Source: Bankersí Magazine
Source type: journal
Document type: editorial
Document title: none
Date of publication: October 1901
Volume number: 63
Issue number: 4
|[untitled]. Bankersí Magazine Oct. 1901 v63n4: pp. 567-69.|
|presidential succession (impact on economy); McKinley assassination (impact on economy); Theodore Roosevelt (assumption of presidency).|
|Chester A. Arthur; William Jennings Bryan; Grover Cleveland; Millard Fillmore; Lyman J. Gage; James A. Garfield; William Henry Harrison; Andrew Johnson; William McKinley; Theodore Roosevelt; Adlai E. Stevenson; Zachary Taylor.|
THE STRENGTH OF A SYSTEM or organization is shown
by the manner in which it passes through unexpected catastrophes. Five times
in the history of the United States has the ruler of the nation been removed
by death, and in each case the Vice-President has succeeded without any serious
shock to the institutions of the country. There have been changes in policy,
as when the effort of the Whig party to re-establish a Bank of the United States
was defeated by the so-called defection of the new President from their ranks.
To the death of the first HARRISON is no doubt due
all the present disadvantages of the independent Treasury system. FILLMORE
succeeded TAYLOR without much remark. The accession
of JOHNSON, although he also is supposed to have changed
the policy of the Government disadvantageously, did not have any permanently
detrimental effect upon the progress of the country. The death of GARFIELD
and the succession of ARTHUR caused no changes of
No doubt these events caused the disappointment of many personal ambitions, which were probably compensated for by the unexpected gratification of the personal ambitions of others.
In all the pettier detail of an Administration, in the selection of persons for offices, and in the flow of the streams of political influence, the change of one President for another produces considerable effect, but the general public takes very little interest in these contests for personal emolument. Under civil-service rules even these personal changes will probably be reduced to a minimum. The greater interest at the present time manifests itself, or would have manifested itself, had the belief in the soundness of Mr. ROOSEVELTíS financial convictions been less certain, in the monetary question. If the Vice-President had been a man like STEVENSON, under the last Democratic Administration, who had at that time shown himself at least a waverer on the silver question, and who subsequently went over body and soul to BRYAN and free coinage, the death of MCKINLEY would have given a far greater shock to the money market than was experienced. One can conceive the consternation in financial circles if CLEVELAND had died in 1893 and had been succeeded by STEVENSON. 
It is well that the importance of the Vice-Presidential office is beginning to be appreciated, and that the effects of an unwise choice are being more seriously looked at when the second name on the ticket is chosen at the national conventions. It is understood more and more that in this industrial age the success of a party or Administration and their continuation in power depend on the prosperity of the country.
It is said with some degree of truth that statesmen and politicians should neither be praised nor blamed for the ebb and flow of prosperous business; but they are certainly to blame if they do not exert themselves to fashion the laws and to administer them in the manner best calculated to economize and make the most of the resources, gathered under the combined forces of nature working in concert with the energies of the people. To make the crops good or bad is mainly the work of nature, but there are numberless other resources which are dependent almost altogether upon human enterprise. So much depends in business on the feelings of the mind and on a continued cheerful view of the future, kept within due limits. It is in so carrying on its operations and shaping its policy as to encourage the most cheerful view of business that the circumstances will allow, that a government may in reality conduce to the general prosperity, and likewise in properly suppressing undue tendency to extravagant views leading to over-trading and disaster.
President MCKINLEY, perhaps more than any of his predecessors, had, by the training of his whole career, grown into a recognition of the intimate relations between business and the operations of the Government in the United States. In appointing a skillful financier Secretary of the Treasury, he looked carefully to the success of his Administration by taking care of the pockets of the people. Under all the disadvantage of an imperfect system for the handling of revenues and expenditures, Secretary GAGE has held the money available for circulation with very little fluctuation.
The science of adapting the operations of the Government to modern industrial needs is yet in its infancy. Rulers all over the world are beginning to recognize that these industries of the people, which afford them a means of livelihood and keep them contented and happy, must be fostered not simply as a basis of taxation, but for their own sakes. Government must be made secondary to the business of the people.
In his promise to carry out the policy of his predecessor Mr. ROOSEVELT has reassured the business interests of the United States, and through them the connected business interests of other countries.
In one sense no man can guarantee that he will do just the same as another man would have done in his place. The personal equation  is different, and in manner and detail the action may vary, although the result may be similar. It may be, too, that the new President, as a younger man, may have less hesitation in recommending and pushing through financial reform than his predecessor. One thing can be counted on pretty surely, that some classes of enterprise will go on more slowly until Mr. ROOSEVELT has marked out the line he intends to pursue by his actions. He comes into office more unpledged in almost every direction than any President who has yet gone into the White House.