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Title: Address of Hon. Theodore Roosevelt, delivered at Boston, Mass., Saturday, April 27, 1912
Author: Roosevelt, Theodore
Language: English
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          62d Congress }                        {Document
          _2d Session_ }        SENATE          {No. 616

                        HON. THEODORE ROOSEVELT
                           AT BOSTON, MASS.
                       SATURDAY, APRIL 27, 1912


                         PRESENTED BY MR. REED
                April 29, 1912.――Ordered to be printed

                      GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE



My friends and fellow citizens, men and women of Massachusetts, men and
women of Boston, I am glad indeed to be in your old historic State,
your old historic city, this evening to plead for a cause which is
preeminently the cause for which Massachusetts has stood throughout
her existence as a colony and as a Commonwealth. [Cheers.] And
friends――friends, I shall make my appeal to you in the name of every
man and every principle for whom and for which Massachusetts has stood
in the heroic days of the past. [Applause and cheers.]

Now, friends, last night I felt obliged to answer at length the attacks
made upon me by Mr. Taft, but I do not wish this contest to be put
upon the basis of a contest of personalities [Good! good! and cheers]
between myself and Mr. Taft, and to-night I shall only allude to Mr.
Taft just as far as it is necessary for me in order to illustrate the
principles for which he and I respectively stand. [Applause.]


And those allusions I shall make right at the outset, so that I can
get down to the part of my speech in which I shall strive, however
feebly, to put before you the principles which I think are at stake in
this contest. For mind you, friends, I hold that this is infinitely
more than a mere faction fight in the Republican Party. [A voice:
“That’s where you’re right.”] I hold that this is infinitely more than
any ordinary party contest, for I claim that we who stand for the
principles of progressive Republicanism [applause and cheers]――that
we who stand for making the principles of Abraham Lincoln living
principles applied to the living issues of to-day――I hold that we are
fighting not only for every good Republican, but for every good citizen
in the United States, whoever he may be. [Cheers.]

And now at the outset, to dispose of the only matters that I have to
take up in connection with Mr. Taft, I am more fortunate than Mr. Taft
in my friends. [A voice: “You bet your life.” Cheers.]

                   WILLING TO LOSE WITH A GOOD MAN.

When Mr. Taft came here on Thursday and I came here on Friday, Mr. Taft
came here having lost the State of Illinois; I came here having lost
the State of New Hampshire. [Laughter.] In Illinois Mr. Taft’s chief
lieutenant had been Mr. Lorimer. [Hisses.] In New Hampshire my chief
supporter, chief lieutenant, had been Gov. Bass. [Great applause.]

And Mr. Taft came here to explain that he didn’t like Mr. Lorimer
[laughter and applause], having kept his dislike strictly private
and confidential [laughter] until Mr. Lorimer lost out in Illinois.

And I came here to say that, win or lose, I am with Gov. Bass every
time, and that I count it the highest privilege to have had him as my
champion, and I would rather lose with him than win with the forces
allied against me. [Great applause and cries of “Bully.”]

                      FOUGHT LORIMER IN ILLINOIS.

Now, just one more moment about Mr. Lorimer.

I know his record well. Mr. Taft was originally, a year and a quarter
ago, against Mr. Lorimer, and at that time he requested me not to
assault Mr. Lorimer in public for fear it would help Mr. Lorimer.

And accordingly I kept quiet for several months, until I became
convinced that the assault against Mr. Lorimer was going on with such
excessive secrecy [laughter] that neither Mr. Lorimer nor any of his
friends knew that there was an assault at all. [Laughter.] And then
I took up the cudgels that I had dropped and I attacked Mr. Lorimer
again. [Applause.] And I didn’t attack him in Massachusetts after
the Illinois primary; I attacked him in Illinois before the Illinois
primary. [Applause.] I was informed before I went there that I ought
not to attack Mr. Lorimer because he had many friends, some of whom
“intended to vote for me,” and that I would alienate their support. And
I answered to them that I would rather lose every delegate in Illinois
than by silence connive at the wickedness of which Mr. Lorimer had been

And I fought it out fair and square on that issue from one end of
Illinois to the other. [A voice: “You did.”] And I won. [Applause.]

And I got every delegate in Illinois excepting two, the two from the
district which Mr. Lorimer carries in his waistcoat pocket, and those
two are for Mr. Taft. And, friends, it would not have been possible
for me to have supported Mr. Lorimer at all――to have acquiesced in his
support of me; but if it had been, and I had been going to repudiate
him, I would have repudiated him before the Illinois primary and not
afterwards. [Applause.]

                        THE MAN FOR THE BOSSES.

I have got a couple of columns arranged parallel here, one containing
a dozen of my representative supporters and the other containing the
dozen foremost supporters of Mr. Taft.

There has been a question raised by Mr. Taft as to whom the bosses were
for. I will read you these two lists, and I will ask you to judge for
yourselves. [A voice: “Exactly.” Laughter.] I will read you――[pounding
at entrance]――there seem to be some gentlemen who would like to come
in. I will read you the dozen of my supporters first: Gov. Hadley, Gov.
Bass, Gov. Stubbs, Gov. Johnson, Senator Beveridge, Senator Clark,
Senator Bristow, Frank Heney, Gifford Pinchot, Mr. Garfield, Judge Ben
Lindsey, Jacob Riis.

[A voice: “How about Perkins?”]

Perkins? He is for me. You can’t――I will tell you. Wait a minute. You
can’t put a question to me that it will embarrass me to answer for one
moment. [Great applause. A voice: “Go to him! Go to him!”]

                        RECORD IS OPEN TO ALL.

Wait a moment. I know that kind well. And you can guarantee that any
supporter of mine comes out in the open and supports me. [Applause.]
And you can guarantee also that after he has supported me, and I
have accepted his support, I won’t repudiate him afterwards. [Great
applause. A voice: “That is a square deal.”]

And finally, you can guarantee this, that you can search from the top
to the bottom of my record in the past and of my record in the future
and you will never find that I have done or am doing or ever shall
do for Mr. Perkins or for any other human being [applause]――wait a
minute――or for any other human being one thing that I wouldn’t tell
to this audience in its entire details. [A voice: “We believe it.”

[Voices: “Put him out.”] Not a bit. I am glad to have him stay in.
Don’t put him out. [Applause.]

                         HISSES ON THE BOSSES.

And now I have given you the names of my supporters. Here are the names
of a dozen representative supporters of Mr. Taft: Senator Lorimer
[hisses], Senator Penrose [hisses], Senator Gallinger [hisses], Senator
Guggenheim [hisses], Senator Aldrich [hisses], Senator Stephenson
[hisses], Mr. Kealing of Indiana [hisses], Mr. Barnes of New York
[hisses], Mr. Cox of Ohio [hisses], Mr. Cannon [hisses], Mr. Ballinger
[hisses], and finally, to balance Frank Heney in California, Mr.
Patrick Calhoun [hisses], whom Frank Heney tried to put into the

Now, friends, Mr. Taft has said that I have accepted the support of
bosses. So I have, when they went my way; but I never went their
way. [Applause.] Either they had to go my way or we parted company.

Understand me, friends, and make no thought of Mr. Taft. I think he
means well, but he means feebly, and he is surrounded by men who are
neither well meaning nor feeble. [Applause.]

And now, friends, that is all I have got to say of the personalities in
this contest. I have not been interested in them in any shape or way. I
have no personal feeling whatever in the matter. I will support any man
as long as that man renders service to the people of the United States.
[Great applause and cheers.] And when he ceases rendering service I
shall cease to support him. [Great applause.]

                        APPEAL TO THE PATRIOTS.

And now, friends, to you men and women of Massachusetts, I wish to make
as strong an appeal as I know how. I come from another State. I have
no New England blood in me, but nine-tenths of the men in our nation’s
past to whom I have looked up most have been men of New England blood.
[Cries of “Hear! Hear!” and applause.] And I ask Massachusetts now
to stand as Massachusetts has ever stood, to stand in the van of the
forward movement and not to be dragged reluctantly onward behind the
other States that go forward. [Applause.]

Massachusetts stood by Abraham Lincoln. [Applause.] Massachusetts gave
her mighty support to the rail splitter from Illinois when he announced
as his cardinal doctrines the right of the people to rule, and their
good sense which would so guide them as to bring nearer the day when
social and industrial justice should prevail in this Republic of ours.

                        THE REAL KIND OF FIGHT.

And I ask Massachusetts to support us in this campaign, not because it
is easy, but because it is hard. [Applause.] I appeal to you because
this is the only kind of a fight worth going into, the kind of fight
where the victory is worth winning and where the struggle is difficult.

Here in Massachusetts, as elsewhere, we have against us the enormous
preponderance of the forces that win victory in ordinary political
contests. [A voice: “They won’t do it this time.”]

We have against us 95 per cent of the old regular political leaders.
We have against us 95 per cent of the great corporations, which either
legitimately fear that we would not tolerate their benefiting by
privilege or else which are merely panic-struck and fail to realize
that we will do absolute justice――just as much justice to the big man
as the little man, but no more. [Cheers.]

                      SILK STOCKINGS AGAINST HIM.

Friends, we have against us also, I am sorry to say, 95 per cent of the
respectable, amiable, silk-stocking vote. [Laughter.]

And it is amusing to see how exactly the conditions now parallel the
conditions 55 years ago, when Abraham Lincoln was making his fight for
the Union and for freedom.

After his defeat by Douglas in 1858, in November of that year, he wrote
a letter to a friend, dating the letter at Springfield, Ill. It’s a
letter I should like to have framed at this moment in every house in
the Back Bay. [Laughter.] He said:

    In the late contest we had with us a considerable proportion
    of the plain Democracy, but we lost almost all the old silk
    stocking, exclusive Whigery. I do not mean that we lost all the
    Whigs, but only those of the nice, exclusive, silk-stocking
    type. [Laughter.]

Now that was written by Abraham Lincoln 54 years ago, and it has just
happened in your own city, and in mine, and in the country generally at
the present moment.

In consequence, friends, we have against us the money; we have
against us the politicians; we have against us every newspaper that
can be reached or controlled [hisses] by the money power [cries of
“right,” and applause]; we have against us the timid silk-stocking
element――understand, not the silk-stocking man who feels competent to
hold his own in the turmoil of actual life, not the silk-stocking man
who is content to go out into the world and take his chances as any
other man takes his.

We have got that man with us. We have got that man with us. [Applause.]
We have against us only the silk-stocking man who is not quite
confident enough in himself to believe in himself, who is not quite
confident enough in himself to believe that he can hold his own
with the rest of his fellow-Americans without advantage on his part.

We have these men that I have spoken of against us, and we have not
got anybody with us except the people. [Great applause.] And on next
Tuesday I want the people――I want you――to go to the polls and vote the
same way you shout. [Cries of “you bet, you,” and applause.]

In Massachusetts, as in Illinois, and as in most other States this
year, it is such a contest in the civic field as you saw in the
military field in 1775 and 1776.

It is a contest between the Minute Men and the mercenaries. [Applause].
And I want to show that in civic life you are competent to do the
work that your forefathers have done; done with honor in the past.

                          LOWELL’S PROPHECY.

Now, friends, there has been an element of comedy to me in being held
up in Massachusetts as an anarchistic agitator, when all that I have
been doing has been to try to reduce to practice in the present day
what the greatest men of Massachusetts have preached in past time.

I have got here, and I am going to read to you, just a few lines from
Lowell and then two lines from Emerson――Lowell’s being written nearly
60 years ago and Emerson’s 50 years ago. Lowell’s run:

    New times demand new measures and new men;
    The old advances and in time outgrows
    The laws that in our fathers’ day were best.
    And doubtless after us some purer scheme will be
    Shaped out by wiser men than we,
    Made wiser by the steady growth of truth.
    My soul is not a palace of the past,
    Where outworn creeds like Rome’s great Senate quake,
    Hearing afar the vandals’ trumpet hoarse
    That shakes old systems with a thunder fit.
    The time is ripe and rotten ripe for change.   [Applause.]
    Then let it come; I have no dread
    Of what is called for by the instinct of mankind.

[Cries of “Good!”]

Friends, that is what Lowell wrote in 1856. It is what we could put on
our banners now in 1912.

And I appeal to the Massachusetts of Lowell’s time, to the Massachusetts
that believed in the Bigelow papers, to the Massachusetts that sent
young Lowell and Shaw, that sent Hallowell and so many of your people to
the front in the Civil War.

I appeal to that Massachusetts to stand loyal now to the memories of
Massachusetts’ great past.

And now just wait――only two more lines of poetry. One of the curious
traits of many of our good friends who are at the moment our opponents
is that they are entirely willing to pay heed to the loftiest
democratic sentiments if you will only keep them as sentiments and not
try to reduce them to prose.

                        EMERSON AND THE PEOPLE.

I think I could get every worthy citizen of the Back Bay who at
present feels the deepest distrust of us to applaud with tepid decorum
[laughter] the following two lines of Emerson, provided only that I
merely read them, in the course of a lecture on Emerson, and did not
ask to translate them into action. [Laughter and applause.] The lines

    For fishers and choppers and plowmen
    Shall constitute a State.

He is describing the birth of Massachusetts, the birth of the United
States, and he describes this country as being foreordained through
the ages to show the kings, the aristocracy, the powers of privilege
in the Old World, that here in the New World we could have a true and
real democracy, a democracy where fishers and choppers and plowmen
constitute a State. [Applause and cheers.]

As I say, friends, I could get decorous applause in any part of the
Back Bay for that sentiment so long as I treated it purely as poetry of
the past and not as politics of the present. [Applause.]

                          “THE MOB” WHO RULE.

But when I ask that the choppers, the plowmen, the fishers be given
the absolute, the real control over their Government: when I ask that
the farmers, the factory workers, the retail merchants, the young
professional men, the railroad men, all the average citizens, be given
the real control of this Government of theirs, be given the right to
nominate their own candidates, be given the right to supervise the
acts of all their servants――the minute I do that, I am told that I am
appealing to the momentary passion of the mob [laughter and applause],
that fishers and choppers and plowmen are all right in poetry but
when I try to put them into politics they become a mob cursed with
an inability to act except under the impulse of momentary passion.
[Laughter and applause.]

Now, friends, in my life, according to the strength that has been
given me, I have always striven measurably to realize every ideal I
have ever possessed, and I hold with deepest conviction that there is
nothing worse in any man than to profess a high ideal as a mere matter
of intellectual pleasure and in practice to make no effort to realize
that ideal. [Applause.] I hold that it is discreditable to us as a
people, discreditable to you of Massachusetts, if you praise Emerson’s
and Lowell’s lines in the abstract and fail to do your best to endeavor
actually to realize them in the present. [Applause.]

                         THE PEOPLE NO JUDGES.

All I am trying to do is to practically put into effect now in America,
in 1912, the principles which your great leaders in Massachusetts, your
great statesmen of the past, your great writers, your poets of the
past, preached 30 and 50 and 70 years ago. [Applause.] That is all that
I am trying to do.

And, friends, I now wish to put before you just what I mean by one of
my proposals which has attracted the most criticism, and the people
will catch up with it in the end.

In different parts of this Union, in different States, we have had very
different qualities of public service. Nowhere have the differences
been greater than in the judiciary.

                      MASSACHUSETTS JUDGES GOOD.

Here in Massachusetts you have had, I believe, a very unusually high
quality of service from your judges. [Applause.]

When I was President, one of the revolutionary things that I did, of
which you have heard so much, was, without any precedent――to put on the
Supreme Court of the Nation two judges from Massachusetts. [Applause.]

It was revolution; it had never been done before, but I should not
think that Massachusetts would attack me because of it. [Laughter and
applause.] I put on those two men――one of them Mr. Moody, my Attorney
General [applause], because I had become convinced from my association
with him that he not only knew law but knew life [applause], and that
he had a realization of the needs and of the ideals of the great
majority of his fellow citizens, the men and women who go to make up
the average of the citizenship of the United States.

I put on Mr. Holmes, then chief justice here [applause], because
studying his decisions I had grown to feel that he, too, sympathized
with the American people, and, what was even more important, realized
that the American people must decide for themselves, and not have
anyone else decide for them, what their ideas of fundamental justice,
as expressed in law, ought to be. [Applause.]

                        THE BAY STATE EXAMPLE.

And when I made my Columbus speech the State that I held up as an
example to other States in the matter of the treatment of its judiciary
was Massachusetts. [Applause.] Now, from reading the Massachusetts
papers you would have thought that I was holding up the Massachusetts
courts to obloquy.

I was holding them up for imitation elsewhere and I was advocating that
in other States you should exercise the same type of supervision over
your courts as Massachusetts has exercised.

But that was not all. I am dealing not with Massachusetts only; I am
dealing with the 40 or 50 Commonwealths that go to make up this country
as a whole.

                          THE TRAITOR JUDGES.

In some of these Commonwealths there have been put on the bench judges
who have betrayed the interests of the people. [“Right!”]

If you doubt my words, you study the history of the cases in California
in which Frank Heney was engaged, you study the history of the cases in
Missouri in which Folk and Hadley were engaged. In those two States,
gentlemen, I would have gone to any necessary length to take off the
bench the judges who had betrayed the interests of justice and of the
plain people. [Applause.]

In certain other States, my own State of New York, the great State of
Illinois, we were fronted with an entirely different situation. In
those States, as far as I know, there was no trouble with the judges
being corrupt.

In New York I know that the court of appeals is composed of upright,
well-meaning men.

                       DO NOT KNOW VITAL NEEDS.

But the courts in those States have been composed of men who know
nothing whatever of the vital needs of the great bulk of their
fellow Americans, and who, unlike your courts in Massachusetts, have
endeavored to impose their own outworn philosophy of life upon the
millions of their fellow citizens.

Now, I want to give you certain examples, concrete cases of just what
I mean, because I have always found that a concrete case explains my
position better than a general statement.

Almost as soon as I left Harvard I went into the New York Legislature.
And my education began. [Laughter.] Now, I did not come to my present
position as a result of study in the library, in the closet.

I came to my present position as the result of living in a world of
men. It is because I have associated with them, I have worked with
them, and I know my fellow Americans in many a different part of this
Union and in all grades of life. [Applause.] I have worked with them.

                        TO THE MEN OF THE WEST.

Gentlemen, I am just going to give these one or two examples just to
show you what I mean; that is all. For instance, I lived out West, in
the cow country, quite a time, the short-grass country [laughter], and
we would ship trainloads of cattle East. I and three or four other men
who were going would go in the caboose at the end of the cattle train.

If the train stopped we would jump out with our poles, and we would run
up along the length of the cars to poke up the cattle that had lain
down, because if we let them lie down the others would trample them to

And usually about the time we got near the engine the train would start
again. Then we would have to climb up on the first car and dance along
back from car to car until we got to the last car and climb down to the

                          KNOWS THE BRAKEMAN.

Now, once or twice I had to perform that voyage in a late fall or early
winter night with snow on the roofs of the cars and the wind blowing,
and I was thoroughly contented when it was through.

And now, friends, when a workman’s-compensation act comes up and the
question arises whether a brakeman, a switchman, any man of the kind
should be compensated for the loss of life or limb in taking charge
of the trains in which you and I travel in comfort in the Pullman
cars――when that comes up I think of my feelings when I jumped from car
to car on the top of that cattle train, and when a miss or slip meant
the loss of a leg or an arm or the loss of my life, and I know how the
brakeman feels in such a case. [Applause.]

                        THE JUDGES DON’T KNOW.

Now in New York those worthy, well-meaning, elderly judges of the court
of appeals have never had such an experience in their lives.

They don’t know. They don’t visualize to themselves how that brakeman
feels. They are not able to present to their minds the risks incident
to the ordinary, everyday performance of his duties.

They don’t know the brakeman. They don’t know what it is――I am speaking
of a case I know――they don’t know what it means when a brakeman loses
both legs, and the following winter――I am speaking of a case I know,
my own personal experience――the following winter his wife can’t go out
because she can’t purchase shoes if she purchases shoes to send the
children to school in. If they did visualize those facts to themselves,
I know that they would entirely alter the course of their judicial
decisions. They don’t understand what the facts of the case are.

Now, this is simply as a preliminary, because I want you to know,
to realize, that I have come to my present convictions as a result
of having lived in the actual world of workaday men. I am not a
sentimentalist. [Great applause.]

                         BELIEVES IN JUSTICE.

I am not a sentimentalist. If there is one quality I dislike as much as
hardness of heart it is softness of head.

But I do believe in justice just as you believe in justice, and I am
trying to get justice, and I am trying to get it for those who are less
fortunate just as for those who are more fortunate. [Applause.]

Just wait. I want to give you just four or five cases of laws which the
courts of Illinois and New York have declared unconstitutional. When
I went into the legislature 30 years ago in New York, I was put on a
committee to investigate the manufacture of cigars in tenement houses.

                           LIFE IN DESPAIR.

I remember well of one of them coming upon a room about 14 feet――16
feet, perhaps――square, in which two families lived, one of them with
a boarder. Those two families, men, women, and children, worked and
lived, day in and day out, night in and night out, there, at the
manufacture of tobacco into cigars.

They lived in squalid filth, with the great sheets of tobacco in the
bed clothing, under the beds, mixed up with stale food, put in the
corners of the dirty room.

We got a bill through to put a stop to that kind of work, and the court
of appeals declared it unconstitutional. Friends, there was this gem in
the opinion.

The court said that it could not permit the legislature to interfere
with the sanctity of home. [Laughter. A voice: “No home at all.”]

                         TAKES WORLD OF TIME.

It was not home at all, as you say, that squalid 16-foot room where
those families lived day in and day out and worked day in and day out;
and yet the court forbade us to try and improve those conditions, to
try and make the conditions of tenement-house life so that it would be
possible for decent men and decent women to live decently there and
bring up their children as American citizens should be brought up.

Friends, it is idle for any man to ask me to sit unmoved and without
protest when a court makes a decision like that [cries of “Good” and
applause], and it is a waste of time to tell me, as Mr. Taft did in his
speech, that I am laying an impious hand on the ark of the covenant
when I try to secure the reversal of such a decision. [Laughter and

Now wait. I have only just begun. [Applause.] I am sorry for you, but I
will get through as quick as I can. [Voices: “Go on, go on.”]

                       THE LAW THAT WAS PASSED.

Then we passed a law providing that in factories there should be
safeguards over all the dangerous machinery, and a girl working in
a factory had her arm taken off above the elbow by an unprotected
flywheel. She sued and recovered damages, and the court of appeals of
the State of New York threw out her case, and there was another gem in
their opinion. They said that they would not permit the legislature
to interfere with the liberty of that girl to work amidst dangerous
machinery. [Laughter.]

Now you can see yourselves――you can look up. I will refer anyone who
wants to look it up to the exact decisions where this language occurred.

The liberty of that girl was protected by the court――the liberty; she
had the liberty to starve or to work under the conditions offered her,
and she had no other liberty. [Applause.]

                      DREADFUL DENIAL OF JUSTICE.

And I hold that it was a dreadful denial of justice to prevent that
poor girl from recovering for the accident due to the criminal
carelessness of her employer, and I, for one, will never rest when
there is a decision like that on the books until we have got it
repealed. [“Good! Good!” and cheers.]

I could give you 20 such cases. I will only give you 2 more――only 2

Then in the next case that came up that I refer to we passed a law,
modeled on your Massachusetts law, a law forbidding women to be worked
in factories more than 10 hours a day or after 9 o’clock at night.

Friends, personally, I thought that was an utterly insufficient law.
I felt that it did not go nearly far enough. Your Massachusetts law
prohibits them from working more than 9 hours a day and after 6 o’clock
at night.

Ours did not go as far. It was with reluctance that I could make myself
accept it at all. I did simply because it was the best we could get at
that time.

At that time girls and women in factories, in sweatshops, were being
worked 12, 14, sometimes 16 hours a day and until 10, 11, and 12 at

                         THE COURT’S BARRIER.

The Massachusetts court held that your law was constitutional; but our
law, which did not go as far, the Court of Appeals of the State of
New York held as unconstitutional, and there was this further gem in
the language――the court said that there had been altogether too much
legislation of this kind in the United States and the time had come for
the court fearlessly to oppose the barrier of its judgment against it.

I love that word “fearlessly.” [Prolonged cheering.] Those amiable,
well-meaning, excellently intentioned judges, who, doubtless, did not
in their whole circle of acquaintances know one woman who was working
in a factory or a sweatshop, said that they would stand “fearlessly”
for what?

“Fearlessly” for the right of the big factory owner and the small
sweatshop owner to earn their money by working women, haggard, hour
after hour, day after day, night after night, in the factory and

Now, friends, do you know what my proposal is――this revolutionary
proposal of mine [laughter], this proposal of mine that they say
represents socialism and anarchy?

                          FOR THE 10,000,000.

My proposal is this: That in a case like that, the 10,000,000 people
of the State of New York, to whom those 6 or 7 elderly, worthy,
well-meaning men had said that they could not have justice――that those
10,000,000 people, after a time amply sufficient in which to come to
a sober judgment, should be permitted to vote for themselves as to
whether the Constitution, which they themselves had made, had been
correctly interpreted by your court here in Massachusetts and the Court
of Appeals in the State of New York. [Prolonged cheering.]

And if in a case like that the people are not intelligent enough
to vote and say what they themselves meant when they made the
Constitution, they are not intelligent enough to have made the
Constitution in the first place. [Applause.]

                         THE COMPENSATION ACT.

One more case, only one more――two, perhaps. [Laughter.] We passed in
New York a workmen’s compensation act.

The Supreme Court of the United States, interpreting exactly the same
language in the Constitution of the United States as the court of
appeals interpreted in the constitution of the State of New York, and
in reference to a practically exactly similar bill, decided that that
law was constitutional.

The Court of Appeals of the State of New York decided that the Supreme
Court of the United States was wrong [laughter] and that the law was
not constitutional.

Now, I want you to listen to this sentence, because I haven’t seen this
fact brought out by any man yet.


At this moment in the State of New York if a New York brakeman is
injured on a train going straight through across New York, from Boston
to Chicago, he has a right to recover, it is constitutional for him
to recover [laughter] for the injury.

But if his brother is working on a trolley in the same city in
which he is injured on the railroad train, or if he is working on a
railway train that only goes from Albany to Buffalo, then it becomes
unconstitutional for him to recover. [Laughter and applause.]

                          ANARCHY OR JUSTICE.

Friends, it is idle to tell me that I have not the right to protest
that the United States Supreme Court was right and the court of
appeals wrong [applause]; and if I am an anarchist, I am an anarchist
in company with the Supreme Court of the United States. [Applause and

All I ask is that, in that kind of a case, the ten millions of people
of New York State shall not be balked of justice, but, after ample
time for due deliberation on their part, shall be permitted to vote in
this case whether the Supreme Court of the United States and the State
courts of a dozen other States, like Iowa and Washington, are right, or
whether the amiable elderly gentlemen of the New York Court of Appeals
are right.

I ask whether it be true that justice can not be given to the man
crippled in industry in New York, although it can be given to him in
the Nation, and in Iowa and in Washington, and in every civilized
country abroad; whether it be true that the man can not have justice
done him in New York, or whether we shall say to the judges of the
Court of Appeals of New York, “No; we stand by the doctrines laid down
by the Supreme Court of the Nation,” and given utterance to by the
Massachusetts judge, Mr. Justice Holmes, in the Oklahoma bank case.
“We say that the people have the right, in the exercise of the police
power of the general-welfare clause of the Constitution”――I am using
Mr. Holmes’s words, not mine――“that the people have the right to decide
such cases in accordance with the common standard of morality, with the
preponderance opinion of the citizenship of the community, and that the
courts have to respect such opinion as the popular opinion as to what
morality demands.” [Applause.]

I hold that if it be true――if it be true――that in this country fishers
and plowmen and choppers are to constitute a State, it must be true
that they shall be permitted to impose their ideas of common justice,
of common decency, upon their public servants, and that the public
servants are in very fact the servants and not the masters of the
community. [Applause.]

                        THE BATTLE FOR JUSTICE.

Now, friends, I ask you of Massachusetts to stand in the front of the
battle for justice and for righteousness as I have outlined. I wish
that I could make the men who are best off in the community――the big
corporation men, the big bankers, merchants, railroad men――understand
that in this fight for justice we ought to have the right to expect
them to lead.

                            FOR THE RIGHT.

Surely, friends, surely men of Massachusetts, if we are true to the
Massachusetts ideals of the past, we will expect those to whom much
has been given to take the lead in striving to get justice for their
fellows to whom less has been given. [Applause.]

I want the men who are well off to give justice now because it is
right, and not to wait till they have given justice simply because they
fear longer to deny it. Justice! Let it come, because we believe in it.
Let it not be forced upon us because we are afraid to deny it.

Nine-tenths of wisdom is being wise in time, and the proper way to
conserve all of the present system of our civilization that is best
worth conserving is to alter that which causes a heavy strain to come
upon the rest.

I ask, at least, that we decline to commit ourselves to a policy of
foolish Bourbonism; that instead of denying the need of any change in
our laws, in our social and industrial system, to meet the changing
needs of the times, we take the lead in making every change that is
necessary in order to make our constitutions and the body of our law
enacted under the Constitution instruments for justice as between man
and man, instruments for getting justice for the average citizenship of
the American Republic. [Applause.]

Friends, now you have heard me to-night and you can judge for
yourselves. Am I preaching anarchy? Am I preaching socialism? [Cries of

I am preaching elementary justice.

                      MISSOURI AND MASSACHUSETTS.

And now I ask you of Massachusetts to respond to the appeal contained
in this telegram to me from Missouri, which says that the State
convention of Missouri, representing the State, has refused all
compromise and has sent a delegation to Chicago standing straight for
me [great cheering] and for the cause that I represent.

And I ask you people of Massachusetts, you men of Massachusetts, on
next Tuesday to put yourselves beside Illinois and Pennsylvania and
Maine in the lead of the movement. [Great applause.]


 Transcriber’s Notes:

 ――Text in italics is enclosed by underscores (_italics_).

 ――Punctuation and spelling inaccuracies were silently corrected.

 ――Archaic and variable spelling has been preserved.

 ――Variations in hyphenation and compound words have been preserved.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Address of Hon. Theodore Roosevelt, delivered at Boston, Mass., Saturday, April 27, 1912" ***

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