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through a comprehension of this fundamental fact that a correct understanding can be reached of the phenomena of municipal life in the United States.1

The path of municipal reform seems to lie, not in radical ́ changes in the suffrage, nor in the overthrow of representative. institutions, but along the more prosaic lines of conservative experiment.2 Much has been accomplished for the reform of our American cities during the present generation; but the vital difficulty still remains the difficulty of practising economy in the face of the fact that a large portion of the people do not want economy; that another large portion insist upon expenditure as an indirect means of equalizing conditions; and of the fact that those who do not pay anything directly to the support of the government are in an immense and constantly increasing majority.

There is no reason to anticipate failure if we restrict our efforts to the development and application to city government of that theory of limited democracy which is the special invention and political property of the American people. Nothing but failure is to be apprehended from attempts to convert our municipal institutions into a training school for socialism. The American Idea rests upon a wider suffrage than ever obtained in the most absolute democracies of Greece, but it is hedged and limited by legislatures, courts, and constitutions, so as to make the federal democracy of the United States the most truly conservative form of government on earth to-day. Our democracy is Greek in name, but in substance it is not Greek, or French, or Swiss it is



1"An American city is more thoroughly a Commonwealth; it has more of the feelings of a Commonwealth than an English city has." Freeman. The elder Quincy spoke of Boston as a "young republic" in 1824.

2 Such as a reduction in the number of elective officers; the substitution of a single legislative branch for the dual system; the abolition of the district system of representation; the concentration of executive business in the Mayor; fewer departments; longer terms of office; the civil service rules; and the limitation of indebtedness.

3 The Greek idea was a government with absolute powers, exercised directly by the people, -a pure democracy; the American idea is a government with limited powers, prescribed in written constitutions, and exercised by representatives of the people, and divided into national, State, and town or city governments, - a limited federal democracy. On the other hand, owing to the existence of slavery in Greece the basis of suffrage there was much narrower than with us at present.



American. Let us leave it so, and we shall retain a form of government that cannot be hurried into those popular excesses that ruined the cities of Greece, or into that Chinese stagnation which threatens the socialistic city of the future. Let us aim to remain a body of self-respecting, self-supporting American citizens, and not permit ourselves to be transformed into a pauperized community of nationalists and socialists. We must rely on the American genius to solve the problem of democratic city government : not by sudden or revolutionary reforms; not through methods thrust by socialistic agitation upon communities, like some in Switzerland, which have lost the virility to resist; but by slow degrees in the Anglo-American way, in which all our political institutions have been developed. A certain inefficiency, a certain waste, must be conceded as part of the price we must pay for the blessings of free institutions; and success cannot be attained without the most thoughtful study and unceasing vigilance and effort; but there ought to be no doubt of the ultimate capacity of the American people to work this problem out, as they have so many others.1

1 In connection with the foregoing remarks I may be permitted to reprint the closing portion of an aliress delivered on February 27, 1892, before the students of the Phillips Academy at Exeter, N.H.:

"The great questions of State and national politics make more interesting subjects for popular discussion than the dry details of municipal a lministration; but, after all, the questions that will touch you oftenest and closest in your personal relations are questions of municipal rather than of State or national government. Out of $100 contributed by the individual in direct taxation to the various city, county, State, and national governments to which he owes allegiance, about 80 per cent. goes to the town or city, while the entire burlen of the remaining conaty, State, and national taxes amounts to only 20 per cent.: and in respect to debt, his personal share of his town or city debt is nearly ten times as great as his proportion of the national and State debts.

"In other words, so far as your immediate pecuniary interests are concerned, based on the amount you pay in taxes, more than three-fourths of the time and attention you can afford to devote to public business should be bestowed upon the town or city where you live. However much you may be attracted while pursuing your studies here or in college or in after years to the political and economic problems growing out of State and national affairs, you will do well to recollect that the main interest of the citizen is at home, and that it is of as much consequence to him that his town or city affairs should be honestly and economically administered as that this or that policy should prevail in State affairs. or this or that party succeed in national politics.

"You will find also that there is far more room for discoveries and improvements in the field of municipal administration than in the broader, but simpler, domain of national The fundamental questions that divide parties in State and nation are, except



in times of crisis or unusual excitement, very much the same from year to year and from generation to generation; they are few in number and easy to understand, and whether one side or the other for the time being prevails is, after all, of little moment in comparison with what is or might be done in working out the true.theory and practice of municipal government.

"Another reason why the youth of the community - particularly that portion of it which is receiving the benefit of a liberal education should be urged to devote their attention, when they have finished the preparatory period of life, to the problems of city government, is the little success that has been achieved, in this country at least, in the solution of these problems. The town government is, perhaps, as good a working plan for managing small communities as has ever been devised, and can probably be very little improved; the federal system of our national government, which bas stood the strain of over a century, is as strong in the hearts of the people and the respect of the world as it was at the beginning; but no one would claim that the people of this country had, on the whole, or in any particular instance, yet devised an economical and efficient system for the government of great cities. Without asserting or believing that municipal government in this country is, as our enemies have claimed, a disgrace to us and a condemnation of democracy, we must, nevertheless, admit that the general theory of our institutions, as applied to great cities, has not worked so well as in the larger, but simpler, fields of State and nation. Progress is undoubtedly being made, and I think it cannot be denied that the large cities of our country are on the whole better governed to-day that is to say, that larger results are produced for the same expenditure of money than twenty years ago; but it is true, I think, that by far the greater part of the work of improvement and reform is still to come. Thus municipal reform offers a practically limitless field for the activities and intelligence of those of our citizens who have the time, the training, and the inclination to devote themselves to the solution of public problems.

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"In approaching this subject you will be confronted with many plausible and apparently simple remedies. You will be told, for instance, that that government is best which is best administered, and that the whole secret consists in electing honorable and capable men to office. This proposition, though certainly true to the extent that no system can be made to work well unless administered by honest and capable officials, fails completely, when the system itself is wrong; and when you find, as you will by comparing almost any American city with a city of corresponding size in foreign countries, that the public services and facilities afforded by European cities are much greater in proportion to the amount expended than anywhere in this country, however capable and honest the city government for the time being may be, you can safely assume that the fault lies with the system rather than with the character of the men who are elected to office. You will be told that the true solution of the problem is to eradicate all politics from city government, and to treat a municipal as you would a private corporation, managing the one precisely as the other; and in support of this idea you will be informed of the excellent results accomplished in many of the cities of continental Europe. Persons who advocate this theory will, however, omit to tell you that the basis of every political structure in this country, from the town to the federal government at Washington, is universal local suffrage; while in the cities of continental Europe, to which your attention and admiration are directed, a large part of the local business is controlled and administered by a centralized national government, and the remainder regulated by a suffrage based on property rather than on polls. In the city of Berlin, for instance, which we can freely admit to be one of the best-governed manicipalities in the world, two-thirds of the city council are elected by a very small percentage of the voting population; for while every citizen has, I believe, a vote, the electors are divided into classes in such manner that the voting power of each is practically



proportionate to his means. It is easy to see how under such a system the city government can be managed as if it were a private corporation, where, also, the influence of the individual stockholder is proportionate to the amount of his financial interest in the company.

"We are told that a city should be regarded as a business corporation rather than as a political organization; but this advice, again, presupposes a condition of things which does not exist in the United States. Those who tender this advice as a ready and complete remedy for the admitted defects of municipal government in this country forget, I think, the history of democracy in its application to large municipal communities. They look to the modern instances of Berlin and Paris and other foreign cities, where the results are admittedly worthy of consideration; but they overlook the fact that those results are obtained by a sacrifice of the principle of local government and the right of equal manhood suffrage. They do not recall the fact that from the earliest times the government of cities has been a difficult and oftentimes an impossible task, wherever democratic theories have prevailed. The city as we know it had, like almost every other institution that flourishes to-day, its origin in ancient Greece; and the conditions obtaining there, so far as the qualifications for suffrage and the temper of the people are concerned, were more similar to those which exist to-day in this country than anything to be found in the citics of continental Europe. I fancy, however, that no one would seriously point to the history of the Greek cities as furnishing examples of government on business principles. No city in this country can be mentioned that permits anything like as much politics—unwholesome, demagogic, and destructive politics- to enter into the administration of its affairs as was the case in Athens, the greatest of the Greek democracies. By politics I do not mean so much the mere struggle for party supremacy that plays so large a part in the political life of this country, but that tendency to decide questions of municipal policy on social and sentimental rather than on business considerations. Political and social agitation was the life of the Greek city, and finally proved its death; and how many people realize that from the destruction of the Greek republics to the great migration into cities which began in this country less than 100 years ago, history does not furnish us with successful instances of the governing of large municipal communities on truly democratic principles.

"We are working out a problem that has received no attention from the educated intelligence of mankind since the days of classic Greece -the problem of self-government on democratic principles for great bodies of people congregated together in a single neighborhood, and without the controlling power of a supciror central government. We should face this problem squarely, with no hesitation, on the one hand, to admit that better and more economical results are being obtained to-day in foreign cities under wholly different systems, but with a determination to do as well ourselves, or even better, without abandoning those fundamental principles of government which are the historic property of the nation. No one should despair of eventual success, or give the problem up as hopeless, because of the difficulties that surround it or the little progress that has hitherto been made. When this republic was founded, it was based upon a new and untried application of democracy. Recalling the fact that all previous attempts at governing nations on democratic principles had failed, through the tendency in such communities to attempt too much in the way of government, the men who created this republic invented a new kind of democracy. They worked out a plan which gave to every citizen a share and an equal share in the government of his country, but which rigorously limited the functions and attributes of government to the narrowest limits consistent with national unity and power. This system, with its sharp lines between the powers of the federal government and those of the several States, has been the only permanently successful application of democracy to the government of great nations that the world has witnessed; and it now remains for the descendants of the men who worked out this system to exercise




their ingenuity and industry and patriotism in devising plans for the application of democracy to the great, unsolved problem of the government of cities. I am confident that our people are as able to devise a successful democratic plan for governing cities as they were to invent and establish a democratic republic for the country at large. The main reliance of the people in this endeavor will now, as then, be the educated intelligence of the country; and I wish to impress upon you, as scholars and as citizens, that the greatest of all duties that will devolve upon you, when you leave the academy or the college and enter into active life, will be to take an intelligent, personal and perpetual interest in the management of the city where you live. You will derive valuable information for purposes of comparison from visiting other cities and studying their methods; but the details of municipal government are generally so intricate that no adequate comprehension of the difficulties of the case can be formed without keeping a close and personal watch upon the management of your own city government. If the opportunity presents itself to enter city politics and become yourself a member of the city council, do not hesitate to seize it. To accomplish this end, you will generally find it necessary to ally yourself with one party or the other; but you should always bear in mind that the only justification for party politics in municipal business is the opportunity thus afforded to serve your city faithfully, and sometimes to accomplish great results."

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