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WH

THAT a President of the United fact, the home town of few, being simply

States can do is prescribed by the a house of transients, and in the later Constitution and innumerable statutes de- years of life intimate friends are not easily rived therefrom; what a President cannot made. Therefore, unless the new Presido is a proscription imposed by society. dent has previously lived amid WashingThe one defines his legal powers, the other ton's migratory population and is acclilimits his personal liberty. To survey not mated to the city's periodic changes, he alone what the President must do to dis- finds himself alone in a strange environcharge the manifold duties of his office, ment, a cold atmosphere depressing to the but what he is by convention, custom, or new-comer. Even after he has made other cause prevented from doing, one friends he cannot call upon them casually must observe from day to day his trials or at random. Form, that ancient reguand tribulations, his vexations, his tangled lator of Washington life,"is the immediate

' problems, his unremitting labors, his op- barrier. Discretion is another. The portunities for error, and understand President may drop in on his friends now something of his public and private wor- and then, but not too frequently. Such ries and apprehensions. These constitute visits, unless distributed with calculating an unalluring, though fascinating, side of foresight, are apt to be misunderstood, and the Presidency of which the general pub- it is difficult to discriminate. So the new lic gets only an occasional glimpse. For President must at once detach himself while the office is the most powerful in from private life, primarily because disinthe world, the paradox of it is that the terested men are few. Somebody is alPresident is at the same time the most ways wanting something from the Presirestricted person in the country-re- dent. stricted as to personal liberty, and the ex- Mr. Taft went about Washington ercise of that degree of selfishness or de- freely, for he had lived there several years sire for self-enjoyment, however small, before being elected to the Presidency; with which every man is by nature en- but the general criticism of him was that dowed.

he spent too much time socially, and his Few people ever stop to think what a defense, it will be remembered, was that captive of convention and dignity a Presi- the White House was a lonesome place. dent really is. The city of Washington Mr. Roosevelt provided his own recreais not his accustomed residence; it is, in tion, -boxers, wrestlers, and rough-riders,

Copyright, 1917, by THE CENTURY CO. All rights reserved.

- but these were exceptional diversions, office of chief executive of the United revealing, indeed, the artificiality of a States combines nowadays the tasks of the President's position.

railroad president, the department-store Though before his election to the Presi- manager, the financier, the pastor, the dency, a President may have been a so- theorist, the academician, the philosopher, ciable fellow, may have liked upon occa- and the politician. He must know a great sion to drop in at a club, lounge in the deal about a great many subjects; he must

a reading-room, or recline in an easy-chair be instinctively omniscient and appercepenveloped in smoke-rings and gossip, he tive. His is a task with almost as many cannot now be a clubman in that sense. phases to it as there are special problems Even if he so desired, he would not find in our over-complicated national life. time for it and do his work conscientiously. The American people, moreover, deMr. Wilson plays golf, for instance, but mand efficiency. They elect a human berarely if ever stays longer at the club- ing, but they really need a superman to house than is necessary to pass through it do their work. Happily some of our to a waiting automobile. He used to be Presidents virtually become supermen; fond of the University Club of New they rise to great emergencies. It is the York, and frequently, as President-elect, essence of American vitality, this power of went there to write personal letters or to integration, this energizing of a personalread magazines. Doubtless he would now ity, this development of an aptitude for like to lose himself for hours in the re- the new problems of the day as well as the treat of a library, but he cannot; he is chronic ills of a nation. And there is no never completely alone. He is like one preparatory school for the Presidency exunder arrest, always guarded, always pro- cept the school of life, the daily contacts tected, always awkwardly aware of his of men with men, and a contemporaneous own troublesome presence.

use of those interpretative powers comBut if the President's hours of play are monly assembled in the single phrase, unconfining, it is easy enough to imagine derstanding human nature. what must be his periods of work. The In these extraordinary times an abstract

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Copyright by Harris & Ewing

Joseph P. Tumulty, who stands between the President and the public

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Copyright by Harris & Ewing

The clerks in the White House offices who sift the President's mail

view of the Presidency can be of only In the field of foreign affairs he has occuephemeral value, for not in many years pied for two years a position conspicuously has there been such a legion of delicate coördinate with the rulers of the world. problems massed before the chief execu- To him have been borne the outcries and tive of the nation. Our thinking about heartaches of a stricken humanity. He is the Presidency is of course in terms of at the head of the most powerful nation such men as we have seen in the White of the world still remaining neutral. InHouse in the last twenty-five years: Har- ternational complications have threatened rison, Cleveland, McKinley, Roosevelt, the peace of the United States. It is an Taft, and Wilson. Only the last four, awful consciousness to have on one's mind however, have actually witnessed the mar- or in one's hands the power virtually of velous industrial and commercial expan- war or peace, the good or ill of a hundred sion of the United States, and the conse- millions of people. quent progressive increase of executive

In recent years our Government has problems. Recent tendency has been to- become essentially a one-man government. ward centralization of power, a new na

With President Roosevelt came the tionalism for efficiency's sake; and through change, but President Wilson has been force of circumstances President Wilson even more adept in emphasizing executive has been more heavily taxed with the new functions, especially in foreign affairs. burdens of the age than any of his imme- European monarchs rely on their cabinets diate predecessors.

or councils to take a certain share of reMr. Wilson is on the threshold of a sponsibility; but while the President of second term. On him a world-wide at- the United States may delegate tasks to tention is hopefully fixed. He is in the individual members of the cabinet, the ulinternational as well as in the national timate responsibility for their decisions is lime-light. From a domestic point of with him alone. Add to this, then, the view he has introduced many changes in incapacity of a single cabinet officer, and the Presidency, among them a closer co- by just so much is the President's buroperation between the executive and the den augmented. The obvious remedy is legislative branches of the Government, to substitute efficient for inefficient men in a new emphasis on party responsibility. the cabinet. This requires courage as well as a sense of discrimination; a man in the actly what he wishes to say. His style Presidency must learn how to part with flows on as easily in his dictated letters as his best friends. It is the severest test of in his books or speeches. This capacity true greatness and likewise the most dis- for ready expression has been of inestimaagreeable one. Whatever may have been ble help, as it would be to an executive in the political or other expediencies that any business, public or private. governed the original selection of his cabi- His dictation finished, the President net officers, Mr. Wilson's hands are now hurried from the White House proper to untied. His only obligation is to the na- the executive offices, passing through a tion and its posterity.

latticed corridor, screened from public Mr. Wilson's first term must have view and of course constantly guarded. taught him much about his task that As a rule his first engagement is at ten should enable him to direct his own im- o'clock, but this day it was at half-past provement. At the outset every man is nine. Several congressmen and senators an amateur in the Presidency; he must wished to see the President, and each said feel his way into it. The neophyte days he wished only two or three minutes, and of Mr. Wilson, his gradual transition the secretaries at the White House had from the empiricism of a novice to the grouped the calls in that first half-hour. steadiness of a sure-footed administrator, One by one Patrick McKenna, usher for are interesting in retrospect. Many men many Presidents, showed them the way to are born executives; others become so in the President's desk. the sudden circumstances of great respon

With hurried callers like these Mr. sibility. Mr. Wilson has had many op- Wilson does not sit down. In their eloportunities for self-instruction in the last quence they might forget all about the two years.

clock. Some the President may keep Take one day last August as an exam- longer. He wishes, perhaps, to know ple of what the President must sometimes more about their errands. With others do to meet the demands of his office. It he finds it necessary to arrive at a decision was an extraordinary day, but it will il- on the spot. There is no time for prolustrate the scope of Presidential duty and crastination. Persons who come to see the obligation.

President, and who get an audience, usuMr. Wilson rose early, breakfasted ally have something of importance to say. with his family in the state dining-room, Yet everything is important. The Presiglanced at the head-lines in the morning dent is leader of his party as well as the newspapers, and in a few minutes was in nation's executive. He must perhaps dehis study on the second floor of the White termine a point of political strategy in a House, the historic room where Lincoln doubtful State. A congressman wishes held his famous cabinet meetings long be- somebody pardoned. The President promfore the days of the new executive offices. ises to send for the papers in the case and Mr. Wilson was attended only by Charles read them. A senator has an invitation Swem, his stenographer, one of the fastest to present. If the President goes West, shorthand men in the world. He had the people of the senator's State wish brought the mail from the executive of- Mr. Wilson to stop at three cities therein. fices, where a staff of clerks had sifted the Mr. Wilson replies that he will keep it in letters and telegrams and collected the mind; he has much to keep in mind. He most urgent ones.

The President read makes a memorandum of the call, or the them all hastily, put aside some for a sec- senator leaves a copy of the invitation. ond reading, and answered others Several senators then came to consult promptly. He dictated for half an hour the President on legislative matters, and

He rarely has to change or re- he examined the bill they brought. What vise a dictated letter, for he has the rare should the committee do? What was the faculty of being able to say at once ex- administration's desire? And Mr. Wil

or more.

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