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In enacting the laws above enumerated the Congress proceeded on sane and conservative lines. Nothing revolutionary was attempted; but a common-sense and successful effort was made in the direction of seeing that corporations are so handled as to subserve the public good. The legislation was moderate. It was characterized throughout by the idea that we were not attacking corporations, but endeavoring to provide for doing away with any evil in them; that we drew the line against misconduct, not against wealth; gladly recognizing the great good done by the capitalist who alone, or in conjunction with his fellows, does his work along proper and legitimate lines. The purpose of the legislation, which purpose will undoubtedly be fulfilled, was to favor such a man when he does well, and to supervise his action only to prevent him from doing ill. Publicity can do no harm to the honest corporation. The only corporation that has cause to dread it is the corporation which shrinks from the light, and about the welfare of such corporations we need not be oversensitive. The work of the Department of Commerce and Labor has been conditioned upon this theory, of securing fair treatment alike for labor and for capital.
Capital and labor.
The consistent policy of the National Government, so far as it has the power, is to hold in check the unscrupulous man, whether employer or employee; but to refuse to weaken individual initiative or to hamper or cramp the industrial development of the country. We recognize that this is an era of federation and combination, in which great capitalistic corporations and labor unions have become factors of tremendous importance in all industrial centers. Hearty recognition is given the far-reaching, beneficent work which has been accomplished through both corporations and unions, and the line as between different corporations, as between different unions, is drawn as it is between different individuals; that is, it is drawn on conduct, the effort being to treat both organized capital and organized labor alike; asking nothing save that the interest of each shall be brought into harmony with the interest of the general public, and that the conduct of each shall conform to the fundamental rules of obedience to law, of individual freedom, and of justice and fair dealing towards all. Whenever either corporation, labor union, or individual disregards the law or acts in a spirit of arbitrary and tyrannous interference with the rights of others, whether corporations or individuals, then where the Federal Government has jurisdiction, it will see to it that the misconduct is stopped, paying not the slightest heed to the position or power of the corporation, the union or the
individual, but only to one vital fact—that is, the question whether or not the conduct of the individual or aggregate of individuals is in accordance with the law of the land. Every man must be guaranteed his liberty and his right to do as he likes with his property or his labor, so long as he does not infringe the rights of others. No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we require him to obey it. to the law is demanded as a right; not asked as a favor.
We have cause as a nation to be thankful for the steps that have been so successfully taken to put these principles into effect. The progress has been by evolution, not by revolution. Nothing radical has been done; the action has been both moderate and resolute. Therefore the work will stand. There shall be no backward step. If in the working of the laws it proves desirable that they shall at any point be expanded or amplified, the amendment can be made as its desirability is shown. Meanwhile they are being administered with judgment, but with insistence upon obedience to them; and their need has been emphasized in signal fashion by the events of the past year.
Government receipts and expenditures.
From all sources, exclusive of the postal service, the receipts of the Government for the last fiscal year aggregated $560,396,674. The expenditures for the same period were $506,099,007, the surplus for the fiscal year being $54,297,667. The indications are that the surplus for the present fiscal year will be very small, if indeed there be any surplus. From July to November the receipts from customs were, approximately, nine million dollars less than the receipts from the same source for a corresponding portion of last year. Should this decrease continue at the same ratio throughout the fiscal year, the surplus would be reduced by, approximately, thirty million dollars. Should the revenue from customs suffer much further decrease during the fiscal year, the surplus would vanish. A large surplus is certainly undesirable. Two years ago the war taxes were taken off with the express intention of equalizing the governmental receipts and expenditures, and though the first year thereafter still showed a surplus, it now seems likely that a substantial equality of revenue and expenditure will be attained. Such being the case it is of great moment both to exercise care and economy in appropriations, and to scan sharply any change in our fiscal revenue system which may reduce our income. The need of strict economy in our expenditures is emphasized by the fact that we can not afford to be parsimonious in providing for what is essential to our national well-being. Careful
economy wherever possible will alone prevent our income from falling below the point required in order to meet our genuine needs. The integrity of our currency is beyond question, and under present conditions it would be unwise and unnecessary to attempt a reconstruction of our entire monetary system. The same liberty should be granted the Secretary of the Treasury to deposit customs receipts as is granted him in the deposit of receipts from other sources. In my Message of December 2, 1902, I called attention to certain needs of the financial situation, and I again ask the consideration of the Congress for these questions.
Needs of financial situation.
Conference between gold
During the last session of the Congress, at the suggestion of a joint note from the Republic of Mexico and the Imperial Government of China, and in harmony with an act of the Congress appropriating $25,000 to pay the expenses thereof, a commission was appointed to confer with the standard and silver- principal European countries in the hope that some plan might be devised whereby a fixed rate of exchange could be assured between the goldstandard countries and the silver-standard countries. This commission has filed its preliminary report, which has been made public. I deem it important that the commission be continued, and that a sum of money be appropriated sufficient to pay the expenses of its further labors.
A majority of our people desire that steps be taken in the interests of American shipping, so that we may once more resume our former position in the ocean carrying trade. But hitherto the differences of opinion as to the proper method of reaching this end have been so wide that it has proved impossible to secure the adoption of any particular scheme. Having in view these facts, I recommend that the Congress direct the Secretary of the Navy, the Postmaster-General, and the Secretary of Commerce and Labor, associated with such a representation from the Senate and House of Representatives as the Congress in its wisdom may designate, to serve as a commission for the purpose of investigating and reporting to the Congress at its next session what legislation is desirable or necessary for the development of the American merchant marine and American commerce, and incidentally of a national ocean mail service of adequate auxiliary naval cruisers and naval reserves. While such a measure is desirable in any event, it is especially desirable at this time, in view of the fact that our present governmental contract for ocean
mail with the American Line will expire in 1905. Our ocean mail act was passed in 1891. In 1895 our 20-knot transatlantic mail line was equal to any foreign line. Since then the Germans have put on 23-knot steamers, and the British have contracted for 24-knot steamers. Our service should equal the best. If it does not, the commercial public will abandon it. If we are to stay in the business it ought to be with a full understanding of the advantages to the country on one hand, and on the other with exact knowledge of the cost and proper methods of carrying it on. Moreover, lines of cargo ships are of even more importance than fast mail lines; save so far as the latter can be depended upon to furnish swift auxiliary cruisers in time of war. The establishment of new lines of cargo ships to South America, to Asia, and elsewhere would be much in the interest of our commercial expansion.
We can not have too much immigration of the right kind, and we should have none at all of the wrong kind. The need is to devise some system by which undesirable immigrants shall be kept out entirely, while desirable immigrants are properly distributed throughout the country. At present some districts which need immigrants have none; and in others, where the population is already congested, immigrants come in such numbers as to depress the conditions of life for those already there. During the last two years the immigration service at New York has been greatly improved, and the corruption
Investigation of Immigration Service at New York.
and inefficiency which formerly obtained there have been eradicated. This service has just been investigated by a committee of New York citizens of high standing, Messrs. Arthur v. Briesen, Lee K. Frankel, Eugene A. Philbin, Thomas W. Hynes, and Ralph Trautman. Their report deals with the whole situation at length, and concludes with certain recommendations for administrative and legislative action. It is now receiving the attention of the Secretary of Commerce and Labor.
The special investigation of the subject of naturalization under the direction of the Attorney-General, and the consequent prosecutions, reveal a condition of affairs calling for the immediate attention of the Congress. Forgeries and perjuries of shameless and flagrant character have been perpetrated, not only in the dense centers of population, but throughout the country; and it is established beyond doubt that very many so-called citizens of the United States have no title whatever to that right, and are asserting and enjoying the
benefits of the same through the grossest frauds. It is never to be forgotten that citizenship is, to quote the words recently used by the Supreme Court of the United States, an "inestimable heritage," whether it proceeds from birth within the country or is obtained by naturalization; and we poison the sources of our national character and strength at the fountain, if the privilege is claimed and exercised without right, and by means of fraud and corruption. The body politic can not be sound and healthy if many of its constituent members claim their standing through the prostitution of the high right and calling of citizenship. It should mean something to become a citizen of the United States; and in the process no loophole whatever should be left open to fraud.
The methods by which these frauds-now under full investigation with a view to meting out punishment and providing adequate remedies—are perpetrated, include many variations of procedure by which false certificates of citizenship are forged in their entirety; or genuine certificates fraudulently or collusively obtained in blank are filled in by the criminal conspirators; or certificates are obtained on fraudulent statements as to the time of arrival and residence in this country; or imposition and substitution of another party for the real petitioner occur in court; or certificates are made the subject of barter and sale and transferred from the rightful holder to those not entitled to them; or certificates are forged by erasure of the original names and the insertion of the names of other persons not entitled to the saine. It is not necessary for me to refer here at large to the causes leading to this state of affairs. The desire for naturalization is heartily to be commended where it springs from a sincere and permanent intention to become citizens, and a real appreciation of the privilege. But it is a source of untold evil and trouble where it is traceable to selfish and dishonest motives, such as the effort by artificial and improper means, in wholesale fashion to create voters who are readymade tools of corrupt politicians, or the desire to evade certain labor laws creating discriminations against alien labor. All good citizens, whether naturalized or native born, are equally interested in protecting our citizenship against fraud in any form, and, on the other hand, in affording every facility for naturalization to those who in good faith desire to share alike our privileges and our responsibilities.
The Federal grand jury lately in session in New York City dealt with this subject and made a presentment which states the situation briefly and forcibly and contains important suggestions for the consideration of the Congress. This presentment is included as an appendix to the report of the Attorney-General.