Hon. William H. Langdon, District Attorney of San Francisco, gave an interesting lecture on "The Battle against Graft in the Cities" in the Living Room of the Union last evening.
Graft comes into existence when public officials, elected to represent the best interests of the people, forget their trust, become selfish, take what does not belong to them and aid and abet evil institutions. This is more than treason, it is a crime against government itself. It means the paralysis of the democratic spirit of a community and the tendency of good men to be indifferent to its welfare.
In the prosecution of the corrupt politicians in San Francisco, some of the minor offenders had to be pardoned because they were the only sources of legal evidence necessary to convict the higher officials who were at the bottom of the corruption. The aim in all this was to show young men and women that dishonesty does not pay and that no person is above the law because he is wealthy.
The leadership of public-spirited private citizens is very essential to the maintenance of good government and the hearty co-operation of every citizen is also needed. Every member of a community should be responsible for the actions of its officers, not merely by voting, on election day, but by keeping in constant touch with the acts of these officials and seeing that they do not misuse their power.
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