TO HERBERT C. PELL, JR. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Washington, November 8, 1919
My dear Mr. Pell,—I wish you success with your Constitutional League. I have no objection whatever to my name being used in connection with it, providing the League is not an institution for denouncing people or denouncing theories of government or economic panaceas; but is a positive, aggressive institution for the presentation to our people of the fact that we have in this Democracy a method of doing whatever we wish done, which avoids the necessity for anything like revolutionary action. The objection to Bolshevism is that it is absolutism—as Lenine has said himself, the absolutism of the proletariat. It is an economic government by force, while our Democracy is a government by persuasion.
I find that no good comes from calling names. The men who are to be reached are the men who are not committed against us, but are disposed to be with American institutions. We must show them that we have a system that it is worth while betting on, and that if they have another way of doing things economical, machinery by which it can be instituted is in the people’s hands. Our policy is to look before we leap, and to submit our methods to the judicial judgment of the people. This permits any doctrine to be preached that does not subvert our institutions. Where do our institutions come from? What have they been effective in bringing about? What is the condition of the United States as a whole compared with other countries? Can we hope to work out our salvation without civil war? These are legitimate questions, the answer to which is found in this other question—is not political Democracy the one practical way to eventual industrial Democracy? Cordially yours,
TO HENRY P. DAVISON
Washington, November 23, 1919
My dear Mr. Davison,—I wired you yesterday my conclusion, as to your very generous and patriotic offer, which was the same that I had come to before seeing you in New York. Your appeal was so strong and went so much to my impulse for public service that you made me feel that, perhaps, I was giving undue weight to the considerations I had presented to you. So I sought the judgment of others—all of them men of large distinction whom you know, or at least have confidence in, and without dissent I found them saying, voluntarily and unbidden, what I had said to you—that for me to undertake this work of arousing the best patriotic feeling of America, on a salary, would make seriously against the success of the work and against my own value in it, or in anything else I might undertake. If I were rich I would go into it with my whole heart. But a poor man can not be charged with making money out of the exploitation of the good opinion others have of his love of country. This is not squeamishness, it is a rough standard, arrived at by instinct rather than by any refined process of reasoning.