Words That Men Live By
Henry Cabot Lodge, Sr. (1888)
BROOKLYN, N.Y., Dec. 21, 1888 - One of this country's most brilliant younger statesmen, Congressman Henry Cabot Lodge, of Massachusetts, tonight used the occasion of the annual dinner of the New England Society of this old New York city, to appeal for an Americanism unhyphenated by divided loyalties and un-eroded by Communist beliefs.
Warning that the recent urgent problems aroused by the Civil War, and now happily settled, have been followed by others equally as challenging, Mr. Lodge defined modern Americanism as one that gives complete freedom to all races and creeds, but refuses the right of any element to dominate society. It also, he said, "sets its face rightfully against the doctrines of the Anarchist and the Communist, who seek to solve the social problems not by patient endeavor, but by brutal destruction."
The Congressman's warning against communism referred most obviously to the sharp intellectual debates that have been aroused in the past year with the appearance in English translation of Karl Marx's first volume of The Communist Manifesto, already - twenty years old in its original German, and further comments caused by the second and third volumes, still printed only in German but widely read by scholars.
The other section of his speech, denouncing hyphenated Americans, reflects more generally the profound Republican party doctrine which the descendant of numerous old New England families has carried into an already brilliant political career, on top of his distinctions-while not yet 40 years of age-as lawyer, historian, philosopher and editor.
One year after he had finished a three-degree series of studies at Harvard, in 1877, Mr. Lodge published a distinguished biography of George Cabot, his great-grandfather. He followed this with other biographies of Alexander Hamilton in 1882, and of Daniel Webster in 1883. Only two years later he produced in 1885 a monumental nine-volume series of newly edited papers of Hamilton, and has completed a biography of George Washington which is ready for publication next year.
The Pilgrim and the Puritan whom we honor tonight were men who did a great deal of work in the world. They had their faults and their - shortcomings, but they were not slothful in business and they were most fervent in spirit. They formed prosperous commonwealths and built on government by law and not of men. They carried the light of learning undimmed through the early years of settlement. They planted a school-house in every village, and fought always a good fight for ordered liberty and for human rights. Their memories shall not perish, for"the actions of the just
smell sweet and blossom in the dust ..."
...The war for the Union and the issues springing from it have been settled. But all the time other questions have been growing up with the growth of the nation and are now coming to the front for decision. It is our duty to settle them, not only in the right way, but in a thorough American fashion.
By American I do not mean that which had a brief political existence more than 30 years ago. That movement was based on race and sect, and was therefore thoroughly un-American, and failed, as all un-American movements have failed in this country. True Americanism is opposed utterly to any political divisions resting on race and religion. To the race or to the sect, which as such attempts to take possession of the politics or the public education of the country, true Americanism says, Hands off!
The American idea is a free church in a free state, and a free and un-sectarian public school in every ward and in every village, with its doors wide open to the children of all races and of every creed. It goes still further, and frowns upon the constant attempt to divide our people according to origin or extraction. Let every man honor and love the land of his birth and the race from which he springs and keep their memory green. It is a pious and honorable duty. But let us have done with British-Americans and Irish-Americans and so on, and all be Americans - nothing more and nothing less. If a man is going to be an American at all let him be so without any qualifying adjectives, and if he is going to be something else, let him drop the word American from his personal description.
As there are sentiments and beliefs like these to be cherished, so there are policies which must be purely and wholly American and to the "manner born" if we would have them right and successful. True Americanism recognizes the enormous gravity of the social and labor problems which confront us. It believes that the safety of the republic depends upon well paid labor and the highest possible average of individual well-being. It believes that the right solution of this problem should be sought without rest and without stay, and that no device public or private of legislation or of individual effort, which can tend to benefit and elevate the condition of the great wage-earning masses of the country, should be left untried.
It sets its face rightfully against the doctrines of the Anarchist and the Communist, who seek to solve the social problems not by patient endeavor, but by brutal destruction. "That way madness lies," - and such attempts and such teachings, barbarous and un-American as they are, must and will be put down with a strong and unflinching hand, in the name of the home and the church and the school and all that makes up civilization and the possibility of human progress.
~ Postlogue ~
As durable as he was brilliant, Henry Cabot Lodge was a political figure of unbroken and never-diminished energy up to the time of his death in 1924. He became a Senator in 1893 and only death removed him from his seat.
Senator Lodge ended his literary endeavors with the biography of George Washington, except for a volume of reminiscences of his youth published in 1913. As a politician, he made great contributions to development of an American ideal, and in his latter years became the center of heated controversies.
Like so many men grown old in public office he saw his convictions never greatly changing in themselves but moving him in the public scene from the position of young liberal to old conservative.
As a senior Republican strategist and Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he opposed the Versailles Peace Treaty and the League of Nations, following World War I, when the fury of debate was carried by younger colleagues, notably Borah.
He opposed his own party leader, President Calvin Coolidge, in attempts by the latter to gain adherence by the United States to the World Court.
In domestic affairs, his advocacy of the "gold standard" eventually gave to the Democrats one of their greatest is- sues, and brought to the forefront a man whose gifts of oratory alone left an indelible impress upon the thinking of America - William Jennings Bryan.
Within a generation, another Lodge -namesake and grandson of this one -would make another national mark, first as Senator and then as Chief of the United States Delegation to the United Nations.Printable version