THE Annual Meeting of the Society was held at the Algonquin Club, No. 217 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, on Friday, November 21, 1930, at half-past six o’clock in the evening, the President, Samuel Eliot Morison, in the chair.

    The Records of the last Stated Meeting were read and approved.

    The President, on behalf of the Corresponding Secretary reported the death, on October 27, 1930, of Henry Winchester Cunningham, a Resident Member.

    The President announced the appointment of Frank Brewer Bemis as Deputy-Treasurer of the Society, in the absence of Mr. Endicott.

    The Annual Report of the Council, in the absence through illness of Mr. Percival Merritt, was read by Mr. Albert Matthews.


    During the past year the usual three meetings of the Society have been held — that of December at the house of Mr. William C. Endicott, that of February by invitation of President Morison, and that of April (in the evening) at the house of Mr. Alfred M. Tozzer in Cambridge.

    The Editor reports that a serial containing the Transactions from December, 1928, to November, 1929, was recently distributed to the various contributors to the meetings, and that the Transactions from December, 1929, to April, 1930, are in type. The volume which is to contain the records of the Suffolk County Court from 1671 to 1680 is being prepared as fast as your Editor and President can find time to supervise the copying of material in the Suffolk Files. Work on the Index to the first twenty-five volumes of our Publications continues and progress, if slow, is steady. During the year the following members have been elected:


    • Grenville Lindall Winthrop;


    • James Rowland Angell,
    • George Andrews Moriarty,
    • Thomas Stearns Eliot,
    • Earl Morse Wilbur;


    • Michael Joseph Canavan,
    • Fulmer Mood

    During the same period we have lost five members by death:

    Arthur Twining Hadley, Corresponding, 1899: President of Yale University for twenty-two years. Excessively nervous and absent-minded. Renowned even in college days for extraordinary versatility, he was a chess, whist, and tennis player; an Alpine climber, a linguist, believed to be able to teach on any subject, actually a teacher on such diverse subjects as German, Greek, logic, political economy, railroad transportation and administration, and Roman law. An authority on everything pertaining to railroads. Those who saw the exercises in Sanders Theatre at the inauguration of President Lowell will never forget the nervous vitality with which President Hadley read his address of salutation: one could almost imagine that sparks of energy were emanating from him.

    William Howard Taft, Honorary, 1913: Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. For forty-five years in the service of State and Nation. Judge on the Federal bench, Secretary of War, civil governor of the Philippine Islands, provisional governor of Cuba, President of the United States. A man of winning personality and honesty of purpose. Endeared to his countrymen, who hold his name in affectionate remembrance.

    Charles Lewis Slattery, Resident, 1923: Bishop of the Diocese of Massachusetts. Brilliant student of Harvard College and of the Episcopal Theological School. Rector in succession of several prominent Episcopal churches in various parts of the country. From his rectorship at Grace Church, New York City, he was called to the office of Bishop Coadjutor of Massachusetts in 1922 and succeeded to the bishopric in 1927. A writer of distinction on theological topics, active in all work of the Church, he was above all a devoted pastor of his flock, and, unsparing of himself, literally died in office as the result of overwork, while still a comparatively young man. Deeply interested in the aims of the Society, he was a constant attendant at our meetings.

    Winslow Warren, Resident, 1915: Lawyer, Collector of the Port of Boston, president for thirty years of the Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati, president-general for twenty-five years of the Society of the Cincinnati. Descended from a family noted in the Old Colony for public service, he carried on the tradition with distinction and was foremost in all political reform movements. Firm and with positive convictions. A Democrat, he yet did not hesitate to bolt party nominations: an ardent anti-imperialist, he yet, after the acquisition of the Philippines, refused to maintain an intransigent position. A contributor to our Transactions on the Pilgrims in Holland and on the Pilgrim Spirit.

    Henry Winchester Cunningham, Resident, 1892: Genealogist, student of New England history, customs, and pedigrees. Last survivor but one of the founders of the Society, he was for thirty-two years our Recording Secretary. His excellent judgment was relied on by other societies as well as our own. A singular charm of manner, quiet humor, and readiness to aid others, caused him to be greatly beloved, especially by his classmates, whose Secretary he was for forty years. He enriched our Transactions by several valuable communications.

    The Treasurer submitted his Annual Report, as follows:


    In accordance with the requirements of the By-Laws the Treasurer submits his Annual Report for the year ending November 14, 1930.



    Balance, November 14, 1929, Principal Cash


    Income Cash



    Receipts of Principal:

    Horace Everett Ware Fund: Income transferred to Principal


    Henry Herbert Edes Memorial Fund: Income

    transferred to Principal


    Commutations: One life membership


    Interest on Warren Institution for Savings



    Interest on Provident Institution for Savings



    Total Receipts of Principal


    Receipts of Income:





    Annual Assements


    Sales of the Society’s Publications


    Admission Fees




    Total Receipts of Income






    Disbursements of Principal:

    American Telephone and Telegraph Company, 5 shares common


    Interest on Warren Institution for Savings

    Account, added to Principal


    Interest on Provident Institution for Savings

    Account, added to Principal


    Total Disbursements of Principal


    Disbursements of Income:

    Editor’s Salary


    Tolman Print, Inc


    Clerk hire


    Annual Dinner


    Interest on Horace E. Ware Fund, added to Principal


    Stewart, Watts and Bollong, accounting services


    Interest on Henry Herbert Edes Memorial Fund, added to Principal


    William B. Reid, honorarium


    Postage and clerical expense


    Folsom Engraving Company


    Thomas S. Longridge, insurance


    Union Safe Deposit Vaults


    Patterson, Wylde and Windeler, insurance


    Interest adjustment on securities purchased




    Total Disbursements of Income


    Balance, November 14, 1930, Principal Cash


    Income cash





    The funds of the Society are invested as follows:


    in first mortgages on improved property in Greater Boston


    in bonds and stocks elsewhere described in this report


    on deposit in the Provident Institution for Savings in the Town of Boston


    on deposit in the Warren Institution for Savings


    The investments of the Society yield an average annual income of approximately 5.68% on book value.

    A Trial Balance of the accounts as of November 14, 1930, is hereto annexed and made a part of this report.

    William C. Endicott


    Boston, November 14, 1930



    Cash, Principal





    Provident Institution for Savings


    Warren Institution for Savings






    Cedars Rapids Manufacturing and Power Company, First Mortgage Sinking Fund Gold 5’s, due 1953



    Central Manufacturing District, Inc., First Mortgage 6½’s, Series “C”, due 1944



    Chicago Junction Railways and Union Stock Yards Company, Mortgage and Collateral Trust Refunding Gold 5’s, due 1940



    Cleveland Union Terminal Company, First Mortgage Sinking Fund Gold 5 ½’s, Series A, due 1972



    Detroit Edison Company, First and Refunding Mortgage Gold 5’s, Series A, due 1940



    Detroit Edison Company, First Mortgage Refunding 6’s, Series B, due 1940



    England, Walton and Company, Inc., First Mortgage Sinking Fund Gold 6’s, due 1942



    Kingdom of Belgium, First 6’s, Sinking Fund Extension Loan, due 1955



    Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie, First Mortgage Refunding 6’s, Series A, due 1946



    New England Telephone and Telegraph Company, First Mortgage Gold 5’s, Series A, due 1952



    New River Company, First Mortgage and Collateral Trust 5’s, due 1934



    New York Edison Company, First Lien and Refunding Mortgage Gold 6½’s, Series A, due 1941



    Oregon-Washington Railroad and Navigation Company, First and Refunding Mortgage 4’s, Series A, due 1961



    Union Pacific Railroad, Series A, Equipment Trust 7’s, due 1932



    United States Cold Storage Company, First Mortgage Real Estate, Chicago, Illinois, Gold 6’s, due 1945



    United States Cold Storage Company, First Mortgage 6’s, Sinking Fund Bonds, due 1946



    Western Telephone & Telegraph Company, Collateral Trust Gold 5’s, due 1932



    Wickwire-Spencer Steel Company, First Mortgage Sinking Fund Prior Lien Collateral and Refunding Gold 7’s, due 1935





    35 Shares American Telephone and Telegraph Company, Common


    100 Shares Electric Bond and Share Company, Cumulative $6 Preferred


    240 Shares General Electric Company,


    50 Shares United States Cold Storage, 7% Preferred A


    50 Shares United States Cold Storage, Common








    Publication Fund, established in 1893 by gift of $100 from Quincy Adams Shaw: composed of sundry small gifts and portions of the income which were added from year to year. Income only to be used for Publications


    General Fund, established in 1893: composed of Admission Fees and Commutations added to Principal. Income only to be used for Current Expenses


    Benjamin Apthorp Gould Memorial Fund, established in 1897 and 1898 by subscriptions in his

    memory. The income only to be used


    Edward Wheelwright Fund, established in 1900 under his will without restrictions as to use


    Robert Charles Billings Fund, established in 1903

    under his will. Income only to be used for Publications


    Robert Noxon Toppan Fund, established in 1904 by

    a gift in his memory from his widow. Income only

    to be used


    Robert Charles Winthrop, Jr., Fund, established in

    1905 under his will. Increased by $2,000 in 1924

    under will of Elizabeth Winthrop. Income only to

    be used


    Andrew McFarland Davis Fund, established in 1908

    by a gift from him to be added to the permanent

    publication funds. Income only to be used


    William Watson Fund, established in 1916 under his

    will without restriction as to use


    Horace Everett Ware Fund, established in 1916 by a

    gift of $500 from him. Increased under his will by

    sundry installments of cash since 1919. To be

    accumulated and used for Massachusetts Bay


    George Vasmer Leverett Fund, established in 1920

    under his will. Income only to be used for Publications


    Henry Herbert Edes Bequest, established in 1923

    under his will. To accumulate until it reaches the

    sum of $3,000 when it shall be called the Martha

    Rebecca Hunt Fund. Income only to be used for

    special purposes


    Henry Herbert Edes Memorial Fund, established by

    sundry subscriptions from 1923 to 1925. To be

    expended for a memorial to Mr. Edes


    George Nixon Black Fund, established in 1929 under






    The undersigned, a Committee appointed to examine the accounts of the Treasurer for the year which ended November 14, 1930 have attended to their duty by employing Messrs. Stewart, Watts and Bollong, Public Accountants and Auditors, who have made an audit of the accounts and examined the securities on deposit in Box 1052-E in the Union Safe Deposit Vaults.

    We herewith submit their report which has been examined and accepted by the Committee.

    Frank Brewer Bemis

    Nathaniel Thayer Kidder

    Auditing Committee

    Boston, November 21, 1930

    The several Reports were accepted and referred to the Committee of Publication.

    On behalf of the Committee appointed to nominate officers for the ensuing year, the following list was presented; and a ballot having been taken, these gentlemen were unanimously elected:















    After the meeting was dissolved, dinner was served. The guests of the Society were Dr. Francis Albert Christie, Professor Oliver Elton, Mr. Allyn Bailey Forbes, Mr. Arthur Mayger Hind, Professor Halvdan Koht, Mr. Augustus Peabody Loring, Jr., Professor Arthur Darby Nock, Mr. G. Frederick Robinson, Hon. Leverett Saltonstall, Rev. Henry Hallam Saunderson, and Professor Edward Allen Whitney.

    After the dinner, Mr. William MacDonald read the following paper:


    Any one who searches in the history of an ancient commonwealth for an explanation of such distinction as time has brought is certain to find an array of influences no one of which can be singled out for emphasis without danger of doing injustice to others. The task was simpler in the days when politics, as an explanation of social behavior, was more respected in historical circles than it has come to be in a time of easy appeal to economic interpretation; for, whatever the limitations of the political formula, it was not often used, as John Fiske somewhere remarks of the appeal to evolution, as a device for concealing ignorance of what one meant by it. I think it safe to assume that if, in the numberless discourses which the celebration of the tercentenary of Massachusetts has called out, any factor of large importance in the history of the commonwealth has failed of exhibition and comment, the failure has been due to inadvertence, and that the likelihood of saying anything that would put the history of Massachusetts in a novel light is as slender as would be the chance of discovering a new Napoleon within the old one or discerning a consciousness of sin in the musings of Casanova. Having myself, however, a considerable interest in historical politics, and being accustomed to look to politics, in the large sense, for light on the course of things as they have been, I venture to comment, at the risk of repetition, upon one or two phases of Massachusetts life which seem to me to have been outstanding forces in the history of the colony and State.

    What I have in mind first of all is the exceptional devotion of Massachusetts to the idea of independence. From the beginning, Massachusetts insisted, more than most of its sister communities, upon leading its own life and developing its own social ideals. I need not dwell upon certain notable manifestations of this temper which its history shows — the early struggle for freedom from English control, the long contest over the charters, the intellectual and material leadership in the Revolution, the slow acceptance of the obligations of national union — for these are only the more striking incidents in a long course of less assertive but insistent behavior. There was in the Massachusetts mind from the beginning a clear perception of the possibility of a community that should be, in thought as well as in conduct, something distinctive and even apart; and to the defence of that conception the resources of the community were summoned and its powers exercised. It was not a conception hostile to union or co-operation, for what English colony co-operated more with its neighbors in times of common peril, what State spent itself more generously for the achievement of national independence, what commonwealth was readier to march when the Union was assailed? But union, when its day arrived, must take Massachusetts as it was, without infringement of anything that gave it its peculiar character. In the united effort which alone could conquer national independence Massachusetts was prompt to join, and in the cementing of independence it did its part, but it was not with any thought of sacrificing the essentials of its own independence that it aided in breaking the British tie or helped to make an imperfect union yet more perfect.

    I shall be reminded, of course, that what has been done has not been notably consistent, and that a number of uninviting things have happened. The appeal to consistency does not greatly impress me, however, when generations and centuries are concerned, for politics, after all, is no fixed code of procedure but rather an adaptation of means to ends, and a mind that thinks only in terms of precedents recalls Franklin’s remark about the horseman on the inn sign — “always riding but never getting on.” The American who champions consistency as a supreme political virtue must be hard put to it today to decide what party ticket he shall vote, for our modern Republicans bear but slight resemblance to those who a generation ago took pride in that fellowship and none whatever to those who first took the name; contemporary political Democracy might well cause the ashes of Jefferson and Jackson to flutter in their graves; and American socialism, if I may adapt a phrase of the Supreme Court, appears to have become a decadent liberalism affected with a socialist interest. It does not greatly trouble me to remember that Massachusetts, in common with some other parts of New England, swapped horses on the tariff issue after the War of 1812 showed where the most dollars were to be made, and applauded the unanswerable protectionist arguments of a Webster who only a few years before was ready with as unanswerable a support for free trade. Farming, trading or manufacturing, Whig, Democratic or Republican, it has clung to the idea that it was different, and cherished the individuality which illustrates its conception of what the State should be.

    It would be idle also to deny that the independent temper has gone hand in hand with, if it has not indeed helped to develop, some restrictive and unlovely social qualities. The descendants of Protestant dissenters who worshiped a God they did not know have burnt incense to ancestors for whom they were not responsible, and successive generations have had their Index Expurgatorius of persons with whom one must not be too intimate. The saving grace of humor has never been abundant in these parts, and the unbendings of pleasure, to the more worldly-minded from abroad, have often appeared to savor of the serious pursuit of a reducing diet. No historian would care to affirm that Massachusetts has been noted for its tolerance, and certainly no impartial observer would find it tolerant now. Its early rulers were distinctly intolerant of religious or political dissent, and the arrogance of a self-conscious superiority characterized much of its early relations with its neighbors. Its manifestations of righteous indignation at the Fugitive Slave law are matched by its earlier hostility to the Garrisonian abolitionists, and it viewed with suspicion and well-grounded fear the opening of the West. The censorship of books which obtains today in Boston, if no worse than the fantastic censorship of books, plays, and morals generally that disgraces New York, does no credit to intellectual freedom, and the tragic Sacco-Vanzetti case has carried the name of Massachusetts around the world as that of a State which apparently prefers the maintenance of the established social order to the requirements of full and impartial justice.

    I am not disposed to minimize such errancies and extravagances, but I am equally indisposed to magnify them. They seem to me to be, in a large view, natural defects of the quality. It is of the essence of the independent temper that opinions should be pronounced, that an order once established should be upheld against any other, and that dissent should have to fight its way. Those who by labor and sacrifice have builded a commonwealth in the fashion that seemed to them good, and have seen their work fruitful of beneficence for the men and women who have occupied and used it, would be less than human if they did not take pride in their achievement and zealously strive to perpetuate it. That Massachusetts has always been right, that it has always had the keener vision or frankly perceived and accepted the law of change no one, I fancy, would care seriously to contend. It has been a commonwealth of mortals, with its full share of the failings common to human society. But that it has had, in exceptional measure, a definite conception of its place in the sun and has resisted what it feared might deflect it from its course is written plainly across the record of its history for three hundred years.

    Such a temper as I have referred to is, of course, conservative. In an age which, like our own, holds tradition in light esteem, harks back to history as to a something from which we have escaped, and regards social institutions as merely the products of caprice or inscrutable fate, conservatism is likely to be listed among terms of reproach; and there are not many circles in which one who ventures to point to conservatism as a virtue will be excused from explaining that he is not defending the reactionary, the humdrum, or the old fogey. There has been a good deal of reverence in Massachusetts for what was old mainly because it was old, and regard for tradition has played an appreciable part in the history of the commonwealth. But the conservatism that I have in mind, and which I seem to see illustrated here, is the temper which recognizes the value both of evolution and of common sense. It does not deny the right of revolution — there would have been no United States if that inherent right had not been asserted — but it nevertheless understands that, historically, progress is slow; it observes that gains are to be held if other gains are to follow; it refuses to throw time-honored methods overboard merely because in some respects they have worked badly, and only in crises does it appeal to the surgeon’s knife. It cannot shake off regard for property or respect for sensible laws; its admission that theoretically all men are created equal does not prevent it from insisting that all men are not alike, and it is averse to plunging ahead without a reasoned perception of where it is going. The conservatism of Massachusetts, in short, is the conservatism of the historical sense, of the recognition of a notable past out of which the future must grow without, if possible, a violent break. Whoever imagines — and I suspect that there are many who do — that Massachusetts, in matters of social wellbeing for all sorts and conditions of men, has been hopelessly unprogressive because, in moments of fear or bewilderment, extreme radicalism has been suppressed, should correct his notion by searching the statute book, the records of administrative boards, and the decisions of courts.

    One should expect independence and conservatism in a community which, like this, has consistently set much store by intellectual things. Here, from the beginning, the educated man has been respected and opportunities for education have been magnified. Into the main historical current of Massachusetts culture have flowed many tributary streams — the tradition of an educated clergy long influential in public affairs, statesmen who left their mark upon history, literature or oratory in addition to State and national politics, jurists learned in the law, scientists, journalists, teachers, and critics who in their several ways have enlarged knowledge, developed thought, and cultivated good writing and effective speech. It is here that Emerson boldly proclaimed the independence of the American scholar; it is here that American history was first written in a large manner; it is here that President Eliot, with unflagging patience and incomparable power, worked out through Harvard College his great idea of what education should be and how it should be attained. It was with intellectual weapons that the Unitarian movement of the middle nineteenth century attacked the defences of Protestant orthodoxy, and the theological liberalism which later sprouted at Andover had learning and critical thought for its foundations. Great literature and art, we are told, have sometimes seemed to flourish best in times of social pause or apparent decay, but poetry, fiction, literary criticism, philosophy, art and music blossomed here through generations which saw also the orderly and rapid development of a varied economic life, large outlays of public funds for the common benefit, and the quiet absorption of alien peoples into the industrial, commercial and social activities of the commonwealth.

    I cannot follow, if I understand them correctly, those who reply that the intellectual culture of Massachusetts has been predominantly provincial, that it has not spread its substance or its spirit to other States or regions, and that what was long held to be distinguished has for some time ceased to be so regarded. If by the criticism is meant nothing more than that we do not read much today the books our fathers read, that history is no longer written as Bancroft and Palfrey wrote it, that New York rather than Boston is now the musical centre of America, that what passed for scientific learning two or three generations ago has been largely repudiated, or that strange philosophies and religious loyalties have replaced such as once prevailed, no one, surely, would question its validity. Massachusetts, even in the remotest realm of highbrowdom in which its critics have affected to locate it, has not been so static that it could not move. But the spread of important elements of its culture seems to me to have been wide. The writers who, from the beginning of a century ago, were giving it fame have long since become a national possession, and the elective system first systematically developed at Harvard has become a commonplace of education throughout the land. The great orchestras that contribute so splendidly to the spread of musical culture in other cities owe their inspiration to the Boston Symphony Orchestra, unique monument to the wisdom and generosity of a Massachusetts man. I make bold to say that if the manifold influence of the Harvard Medical School, the Harvard Law School, the Harvard Graduate School, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the New England Conservatory of Music, and many another institution that might be named could be traced, there would be found few parts of the United States to which that influence has not penetrated or in which it has not been a cultural and civilizing force.

    What place, let me now ask, is there in the present time for a community spirit deeply marked with independence, conservatism and intellectual interest? Is Massachusetts, at the end of three centuries of organic existence, merely a historical product continuing to live mainly because political and social institutions are slow to die, a something to be looked over and discoursed about from time to time as decades go on and praised or lamented for what it has done or failed to do, a dead but brilliant specimen for the great historical museum of lost causes and impossible loyalties, or is there a function which, with essentially the same spirit that has long characterized it, it may still hope to perform? Shall we write “finis” at the end of the third century, bind the sheets in honorable covers and place them on the shelf, and turn elsewhere for what we need to know, or are there other chapters to be written which the State and the nation will do well to read?

    I confess to a feeling of apprehension as I think of the import of such questions. The intellectual interest which long contributed to what was distinctive in Massachusetts appears to me to be at the moment, in this country, stricken with decay. It seems to me a melancholy thing, when I recall the statesmen who for years spoke for Massachusetts and the Union in Congress, that the present time should be so poor in public men whose presence would honor the meeting of any learned society, or whose remarks on any commemorative occasion would be particularly worth listening to. The richest nation in the world allows pure research in science only a meagre sustenance notwithstanding that it is ready to spend millions in producing a new soap or face powder, a new cigarette, or a novel radio device, and it permits itself, with appalling indifference, to be fed or amused with books that are badly written and barren of thought, plays that are cheap when not deliberately depraved, and magazines that are published but not edited. It is a striking illustration of the measure of our intellectual interest that, in the enthusiasm with which the country has rushed headlong into the business of relieving a condition of great unemployment, not a single person, so far as I have observed, who has the public ear has taken the trouble to point out that what is being done on an unprecedented scale is almost wholly superficial, that it scarcely touches the roots of the difficulty, and that the distress that prompts us to charity will surely return to plague us no matter how many miles of highways we mortgage the future to build or how many unneeded workers are carried on the payroll.

    You will already have thought of the rejoinders which are ready for those who lament the present intellectual torpor of America: the profound upheaval of the World War, the vast disillusionment that came when a world that was to be made safe for democracy turned out to have been made neither democratic nor safe, the ineptitude of representative government before the technological tasks of a machine age, the stupefying effect of comfortable living, and a defeatist philosophy which left us as destitute of a will to wish as of a wish to will. There is no time here to enlarge upon any of these explanations, nor even to consider whether, in the long historical view, we have in the present phenomenon anything more than another of those periods of pause or reaction with which the course of civilization would appear always to have been marked. I wish merely to say that unless the esteem for the intellectual life which has so largely been cast aside is regained, unless the American intellectual who has turned his back on politics and affairs again puts his hand to the public tasks in which he has pre-eminently the duty to share, and unless an intellectual leadership comparable in our day to that which Massachusetts once possessed and exercised is again asserted, we have nothing to look forward to save the disappearance of such intellectual values as are still cherished, the enthronement of a completely material culture in which the life of the spirit will be unable to breathe, and the establishment of political dictatorship in place of representative government because people will no longer deem it worth while to govern themselves. Doubtless, if that day comes, the history of Massachusetts may still be read, but most readers, I fancy, will see in it only what the average schoolboy sees in Caesar’s Commentaries — a record of something not very interesting that happened a long time ago, but of no obvious importance now.

    Is there still place in the American nation, let me further ask, for State independence, or, if you please, State individuality? Is the Union today, after more than a hundred and forty years of existence under its present Constitution, in practice as well as in theory a union of separate political communities each of which possesses, and is expected to possess, an individual character; each of which performs functions over which no outside authority can or does pretend to exercise control; each of which may, if it chooses, differ diametrically from its neighbors or from the Union in matters of policy without thereby incurring suspicion of disloyalty? Has Massachusetts today a recognized sphere of political action upon which the nation may not intrude, and within which it may freely develop such type of commonwealth life as seems to it good? It was so privileged, if I read American history aright, when the Union was formed. Has it such privilege now?

    I am not disposed to hark back to the War of 1812 and the Hartford Convention, or to the great State-rights controversy over the tariff which, a few years later, divided American political opinion into two hostile camps and gave Webster his greatest opportunity for political theorizing. I have in mind rather the course of events since the Civil War, and particularly during the past twenty or thirty years, in which State independence has waned and national authority has expanded. There is no novelty in the observation that the present generation has seen a portentous enlargement of national authority at the expense of the States, an extraordinary development of constitutional interpretation which has given judicial sanction to what the nation has done, and a progressive federal usurpation for which no direct constitutional warrant is easily found. Decade by decade, almost year by year, the independence of the States has diminished and the presumption of national right has increased. The States indeed retain their names and their several forms of government, they still administer a common law and bodies of statute law of their own making, they still lay and collect taxes for their public purposes, they still vote as States in national elections, they are still represented as States in Congress. Outwardly, the form of a federal union is still preserved, and there are still some dwindling domains of State right into which federal authority does not presume to enter. But the whole trend of our political practice, as far as national legislation and administration are concerned, has been strongly in the direction of subordinating the States to federal power, depriving them of initiative and control, and reducing them from sovereign commonwealths to political subdivisions useful chiefly for electoral and certain administrative purposes.

    Again, I am sure, you will be ready with rejoinders. I shall be reminded that the natural tendency of government, especially in a technological age, is toward centralization, and that the development of mergers and cartels in the business world, of chain stores and holding companies and consolidated railway systems, is an obvious indication of the centralized control that must be looked for in government. I shall be told that the problems of business supervision, health, power, and what not which now bulk so large in the daily work of government know no State boundaries, and that State regulation of such matters, if it were by any chance exclusively relied upon, would precipitate chaos. I shall be asked if the great development of the Constitution over a hundred and forty years through usage and judicial interpretation has not in fact created a nation out of what at the beginning was a loose aggregation of States, and if a national point of view, fruit of interests which are nationwide, has not rendered State points of view not merely provincial but parochial. Of what importance is it that Massachusetts should cherish anything distinctive in its own political life when there is a greater national life in which it may share?

    I concede the force of all these rejoinders, but they nevertheless leave me entirely unconvinced and essentially recalcitrant. The very development which has transformed a federal union of sovereign States into the kind of centralized government that we now have ministers very directly to that widespread contempt for law which is a glaring evil of our time. When I read in the Constitution, and in an Amendment, as it happens, which was framed and adopted in order that there might be no room for doubt, that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people,” and then recall a long course of legislative, judicial and administrative history which has left that provision hardly more than a form of words, I see no convincing reason why I should not evade or disregard any other constitutional or legal enactment that stands in the way of my ambition or caprice if I think I can get away with it. I am not deeply impressed by the claims of superior efficiency and safety which are thought to inhere in highly centralized authority. We have had the virtues of governmental efficiency dinned into our ears with persistent and arresting iteration, yet we face today the greatest economic collapse that the country has known, with the only answer of efficiency an appeal to spend instead of save, lay on more taxes, and enlarge the doles.

    My dissent is stronger at another point. With all respect for differing opinion, I cannot agree with those who affect to see in uniformity the highest type of national culture. The richest culture, it seems to me, is that which offers place to all forms of talent, free expression to all kinds of opinion, free opportunity for the pursuit of social, moral or intellectual experiment. It is better for the human spirit that it should struggle rather than acquiesce, better for authority that it should be perennially challenged than that it should have its levelling way. I am glad that there are many great universities in the United States besides Harvard, but I am also glad that there is only one Harvard and that there is no other like it. Artificial as some of the States are in their boundaries or the circumstances of their creation, they are constituent members of a Union whose proper nature is variety, and to the extent to which federal usurpation has obliterated what in them was distinctive the political life of the country has lost. Even Webster, in the great debate in which he demolished the nullification doctrine of Hayne, did not conceive of a nation whose constituent members should do only what they were told or what the national government was not yet ready to attend to, for to him liberty and union were one and inseparable.

    I welcome, therefore, whatever tends to emphasize diversity or give distinctive character to any State or region. I am glad that the New England Council, in whose work Massachusetts has played so large a part, has tackled the job of developing and unifying the economic life of New England. I am glad that Wisconsin elects to follow its own course in politics, that a dozen and more insurgent members of Congress have the backing of their States in their insurgency, and that a Democratic South declines to have an alien Republicanism thrust upon it from the outside. I am glad that the best performances of Bach’s choral works are still to be heard at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, that Rochester, Minnesota, rivals New York and Baltimore in the skill of its surgeons, and that artists, poets, dramatists, novelists, and critics are no monopoly of the Atlantic seaboard. These things do more than splash with color the American background of drab; they give distinction to the State in which they are found, spread abroad its name and its repute, and draw to it other workers and other activities that enhance the value of its cultural life.

    There is the more reason for maintaining stoutly the individuality of the States and their rightful independence in the federal system because of the persistent campaign which is now being carried on against nationalism. Ever since the peace negotiators at Paris erected amid the wreckage of the World War a League of Nations, internationalism has been exalted and nationalism has been decried. Without, of course, going the length of denying the right of a nation to its own existence and the enjoyment of its own special institutions and culture, the champions of internationalism have been prone to emphasize the “ism” of nationalism and to represent devotion to the nation as a relatively low plane of political living, one on which a people progresses easily to aloofness from its neighbors, suspicion, fear, hostility, and war. Nationalism, one gathers, is to be looked upon as a stage in civilization entirely proper, no doubt, in its time, but one which should now be abandoned for a higher and better international plane in which the nations are to forget their historical differences, pool their present and future interests, and work together, under the lead of the strongest, as a kind of universal brotherhood in which all problems, if not all possessions, are to be held and administered in common.

    I should be little disturbed by this phenomenon, save as an interesting phase of current political thought, if the highly subsidized internationalism which is being preached contemplated only a wider and more perfect co-operation among the nations in what are obviously common concerns. No American, surely, with the record of American international co-operation before him—a record, I venture to assert, quite as elaborate and creditable as that which any other nation can show — would think of opposing joint international action wherever there is reasonable likelihood that good may come of it. But the organized propaganda which I have in mind seems to me to go much farther than that, and to contemplate the development of what in fact would be a super-state, vested with real authority over its members, imposing sanctions for disobedience or neglect, administering a codified international law through a world court, and controlling the use of armies and navies, the course of international trade, and the operations of international finance.

    You would hardly expect me, after what I have said in other connections, to express anything except apprehension in the presence of such a possibility. The evils of nationalism have been many and sore, but they have been no greater than the evils of human life and ambition in other relations, nor is nationalism to be decried because its spirit has gone to extremes. Because South Carolina tried nullification and Maine staged an Aroostook war is no reason why Massachusetts, founded by men who knew their own minds and challenged a king to constrain them, should not stand firmly on its own feet, cultivate its own commonwealth life, and insist upon its constitutional rights as a member of the Union. There is still, I think, a patriotism that is a virtue and not, like the vermiform appendix, a vestigial remain as likely as not to cause trouble, and there is still a nation whose ideals are to be upheld against all attacks. I see nothing but peril in the prospect of a world state, a centralized authority planted at a world capital, armies and navies beyond the control of the people who furnish and pay for them, a world control of finance, industry, agriculture and trade; and I also see nothing but intellectual degeneracy in the stabilized and regulated world culture which such conditions would work to create. It is not by conformity to standards that the human race makes progress, for standards are static where life is dynamic. It is by struggle and conflict, trial and failure, and endless experiment, all in fullest liberty, that the world advances.

    If there is any ground of confidence in the American future it must be, I think, in the belief that such principles as I have signalized in Massachusetts are not limited to the conditions of any one generation or age, but are essential to a healthy commonwealth life at all times, whatever the stress or change. Massachusetts can no more stand still than it can turn back upon its course, and we may be sure that the incidents of its future, perhaps of a future that the oldest of us will live to see, will be very different from those that attend it now. A revolution, economic, political, social, is upon us, and where it will land us the wisest can only guess. But I see no hope for democracy in America unless the States maintain against all attack the independence which the Constitution recognizes as theirs, no hope for the security of useful institutions unless we cherish an intelligent regard for the past, and no hope for national culture unless we welcome intellectual leadership. With this trinity of obligations the old Bay State may continue to go forward, holding up a standard for other States to follow, because in the past it has been that way and in the future it can do no other. Webster, were he to return to the Senate which he once adorned and plead again for union with liberty, might then say of his adopted State what he said of it in the same forum a hundred years ago: “I shall enter on no encomium upon Massachusetts; she needs none.”