You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

Editorial Notes

ACCORDING to assurances reaching this country from many sources, the German retort to the last American note will be "conciliatory." Judging by the sinking of the Armenian, the German desire to conciliate the United States must not be allowed to interfere with the practice of killing Americans in the war zone. Discussion of the bearing of the Armenian case upon the controversy, however, must be postponed until a full investigation of the facts has been made. In any event, the tension of American public opinion has been very much relaxed. It is believed that war will be avoided. Apparently the less bellicose faction in the German imperial counsels is at least temporarily in the ascendant. Some acceptable compromise may be offered to the American government. If the Germans are willing to make sacrifices to avoid war with the United States we should do something to help them. But the Germans must not misinterpret this American assistance. They should clearly understand that even though sacrifices are made to avoid war, the sinking of the Lusitania no less than the sinking of the Maine will be remembered. It is bound to make a grave difference in the subsequent relations between the two countries. The German government planned with the utmost premeditation to kill over one hundred inoffensive American citizens, who were behaving as they had moral and legal right to behave. To the American protest the Germans have kindly consented to return a "conciliatory" answer. Let us by all means be conciliatory, too, in order that we ourselves may not get involved in the killing. But the negotiations will not affect our opinion of the people who did the thing or of the people who approve it. The opinion will survive; and some day it will count. 

WHILE American public opinion has settled down to the comfortable conclusion that war with Germany will be avoided, there is very little consideration of the sacrifices which must be made in the interest of peace. Yet these sacrifices will be difficult. An agreement with Germany is plainly impossible unless the government is prepared to waive some of the rights which its citizens now enjoy under the law of nations. President Wilson has demanded of Germany practically that the submarines operate subject to the rule of visit and search. Their operation under such restrictions would so seriously hamper the effectiveness of the submarine campaign that it might just as well be abandoned. The Germans assuredly will not abandon it unless they can secure thereby a revocation of the British Order-in-Council—an alternative which may be dismissed from the realm of practical consideration. But if the Germans will not agree to operate their submarines subject to the rule of visit and search, they will probably propose to exempt a certain class of vessels from the danger of submarine bombardment. They will propose to guarantee the safety of passengers on boats which do not carry munitions of war. Can this compromise be accepted? If it is accepted, certain valuable neutral rights will be abandoned; and with their abandonment the American government will lose the benefit which it has hitherto enjoyed in its negotiations with all the belligerents, of a scrupulously correct legal attitude. Yet if it is not accepted, the chance of reaching an agreement between the two countries fades almost entirely away.

THE seriousness of the dilemma indicated in the preceding paragraph can scarcely be underestimated. The advantages of a strictly legal attitude are clear and enormous. International law is the shelter which pacific trading nations have built up against belligerent encroachments, and if any part of this shelter is abandoned the whole frail structure is imperilled. When one considers the meaning and value of such a shelter, one is inclined to echo the New York World in the uncompromising assertion that "no American right should be sacrificed in behalf of any belligerent." But what if the belligerents pay no attention to our uncompromising assertion of neutral rights? What if our strict legality of attitude forces us to choose between eating our own words and backing them up with deeds? What if strict neutrality involves us in war, as it did one hundred years ago, and in a war which would necessitate the abandonment of our controversy with Great Britain in order to press our controversy with Germany? Truly in that case the basic principles of American national policy will require reconsideration. If strict insistence upon legal rights is going to involve us in war, the question must be asked whether these rights are worth fighting for. No matter how hard Americans try, they seem unable to escape the necessity of painting their neutrality with some more positive color. Some of us want to paint it red, and some of us want to paint it white. Our own preference would be for the "deep purple."

IN our issue of May twenty-ninth we drew attention to a hideous advertisement by the Cleveland Automatic Machine Company. It described a poisonous shell. Newspapers all over the world commented on the advertisement, and despatches from Germany even profess to quote army surgeons who have dealt with the wounds inflicted by this shell. From the first we had our doubts about that advertisement, and we are happy to state now on the most detailed information that the advertisement was a sheer blunder, due to a printer mistaking for advertising copy the manuscript of a news article which had no reference to any product of the Cleveland Automatic Machine Company. The following letter from the president of the company, Mr. Arthur L. Garford, tells the essential points:

Sir: Through a deplorable error, an advertisement of the Cleveland Automatic Machine Company in the American Machinists' Magazine of New York, May sixth, was combined with a news item making it appear that the company of which I am president was producing a new and barbarous acid shell. The correction has already appeared in the American Machinists, and in view of your justified editorial condemnation of the sale of such weapons, may I ask you to publish the statement that neither the Cleveland Automatic Machine Company nor any other concern with which I am connected is making or has ever made or dealt in any shells, shrapnel, or other weapons or ammunition of any character whatsoever. This statement is, of course, subject to verification, which I shall be glad to submit at your request.
(Signed) A. L. GARFORD.

We have the information which supports Mr. Garford's statement, but Mr. Garford's letter is enough. Our hope is that this correction will be as widely noticed as the original comment.

ACCORDING to Cardinal Gibbons, "the ballot would drag woman from her domestic duties into the arena of politics, and rob her of much of her charm, goodness and true influence. She is, indeed, a princess, but her God-given rule should lie in domestic and gentler fields and ways." Such remarks are useful only in anti-suffrage controversy, where anything seems to be good enough. In other fields they might sound less relevant. Saleswomen, approaching their employer through a delegation, and informing him that such long hours robbed them of too much of their charm, goodness and true influence, might find him unsympathetic. Your cook would surprise you if she based her demand for more than every other Sunday out upon the fact that she was a princess. Your laundress, when you reproach her for a policy of frightfulness in her warfare upon your evening shirts, might not be wholly successful if she answered, "Mine is a Godgiven rule." Unless these things are thoroughly understood Cardinal Gibbons's words may do harm. Their applicability, such as it is, is only to woman regarded as voting or not voting. Applied to the rest of life they mean even less.

NOT all of us will celebrate Independence Day with untroubled minds. Men will ask what we have done with our freedom. They will look into mills and mines and sweatshops, and they will shake their heads. Even though they grant that a larger number of people have found liberty here than ever elsewhere in history, the stark minorities of the oppressed will dull their satisfaction. Free, they will say, but free for what? To the minds of others the war will have brought a question still more perplexing. They will ask whether the new time has not brought the need of a new declaration—a declaration of interdependence of mankind. It will be a poor Fourth if either of these ideas is forgotten—a shameful Fourth if we celebrate a freedom which millions of men, women and children are denied, or if we use the day to glorify an isolation which all sanity knows to be myth and all faith knows to be a sin.

IF you were to throw a stone into a crowded street of this town you would not hit a nativeborn New Yorker, but somebody from California or Poland or eastern Rumelia or western Pennsylvania. The policeman who arrested you for this sociological experiment would probably be a native of Ireland, and the small boys who enjoyed your plight would be foreign, at least in extraction. You would scarcely meet an unhyphenated New Yorker through the whole unfortunate affair; in fact, you would wonder whether there were any. But that there are native sons is evidenced by the recent organization of The New York Society of the City of New York. Its founders cannot see why a real New Yorker should starve while imported ones are holding banquets in memory of the states and nations they loved and left. The object of the society is to point out the advantages of having one's ancestors born in our largest city; to be eligible one must be old enough to remember when English was spoken on lower Fifth Avenue. "New Yorkers for New York" is its modest motto. Humanity which revels in forlorn hopes and last ditches will admire this intrepid little Knickerbocker band.

THE University of Pennsylvania is a private institution not very heavily endowed.  It receives funds from the state—in 1915 an appropriation of $1,000,000. But the University is governed by a self-perpetuating Board of Trustees, gentlemen who are directly affiliated with the large financial interests of Philadelphia. On January 4, 1914, the Public Ledger of Philadelphia stated in general terms that there was friction at the Wharton School, and that Professors Nearing and Clyde King might be dismissed. A number of the trustees denied the rumor the next day, but Roswell McCrea, dean of the Wharton School, stated that "there is no question about the open hostility toward Dr. Nearing and Dr. King on the part of certain interests." Philadelphia papers have since reported a number of cases in which liberal professors at the Wharton School have been hampered by the trustees. For example. Dr. Ward Pierson, Assistant Professor of Commercial Law, was recommended for promotion by the faculty in April, 1911. The promotion was blocked by Provost Smith, who charged that Dr. Pierson had tried to extort $1,000 from the father of a University student. It was a libel which Provost Smith was compelled to retract, confessing that he had not investigated his information. But Dr. Pierson was not promoted. Dr. Pierson has been very active in the fight for better coal rates for Philadelphia. He was counsel in the suit before the Public Service Commission against the coal-carrying railroads. The Reading Railway and other railway companies are represented on the Board of Trustees of the Wharton School. One adverse vote by a trustee is enough to prevent promotion. These facts are from the Philadelphia North American.

DR. THOMAS CONWAY, JR., is Assistant Professor of Finance at the Wharton School. In 1911 he published in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science an article' on "Decreasing Financial Returns Upon Urban Street Railways," which laid the low returns to wildcat finance rather than to insufficient revenues. A few months later Dr. Conway was unanimously recommended for promotion to a full professorship by the Wharton School faculty. Provost Smith opposed him, stating that his article was grossly inaccurate and unscientific. At this time the trustees, Mr. Randal Morgan and Mr. Joseph Levering Jones, interested in street railways, were the objects of civil suits for certain transactions. Dr. Conway's promotion was vetoed. In October, 1911, a committee of the American Street and InterUrban Electric Railway Association, which consists of officials and experts drawn from the whole country, made a report "supporting Dr. Conway's position in its entirety, and accepting his proposed remedies almost in verbatim form." (Philadelphia North American.) Provost Smith was compelled to retract and admit Dr. Conway's scholarship. But Dr. Conway's promotion was still vetoed.

THE general Alumni Society of Pennsylvania University speaks through the Alumni Register, and as THE NEW REPUBLIC has pointed out several times, it speaks in a manner worthy of the stone age. In February, 1914, it egged on the trustees to action by referring to them as "courageous" enough to stand against such "whims" as "social justice" which impairs "the equal guarantees for the rights of all citizens." A year later, in February, 1915, the Alumni Register deplored public activity by professors. Dr. Scott Nearing had been active in his denunciation of low wages, and on the issue of child labor had honorably earned many enemies. Dr. King had served the Blankenburg administration well in questions relating to lighting service. As a result of Dr. King's work the city's Gas Bureau adopted scientific tests, and heavy penalties had been imposed upon the Welsbach Street Lighting Company, a subsidiary of the United Gas Improvement Company, for not having furnished the amount of candle power it had contracted to give. Trustee Randal Morgan is vice-president of the United Gas Improvement Company. It is an open secret that Dr. King’s hold on his position has been very precarious. These may be nothing but coincidences, and several others could be added. But they produce the picture of a University in which the governing power is in the hands of a close corporation of men financially interested in the perpetuation of certain economic doctrines, who have the power of appointment, promotion and dismissal over teachers of economics without trial, without hearing, and without public notice.

HAS nobody in the United States ever written a love lyric? Somebody in one of Mr. Lowes Dickinson’s dialogues says we never have, and his explanation is that we would if we could but we can’t. The true explanation is that we haven’t got round to it. At Chicago the Associated Advertising Clubs of the World have been having a convention, to which the American delegates were chiefly lyric poets. The most lyric of them all was Mr. James Keeley, editor of the Chicago Herald. “The printed word, the engraver’s acid, the artist’s pen and the chemist’s pigment,” said he, “all have placed themselves in your purposeful hand to do duty in your world work of enlightenment. Lead on, white light of truth! You”—meaning the other lyric delegates—“are the prophets of ambition and desire … Those who reap the weedless fields of honesty gather golden harvests.” What is lacking in Mr. Keeley’s equipment as a singer of love? Nothing but subject and metre. Once let the opinion get abroad and grow strong that it pays to advertise love, and our advertisers will turn out such lyric love copy as will make Sappho read like a suburban time-table.

THE National Association of Manufacturers has a simple and moving explanation why children leave school at the age of fourteen to go to work. Some unimaginative people have thought it was because the school did nothing to direct their energies and so drove them restless into the real world. The Association, in a recent report of its Committee on Industrial Education, puts it all on a higher plane, quoting Carlisle to the effect that “all true work is sacred. In all true work, be it true hand labor, there is something divine.” The report continues in a burst of really religious fervor—“In the impulse of the adolescent child to go to work at fourteen there is, after all, a searching for the divine. In the child’s hunger for the world of work is a true reflection of that Infinite Spirit which in the seven days made the world.” It is people who talk like this who feel themselves competent to direct the movement for vocational education in this country, who are persuading legislatures to let them organize boards of industrial education to direct separately the vocational work. We can only hope for the manufacturer’s sake that no American child will feel any naughty ironic contrast between reaching out for the Infinite Spirit and finding a job in the factories of the N.A.M.

STATE aid for industrial courses has the heartiest support of the N.A.M. They are not at all averse to having the cost of training their skilled workmen and apprentices taken over, free of charge to them, by the public schools. Another way of relieving the manufacturer of the heavier costs of industrial progress has been discovered in the Industrial Fellowship which a recent bulletin of the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research of the University of Pittsburgh reports as a great success, both there and at the University of Kansas. The manufacturer creates a Fellowship, and sends young experts to make researches in the University laboratory. The University thus puts its resources at the service of the public; the manufacturer avoids the necessity of conducting costly laboratories of his own for the improvement of his product. The only flaw in the scheme is that whatever discoveries are made become the immediate patented private property of the manufacturer. The expert gets a small bonus and his “education.” The public must be content with what the bulletin amiably calls “a permanent asset to the human race.”

This article originally ran in the July 3, 1915, issue of the magazine.