« PreviousContinue »
REVIEW OF RECENT EVENTS
DEDICATION DAY LUNCHEON
ADDRESS OF HON. JOHN W. WEEKS
"Gentlemen, there is no limit to the latitude that may be indulged in by a presiding officer and others who speak on an occasion of this kind, but I have no delusions about my public career or about the future. I am like all the rest of you, and have been doing what all the rest of you would do if you had happened to be in my place, that is trying to apply to the public service the kind of principles and actions which you carry out in your everyday private life. You are not lacking in courage and ability or you would not be in the places where you You are simply doing the things which honest, upright, capable men do and I am trying to do the same things in public life. About the future I have no concern at all, because whatever may come, I shall be content to do, as in the past, what seemed the right thing to do whatever the conditions may have been or the position I have occupied. We have just finished the longest term of Congress in actual session which this country has ever seen. I belong to the minority party, so I have not been in sympathy with many of the things which have been undertaken, and yet, I have tried to modify and perfect the things with which I have been in sympathy and have tried consistently to defeat the things which I believed to be bad. The most flagrant example of the latter class was a bill against which I think Massachusetts sentiment was pretty unanimous, that is the Shipping Bill. It did not seem to me that it was wise to think of buying a belligerent's ships. It did not seem to me that the emergency could be overcome by the method which was contemplated, and it did seem to me that it was putting ourselves in the position, as a government, of owning and operating transportation lines, setting an example which might be extended in other fields, one which might be harmful, if not vital, to the life of the Republic.
"In this case, I do not think I can ever modify my views. I am opposed to all forms of Government ownership, Government operation, or Government interference with business, except in the case of a monopoly, I believe it will be harmful to the success of our people if such policies are undertaken.
THE NATIONAL RESERVE ACT
"Mr. Fish has suggested that I say something about the National Reserve Act. I seldom have opportunity to address so many representatives of predatory wealth, and so many who are anxious to have me stop so that they may go back and loan some of that wealth.
"I voted for the Federal Reserve Act as most of you know, after long months of consideration and work on details because I believed that
the banking system of this country had reached a point where we should adopt the methods which other first-class nations had adopted, and be able to prevent some of the troubles with which we are familiar. I very seldom vote for anything in Congress which has my full approval. If I could write the laws, I would write every one of them differently than the form they take when they finally pass. But there was so much that was good in the Federal Reserve Act, that the time seemed to have come when imperfect though it was it seemed to me it ought to be put on the statute books. I do not know whether it is working to your satisfaction. Quite likely it is not entirely. I know that some of you are criticising its operation. You will probably have ample opportunity to criticise it. It is not difficult to criticise an undertaking which is practically new, which is in an untried form, which has come into a system of banking already established, and which must interfere with some of the methods which have existed in the past. Any one can criticise a law under such conditions, but what you want to do is to criticise intelligently and have that criticism in such form that it may be used to correct features of the law to which it will apply. I expect the National Reserve Board will come to Congress from time to time and ask that this law be changed. They have already done so in one or two minor particulars.
EDUCATING THE PUBLIC
"Nobody knows better than those who have served in Congress, as ex-Governor Long and Judge Harris have, how difficult it is to pass fundamental legislation. It takes a long course of education and training. The public must be educated as well as the legislators themselves. had a good example of this statement brought to my attention in connection with this very act. Mr. Charles Warren, now an Assistant Attorney-General has, in his service, the conduct of matters relative to the Federal Reserve Act. He told me he had read the Senate hearings, which included some 3,200 pages, and was particularly struck with the development of the education of the members of the committee as those hearings went on. I can say to you with propriety that those hearings were very greatly prolonged for the express purpose of getting clearly into the minds of, not only the witnesses, but the members of the committee the fundamentally sound things which nearly every banker knows. One of the best witnesses who appeared before the committee was that young man sitting at the right-hand table, Mr. Blinn, who made an especially strong impression. The hearings were an education for the witnesses, for the members of the committee, and for the country at large, and was justified for that reason.
"After we had gone through all that educating process, the result of the study made by the Monetary Commission and by many others who have considered the subject, it would have been a mistake to have failed to pass a law because objection was made to some features of it, so for those reasons I was one of the few Republicans who saw my way clear to vote for a measure proposed by a Democratic administration.
not make apologies for it to either my Republican or my Democratic friends. I am not so much a partisan that I am not desirous of doing what seems for the best interests of the country, without regard to party advantages, and I am confident you will find, as time goes on, that we acted wisely and soundly in passing the Federal Reserve Act.
"I thank you very much for this opportunity to meet so many old and good friends. I wish I had an opportunity to do it more frequently, and if something does not happen this summer, I am looking forward to a long vacation in your midst."
IN THE AUDITORIUM
At the formal dedicatory exercises in the Auditorium, Senator Weeks said: "Mr. President and Gentlemen. I don't know how the kind of greeting which you have given me would make a poet and a humorist like Brother Bangs feel, but it brings cheer to the heart of a politician. (Laughter.) We have heard much to-night about stealing thunder. I have no thunder to steal, if I had any it would have been gone long ago. But I have had thoughts similar to those expressed by some of the other speakers. One of them with the views of Brother Fitzgerald. He noticed the same thing I had remarked, that he and I were sitting among Republicans. That Congressman Gallivan and former Congressman Foss were sitting on the other side of the room. I had thought of going over to their side of the table, not because it is necessary for me to prove my political fealty, but because I wanted to show my political fairness, and I should have gone if I had known just where to place Brother Foss. (Uproarious laughter and applause.) Perhaps under the circumstances, and I would do so if there were room, I should take my place in front of the table.
"To one who is accustomed to soliloquize in the United States Senate, in the presence of vacant benches and empty galleries, an audience like this requires more than the usual amount of assurance, and such an audience should be sufficient to indicate to any speaker that he should carefully prepare what he is going to say before he appears before it. If I had followed my inclination I should have done what these other gentlemen did, dictated what I was to say and have read it to you.
"But I had a lesson on that subject some years ago which I have not forgotten. We all of us get the most critical and the fairest advice that we have from any source from our wives. On one occasion I had prepared a paper and read it to an audience in my wife's presence. When we returned to our home I asked her what she thought of it. She said she could criticise it in three ways. One was I ought to speak extemporaneously; it sounded better. Second, that I read very badly and should never read a paper to an audience; and in the third place, she said: 'I thought that the paper you read to-night was not worth reading.'
"Now I do not wish it to be understood that I am going to deliver an address which the program says I am, because the hour is too late. I know you are anxious to go to your homes, but your courtesy will
compel you to remain in your seats for a little time while I indulge in a few thoughts that have come to me as applicable to this occasionwhich have not already been uttered.
"I joined this Club more than seven years ago because I was told that there was to be no politics, no religion, no condition in life of any kind which was to bar any man who was respectable from its membership. I had belonged to political clubs, and do now; I had belonged to social clubs and do now; I had belonged to other clubs of various kinds and do now. But in every case there was not that breadth of spirit and fellowship which I believed would obtain within the walls of this Club.
"I have had the opportunity of working with the common laborer in the field, and with all classes of men, including those who are called captains of industry, and I have had an opportunity to engage in public service with those who are representing their States in the United States Senate, up to those who represent the city of Newton in her Board of Aldermen. As a result I learned long ago that the wisest man can learn something from the most ignorant man, and that there is no one from whom we can not get some inspiration or some thought which will not be of benefit to us in our every-day affairs.
"And again, the ideas represented by this Club appealed to me because my whole principle in life had been to get people together, to exchange views so that we may see the things from the other fellow's viewpoint, and as a result have for him a better sense of justice and fairness than we could if we tried to view his contention from our own standpoint.
"I believe that policy represents common sense, and therefore that there is common sense as well as moral integrity behind the idea which was used in establishing this Club. We have progressed in this respect as we do in all others. We did not have such clubs twenty-five years ago. The conditions, perhaps, were different in those days. Men associated with those who belonged to the same faction or belonged to the same party, or to the same church, or to some other similar organization or system, as a result they did not get in touch with those who had dissimilar ideas which were created and developed by a different point of view.
"Now we are to be congratulated that we have this great organization in the city of Boston, and I have no doubt it has already done a great amount of good. I want to hold up to you a finger of warning, however, in one respect.
"You are moving into this splendid building. It seems adequate for every purpose for which it is to be used. Just now you have on a tremendous impetus. But there will come days when there may be a setback in the Club's enthusiasm; if so don't forget that the idea is sound and is worth following up to the end of time-that is, to bring all kinds of men in this community into harmony with one another. That policy should be carried into the broader affairs of national life, and it is on that phase of the subject that I want to say a word.
ABOLITION OF PREJUDICE
"Before I went to Congress I had very distinct prejudices against some men, and I am afraid prejudices against some sections of the country, but I had traveled more or less so that even then I believed that the wisest thing the Government could do would be to send its newly elected Senators and Representatives to every section of the country, that they might as far as possible become acquainted with the needs of other sections.
"We go to Washington, as a matter of fact, as the direct and personal attorneys of the State and district which we are elected to represent. We go there to carry out the ideas and the views and the wishes of the people who have elected us. But we find very soon that there are other men there equally honest, equally earnest, in representing their sections of the country. Very often the things which their people want are not exactly the things which you want or which the people of this New England section seem to require for their best interests, so we commence to harmonize our views. If we are broad and liberal in our handling of public questions we gradually modify our views so that we may help to do those things which are not essentially for the best interest of New England, but are for the best interest of all the people of the whole country.
"Very frequently, I have no doubt, your Senators and Representatives are criticised because of some action which they have taken, or some vote which they have cast, because it has seemed to you that they might have obtained action which would have been of greater interest or value to this particular Commonwealth or to the particular interest which you have in view. But you must remember at all times that if your Senators and Representatives are wise they are going to so act that they will harmonize and bring about the action which is going to be for the best interest of everybody, but if on the other hand they are going to cast selfish votes or do selfish acts, they are certainly going to lose their influence with their associates, and create a prejudice against the section where you live, which will be inimical to its interests producing a result, very much more serious than the vote which you may have criticised.
WARNING TO NEW ENGLAND
"I presume it is a delicate subject to mention, but I remember some years ago when almost everybody in Massachusetts was advocating the removal of the duty on hides. I went to Congress with the idea. that we ought to remove the duty from hides, which duty was part of the great fiscal policy of the Government. The people of Massachusetts did not ask that this fiscal policy should be revised, but that one item in it should be changed to benefit them, which, however, might not benefit some other people in some other section of the country. I am not going to argue whether it did benefit us or whether it did harm to other people