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NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 10, 1917
PRESENT-DAY EVENTS INSPIRE PATRIOTISM
Hon. Martin W. Littleton, In His Address at the Annual
Banquet of The Real Estate Board, Arouses Enthusiasm*
THERE is no subject at this hour
upon which it is needful that I should
detain you more than a moment. Your
city, your State and your Nation have
been presented with clearness, with em¬
phasis and with patriotic fervor. There
has never been a time and hour when we
should feel more inclined to solemn re¬
flection. The ir.ingled sensations of the
day have served to remind us of things
which have been long forgotten. The
thrills have brought to us memories that
had almost passed away. We can re¬
member to-night what yesterday we had
almost forgotten. We think now of the
things which we read in our school books
of years gone by.
By the rude bridge that arched the flood
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled;
Here the embattled farmers stood
And fired a shot heard round the world.
We can remember now the majestic
Declaration of Independence which of
late we have too indifferently considered.
To-night we can repeat with veneration
and respect the philosophy of that De¬
claration which set on fire the political
literature of the world, and by which na¬
tion after nation, and people after people,
have been inspired to learn its philosophy
and to march with the blazing light of its
"We hold these truths to be self-
evident, that all men are created
equal, that they are endowed by their
Creator with certain inalienable
rights, that air.ong these are life, lib¬
erty and the pursuit of happiness.
That to secure these rights, govern¬
ments are instituted among men, de¬
riving their just powers from the
consent of the governed."
To-night we are williiig to dwell upon
the deep significance of this proclamation
of our political philosophy. To-night we
are willing to hear retold the story
which is written imperishably in our
history of the heroism and conduct of
those who went before us, and before the
week is past man after man in this com¬
munity will be cherishing the memories
of Washington and his gallant men. They
will recall the Battle of Long Island and
of Harlem Heights, and the retreat up
the beautiful Hudson. They will be able
to see through the cold and bitter winter
scenes the track of the blood-stained
inarch of the first American soldiers.
Our memory will burn with the recol¬
lection of events that tried men's souls,
because we are called upon now to con¬
template and may be to confront an
epoch, a crisis, an era surpassing in dan¬
ger, if not in results, any era within the
history of the Anglo-Saxon race.
It has been said tonight that Democ¬
racy is a matter of spirit and of the soul.
Let me add this definite thing—that ours
is a definitive country, with a definitive
ideal and definitive purpose springing
from a definitive philosophy.
It was the neglect of that ideal and the
ignorance of that philosophy, and the dis¬
regard of that purpose, that brought the
cataclysm in Europe. It was the age-
old blunder that civilization continues to
make that created the situation in which
the world finds itself today. It was the
absolutism Of government. It was the
♦It must be remembered tbat on the day of
the evening on which this address was delivered
President Wilson handed Count Von Bernstorff
HON. MARTIN W. LITTLETON.
abolition of all restraints upon govern¬
ment as an agency. It was the deposit
of all sovereignty in the government
without a fi.xed limitation. It v^as the
failure to preserve and protect by some
great organic instrument the individuality
and its attributes of life, of person, of
liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It
is the final and full fruition of uncon¬
trolled and uncontrollable and sublimated
We have neglected our own ideal; we
have forgotten to impress and reimpress
tlie definitive character of our own insti¬
tutions, that ideal our fathers wrought
from ail the knowledge of the imperious
and dangerous ways of the absolutism
of the past, the absolutism which was the
curse of the Caesars, the fault of the
Athenian democracy, the rage of the
French revolution and which is em¬
bodied in the Kaiserism of Germany.
It was to avoid these errors, to escape
from this doctrine of force, to emanci¬
pate the government from the curse of
unrestrained power that our fathers set
down in the philosophy of our nation
the doctrine that the right to life, lib¬
erty and the pursuit of happiness was
an inalienable right. It belonged to man
before there was a government. It was
twin-born with him, and it is his and
will remain his after there ceases to be
a government. These are the attributes
of the individual which no government
could encroach upon. These are the ob¬
jects to protect and secure which govern¬
ment was necessary, and the only way
in which a government could protect
these sacred objects of its care and so¬
licitude was that that government should
be a definitely limited one, ordained and
established by the Constitution of the
This Constitution was adopted in all
the magnificent measure of its power;
this Declaration of Independence was ut¬
tered in all the flaming glory of a new
found liberty in order that we might pos¬
sess here on this continent what other
nations had failed to achieve. Here we
have atteinpted to set up tmder this flag
an equipoise between authority and lib¬
erty; here we have attempted what Pro¬
fessor Burgess has so happily called
"The Reconciliation of Government with
Liberty," and we have proclaimed to all.
the world that no government is fit to
govern if in it is reposed absolute sover¬
eignty, and that no government is fit to.
govern except as the limited agency of
It was the passionate philosophy of the
Declaration of Independence, it was the
cool distribution of adjusted power in the
Constitution that life, liberty and the.
pursuit of happiness was the end and
that government was the means. Indi¬
vidualism in the full exercise of its ge¬
nius for invention, in its liberty of ac¬
tion, in its quest for wealth, in its do¬
minion over property was the end; Gov-,
ernment, the limited restrained agency
and means to that end. This is the defin¬
itive ideal in our country.
Over against such an ideal what has
Germany done? She created modern mu¬
nicipalities, she abolished poverty, she
provided the old age pension, she organ-^
ized her workmen's exchanges, she built
an empire that resembles nothing so
much as a great Corliss engine; but in.
doing this she destroyed the priceless at-,
tribute of the individual. She submerged
the three great civilizing sacred things
which constitute the very foundation-
stones of our Republic—life, liberty and
the pursuit of happiness. And then hurl¬
ing herself as the embodiment of un¬
restrained force into a war, led by the
mailed hands of her ruthless warriors,,
stimulated by the cruel doctrine of her
ruthless philosophers, she has forcd upoa
the aspiring Republic of France, in which
the blazing light of democracy was burn¬
ing, an era of disorder in which France
must imitate her exair.ple by dismantling,
at least for a time, her own Republic.
She caused a parliamentary democracy
like England to substitute the power of
government in place of the rights of in¬
dividuals. And whatever of hope was
rising in the dark regions of Russia for
the liberty of the individual has been for
the time eclipsed.
It is unrestrained power of Kaisers.
Czars and Kings that makes war. It
was to destroy that unrestrained power
that limited agency of a constitutional
government was erected on our shores.
This is the ideal which we should be
prepared to defend. The hour may come
and we may be put to the test. But ours
is not only an obligation—it is a prom--
ise. and the fulfilment of that promise
will be to preserve for all ages to come
this definitive ideal of a great Republic
whose chiefest attribute is a Constitu¬
tion limiting the power of the govern¬
ment in favor of the liberty of the indi¬
With this as our mission, and with
such a history; with this as our object
and with such a past; and with this as
our obligation and with such a future,-
and with one hundred millions of people,'
here whom we cannot doubt and whOr
will not permit us to doubt them, surely,"
the trial of civilization for all ages is-
upon us. That obli.gation and that duty,
has been beautifully expressed in the.
sweet and simple felicity of the old Greek
Defend this land your common parent
and dearest nurse.
Who on her fostering soil.
Upheld with bounteous care your in^
And trained you to this service
That your hand in her defense
Might lift the faithful shield.