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PAUL S. REINSCH
PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE IN THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN
AUTHOR OF "WORLD POLITICS," "COLONIAL GOVERN-
MENT," "AMERICAN LEGISLATURES," ETC.
GINN AND COMPANY
The present collection of materials for the study of American government was suggested to the Editor by his own experience in studying the processes of American government with a large university class. It was apparent that students could derive great benefit from reading extensively in documentary sources, but the difficulty of obtaining access to the latter even in a well stocked library proved so great that only a very limited use could be made of this method. So it occurred to the Editor that if a number of characteristic selections were to be made from articles and statements written by representative men, a body of information could be brought together which would be exceedingly helpful not only to the student in course, but to the general reader who might desire to inform himself somewhat in detail about the manner in which public affairs are actually managed.
The materials contained in this book are selected almost without exception from the spoken or written work of men actually engaged in the business of government, — presidents, legislators, administrative officials, and judges. On account of their special value, there are included a few articles by writers who do not have this particular qualification. With this exception, the material is taken from the Congressional Record, from official reports, messages, and public addresses. It is fashionable to sneer at the Congressional Record as a congeries of undigested and uninteresting material pouring itself out in liberal volume for the benefit of an occasional country editor. But while there may be few constant and faithful readers of this formidable document, it nevertheless constitutes a valuable record of able thought upon the public problems of the day. The debates of Congress, it is true, suffer from various drawbacks. In the Senate the legal and juristic side of public action is given perhaps too great a predominance. The question most frequently asked is “what can we do under the constitution,” rather than “what is the wisest policy for a great nation to pursue." It is, of course, not to be expected that Senators should be experienced in all the detailed pursuits and interests that at present call for federal legislation. They are, however, nearly all capable of dealing with the legal aspects of the matter. This constitutes the common meeting ground of discussion, and so it is not surprising that questions of policy are in the Senate usually treated in the terms of legal thought and of constitutional limitation. But with this qualifica
tion in mind, the reader may judge for himself of the value of Senatorial discussions and of the grade of ability displayed by the participants.
The House of Representatives is in an unfavorable position as a forum of argument. In the Senate there is constant debating, a constant meeting of minds, a persistent hammering out of policies and legal theories. In the House real debates are rare. When great measures are up for discussion, the time allotted is usually so short that the individual speakers can do no more than merely indicate their line of thought; moreover, the bulk of time is usually taken up by fencing for parliamentary position under the rules, rather than by a discussion of the merits of the legislation. Very thoughtful and valuable speeches are indeed written by members of the House, who often welcome any opportunity to get them into the Record. Thus a member may take advantage of five minutes falling to him in the discussion of the Diplomatic and Consular Appropriation Bill, to deliver himself of a speech upon the iniquities of the tariff or upon the desirability of further restrictions to emigration. During the last session of Congress the distribution of the President's message was made a question of debate almost until the end of the session. Whatever the member lacks time to say in the three or five minutes allotted to him he may, nevertheless, print in the Record, or he may even obtain leave to print a speech no part of which has ever been delivered on the floor of the House. That such arrangements defeat the spontaneity of discussion will be evident. Yet there are many able and experienced men in the House, who occasionally do get an opportunity for an actual discussion of public policies; and even the speeches which are written for partial delivery are frequently worth reading. The discussions which take place under the five-minute rule in Committee of the Whole, when appropriation bills are under consideration, are unfortunately often characterized by a somewhat petty sedulity in matters of detail. It is somewhat discouraging to have great measures, upon which the national welfare depends, disposed of in a two hours' debate, while nearly the same time may be given to the question as to whether the salary of a clerk in some department shall be $1,100 or $1,300. However, notwithstanding all these disadvantages and drawbacks, the debates in the House are often very valuable and informing.
In this collection special attention has been given to the procedure in the House of Representatives and in the Senate. Congressional procedure is, indeed, highly technical, but it is most desirable that the nation should thoroughly inform itself upon this matter. The procedure in the National Legislature ought to be such as would facilitate the discussion of really important national problems and would encourage and bring forward those men who are truly representative of the people and of their common interests. It is very questionable whether the methods of procedure now prevailing sufficiently subserve these purposes.
The collection before the reader has been confined to material illustrating the actual working of the American government in our day. It may, indeed, be said that for a thorough study of American government a knowledge of the historical development of political institutions is indispensable. Yet it is equally essential that there should be a clear conception of what is actually being done at the present time. On account of the limitations of space and in order to preserve the unity of the collection, purely historical accounts have not been admitted. For similar reasons there have been excluded purely legal arguments and controversial discussions of suggested reforms. But some discussions of a legal nature have been admitted because they served directly to illustrate the actual workings of the government. To reveal actualities rather than historical developments or future tendencies is the purpose of this collection. From this point of view, much critical matter has been included, for the reason that opposition serves to make us conscious of many facts which otherwise we might have overlooked. Thus the details of the centralized organization in the House of Representatives would not have become matters of public knowledge but for the opposition which this system has evoked. Of course, in the use of such material the reader will exercise caution, making allowance for the heat of party controversy, and forming his own conclusions as to how far the views of the individual writer or speaker may have been colored by a specific political purpose.
Though the Editor has aimed to steer clear of purely partisan discussions, it appeared impossible to exclude everything tinged with a party bias without reducing the collection to a neutral and inane level. It is exactly the personal equation in discussion and argument that lends value when backed by character and experience. In order to feel at home in the actual world of political thought and action, the student should be familiar with the controversial methods that he will encounter at every turn, — he should be trained in distinguishing political fact from political opinion. However, in most of the important matters dealt with in this collection the principle of party allegiance may be regarded as non-essential. The details of House procedure have been attacked by men of all political faiths. Men of all parties have been united upon the necessity of public control of corporations. As a matter of fact, of recent years, controversies in our legislative bodies have rarely taken on the form of pure party action.
The Case Method which has been used with great success in the study of private and public law may be applied to the study of institutions in general. The student should read a certain group of selections and then reason out for himself the implications therein contained, analyze the discussions and debates, separate the essential from the non-essential, and avoid false analogies, making allowance for personal and political bias. Thus he will arrive at his own conclusions, relying upon his own