Labor Talk: Roosevelt Warns Against Despotism, Envy and Mob Violence

PRESIDENT TALKS TO LABOR.

Warns His Hearers Against Despotism, Envy and Mob Violence.

A community of interest, with caste forgotten and personal worth the sole basis of class distinction, with capitalist and wage worker helping themselves by aiding each other and both content to abide by the laws, was the doctrine preached at Syracuse Monday by President Roosevelt as the prime requisite for a prosperous and permanent national life.

As a labor day creed, its acceptance was urged by a warning against a tendency toward despotism, the envy of demagogues and their bent toward mob violence being classed as a danger to the laborer far more malign than the arrogance of the affluent.

“We must act upon the motto of all for each and each for all,” was the keynote of the address, which denounced the leaders who incite class antagonism, whether the labor agitator who shouts for plunder or the unscrupulous man of wealth who seeks to subvert the laws in order to oppress.

“We must see that each man is given a square deal, because he is entitled to no more and should receive no less,” ran the final aphorism with which President Roosevelt drove home his plea for the abolition of industrial castes.

The prosperity of the farmer and the wage worker is the index of the nation’s welfare, argued the President, and the interests of every business, trade and profession are so identical that they “tend to go up or down together.” To maintain a healthy government individuals instead of classes must be considered, and the permanency of a spirit that will conserve the rights of others as well as defend one’s own.

In the decline of defunct republics of the medieval age the President traced examples of the pernicious effect of class legislation, and gave point to his warning against demagogy by the conclusion that the result was equally fatal no matter whether the mob or the oligarchy conquered.

To unite the contending classes, the President urged that the wage worker should display sanity and a desire to do justice to others and that the capitalist should welcome and aid all legislative efforts to settle present difficulties. The currency system was cited as an example of legislation that is good because not classlike.

With his argument for the abolition of classes ended, the President launched into a characteristic eulogy of the benefits of hard work, which he styled the “best prize life has to offer.” The idler was dismissed with the quotation, “After all the  saddest thing that can happen to a man is to carry no burdens.” Breadwinners and homemakers, fathers and mothers of families, were given their tribute, the President declaring that there is a place for each among the honored benefactors of the nation.

Following are paragraphs from the President’s Labor Day address:

There is no worse enemy to the wage worker than the man who condones mob violence in any form or who preaches class hatred.

If alive to their true interests, rich and poor alike will set their faces like flint against the spirit which seeks personal advantage by overriding the laws, without regard to whether the spirit shows itself in the form of bodily violence by one set of men, or in the form of vulpine cunning by another set of men.

The outcome was equally fatal whether the country fell into the hands of a wealthy oligarchy, which exploited the poor, or whether it fell under the domination of a turbulent mob which plundered the rich.

In the long run, we all of us tend to go up or down together. It is all-essential to the continuance of our healthy national life that we should recognize this community of interest among our people.

We must keep ever in mind that a republic such as ours can exist only in virtue of the orderly liberty which comes through the equal domination of the law over all men alike and through its administration in such resolute and fearless fashion as shall teach all that no man is above it and no man below it.

Cedar Fall Gazette (Cedar Falls, Iowa) Sep 15, 1903

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