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Fact and Comment


Harvard Draws on Wilson.

(From St. Louis Daily Globe-Democrat).

The Faculty of Harvard University has paid Woodrow Wilson a distinguished compliment. It has placed his "Congressional Government" on the list of obligatory reading in its governmental course, and it is now being studied by 400 students. But how does that body know that the views of the president-elect are the same now as they were when he wrote that work? The book appeared so long ago that it had been forgotten by most of those who were familiar with his writings. It was written in 1884, when he was 28 years old, was the first of his books, and was published in 1885. When it was being written Arthur was president of the United States, and the first Democratic president chosen since Buchanan had not yet been elected. In the twenty-nine years which have passed since the finishing touches were put on that book the programmes of each of the great parties have been altered, minor sects which have exerted an influence over each of the big organizations have made their advent and the whole face of contemporary politics has been changed.

It would be strange, indeed, if Mr. Wilson's conception of the relative powers of the three orders in the government had remained unchanged during the decades which have witnessed the extension of the railway and the telegraph, the virtual creation of the telephone and the birth of wireless telegraphy, with the appearance of the trusts, the rise of the Socialist party, and the advent of a radicalism such as had not been dreamed of in 1884. In this interval a stupendous economic and political transformation has taken place. Mr. Wilson declares that "Congress is predominant over its so-called co-ordinate branches. Whereas Congress at first overshadowed neither president nor federal judiciary, it now (in 1884) rules both with easy mastery and a high hand." And yet the country remembers instances in which four members of the Supreme Court, acting jointly, have set aside acts passed by Congress, which received the signature of the president. Every Monday for more than a month not only Wall street but the leading trade interests of the country have awaited a ruling by the Supreme Court in the Minnesota rate case which, as is expected, will have a tonic effect on business.

In his recent talks Mr. Wilson makes it evident that he conceives the functions of the effice of president to be something more than of a routine order. The change in his attitude is nor due to fickleness on his part or to ambition to play a larger role in the government. The zeitgeist has forced the role upon him, providing he is found to be morally able to sustain it. Some of the things which Mr. Wilson wrote in 1884 would, if written in 1913, be written differently.

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