« PreviousContinue »
without much regard for private rights, but certainly produced matchless results. The money spent and squandered upon the French capital under Haussman reached a fabulous sum, but the comforts and luxuries secured to strangers were equally unusual. London is controlled by a number of corporate bodies, and many complaints are heard against their profligacy. Berlin and Vienna are magically improved in every direction. Brussels is a miniature Paris, and the Dutch cities, The Hague, Amsterdam, and Rotterdam, are famous for their institutions of art and learning, and the comparative comfort of their overtaxed population. But these, like Edinburgh and Dublin, are governed rather by the monarch than by the people. It is when we come to apply popular rule to municipalities that the worst difficulties are encountered. The rapid growth of our American cities, the necessity for heavy expenditures in paved streets, public buildings, water, light, and the preservation of property, open the door to endless speculation. Boston is unquestionably the best-managed city in America, mainly because there is very little politics in its administration, a severe system of finance, a police extending over the State, and a rigid attendance at the primary elections by prominent men. He who visits Washington to-day, after an absence of twenty years, will be amazed at its progress and its promises. We may prefigure its future by its contrast with the past. As we remember its dusty streets in summer and its muddy streets in winter, its poor hotels and boarding-houses, its miserable police, its disorganized finances, in the light of its increasing miles of broad and beautiful drives, its new temples of education and learning, its gallery of art, its splendid public edifices, with the superb Capitol crowning the whole, unsurpassed in the world, we may easily anticipate the day when Washington will be the favorite and the loveliest city on our side of the sea. President Grant struck the key-note when he appointed Henry D. Cooke Governor of the District of Columbia under the Congressional act
GOVERNOR HENRY D. COOKE.
of reorganization, which made the popular branch of the local Legislature elective, and gave the people a Delegate in Congress. Mr. Cooke is one of the many proofs of the wisdom of our Chief Magistrate. He is just forty-seven, and when he accepted the post had accumulated a handsome fortune, which placed him beyond temptation. Whatever may be said of the propriety of opening public positions to every condition, experience has proved that the mayor of a great city should be beyond pecuniary want. Undoubtedly the choice of such a man as William M. Tweed at the head of perhaps the most important department in the city of New York opened the way to that series of speculations and corruptions which tottered to its fall, amid the congratulations of the people, in the autumn of 1871. In olden times, the mayors (for instance) of Philadelphia were men who had acquired independence by long years of industry and frugality, and our people proudly recall the days when worthy citizens like Wharton, Scott, and Page acted in that capacity. It is true, Philadelphia during that time was not what it is to-day, with its increasing population and necessities. Perhaps, if they were now in command, they would not escape the censure so fiercely passed upon their successors. Governor Cooke, at the head of the government of the District of Columbia, has come in for his full share of criticism, but his vindication closely follows the proofs of the justice and the sagacity of his administration. His career is an example of his fitness to preside over the destinies of a great cosmopolitan centre. Born in Ohio, educated at Meadville, Pennsylvania, bred to the law, then a school-teacher and a newspaper editor in Philadelphia, where he formed the acquaintance of literary lights like Joseph R. Chandler, Joseph C. Neal, and Robert T. Conrad, then Vice-Consul at one of the South American ports under his connection, Consul-General William G. Moorhead, more than twenty-five years ago, and finally finding fortune in acquiring a knowledge of banking under Jay Cooke, in Philadelphia, his removal to Washington, at the beginning of Mr. Lincoln's administration, and his connection afterward with the great banking-house with which he is still identified, he has gathered enough knowledge of men to qualify him for the arduous services which have made Washington City what it is. Fine manners, princely hospitality, warm and ardent sympathies with the new citizens and the cause of universal education, make him acceptable to every class. Never a politician in the vulgar interpretation of that word, although a sincere and consistent Republican, and rich enough, as I have said, to escape suspicion, his intercourse with the Representatives and Senators in Congress of every shade is agreeable to himself and profitable to his constituents. The generous bounty of Congress to the District at the last session, inspired by the explicit recommendations of General Grant in his annual message, is to be attributed to the confidence reposed in Governor Cooke; and when our law-makers meet in December they will be surprised at the enormous amount of work done under the auspices of Governor Cooke and the energetic Board of Public Works appointed by the President, with Alexander R. Shepherd at their head.
In five years from to-day the District of Columbia will be the choice winter resort of the country, and will be to the people of wealth and intelligence-to inventors, our men of science, and to foreigners, an irresistible attraction. Directly connected, North and South, by new railroads, and offering extraordinary inducements to persons of moderate means who desire to live in a healthy climate and to enjoy the best society, it will be sought by men from every State, whether as visitors or residents. And when that day comes, no name will be more affectionately remembered and honored than that of Governor Henry D. Cooke.
[August 4, 1872.]
OUR FUTURE LEADERS.
“Our future leaders—where are they to come from ?" was the question of a friend, a short time ago, after an interesting discussion on the necessity of securing the best material in the management of government, society, and business. We were looking out of the window of my editorial room in Philadelphia. I answered, pointing to the newsboys and bootblacks congregated at the corner of Seventh and Chestnut Streets,“ There are your future leaders. That little fellow with the curly hair is an embryo merchant; that one with torn trowsers is the sapling of a sturdy politician; that black-eyed lad is saving his money to pay for a collegiate education.” And has it not been so of most of the strong men of our times? On the Pacific coast many of the great houses grew from just such seeds. Sargent, the United States Senator elect, visited Philadelphia twenty-five years ago to get work as a journeyman printer, and failed; Latham, the millionaire, who has been in both houses of Congress and Governor of the State, began life very poor; Broderick was in New York a Bowery boy in 1847; and the railroad kings, most of them, began life as low down as the little Bohemians at our corner. The sons of the rich, the educated darlings of the great families, are nowhere. All their gifts were so many fatal temptations, and they themselves are forgotten, like bad copies of good pictures. “It is the rough brake that virtue must go through.”
A recent writer insists that a grandfather is no longer a social institution. Men do not live in the past. They rarely look back. “Forward !" is the universal cry. Perhaps our reverence for our ancestors suffers, but such a thing as a great family in this country helps nobody. Even the Adamses of the present day make little out of their former generations of great
Thomas Hughes struck the key-note when he said that
the absence of the laws of primogeniture and entail in this country opened a wide door to poor young men, and compelled the very rich to spend their money in good deeds to save it from being wasted by their posterity, and thus great fortunes change hands almost as rapidly as the changes of life. must not forget that many of the most useful and illustrious of the English leaders are the growth of the long years of patient study and careful rearing of their fathers. One fault of our system is the absence of this very experience, and the presence of so much undisciplined intellect in our public places. Yet, with all these drawbacks, how easily the machinery of American government moves on; how successfully it survives accident; how providentially it seems to order and control itself! And, though we sometimes mourn for our great ones gone, there is not a day that does not teach the wholesome lesson that nobody is necessary or indispensable. Every hour some new man starts up to fill the vacancy made by the death of an old leader, and in nearly every instance the new man is found equal to the emergency. Ours may be called the Age of Utility. We are not prolific of statesmen or orators, and politics has degenerated into a poor strife between speculators and mediocrities. But for all this the country is safe. One such man as Leland Stanford, of the Central Pacific Railroad, or Dean Richmond, of the New York Central, or Ben Holliday, Jr., of Oregon, or John Edgar Thomson, or his vigorous vice-president, Thomas A. Scott, may do more practical good, and has more real power, than a Webster or Clay. And when we consider that, like Webster and Clay, they have all risen from small beginnings, is it going too far to say that they may purify and elevate our politics 'even as they extend their great enterprises and enrich themselves? He who inherits wealth without mind is always sure to underrate mind, but he who by sheer hard knocks works his own way through the rock of adversity into affluence, is sure to set a high price upon intellect. And thus it stands that many of