« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
stant changes in political sentiment which are going on, that the Constitution will remain unaltered, we may safely assume that the same fundamental principles will underlie them, and that the opinions of the great Chief Justice will be looked to for centuries to come as expressive of the soundest views of a federated government. There are undoubtedly disturbing elements in our present social system, which are calculated to excite the apprehensions of patriotic men. The conflict between capital and labor, which is as old as the exodus of the Israelites, who went off on a strike because the Egyptians refused to furnish them straw for their brick, is something which will not down, and which legislation is apparently powerless to remedy. So far as it involves a question of wages, arbitration may do much to mitigate its evils; so far as it involves the employer's control of his own business, the men whom he shall employ and the customers to whom he shall sell, the settlement seems farther off than ever.
The whole theory of production and distribution has been revolutionized within the past forty years, and modern society must perforce adapt itself to new conditions. The necessaries of life are gradually being absorbed by combinations of capital, and the time is not far distant when everything we drink, eat and wear may have to be purchased through the agency of a single corporation controlling the product. Combinations have already destroyed individual enterprise in the most important branches of trade, and the small producer has gone to the wall. I believe I voice the almost universal sentiment of the country in saying that there is no prejudice against property, nor against wealth, honestly acquired. The whole theory of our civilization is built upon the sanctity of private property and the natural
right of man, by superior ability, industry and skill, to rise above his fellows. It is the men of wealth who set the wheels of commerce in motion, give employment to thousands of willing hands, create a market for the refinements and luxuries of life, found our universities, build our churches, fill our galleries with works of art, and give to life its zest, and to labor its appropriate reward. Indeed, the Federal Constitution itself is so jeal, ous of the rights of the individual that it declares that no State shall impair the obligation of contracts. But the right of acquisition is not unlimited. It must be exercised within the law and in obedience to statute. It puts a premium upon fair competition and individual enterprise, but it denounces the illegal use of wealth in corrupting legislation and obtaining unjust exemptions from taxation; it stamps with illegality all contracts in restraint of trade, combinations to fix prices, to crush out rival dealers by threats and oppression, the wrecking of great corporations in the interest of directors, and every scheme the object of which is to monopolize a single product of manufacture.
That society will ever be re-established upon the old basis of small dealers, small manufacturers, and small producers is as impossible as the return of the handloom and the spinning-wheel. The steam engine has disposed of the latter forever. The railroad and telegraph are rapidly driving the other from our national life. We may lament the disappearance of the small trader, whose entire stock of goods was contained in a single room or, perhaps, even in a window; but the Bon Marchés, the Macys and the Wanamakers of commerce have taken his place, and he has become a salesman in
VOL II -5
their employ. A restoration of the old order of things is impossible. Society must adapt itself to its new conditions, and do its best to minimize the evils of the situation. It is, after all, more a change of form than of substance. The profits which formerly went into the pockets of the small producer are now even more widely distributed in the shape of dividends to stockholders little rivulets of wealth which trickle through all classes of society, and offer the rewards of thrift to the humblest households of the land. If the head of a great corporation takes to himself an apparently disproportionate share of the profits, it is only in obedience to an universal law that the man who develops extraordinary capacity in any direction receives an extraordinary reward. Legislation may do something to stem the tide of consolidation, but it can scarcely do more than localize the business of the great capitalist. If, by combinations with other great operators, he is able to monopolize the product of the whole country in a particular article, he becomes a national menace, and a weapon for the socialist agitator.
The tendency of which I have spoken with respect to commerce and product is equally manifest with respect to population, which is undergoing a process of shifting from small towns to large cities. The influence of railways is to deplete the villages and to build up cities. It is for their interest to carry freights as far as possible, to favor their terminal stations and the great manufacturer at the expense of the small one. The village becomes more and more dependent upon the city. Unless it possesses peculiar advantages for manufacture, a great university or other public institution, or attractions as a summer resort, its young men desert it, its population
diminishes, its land falls in value, its life stagnates. It feels that it has been unjustly dealt with and robbed of its natural growth by railroads which it had, perhaps, contributed to build, and it seeks for legislation to relieve from that for which legislation is powerless.
These are the problems, rather than those of Federal and State rights, which bid fair to engage the attention of coming generations. The men who will be called upon to grapple with them will not be the judges and lawyers of the twentieth century, but rather its statesmen and philosophers. Great men will doubtless rise and take their places in public life, but they will be men of the stamp of Franklin and Hamilton, rather than of Marshall, who will probably remain for ages to come an unique figure in American history. The struggle will be fought out with a persistency born of hunger, if not of desperation; will be accompanied perhaps by bloodshed and tears, but I have the utmost confidence that in the end, and after many trials and much tribulation, the strong sense of the Anglo-Saxon will assert its supremacy and society will readjust itself upon a basis of justice and equity to all men.
STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA.
Marshall Day was appropriately celebrated at the University of North Carolina -- Chapel Hill — by a convocation of the faculty and student body, with members of the bar and citizens of the town, in Gerrard Hall, which was filled to overflowing.
President Francis P. Venable presided over the meeting, and introduced Judge James C. MacRae, the Dean of the Law School, who spoke as follows:
Address of James C. MacRae.
My father told me that he remembered to have seen ride up to the old hostelry known as Cooke's Tavern, in Raleigh, many years ago, just before the opening of a term of the Federal court, a tall old gentleman, who, like the stick-gig in which he was riding, was rather travel-stained. He was plainly, not to say carelessly, dressed; his manner was genial, his address kindly and his greeting pleasant, and there was utterly lacking in him that unconscious self-assumption which one may well expect to see as the mark of a man in authority. He might have been taken for the ordinary country gentleman coming to town, or perhaps for the old-fashioned lawyer on his circuit. This was John Marshall, the Chief Justice of the United States, the head of its judicial system, a system which, we shall see, differs from all others except those which since have been modeled upon it; and he was the highest officer of any court in the world.