of the Jupitern army did not look promising, so far as prospects of the conquest of American territory were concerned.
"I have it!" said one little marshal, impatiently. "Let us invade Jupiter, and capture the women we want there."
Doubts were expressed as to whether there were not enough men in Jupiter to repel an invasion. A copy of the last Jupitern census was consulted, and elaborate estimates made as to the number of able-bodied citizens who were likely to leave for the Asteroids as soon as they heard of the mutiny, in order to suppress it.
So momentous a question could not, of course, be decided without communicating with the Emperor. He again summoned his advisers, and laid the situation before them. A majority favored an invasion, while a minority stood with the Emperor for the abandonment of the entire expedition.
The incendiary Republican press broke out the next day into appeals for revolution; for the overthrow of the Empire, and the instalment of a Government that would represent the people, and aim to supply their wants.
By noon a howling mob surrounded the Imperial palace, and the Emperor, after a few unsuccessful attempts to force the populace from behind their barricades, was forced to resign, and consent to the formation of a Constitutional Republic, of which the Minister of War was to be President. Another appeal was made for volunteers, this time for the Jupitern expedition. The people responded with great enthusiasm, and the army in the vicinity of the Moon received orders to move in the direction of Jupiter, assured that reinforcements would follow at the earliest possible date.
Having defeated Jupiter and Venus in war, and got them into war with each other, there sprung up a variety of opinions at Washington as to what the United States ought to do next. There was a certain portion of the young and warlike element who made no secret of their desire to have a war with Mercury. It was the only important planet which the United States had not thrashed, and as it is not a very big planet, there was no question in their minds that the United States could thrash it. But just at this time there was no occasion whatever to pick a quarrel with Mercury.
Comparatively little was known at Washington about the people of Mercury. Commerce was restricted, and the King of that planet did not encourage the American Minister to his Court to make any researches with a view to increasing it. The Mercurians occasionally increased their wealth by sending out purely national expeditions, but they aimed rather to colonize desirable localities, than to bind themselves closer to other nations. The chief reason for this conservative policy was the fact that the people of Mercury were enormously rich, already. The humblest citizen was wealthy enough to be a member of the United States Senate. But the desire for wealth increases with the possession of it, and hence it happened that the King of Mercury, on learning that the able-bodied populace of Venus had chiefly gone off in several armies to fight Jupiter, decided to send an army of occupation to Venus.
The American Minister promptly notified the President, at Washington, of the appearance of the Mercurian army of occupation, ready to start for Venus. The Secretary of State lost no time in communicating with the King, by ethereal telegraphic currents, to the following effect:
"Reported to this Government that you intend to occupy Venus, in absence of Venusian armies. This Government, having defeated Venus in war, claims first right to occupy territory, and will consider such action on your part as unfriendly to the United States."
The reply was as follows:
"The King of Mercury declines to recognize your right to prevent others from occupying Venus, if you do not choose to occupy that planet yourself."
The Secretary of State at once sent, as a rejoinder:
"The United States will take immediate measures to enforce its rights."
The next day the American Minister to Mercury was recalled.
One of the lower classes of Mercury's citizens sat in front of his cottage reading an evening paper. On the ground at his feet sat his four-year-old son, a youth of an inquiring mind, playing with several gold marbles. Occasionally he would look up at his father's face, and seeing the parent too much absorbed to notice him, resume consideration of the marbles. The child, however, soon wearied of his toys, and hurled the gold marbles into the street, taking advantage of the passing of a foraging cat to throw one so as to strike the animal in the side, the cat sniffed at the marble, and turned up his nose whiskers in disgust.
"Father," said the child, "what are you reading?"
"The war news, my son."
"What is the war news?"
"The army is coming home, my son."
"What is the army coming home for?"
"To keep the American army from invading Mercury."
"Where is our army now, father?"
"What is the army there for, father?"
"To take possession of the planet, my son."
"What is the American army coming here for?"
"To take possession of this planet."
"Well, if it's right for us to take possession of Venus, isn't it right for them to take possession of us?"
"No, my son."
"Run into the house and talk to your mother, my son."
The boy was silent for several minutes; then, as if a thought had struck him, he suddenly looked up again.
"Father, does Venus belong to us?"
"No, my son."
"Will it belong to us, if we get it?"
"I am afraid we won't get it, my son."
"Will it belong to the United States?"
"Not even if they get it?"
"Because it belongs to the people of Venus."
"Then it won't belong to us either, even if we get it?"
"Then we will be stealing, won't we?"
"You will understand these things better when you are older, my son. Now run away and play."
"I don't want to play. I want to hear about Venus."
"What's the matter, father?"
The matter was that the father had read a later dispatch than anything else in the paper, announcing the sudden withdrawal of the American army from the atmosphere of Mercury.
"That is very strange," said the Mercurian.
"What is very strange?"
"I wonder if they can mean to back out in as disgraceful a manner as that?" mused the Mercurian, rather to himself, than as if taking any notice of the child.
"Who back out, father?"
"Are the Americans going to back out?"
"It looks like it."
The dispatch which had excited the surprise of the Mercurian father was as follows:
"It is reported that the President of the United States, in obedience to strong pressure exerted by the Senate, has ordered the withdrawal of the entire American army from the vicinity of Mercury.
"That the Senate should have so much power will surprise foreigners, whose knowledge of American government is restricted to simple acquaintance with the Constitutional machinery of that planet. The original theory of American government was that the legislative, the executive and the judicial branches should be coequal. The Senate, which is the wealthy and aristocratic branch of the legislative third of the Government, has virtually become the supreme power. The President is generally under obligations to Senators for campaign funds, the Supreme Court is a sort of shelf for retired Senators, and the House of Representatives bows to the expressed or implied will of the Senate in everything. This subserviency has been brought about by the judicious encouragement of the idea that one term in the House is enough for one man, and that he should stand aside and give somebody else a chance.
"Thus nobody is a member of the House long enough to acquire experience that will raise him above mediocrity, and every ex-Representative is sent to the State Legislature by one of the Senators from his State, to whom he is supposed to be eternally grateful, when the time for a Senatorial election comes round. Thus Senators remain in the Senate as long as they choose to stay there, and then retire themselves as Judges. As the Senate confirms the President's appointments, he can do nothing without their consent; and as they ratify commercial treaties, by which the tariff, the source of all revenue, is regulated, they have usurped legislative, executive, and, indirectly, judicial powers, and the other branches of the Government are but figure-heads.
"In short, the Senators are the bosses of the American planet."
I had been appointed Minister to Mercury, in recognition of my services in discovering the secret agreement of the Jupiterns and Venusians to divide equally such American territory as they should conquer, and publishing it in the newspaper which I represented as war correspondent. When I was recalled, on the prospect of war between America and Mercury, I was engaged in an investigation which I very much desired to complete before returning home. I had therefore postponed my departure, and was just ready to start, when the news came that, through the influence of the Senate, the American army had been ordered away from Mercury.
Just after my arrival, I had bought and paid for a large block of stock in a company that had been formed for the mining and preparation of Mercurian gold for the American market. Extensive new deposits had been discovered, far too large for the needs of the Mercurian market, which was already greatly overstocked.
The King and his Ministers were likewise stockholders in this company, and one day they called a secret meeting of the Board of Directors, and, without taking a stock vote, ordered the issue of 100,000 new shares.
I inquired why this had been done, and what disposition was to be made of the money which I naturally supposed would be received for this new stock, but could get no satisfaction. All the large stockholders seemed to regard me with suspicion. Finally I hunted up the janitor of the King's council chamber, and by promising to send him certain American curiosities which he was ambitious to possess, but unwilling to pay for out of his hoardings, induced him to search with me in the heaps of paper removed from the King's waste basket, for memoranda regarding the meeting.
I was fortunate enough to find a memorandum containing a list of names, opposite each of which was a number. The sum of the numbers was the amount of new stock secretly issued. The names I recognized as those of most of the members of the United States Senate.
I immediately suspected that the stock was issued to the members of the United States Senate as a bribe, or rather in consequence of an agreement, in fulfillment of which they had forced the withdrawal of the American army and disgraced the United States in the eyes of the whole solar system. To satisfy myself, however, I visited the company's office and demanded the book containing the stubs of the receipts given when stockholders paid for their stock. As a stockholder, I had a right to see it. The treasurer, however, on the pretext of difficulty in finding it, delayed handing it to me, and I heard him tear something out. I pretended not to notice this, made a routine examination of the book, and returned it, apparently satisfied. The stubs showed that the receipts for the new stock had been torn out, and the hurried manner in which this was done was registered by the adhesion of several corners of the receipts themselves to the stubs. I had to see another janitor, but the next morning I had those crumpled receipts. They contained no names, but were simply endorsed "U.S.S." I put them carefully away, and in a few hours completed my preparations for returning to America, paid my parting respects to the King, and left in a special electric dummy car for the earth.
The discovery that the members of the Senate had betrayed the nation's honor filled me with shame, and I sat for some hours in my luxurious traveling apartment, meditating on the disgrace to which I would have to bear testimony, and wondering whether the State Department would publish such a scandal to the world. As for myself, I was resolved on my own course. I would communicate my discovery to the Secretary of State, and if he feared to publish the facts, I would, with the proceeds of the sale of my own stock (which would make me as rich as any man on earth, and nearly as rich as a Mercurian nobleman), buy up one or more influential newspapers, publish the whole story, and demand the abolition of the United States Senate by Constitutional amendment, and the election of Representatives in Congress on the merits of the candidates. I anticipated a bitter fight from the rich men of the Senate, but now that I was as rich as any of them, I determined to appeal to the "common sense of most" for the concentration of the appointing power in the President, and the legislative power in the House of Representatives.
My ethereal journey proceeded several weeks without interruption or event. But one day while I was asleep and dreaming of the power I should wield when I controlled several great daily newspapers, a sudden shock awoke me, and with a nightmarish fear that the car was tumbling through space, I arose and hastened to investigate.
A small break in the machinery of the electric car had compelled a stoppage; fortunately we were in the vicinity of a stray asteroid, which, in the remote past, had cut loose from its fellows between Mars and Jupiter, and, drawn by some temporary source of attraction, had located its orbit between the Earth and Venus. The Ethereal Fast Line, on which I was traveling, had located a flag station upon it, but it was little used, although the company ran its cars so as to cross the asteroid's orbit at a point at which that body itself was due at the time of crossing.
A peculiar people inhabited this asteroid. There was but little communication between them and the United States, and the Jupiterns and Venusians had even less to do with them, while the inhabitants of Mercury and Mars ignored them entirely. The prevailing notion was that the population of this asteroid consisted of Socialists. The asteroid itself is known as Henrygeorgia.
While awaiting the completion of the repairs needed by the car, I strolled about the neighborhood of the station, in the hope of meeting some of the inhabitants. I was not disappointed. I encountered an intelligent farmer, whose Yankee ancestry was evident from his fondness for asking questions and his sincere desire to hear the answers. Having given him all the information consistent with prudence concerning my past, my present, and my intentions for the future, I shut down the answer factory and opened upon him with an overproduction of questions.
"Your countrymen, I infer, are followers of Henry George, the prophet of San Francisco."
"Yes; we owe much of our prosperity and happiness to Henry George."
"You are Socialists, I suppose?"
"Socialists? By no means. We are Individualists of the most pronounced type. Why should we be Socialists?"
"I had supposed that land nationalization was practicable only through a system of taxation which would raise an enormous surplus revenue, unless the State cultivated and used the land as well as owned it. Either alternative would be Socialism, for the necessity of finding ways to spend the surplus revenue would develop a variety of governmental functions that would ultimately amount to the same thing."
"You are mistaken. David Dudley Field's celebrated objection to Henry George's theory has been obviated. We have no surplus revenue and no undue extension of the powers of government at the expense of Individualism."
"Pray, how was this accomplished, consistently with the realization of Henry George's ideas?"
"His idea was the concentration of taxation upon land, so that the natural opportunities for labor should not be limited, while the demand for those opportunities was unlimited in growth. The subordinate idea that everybody should pay rent to the Government is by no means essential to the main principle.
"Our ancestors, as you have probably heard, colonized this asteroid on a Henry George platform, following him blindly, not only where he was right, but where he was wrong; ignoring the objections which he ignored, for the sake of the Utopia which he thought not inconsistent with a large surplus revenue. Socialism came, and Individualism went. Every foot of land was taxed, and corruption reigned supreme, as a result of the necessity of spending or stealing the contents of a plethoric public treasury. Our intellectual and moral development was checked, halted, and ultimately reversed. Wealth accumulated and men decayed. At length it occurred to our thinkers, in a lucid interval, that we should do less for man and more for men, and they took a new departure. It proved a success, and we have departed farther and farther from that era of blighting corruption ever since.
"This new departure was in the direction of economy-a revenue limited to the actual need of a Government whose functions were restricted by the rule that governmental powers should not be given the benefit of any doubt whatsoever; the presumption being that the Government had no right to do anything that could possibly be done without its aid."
"That is radical," said I. "I should imagine that with such a principle once adopted there would ultimately be very little use for a Government after all."
"That is true-we have very little use for any power of government whatsoever. Our Government's principal duty is to represent us in our external relations, and as we have very few external relations, we require very few officials. Our laws are so respected that they administer themselves, so far as we are concerned."
"Pray tell me how this doubtless admirable state of affairs was brought about. What was the new departure which you spoke of?"
"We found that a one-sided application of Henry George's theories sacrificed the moral benefit that comes from the sense of independence stimulated by land holding in the mind of the holder. The first question was, how to re-establish that sense of independence and encourage it, without sacrificing the benefits of a reasonable theory which prevented land monopolization.
"The answer was, the fixing by law of a certain area of land as the minimum taxable. As soon as it became understood that the holder of, say, less than ten acres was exempt from taxation, land broke up into holdings of less than ten acres as if by magic. Books on small farms had a boom, and the surplus revenue fell off at a rate that indicated that the solution of the difficulty was in sight.
"The next step was to tax unimproved land, rather than improved. The ten-acre minimum was repealed so far as absolutely idle land was concerned, and five acres was fixed as the minimum taxable area of pasture land."
"What are your laws regarding timber lands?"
"They are elastic. Local officials are authorized to regulate taxation on timber lands according to the demand and supply of timber, and to encourage timber culture by low tax rates, when necessary, upon land on which a crop of timber is planted. A discrimination is made in favor of the timber land holder who sells off a certain amount of timber a year, while the man who locks up timber land is taxed severely. The principle underlying our application of Henry George's doctrines is that the taxes should vary according to the area of a holding. In this district, for instance, ten acres is the minimum taxable, and between ten and twenty acres there is a uniform tax rate. Above twenty acres, however, the tax rate increases abreast of the area of the holding. The tax rate on a farm of thirty acres is fifty per cent heavier than it is on twenty acres or less."
"Whew! I guess you have no land monopolists in this asteroid."
"None, sir, and we don't want any."
"How do you arrange your taxation of building lots? Are they taxed in any special way?"
"They are assessed every year in accordance with the demand for land for building purposes in the vicinity, and when their assessed value reaches a certain sum per foot, they are taxed as building lots. An unimproved lot is then taxed more than an improved lot, and a badly improved lot more than a well improved lot. Sewer rents, water rents and gas rents are assessed on the lot holders who do not use sewer connections, city water or city gas, instead of those who do. A house of more than a certain number of rooms, with all sanitary improvements, and set back a minimum distance from the street, is exempt from taxation, provided its owner resides in it himself. If he owns two houses, he has to pay a tax on the one he does not occupy, and if he owns three, his tax rate is doubled; if four, it is tripled; if five, quadrupled, and so on. If he tries to evade the law by owning property in other folks' names, the law refuses to aid him in collecting rents, or to protect him against fraud on the part of his representatives in ownership.
"The effect of such a system, you see, is to discourage landlordism, squatterism, shantyism and bad sanitary conditions, for sewer and water and gas connections are furnished at low rates-in some cities for nothing. Individualism, independence, a respect for one's own rights, as well as the rights of others, and a wholesome jealousy of the powers of the Government-all are encouraged by these laws. Our people read, and think, and vote intelligently, in the highest sense of the word, for their moral perceptions are cultivated to a degree of refinement commensurate with their superior importance."
"It seems to me," said I, "that you have drifted far away from Henry George, after all. Why should you call your world Henrygeorgia?"
"Because, although we seem to have improved upon Henry George, we have done so largely by applying one of his incidental suggestions to the evils otherwise inevitable as the result of his chief doctrine. He pointed out, more than once, that the old-fashioned way of taxing real property in a direct ratio to the degree of its improvement tended to discourage the spirit of improvement. On the other hand, taxation on the opposite principle encouraged improvement, and the more improvements the fewer the taxes. Thus it is always easy to keep down the surplus revenue. Henry George poisoned us unwittingly, but he gave us the antidote unwittingly."
"But, after all," said I, "what is the use of applying an anti-monopoly principle to land, when we have access to the entire Solar System? It was all very well for Henry George to write when men were still confined to the earth, but surely there is more land available now than can ever be monopolized?"
"Certainly there is more land than can be monopolized, if Henry George's principles were applied everywhere. But they are not. A syndicate of your United States Senators can go and lock up a continent in Neptune any day. Every member of your Senate owns an asteroid now, and when your States multiply so that the number of your Senators increases still further, they may yet lock up the whole Solar System against the poor man who emigrates from earth, and the squatter on a planet may be told to move on into the depths of space, and not to trespass on private property."
The flashing of a signal of electric light from the station where my car had halted for repairs warned me at this point that our interview was at an end. I bid the Henrygeorgian farewell, and in a few minutes was again whizzing through space.
I lost no time, on arriving in my native planet, in carrying into execution a plan on the attractions of which I had often dwelt in the early days of my journalistic experience, and which I had scarcely dared hope ever to realize. In fact, after I had attained a very fair standing in the profession, I had relegated this scheme to a place among the air-castles of my youth; satisfied with the realization of a more moderate ambition, which sought to teach the public, day by day, in plain but independent terms, the dangers and the duties of the hour, through the columns of a daily journal. When I found myself in a position to do this, I cared not that others who shared this opportunity with me failed to appreciate it. I reflected that their indifference was no affair of mine, and that the thing of importance, to me, at least, was to make the best use of my time. I envied not the popular preacher who addressed a thousand or two of people once or twice a week, for I addressed tens of thousands of readers daily. Nor did I envy the author whose book is read by thousands, and who writes perhaps one book a year. But when I found that so long as I was only a salaried employee, I was, after all, not independent, but the slave of a proprietor, I also discovered that I was writing his opinions and not my own. It was all very well so long as his opinions and mine agreed, but when they were not in harmony, mine were not expressed and his were. So I longed again to realize the wild project of my youth to which I have referred.
This project, of course, was one requiring wealth for its fruition, but that quality never stops youthful projections. It was, in fact, the harmonious management of a chain of daily newspapers extending around the world. Now, by an unexpected result of my temporary engagement as a war correspondent, I found myself the possessor of a fortune that enabled me to accomplish this design.
I found intelligent people all over the world in a state of indignation at the as yet unexplained conduct of the Senate. No time was to be lost. By the free use of the cable and telegraph I obtained, within forty-eight hours, a controlling interest in one daily morning newspaper in each of the following cities: New York, Chicago, New Orleans, San Francisco, Pekin, Canton, Calcutta, Melbourne, Cape Town, Cairo, Constantinople, Rome, Berlin, St. Petersburg, Paris and London; and immediately assumed direction of the editorial policy of these sixteen journals.
I then sat down and wrote an exhaustive account of my discovery that the majority of the United States Senate had been bribed by the issue of stock to them without consideration, to force a disgraceful termination of the war with Mercury. I telegraphed this to each one of my sixteen newspapers, and gave a condensation of it to the Associated Press, Reuter's and other news agencies. I next prepared a leading article denouncing the United States Senate and demanding the amendment of the Constitution so as to abolish it and concentrate all executive power in the President, and all legislative power in the House of Representatives, holding each directly responsible to the people for the proper discharge of the duties assigned it. This was put in type in the office of the New York Universe, and fifteen revises of it, or clean proofs, were taken. Each one of these was given to a member of the Universe staff, with instructions to each man to put the ideas into different language as far as possible without bad style. The fifteen approximations thus obtained were sent to the fifteen newspapers in other cities, to be used as the leading editorial article on the great sensation which they were all to contain.
It was in the midst of a fall campaign in which members of the House of Representatives and of the State Legislatures were to be elected. The existing Congress had been in extra session all the summer, and an investigation of the conduct of the Senate was in progress, bidding fair to produce the usual whitewashing result. Nobody seemed to know anything. The news from Mercury, however, told the story, and popular indignation at once reached a white heat. An angry crowd, composed not of lawless vagrants and adventurers, but of reputable and scandalized citizens, collected around the Senate wing of the Capitol at Washington, long before the hour of assembling, on the day of publication. A lawyer who had prepared a draft of the Constitutional amendments suggested, read them to the crowd and then thrust them into the hands of a scared Senator who was trying to make his way to the Chamber. Mr. Senator had to promise to introduce, speak and vote for the amendments.
An army of messenger boys flew as fast as the crowd would let them, for the electric flying machines dotted the air in every quarter. Telegrams from all over the globe came in, advising the introduction of the amendments, and their adoption by Congress, and submission to the State Legislatures for ratification. The Senate was disposed to be stubborn at first, but the President, who expected to be re-elected and who had no objection to monopolizing the appointing power, told the Senators individually in turn that he thought it inadvisable to tempt the populace to mob violence. At the mere hint of mob violence, the Senate of cowards agreed to the amendments. The House, of course, did what the Senate did, as it had done for many years.
From that day the campaign became a tidal wave movement all over the world. I devoted myself chiefly to the New York Universe, the London Fact, and the Calcutta Will of the People. I kept myself in constant communication with the other thirteen newspapers in my control, and all sixteen were daily engaged in stirring up the people to elect Legislators that would ratify the amendments. For fear the rich Senators would prevent their ratification by corruption, the sixteen newspapers urged the appointment of committees in every State to watch for evidences of corrupt methods, expose them, and prevent their success by appealing to public opinion and using money in every legitimate manner known to thorough political organizers.
The following are specimens of the editorial and campaign literature published from time to time during the autumn:
"The Senate ought to go. It has become the favorite resort of plutocrats. It has usurped the appointing power of the President, who, no matter how wise and good he may be, must nominate only such men as the Senate is willing to confirm. Every city has given its Mayor, and every State its Governor, the power of appointment, with absolute independence of the body that formerly confirmed local nominations. The national Government alone has adhered to the old worn-out plan of dividing responsibility.
"As the power of appointment should be concentrated in the Presidential office, so the power of legislation should be concentrated in the popular body of Representatives. If they are not to be trusted without a check on their action, then the people themselves are not to be trusted.
"But even if a check be needed now, it will not always be needed if the House is taught to do without it and take all the responsibility. When it is reduced to a question of fitness for trust, we are obliged to ask, 'Is the Senate to be trusted?' Not one man in the world can give but one answer to this question. If we are asked whether we will hereafter trust the Senate or the people, let us all answer, The People!'"
Long before election day, it became so plain that every Legislature would be favorable to the Constitutional amendments that many members of the Senate resigned in advance of the result. Nobody, as a rule, could be found to fill the vacancies.
The Constitutional amendments were ratified by three-fourths of the Legislatures within three months after the election. The King of Mercury, expecting a vigorous prosecution of the war from this result, made overtures for peace, offering an enormous sum of money as indemnity. Enough was accepted to pay off the national debt, and the rest was returned, with a message informing His Majesty that honest dealing by intelligent methods would thereafter suffice to secure the good will of the American people, and that venality was not our national failing.
The Constitutional amendment abolishing the United States Senate proved highly beneficial to the public service. The President was the kind of man to appreciate his increased responsibility for the moral tone and business efficiency of the Executive departments, and his freedom from Senatorial dictation concentrated upon him the potential criticism of watchful public opinion. But before the first new Congress had been in session many weeks it became evident that the House of Representatives felt its vote. The aggressiveness of a party caucus when it finds itself in the majority for the first time for many years was feeble compared to the evident purpose of the House, when it discovered its power to exercise that power without restraint.
Desiring to get as strong a grip on patronage as possible, the Representatives tried to establish an unwritten law compelling the President not only to consult them, but to defer entirely to them regarding appointments. The power of confirmation or rejection had, of course, been abolished with the Senate, but the Representatives depended on threats of the withdrawal of moral support, the passage of embarrassing statutes, and the refusal of legislation anxiously urged by the President, to bring him to terms, and every effort was made to deceive him regarding the character of persons recommended for appointment, in order to bring him into bad odor if he continued firm. The moral and intellectual tone of Representatives elected in the era of Senatorial dictation had been so low that there was room for a great deal of reform in the character of the average Congressman, and this reform had barely begun.
The President was kept much busier than usual writing veto messages. The old notion that anything could be done by Act of Congress seemed to be revived, and all sorts of foolish bills were pushed through on the log rolling plan. Never was the same lack of principle in recommending applicants for office, even when there was no desire to embarrass the Administration. A Congressman would recommend a bad man for office just as readily as he would vote for a bad candidate on his own ticket, which is saying a good deal; and he would recommend two or more men for the same appointment without dreaming, or if he dreamed, caring, that his conduct was as heinous in morals as repeating at the ballot box.
The majority of the House of Representatives belonged to the Demagogue party, and were supposed, therefore, to be in full sympathy with the Administration. The Reprobates were without a leader, the Senate having been their stronghold. It was one of the emergencies in which the demand for a leader who is a leader indeed ignores all the minor aspirants, and seeks the man who has been ripening for years and biding his time. The Presidential campaign was approaching, and the Demagogues, disorganized by their wretched legislative record, clung to the President as the only hope of their continuance in power. Circumstances had required him to be so conservative that he had had no time to be aggressive, and his wise and conservative exercise of the veto power had rallied the Independent element of votes around him everywhere, so that his renomination was a foregone conclusion. The Reprobates had no issue at hand which the President did not represent better than any possible candidate of theirs. The result was that they had to make an issue or make no fight.
Their party leaders, all over the world, stood aghast, each one waiting for somebody else to speak and define the issue. Suggestions, large or small, were thankfully received, but for a time none came worth discussing.
At length, early in January of the Presidential election year, the issue appeared, and the man who made it appear was dragged out of what they called his obscurity by the leading politicians of the Reprobate party. As a matter of fact, however, he was eminent in the world of science. He was Alexander Beetlebrow, A.M., Professor of Biology in the University of Everest.
Professor Beetlebrow, in a lecture to his classes, had taken occasion to air his views on heredity. In the course of one of these talks he had remarked, incidentally, that the hereditary principle was better understood now than ever before, and that instead of abolishing hereditary Upper Houses (the Jupitern Parliament was beginning to discuss something of the sort) the time was coming when they could be better based on that principle than formerly. He further remarked that Congress needed the re-establishment of the Senate, and that a hereditary Senate, to be created by awarding Senatorships to distinguished and honorable citizens, and to be maintained (in possible default of the supply of distinguished and honorable citizens) by transmission from father to son, no further than the third generation, would not be a bad idea. One of the students was the son of the chairman of the Reprobate State Committee of Ceylon, a shrewd politician who stood high in the councils of the party. Writing to his father on the same day, he quoted from the Professor's remarks, taking the occasion to ridicule his venerable preceptor as an ass and a crank.
His father, however, saw the matter in a different light. Here was an issue-the re-establishment of the Senate on approved principles of the most modern of sciences. Here embodying the issue was a candidate whose fame was co-extensive with the Solar System, and whose private character, as described a hundred times by newspaper correspondents of every possible bias, was irreproachable. The chairman of the Ceylon Reprobate State Central Committee said "Eureka!" and called a conference of leading politicians to meet him in the Siberian National Park, the following week. The result of that conference was the appointment of a committee to wait upon Professor Beetlebrow and ask permission to use his name as a candidate before the National Reprobate Convention.
GENTLEMEN:-In accepting the nomination for the Presidency of United States, tendered me with such marked unanimity by the National Convention of the Reprobate party, it devolves upon me to define, to some extent, the issue upon which that party has decided to base its campaign, and which I have the honor to represent. That issue is, in brief, the need of legislative reform by the restoration of Upper House of Congress, lately abolished.
The need of a select and conservative branch of the national Legislature to act as a wholesome check upon a discordant popular branch has become painfully evident to every good citizen in the past few months. The people of the United States are not yet prepared to submit to mob rule under sanction of law, and while the Constitution arms the President with the veto power, his supreme and constantly increasing responsibility for the efficiency of the administrative branch of the Government renders it physically impossible for him to give that attention to the legislation brought before him which is demanded for the due consideration thereof. Hence the need of a distinct and independent system of legislative checks and balances.
The excellent platform put forth by your convention embodies the issue far better than my words can do. It is not proposed to confer upon the restored Senate the power of acting upon the nominations made by the President of the United States. The appointing power is to remain concentrated in him, while upon the restored Senate will devolve the duty of vetoing improper measures passed by the House of Representatives. The simplicity and directness of this arrangement cannot be excelled. It is my confident belief that it cannot fail to commend itself to every thoughtful citizen, for the important reason that no President, however well fitted he may be for the performance of his duties as at present defined, or earnest in his intention to serve his country faithfully, can prove equal to the herculean task now imposed upon the Executive. I would not under any circumstances accept a nomination or an election to the Presidency, if called upon to discharge the duties now pertaining to that office.
I do not see how any one can question the necessity of re-establishing the Senate, and confident that our views are in harmony on this point, I will now pass on to a consideration of the method of accomplishing this object, with which I have the honor to be specially identified.
The method in question is an application of one of the most obvious principles of the growing science of heredity to the problem of government. When the fundamental data of a science suffice to warrant the induction of a single principle, this principle may be wisely employed in a spirit of opportunism as the basis of experiment and invention. The urgent necessity for legislative reform in this instance removes our proposed experiment from the field of voluntary research, and imposes upon us the duty of realizing it as the nation's only avenue of escape from anarchy seated supreme in the citadel of power.
Until that period of the remote future when the popular branch of a nation's legislative body becomes practically infallible, the existence of a select branch will be useful, even if the members of the latter have no higher motive than to magnify the importance of the body to which they belong. The former United States Senate and the ancient British House of Lords both did good service from time to time, although the former was constituted on an arbitrary basis of States of almost every possible territorial extent, and the latter was governed far more by the individual interests of its members than by proper considerations of public welfare.
It is true that the old British House of Peers embodied the hereditary principle, but no one will pretend that that principle was ever afforded a fair test thereby. The institution was the outgrowth of feudal conditions which made a general spirit of selfish conservatism the ruling influence, while the principles of heredity and of other ancient or modern sciences counted for nothing at all.
Let us examine the teachings of heredity, with a view to ascertaining if it is not possible to base thereon a limited aristocracy in which the public interest shall be represented simultaneously with the best results of contemporary culture. The public is certainly very deeply interested in concentrating its best and most matured thought upon the problems presented from time to time in the administration of its affairs. The age is ripe for the creation of a Senate of brains, and if breeding can produce highly organized beasts, a similar result should be attainable with men, by substituting for compulsory union with select specimens of the opposite sex, the designation of men who are capable of making a wise choice when contemplating matrimony, just as they act wisely in deciding upon other matters of deep interest to themselves and to their race. Thousands have paid tribute to heredity by repeating the maxim, "blood will tell," but blood cannot be expected to tell for an indefinite period under haphazard conditions, either in man or in the lower animals. When no special effort is made to preserve a breed by judicious combination, it will deteriorate gradually to the common level. When efforts for the preservation of a stock are circumscribed by the political necessity of marrying within a narrow range of families already more or less related by blood, like the sovereigns and nobility of ancient Europe, hereditary characteristics became intensified, no new and positive traits being introduced to counteract the tendency to predominance. Balance of temperament was destroyed, while the power to do evil remained, until the excesses indulged in completed the process of degeneration. Thus what was once known as hereditary aristocracy developed vicious representatives who brought it into bad odor, and we may see the same tendency to-day in remote planets settled by emigration from our own, and imitating the institutions of extinct races. Good blood requires occasional reinforcement from sources not related to it by consanguinity.
It is of the first importance, then, to ascertain at what point the introduction of new elements becomes desirable, not that we may formulate a plan for securing that introduction, but in order to learn how far it is safe, in creating a hereditary Senatorship, to depend upon the voluntary exercise of the prudence likely to be possessed by the head of the line and his immediate descendants, in the choice of consorts. If it can be discovered how many generations may elapse before a family stock will need the advantage of an exceptionally favorable union with another family stock, to preserve its distinctive value, the reasonable limit of a hereditary peerage may be provisionally and approximately indicated. If a Senatorial family produces an exceptionally meritorious scion beyond this limit, the principle upon which original appointments to the Senate will be made will give the nation the opportunity of securing anew, and for another stated series of generations, the benefit of such highly organized products of the general policy of encouraging good blood in men. For the plan in question is that of appointing to the Senate any citizen of signal ability and character, for whose promotion there may be a popular demand, and offering to him the inducement of honor for his immediate descendants, with a view to encouraging him to marry well.
The fourth generation has been indicated more frequently than any preceding or succeeding one, as the point beyond which hereditary attributes, unless of extraordinary strength, become inappreciable through dilution with the characteristics of commonplace consorts. The law of Moses visits the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation, and admits the descendants of Edomite and Egyptian parents to the Commonwealth of Israel only in and after the third generation of their removal from alien influences. The prophet's promise to Jehu, as a reward for his eminent services to the nation, that his children shall reign to the fourth generation, by which time the seer apparently expected that the vigorous traits of character which distinguished the hero would disappear. Ancient Israel evidently had a firm belief in hereditary transmission to the fourth generation, and what nation so likely to observe the phenomena of degeneracy so closely as the one in which, of all the races in history, race characteristics are so strongly marked and so resolutely maintained? Doubtless the fact that the progenitor of a line, if he lives to a good old age, will have the opportunity of exerting his personal influence upon his descendants as far as the fourth generation, must, in all candor, be taken into account in distinguishing the influences due and not due to hereditary transmission, but this coincidence rather strengthens than weakens the position we take in favor of fixing the fourth generation as the extreme limit of a possible hereditary Senatorship.
To recapitulate, we are in favor of reviving the United States Senate by a Constitutional amendment providing for the creation of one hundred Senators by appointment by the President, said Senators to be selected from among citizens distinguished in the spheres of statesmanship, literature, art, science, philanthrophy, or any other field of human action in which individual services may command general recognition as deserving reward; said Senatorship, on the death of a Senator, to be conferred upon his oldest surviving son, and on the latter's death, upon his oldest surviving son, with whose death the Senatorship shall again pass into the hands of the President for bestowal as he may think proper. Should the original appointee or his son die without issue, the Senatorship is in like manner to escheat to the Republic for re-award. The fourth generation thus constitutes a limit which will never be reached, the safer policy being to make the third generation the extreme actual limit.
I see no reason why this plan should not be realized to the glory of the Republic and the advancement of every legitimate interest of mankind, and I pledge myself, if elected and charged with the duty of executing the Constitutional amendment which we are pledged to carry through, to exercise the appointing power, in this, as in other respects, with an eye single to the best interests of the world. With renewed gratitude for the honor conferred upon me, I am, etc.
ALEXANDER BEETLEBROW, A. M., PH.D.
GENTLEMEN:-It is with feelings of pleasure and gratification that I accept the renomination for the office of President of the United States, tendered me by your committee on behalf of the great convention which you represent. I regard this renewed honor as a mark of the confidence of a great nation, and one that cannot be too highly esteemed. I congratulate you on the prospects of success which await you, and beg leave to renew my former pledges to administer the executive branch of the Government with an eye single to the best interests of the whole people.
I trust that it will not be regarded as egotistical if I say that no doubt of the result ought to exist. Our opponents have taken the field with a platform which can hardly represent the honest belief of any well balanced citizen of the world to-day, and a candidate who, although personally entitled to our utmost respect, represents nothing in particular except his platform.
They deliberately propose to restore the United States Senate and to organize it on the hereditary principle. It is astounding that any one could hope for a following in the American nation, while advocating such a theory as that, and it can only be accounted for by calling to mind the fact that the unrestricted freedom of our institutions affords room for every possible form of absurd suggestion and discussion, on the theory that what is wise and politic can afford to concede every facility for the consideration of what is foolish and impolitic on its own merits.
That the leading promulgator of the idea of a hereditary Senate, limited in transmission of membership to three generations, should be able to acquire sufficient following for an organization, illustrates the fact, occasionally observed by clear headed members, that blind partisanship still rules no inconsiderable number of men. No one pretends that the mass of voters belonging to the Reprobate party believes in this theory. It has not had time to become a matter of general intelligence with them. They have merely accepted it as an issue, in default of a better one, in obedience to the leaders who seized upon it as a forlorn hope. It is expected by them that the dissatisfaction with the course of Congress since that body began to consist of a single house will result in the concentration of the dissatisfied about any plan for the restoration of the Senate, just as the dissatisfaction of the Reprobate leaders with the issues which presented themselves led them to rally around an issue which had not been proved by experience to be worthless-the only such issue available.
As a matter of fact, however, the hereditary Senate issue is more absurd than the others upon which the Reprobate party has failed before the people, for most of the others were crystallized into laws, tried, and found wanting before they could be truthfully pronounced dead. Very little argument is needed to convince intelligent citizens of any party that a hereditary Senate would be useless to this country.
I will first grant, for the sake of argument, that which I propose subsequently to disprove; namely, that a Senate is necessary as a check upon the tendency of the House of Representatives to unwise legislation, and will endeavor to show that, even were this true, a hereditary Senate is not the sort of body needed, and that the hereditary feature would be a positive draw-back to its usefulness.
Few words are necessary to show this. Hereditary Senators, by which I mean more particularly the descendants of appointed or selected Senators, would naturally take pride in the achievements and opinions of their ancestors. Their veneration for traditional doctrines would tend to close their eyes to the progressive views which other citizens would recognize as suggested by the altered and continually altering conditions of our national life. There is not, and apparently there never will be, until the constitution of human nature undergoes a miraculous change, any reason to anticipate that a hereditary legislative body, no matter how constituted in reference to minor details, can be anything else than a hindrance to progressive legislation or to progress without legislation.
The avowed purpose of the advocates of a hereditary Senate is to make directly available for the public interest the benefits to be derived from applying to mankind the theory of breeding. The only difference between the proposed application of this theory and its application to the multiplication of live stock, is that the human type is to pick out a worthy mate for himself, while the stock raiser picks out the mate for his blooded stock; it being argued that if a man has sense enough to choose in the one case for the lower animals, he will have sense enough to choose in the other for himself. It will not be disputed that there is ample material for the choice of new Senators without resorting to any device of hereditary distinction; nor can it be denied that in this age of universal intellectual progress and development, the chances favor the selection of a better man from the list of worthy and eminent citizens by any plan which leaves to the designating power the largest freedom of action in the recognition of merit, than any hereditary Senator would be likely to be. Hereditary Senators, on the date of accession to their honors, would average comparatively few years of age; their preparation for public duties, no matter how carefully looked after, would often be inadequate, and the assurance of well-paid positions, the tenure of which was independent of effort or merit, would encourage the processes of degeneration, rather than improvement, after they had attained the honor for which they were waiting. The lessons of history on this subject are based on permanent natural laws. History also proves to us that self-made men are of more value to a nation than those whose position is conferred upon them without proportionate effort of their own, and that civic honors derive no inconsiderable additional value from the fact that they are open to all citizens who shall deserve them, without regard to birth. The importance of this feature of our institutions as an incentive to worthy ambition in all citizens is too great to admit of its sacrifice. I cannot believe that these reasonable and obvious considerations can fail to impress themselves upon all intelligent citizens, or that they require further elucidation from your candidate. I will therefore proceed to consider whether it is necessary to restore the United States Senate in any form whatever.
The cry for restoration is suggested by the mass of bad legislation passed by the House of Representatives at its last session, which tends to show the need of a more effectual check than the veto power of an Executive Department, controlled by one man. It is a physical impossibility for the President of the United States to give to each measure sent to him for his approval, that consideration which is demanded of him, entirely apart from the legal merits of the question, concerning which he must, of course, depend upon the Attorney General. A great pressure of legislation tends to distract the Executive from the duties of administration, and one or the other of the President's functions must inevitably suffer if the present tendency to an indefinite increase of national legislation, and a corresponding increase in the official machinery needed for effective administration, is allowed to continue. In my judgment, the time has come for a tendency to react from this indefinite growth, by mutual stimulation, of the volume of legislative and executive business. How this reaction may be brought about, I will now try to suggest.
It was formerly supposed that it was proper for Congress to legislate on whatsoever subjects of legislation were of general rather than local interest; but our recent history has shown that the question of Constitutional right of legislation is unimportant, whether compared with the demands of circumstances in which the immediate defense of the nation is involved, or with the question of efficiency in administration; to my mind the last-named question is the most important of all. Whether such and such a law is enacted by the States in turn, or whether it is enacted by Congress, is a matter of small moment, except as concerns certain antiquated theories of Constitutional construction. The real point is to determine what legislative authority is best adapted for this duty, by virtue of its relations to the most desirable conditions of administration and enforcement. All other considerations are dwarfed by this. The non-enforcement and half-enforcement of existing laws is largely responsible for the continual pressure for further legislation. Better enforcement means less legislation, and better legislation.
It is evident that the elastic nature of the theory that Congress can provide for the general welfare has led us into a state of affairs in which the machinery of national administration is too vast and complicated to be properly conducted under one central head. As our national machinery is near the people all the time, why not have it more directly responsible to the people? Its present condition reminds me of a fruit tree in the center of a field, the owner of which should undertake, by grafting again and again, on each branch, to have the entire field covered thereby. How much simpler it would be to cut off all branches that were unproductive, and shorten all that were so long as to trail on the ground unless propped up, and then to plant other trees elsewhere in the field. No one can doubt that the yield of fruit would be larger with many trees than with one. Is it statesmanship to do in a government what we would call insanity in an orchard?
The centers of administration, to command the respect necessary to proper enforcement of laws, should be directly responsible to limited constituencies. Then the limited constituencies would also feel responsibility, and take local pride in their success. Issues would not be so numerous as to conflict, as is always the case in enforcing the responsibility of the national Government by rebuke at the polls. A constituency needs to be small enough, for administrative purposes as well as legislative, to admit of its electoral voice expressing an opinion as the opinion of one man-not as a confused mass of opinions, each man of the many millions expressing several opinions in one vote.
Before the days of prompt communication between all parts of the world, there was a time when local jealousies and difficulties of administration, variations of temperament, and other more or less impalpable, but powerful, obstacles, tended to prevent expectations of obtaining uniform laws from any source beside a common law making body. But the growth of the press, the emancipation of law courts from the rule of technicality, and the gradual assertion of that of equity, proper intent and natural construction, render it unnecessary to insist upon any such source of uniform legislation to-day. We are now one people, instead of an agglomeration of hundreds of peoples. What is recognized by wise men in one part of the world is very soon admitted by the wise men of all the other parts, for reasons and their exhaustive discussions travel around the world with lightning speed. We are, therefore, at liberty to seek that method of obtaining uniform legislation which is most in harmony with the principles of good administration, and the most direct means of obtaining it.
When the United States was confined to that portion of the North American continent which is bounded on the north by the present States of Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and Victoria, and on the south by Mexico and the sea, there was a national convention, for the purpose of obtaining a uniform law of marriage and divorce, the foundation of which was due to the process which I now wish to recommend for endorsement by the State conventions of the party which you and I have the honor to represent. An association of citizens, founded for the purpose of investigating social problems, issued a call for a national divorce reform convention, and requested the Governor of each State to recommend to the Legislature thereof the appropriation of a small amount of money to pay the expenses of two delegates to said convention; at least one delegate to be a jurist learned in the law of his State. The convention was to prepare a draft of an act to regulate marriages and divorces, and this was to be introduced into each Legislature for enactment. This plan succeeded admirably. Most of the Governors took up the idea at once, and others followed when they saw what the majority were doing. Acts constituting a commission from each State were passed by the Legislatures, authorizing the Governor to appoint the commissioners; the convention met, and harmoniously adopted an admirable measure, which, thus endorsed, was recommended by every Governor and enacted by every Legislature. To it the old United States owes its high plane of morality to-day. The success of the plan was largely due to the dangerous results of variation in State laws regarding marriage and divorce, and to the strong and conservative opposition which was excited against a plan for a National Divorce Act of Congress. But there is no reason why the idea should not be indefinitely applied. In my opinion, each State ought to have one or more permanent law commissioners, and the Uniform State Law Convention, composed of these commissioners, should be in session several months of each year. There is no subject short of the relations of this planet to some other planet that such a body of approved jurists and intelligent citizens would not be competent to discuss and legislate upon. The results of their work would have no binding force upon any State. This would leave those results to stand or fall upon their merits, and if they did not appear to the general common sense as being worthy of enactment, they would never be enacted. Coming, however, before the public as they would if so presented, every merit in them would be promptly recognized, and their general enactment (if worthy) and harmonious enforcement would be only a question of time.
It is impossible to foresee the extent to which such an institution would be likely to encroach upon the traditional and acquired domain of Congress. This fact strongly recommends it to my mind as a safe and reasonably sure protection against the indefinite increase of Congressional legislation and of the machinery necessary to execute it. Congress would continually be freer to consider subjects that admittedly require its attention, and the Executive would be able to devote time now spent on the details of local administration to the study of methods of improving the necessary machinery of national supremacy.
Congress cannot reasonably be expected to abdicate its present powers, in part, by taking the initiative in a process for their acquisition by State Legislatures; it remains for the States themselves to do this. Let the State organizations of our party endorse this plan, and the members of our party who are elected to the Legislatures will feel honorably committed to it. In the event of that national triumph which we have every reason to anticipate, we will control the Legislatures of most States in its interest, and the intrinsic wisdom of the plan itself will commend it to the minority party, which, under the discipline of defeat, will be likely to turn from hair-brained theories to practicable ideas that command the approval of advanced political philosophers. This, then, is our substitute for the plan of checking bad legislation which our antagonists have proposed. The problem which it seems to solve is the issue of the campaign. On other issues, it is needless that I should address you now. The ideas expressed in my former letter of acceptance, and carried out, as far as possible, in my administration, have been kindly approved by you, and it has been the general sense of the party that I should define the position to be taken before the people. I have done so. It only remains for me to express again my appreciation of the honor which I have twice received at your hands, and to promise to endeavor to deserve it. I have the honor to be your obedient servant,
Of course, the Reprobate move to re-establish the Senate on a hereditary basis proved a failure. With very few exceptions, the candidates in favor of the proposed Constitutional amendment were snowed under by the large majorities which the Demagogues polled everywhere. The largest majorities were those of candidates for the Legislature, defeating the Reprobates' nominated to propose the amendment. A distinctly anti-amendment Congress was also elected, which was natural, as the Representative who would favor the re-establishment of a check on the action of the body to which he belonged would lose his popularity with his fellow members, and his Presidential prospects would be seriously impaired thereby. Thus even the few Reprobate candidates for Congress who were members of the sitting Congress concealed their real views as much as was consistent with party fidelity to the head of the ticket. The President's scheme for an inter-State convention for uniform State legislation took well, and Demagogue candidates for Governorships and for State Legislatorships came out in favor of immediate action on his suggestions. His triumphant re-election was generally construed as a popular endorsement of his suggestion, as much as a repudiation of the hereditary Senate idea. Candidates of Congress were less ardently in favor of it, but were afraid to oppose it after seeing how strongly and generally it was endorsed by the newspapers. Weber Lockmore's world girdle of newspapers advocated it with great vigor, and other leading journals favored it, partly from a wish to be consistent, as they had generally committed themselves to a strong condemnation of Congress, and to the idea that its functions could advantageously be abridged.
Meanwhile, important events were occurring in other parts of the Solar System. The war between Jupiter and Venus had grown bitter, but the home feeling in either planet was still more bitter. The immense expense of fitting out aerial expeditions with all the artificial appliances for supplying soldiers with tolerable atmosphere until they should be acclimated, made it necessary to increase the taxes continually. Only by the most frantic appeals to patriotism could the Jupitern Premier keep his Parliamentary majority in line. He was reinforced from time to time by seceding members of the other party, but disgusted members of his own not only seceded, but talked openly of forcing open revolt, or an appeal to the planet. The Premier privately conceded the necessity of resigning if he should again lose his majority. The House had gone against him several times, earlier in the war, and he had resigned, but had been again sent for to form a Ministry, when the Parliamentary elections gave him a narrow majority of supporters. The majority was further reduced at each election, and the rate of reduction left little room for doubt that the tide of Jupitern sentiment was gradually turning against the long drawn-out war.
As for the Venusians, they had again become riotous. Of course, some of the citizens wanted to change the form of government once more, and processions of revolutionists paraded the streets to the music of the national anthem. The Republicans seemed about to be forced to take a position in favor of asking to be admitted to the United States. As this idea was supposed to be antagonistic to national independence, it excited bitter opposition within the party, and desertions strengthened the ranks of the Imperialists and improved the prospects of a revolution.
The idea of asking for admission to the Union of American States was suggested to the Venusian Republicans by the conduct of the little Republic of Henrygeorgia. The prejudice of both the Jupiterns and the Venusians against the peculiar institutions of this Asteroid had made the armies of both planets forage and fight on it without scruple, but rather with the zest of hatred. Its rich agricultural interests were robbed, to sustain the troops, and its manufacturing establishments were seized and converted to the use of contractors who were manufacturing artificial necessities of war. The Government of Henrygeorgia prudently avoided giving unnecessary offense to either combatant, but managed, nevertheless, to exist with the entire respect of its citizens. The National Assembly had temporarily modified its rules of procedure, so as to sit in secret, and quietly adopted and forwarded to Washington, by special messenger, an application for the admission of Henrygeorgia as a State. This was sought as the best way to escape the aggressions of Jupiter and Venus.
The Republicans of Venus, who were profoundly impressed by their continued defeat in the war with Jupiter, foresaw an ultimate surrender to that planet, unless they could secure the intercession of the only nation that had proved itself still more powerful. They thought they were sure of this, if they cultivated the American good will by seeking the admission of Venus as a State.
The Opposition in Jupiter also had a scheme for admission to the Union, but, of course, not as a single State. The old idea of the size of a State had gradually expanded with the admission of rival nations to the American federation, and even the proposition that the entire landed area of the planet Venus should constitute a single State struck no one as extraordinary; but the Jupiterns naturally thought their enormous and populous planet entitled to recognition in the shape of a whole league of States, each province being designated as one. The Opposition had such a proposal ready for transmission to Washington as soon as the Government should fall, and the new Administration effect an organization.
This was the condition of affairs abroad when the First Inter-State Convention for the Consideration of Uniform State Legislation assembled at Melbourne, Australia.
The Convention had hardly effected an organization, when a bombshell was thrown in by the announcement that commissioners from the "State of Henrygeorgia" had presented their credentials, and asked to be admitted to seats in the Convention.
"This a convention of purely American States," said a commissioner from Russia, "and I have not heard of the admission of Henrygeorgia to the Union." The Sergeant-at-Arms retired to consult the applicants, and returned to announce that they confidently expected to be admitted as a State before this Convention ceased its deliberations. This statement was greeted with a storm of laughter and hisses. A dozen motions were heard, to the effect that the application for the admission of Henrygeorgian delegates be laid on the table, but Weber Lockmore, who was present as a commissioner from New York, caught the President's eye, and moved that the petition be referred to a select committee of three, with authority to report at such time as should seem, to its members, advisable.
The Convention was evidently puzzled by Lockmore's motion. He was known to lean to Henrygeorgian views, but the President was believed to be a conservative man, who, if he appointed Lockmore chairman of the committee of three, could be depended on to see that the other two members were conservative.
The great bulk of the Convention, however, thinking it possible that Congress might admit Henrygeorgia before the Convention adjourned, and that it would then be necessary to admit the new State's commissioners, regardless of prejudice against Henrygeorgian institutions, saw in the motion only an easy way of disposing of the question for the present, without doing harm to any interest. Consequently, the motion was adopted by acclamation.
Lockmore's private purpose was to secure the admission of the delegates from Henrygeorgia without regard to the admission of that Asteroid as a State. He called a meeting of the committee on the third night after its appointment, and then wrote a personal note to each member, requesting a private interview on the first and second nights, respectively.
The interview on the first night was with a commissioner from Russia-the one who had made the first remark against the recognition of the Henrygeorgian commissioners. He was, of course, strongly prejudiced against Henrygeorgian institutions. Lockmore furnished him with a list of certain members of Congress, and requested him to communicate with each of them by cipher cable at his (Lockmore's) expense, regarding the prospects of Henrygeorgia's admission as a State. The list consisted largely of Congressmen known to Lockmore to be secret admirers of Henrygeorgian ideas, with a minority of opponents, whose replies would be likely to make the Russian believe in the representativeness of the list.
The other member of the committee, a quiet and languid Brazilian, entertained Henrygeorgian views. To him Lockmore also gave a list of certain Congressmen to be consulted by cable. It included all the most bitter opponents of the Henrygeorgian issue in the House, with a few advocates of the doctrines practiced in Henrygeorgia. The Henrygeorgianists, however, would have been found in the majority in a list formed by combining these two.
But little remains to be told. The anti-Henry-georgianists in Congress pointed out to wavering members the danger of establishing a precedent for the admission of any other planet than the Earth, or any part of any other, to the Union. It would lead to endless complications. There could be, if Henrygeorgia was admitted, no good reason for refusing to admit other Asteroids, or Venus, or a whole union of States in Jupiter.
Lockmore knew that the Russian would waive his own views, if convinced that intelligent public opinion led in a different direction, and felt sure of the Brazilian. Every adverse response from Washington, he was convinced, would only reinforce him in his purpose to vote for a favorable report on the application.
The committee reported favorably on the fourth day, by a unanimous vote; Lockmore, in presenting the report, read the names of the Congressmen consulted, in alphabetical order. The list included all the leaders of both parties, and convinced the Convention that the committee had, in the frankest manner, sought and obtained the views of the most representative members of Congress, as to the probability that Henrygeorgia would be admitted as a State. The chances seemed to favor admission, for, as Lockmore well knew, the worst enemies of Henrygeorgianism proposed to admit the Asteroid first, and force the reconstruction of its Constitution afterward.
Not until it was announced at Washington that the commissioners from the would-be State of Henrygeorgia had been admitted to the Melbourne Convention, did the anti-Henrygeorgian members of Congress realize how they had been used. When they did, they determined to prevent the admission of Henrygeorgia, at all hazards.
A strong conservative sentiment was artificially created, in favor of the limitation of the American national authority to the American planet, and the offer of commercial treaties and international arbitration facilities to all remote bodies. But while matters were shaping themselves at Washington for the refusal of Statehood to Henrygeorgia, Lockmore took care to see that a Henrygeorgian amendment to State Constitutions was introduced, exhaustively debated, and amended into a very fair shape for experimental operation, by the Convention at Melbourne.
On the day of the defeat of the bill to admit Henrygeorgia to the Union as a State, Lockmore pressed the Henrygeorgian amendment for State Constitutions to a vote. He meanwhile blockaded all the cables by sending correspondence to his newspapers. The vote in Congress did not reach Melbourne until after the Convention had formally adopted the Henrygeorgian amendment by a substantial majority.
Other measures adopted were drafts of uniform laws for marriage and divorce, the regulation of primary and general elections, the prohibition of payment of public officials by fees, the regulation of corporations, the regulation of bankruptcy and forms of charters for cities according to population. All these forms were ultimately adopted by a number of States, and the benefits of this system of uniformity of legislation were extended to other planets, for when the Second Uniform Legislation Convention met, the Henrygeorgian precedent became the means of securing the admission of all bona fide applicants, and subsequent Conventions represented all parts of the Solar System.
This site is full of FREE ebooks - Project Gutenberg Australia