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The Outlook

SATURDAY, JANUARY 5, 1907

Congress and the Brownsville Incident

The suggestion is made by certain newspaper correspondents that Congress may attempt by law to reinstate in the army the members of the Brownsville battalion discharged from the service by the President, and a correspondent in the New York Times even suggests that the President has intimated that he would refuse to obey such a law if it should be passed, that the only remedy for the refusal would be impeachment, and that it is not likely that the House would go so far as to impeach him. All this is probably newspaper gossip; there is too much good sense in Congress to allow the passage of the law suggested by the fertile mind of the newspaper writer; and if such a law were passed, it would clearly be the duty of the President to disregard it. It is just as much a violation of the Constitution for Congress to usurp the functions of the President as it is for the President to usurp the functions of Congress. The President is made by the Constitution the Commander-in-Chief of the army, and if Congress were to attempt to execute the functions of Commander-in-Chief it would clearly be the duty of the President to resist the usurpation. Congress can by law determine the terms and conditions of enlistment; it can probably deprive the President in the future of the power to discharge enlisted men without trial, which he now possesses. But it cannot exercise the power of discipline over the army. It can no more discharge an officer or soldier, or reinstate an officer or soldier who has been discharged, than it could assume to direct military operations in the field in time of war, or promote or degrade officers, or direct the President whom to promote and whom to degrade. We do not deny the right

of the Senate to investigate the Brownsville incident, or any other incident it wishes to know about, but we think it is a palpable waste of time for it to do so; for it can take no action as to what has been done, whatever may be the result of its investigation, and its opinion based on that investigation will have no legal authority, and no more moral authority than that of any other number of equally estimable gentlemen of National reputation. The President, and the President alone, is charged with the duty of maintaining discipline in the army, and the President is responsible to the Nation, not to Congress, for maintaining that discipline in a manner at once just and efficient.

Insurance Officers

Indicted

While it was perfectly proper for the Grand Jury of New York City, in presenting indictments against Mr. George W. Perkins and Mr. Charles S. Fairchild on charges growing out of the Armstrong investigation, to point out that the policy-holders of the New York Life Insurance Company actually benefited by the transaction in question, and the

men indicted did not personally profit by their act, nevertheless the conclusion should not be drawn hastily that for these reasons the illegal transaction was not morally reprehensible and contrary to public interest. If the facts are as stated in the indictments, there would be a fair parallel between this case and that of the executor of an estate who should by false affidavits save the estate from paying tax under a State inheritance law-that is to say, the executor could truly assert that those whose trust he held were financially benefited, and that he made no wrongful gain personally-yet the moral as well as the legal turpitude

of such an act is perfectly evident. The charges against Mr. Perkins, who was formerly the Vice-President of the New York Life Insurance Company as well as a member of the firm of J. P. Morgan & Co., and against Mr. Fairchild, formerly President of the New York Security and Trust Company, and at one time Secretary of the United States Treasury, are, in brief, that the New York Life Insurance Company was in danger of being refused permission to carry on business in Prussia because the Prussian authorities insisted as a prerequisite that insurance companies should hold only certain classes of investments. The New York Life held certain securities which did not come within the classification laid down by the Prussian Government. It went through the form of selling the securities in question to the New York Security and Trust Com-, pany, which was really subsidiary to the New York Life. On the books of the insurance company the transaction appeared as a sale, but on the books of the subsidiary company the same transaction appeared as a loan. To add to the evidence of subterfuge, it is pointed out that the note on which the supposed loan was based was signed by two totally irresponsible persons, financially speaking, one of whom was a colored employee of low grade. If these facts, which were alleged very plainly in the Armstrong investigation, are as above stated, and unless their significance is more favorably interpreted because of new evidence to be adduced, it seems plain that the officers who carried out the scheme were guilty of violating the laws of New York State for the purpose of obtaining a commercial advantage in Prussia which the company could not otherwise have had, and that therefore there was fraudulent intent within the meaning of the law. Technically, the charge is forgery. It need not be pointed out that an indict ment is a very different thing from a conviction; that all accused persons are entitled to a fair and full presentation of their defense before the courts; that the men under indictment have held positions of great prominence in financial circles and have won the confidence of their associates and, in the case of Mr.

Fairchild, of the country at large; and that public opinion should await their defense before passing judgment on them.

From Rodman to President

Four weeks ago the country was shocked by the announcement of the sudden death of Samuel Spencer, President of the Southern Railway; last week Alexander Johnston Cassatt, President of the Pennsylvania system, died almost as suddenly, though not by accident. The passing of Mr. Cassatt was possibly more pathetic; whatever its proximate cause, its ultimate cause is believed by many to have been grief at the discovery of graft on the part of certain officials in his own company. For this Mr. Cassatt was not responsible; but the discovery weighed on him as much as if he had been. Such a feeling was natural in one who had fitted himself thoroughly for his life-work. There was no financial necessity for Mr. Cassatt to choose any work; he was born a rich boy; he loved his pleasures quite as much as his books; he could look forward to a life of ease. But an increasing number of rich Americans feel it incumbent upon them to choose a profession and to work at it as hard as though they were poor. Mr. Cassatt was one of these. He chose civil engineering. He was fitted for it at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at Troy, and was graduated with honors when but twenty years old. went to work in the lowest grade of engineering on a little railway line in Georgia, and the first year of the Civil War found him a rodman on the Pennsylvania system. From this position he rose through the various technical and administrative grades until, six years ago, he became President of a great system. No railway service, it is believed, has ever been more efficient. For Mr. Cassatt was not merely technically equipped for his task; with faith in the future, with judgment both sound and swift, he was a signal example of broad-gauge energy. He was the first railway manager to take up the air-brake, to recognize the merits of the tank.

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