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THE COURAGE OF WOODROW WILSON
Edward Keating, journalist and statesman, has represented Colorado in Congress for several terms. The following is part of a speech made by him on March 31, 1914.
[Introduction. On the thirty-first of March, 1914, when the Lower House of Congress had under consideration a bill to repeal the act granting free tolls to coastwise shipping at Panama, Congressman Keating of Colorado spoke as follows:]
On Saturday last, Mr. Speaker, the distinguished gentleman from New York entertained the House with a revival of that sterling old American melodrama entitled “Twisting the British Lion's Tail,” with himself in the stellar rôle of tail twister in chief. As a curtain raiser for the main event he gave us "Me and Woodrow Wilson.” “Twisting the British Lion's Tail” is high tragedy, but "Me and Woodrow Wilson” is low comedy. “Twisting the British Lion's Tail” has always been a prime favorite with political vaudevillians. father's time it was used as a companion piece for that other political melodrama entitled “Waving the Bloody Shirt.” The present generation has seen little of it,
and when the distinguished gentleman from Kansas dragged it out of the attic of discarded issues the other day, it seemed to me that the odor of moth balls clung around it still. James G. Blaine once tried to win the presidency with it. Roscoe Conklin essayed the leading rôle on one or two occasions, but statesmen who valued the golden opinion of posterity, rejected it as something unworthy of their talents. Let us emulate their example.
But the curtain raiser "Me and Woodrow Wilson” is something new. We are told that it is the product of the gentleman's own brain. He wrote every word of it himself. You will recall how, protruding his chest to look as much as possible like the hero of San Juan, he declared that he did not question the veracity of the President of the United States. That was a most generous concession, and I thank the gentleman for his forbearance. From the way he started I imagined he would slam the President of the United States into the Ananias Club before he had the floor five minutes.
While the gentleman would not question the President's veracity, he tells us he does question his judgment and courage.
Question the courage of Woodrow Wilson? Ah, my countrymen, that was a jocular remark.
jocular remark. In this day and age the man who questions the courage of Woodrow Wilson must either be a humorist or be willing to write himself down as ignorant of the history of his own times.
I would remind the gentleman and his associates on the other side of the aisle that the distinguished gentleman who now occupies the White House is the same Woodrow Wilson, who as President of Princeton
University tore down the walls of caste and drove snobs and snobacracy from that great institution of learning. This is the same Woodrow Wilson who, as Governor of New Jersey risked his whole political career to drive a corrupt boss from the councils of his party. This is the same Woodrow Wilson who, when the Underwood Tariff Bill was under discussion in the House, overthrew the Sugar Trust and the Woolen Trust, the twin trusts that for half a century had been so powerful that the mighty Theodore never dared to raise a finger against them; and Taft confessed himself impotent in the presence of their influence.
This is the same Woodrow Wilson who, after sixteen years of Republican shilly-shallying, directed the hosts of Democracy in their assault on the citadel of the Money Trust, and transferred the money power from the Stillmans and the Bakers, to the hands of the representatives of the American people.
This is the same Woodrow Wilson who, when Mexico was rent by revolution, stopped his ears to the clangor of the Jingoes and refused to crimson the deserts of Mexico with the blood of the flower of American youth in order to protect the smelters of the Guggenheims and the ranches of the Hearsts. If
any fact has been established by the events of the last twelve months it is that in the advocacy of what he believes to be right, Woodrow Wilson fears neither man nor devil, foreign foe, domestic enemy, or party traitor.
Mr. Speaker, our Republican friends gleefully prophesied that the Panama toll question would be the rock
on which Democracy would split. But we are not disturbed by their prophesies.
Gentlemen were equally certain that the forces of Democracy would go to pieces during the tariff fight. Again the prophets were confounded.
Nothing daunted, the prophets of evil declared that we should surely meet our Waterloo when we attempted to pass a currency bill. How could we hope to succeed where they could not make good? But we did succeed, and the best banking and currency bill ever enacted by an American Congress is now on the statute books.
The gentlemen on the other side of the aisle prayed for a panic with more ardor than the farmers of Kansas ever prayed for rain. But the panic did not come, and in despair they have turned to attack the administration's policy.
Like the poor devil who seeks water in Death Valley, they have pursued every mirage which could be fashioned by brains unbalanced by hope “too long deferred.” And on each occasion, just as their fevercracked lips were about to touch the limpid stream which flowed down a grassy bank beneath the shadow of a great rock, the vision vanished and they have been left to perish in the sands of disappointment.
I esteem it a great privilege, Mr. Speaker, to be permitted to cast this vote this day. When I return to my constituents I want to be able to say to them that on this eventful day, when the battle lines were forming, I found on one hand the black flag of special privilege and under it the remnants of an army which once followed Cannon, Barnes, and Penrose; that on the other