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On Newbarryism

1922

In 1904, I found an audience very much like this one I have here tonight. That was the first time that I ran for Governor in the State of Michigan. That was in the Armory, the Old Armory on the twenty-third of August. I never shall forget that night. I am not going to tell you anything about it, except that it was rather surprising that a candidate should be offered for a Governor of the great State of Michigan, who had not even been mentioned in his home newspaper, let alone in other newspapers in the State.

I came into that nomination in an emergency. That is all. We Democrats have altogether to many emergencies. (Laughter and applause.)

I had no political aspirations. I have not had any since. (Laughter) It does not do a Democrat very much good in Michigan to have any political ambitions. I have been in the field four times for Governor, won twice, defeated twice-fifty-fifty.

I have never had any particular aspirations for the office-nor for any other office. Probably you Republicans do not believe a word of that. But, there are a great many things that you Republicans do not believe that you ought to believe in order to be saved. (Laughter and applause).

To be absolutely frank with you, I have been a candidate every time in order to perform a civic duty, and I do not say that with any irony or sarcasm. I say it with the utmost candor. I did not want to enter another campaign this year, or any other year, not because as some of my Republican friends are worrying about, that I was getting old, two and a half years older that the great Senator, now a candidate against me; it was even hinted that I had one foot in the grave, but I have been thinking about that. And now I am raising the question as to whose grave I have got that foot in.

I do want to say, in all seriousness, however, and the idea has been brought out here tonight, and it should be brought out on all occasions, because it really involves a very important matter: When any state in the Union, I do not care if it is Michigan or Tennessee, is overwhelmingly dominated by one political party constituency, good government is in danger.

That should be understood, absolutely beyond question. And, for the good of the Republican Party of the State of Michigan, it is necessary that in some way there be a nearer balance of the two parties that are trying to give you a government for the state. That is fundamental and ought to have some consideration.

That does not mean necessarily that you ought to vote for me, of vote for Mr. Cummins or some other of our candidates, but you ought to begin to wake up and get somewhere in the matter of better government in Michigan.

Now, I am going to make another statement, that is absolutely in you own minds now, it was hinted by Mr. Eaman, who was kind enough to comment on one particular act of the Wilson Administration-ladies and gentlemen, I am not afraid to use the name Woodrow Wilson.

I challenge any Republican in Michigan to point to any adequate parallel, to the four years of constructive legislation, that Woodrow Wilson and his Administration gave us in 1913, '14, '15, and '16. I challenge comparison. I mention that because we Democrats from time to time have been slandered by our Republican friends, when they have said that we were not to be trusted, that we were not competent. Now, they only say one of those things-they do not say that we are not to be trusted, they simply say that we are not always competent. (Laughter.)

They have changed their tactics along that line, because they have found out that intellectual brilliancy is not always accompanied by ordinary everyday common honesty and integrity.

If I remember correctly, two years ago, the present administration made some rather remarkable promises. I do not need to tog into detail with an intelligent audience, ---and I don't talk to any other kind---I do not need to do that at all. I ask you tonight, where have you found the fulfillment of those promises? That is all I need to ask you. They have let everything alone in the splendid constructive work of Woodrow Wilson in the four years I have mentioned, save one. They have given us a tariff bill. I haven't time to go into detail; I don't need to do that nor does any other speaker in this campaign.

This tariff bill has been born after a long, tedious, tedious piece of work; months and months and months have been consumed in order to give us the Fordney-McCumber tariff bill. I have been hoping that they would finish it-that is, I hoped that they would finish it months and months ago. And underlying that wish, is not a real Christian feeling involved I admit. (Laughter)

But, we have got it now. We have got it now. And, Republicans of eminence have condemned it and great Republican papers and many independent papers have condemned that bill as being no better and possibly worse that the Payne-Aldrich bill; certainly bearing no comparison to the Underwood bill in its value, and in its possible power to be of some value to this country.

Now, we have just what we have always had in a high protective tariff bill. I know there are Democrats who believe in that sort of thing, because there is occasionally a Democrat that represents a great interest-not very many, but there is occasionally one, and a great many Republicans. When they have anything to do with a tariff bill, they do it solely for their success, for their advantage, ignoring the masses and the millions.

Consequently, we have got that old style, high protective tariff bill, and already in the shipping interests of this country, it's effect has been felt. If you are going to carry shiploads of merchandise and products across the water, in order to secure a decent rate of transportation, those boats must come back loaded with merchandise. There is absolutely no question about this.

So, I most emphatically condemn that bill, and I simply say to the people, "You have only to watch, you women in your homes, to see how it touches you in your simplest apparel, likewise every laboring man, in every kind of apparel that he wears-he will find out, we will all find out that the home has been struck by this bill, and in the interests of a few, at the peril of the many, I await its consequences, knowing what they will be.

Any concerted action in this country for the classes as against all of the people, is perilous whatever stamp it bears.

Along with that comes President Harding's hobby, the ship subsidy, another similar piece of proposed legislation. In this bill they are asking the privilege of building up a great merchant marine, when by the tariff bill they have shown that we do not want imports, we don't want merchandise. A subsidy bill is just another effort like the tariff to put in the pockets of the few, money that belongs in the pockets of the many.

That is all I care to say about the ship subsidy bill.

Now, that brings me another topic that I hope Americans will continue to think about. I do not believe that the majority of the American people, whether Republicans or Democrats, think seriously enough over the problem of capital and labor.

Now, then, I want it distinctly understood that I believe in capital and its rights. There is no mistake about that. I want something that I may call mine. I want to encourage the thousands of young men and young women that I have to deal with. I want to stimulate them so to live and so to render service that they may have something that they may distinctly call their own. But, likewise, I recognize the fact that labor, as capital has its rights, and we must cease trying to get an advantage.

Now, notice the word I use, an advantage. Now, in my judgment, human selfishness is very much the same in one generation as it is in another, and the tendency to seek advantage, even in the common walks of life is altogether too strong for wholesome living. No question at all about that. I know that labor is fundamental, and I know that the Creator of this world arranges so that labor should constitute an important factor in the life of every wholesome man and woman. I do not except any.

I believe that the initiative in attempting to secure justice should come from capital. Justice is what you want, isn't it? If you represent labor that is what you want; if you represent capital, justice is what you want; stop fooling so much with charity; stop fooling so much with advantage. Get down to the simple principal of human justice.

I don't hesitate to say-I know I shall anger some that are in the audience, but some of you possibly need to be angered before you will think a thought anyway-I go so far as to say that in the recent railroad strike, and in the coal strike, I profoundly believe that had a living wage been paid, through and through, there would have been no railroad strike and no coal strike. (Applause).

This problem of capital and labor is not going to be solved in the old way. We have to co-operate. Labor and capital are knit closer together that ever were the Siamese twins. One is of little value, in my judgment, without the other. They must work together and co-operate together on the basis of simple justice.

But somebody says, "It cannot be done."

No, we cannot secure perfect justice outside of Heaven, and there will be some people very uncomfortable, if it is insisted on there. We do not anticipate that. We shall probably always have an opportunity, however, as long as we may live, to make mistakes. If we do not, some of us won't be able to identify ourselves. (Laughter).

They say we cannot solve this problem of capital and labor.

We can. I know, because there stands out here and there, all over the United States, men who have solved it to all intents and purposes. They have done it. That settles it in my mind. You cannot make me believe that there are not other brains in America that can do the same thing. You cannot make me believe that the United States Government cannot at least keep out of the way of the farmer, out of the way of the manufacturer, and the working man. Certainly we could manifest enough intelligence to do that. That would be mighty helpful at the present time.

In my eight or nine addresses which I have already given, I have pointed to one of those men, one of your own men in this city. You have in this city a man whom I knew when he was in as humble a financial condition as I am. I know him. I have watched his career. I have pointed the attention of thousands of young men to his career. I have shown them that for years and years he was not afraid of manual labor, and manual toil, in order to carry out an ideal that was born in his brain, and that he had fought the fight until today he may be, for ought I know, the largest and richest industrial man in America.

But he has done it by paying a living a wage, and he has had an interest in his men. It has been a matter of co-operation.

When has Henry Ford had a strike? Why don't you give him credit? Why don't you learn a lesson, my Republican friends?

It cost somebody in this state a large amount of money to keep Henry Ford from being United States senator. I have not heard one intelligent Republican or Democrat or what-not-not one of them-ever state with any degree of sincerity and candor where he would have been dangerous in the United States Senate. He would certainly have been dangerous to damnable procedures that have taken place there in the recent years of our history.

I don't want to be misunderstood; I have the profoundest regard and love for Henry Ford. I say that he has in many ways contributed more to the welfare of the eleven million people that any other man that I know of, because he insisted upon making and implement that the people of humble circumstances could buy, whereby they could take their mother and children out into the open air on Sunday, and thousands and thousands of those evidences of his idealism are in use today.

Let us not forget; do not stand back, ye of little faith and say, "Well, if all our plants were run that way, we would go to destruction."

And industry that does not send out at the end of a series of years any employees -that is, taking them as they go-men and women, better in character, better in human aspiration than when they entered-that industry is menace to our republic. I don't hesitate to say so.

Injustice to capital? Not at all, not at all. It has been done and done in a gigantic scale, and it can be done on still another scale, and the humblest man may in time receive what is coming to him. Certainly men have a right as laborers to organize in unions; when corporations, associations and organizations are organized to the 'nth degree. Let us go to work on both sides and work for co-operation; for a brotherhood in the production of things worthwhile-that is my theory and my principle.

I want to discuss one other question. I have been told by a few Democrats and a considerable number of Republicans that that question is an absolutely worn-out issue, and that I am making a mistake to revive in Michigan that corpse---Newberryism. (Applause.)

Now my friends, probably you know as much about it as I do. I hope you do. Newberryism is not a wise thing. I rather think that possibly the Detroit Free Press and some of its followers have an idea we have invented something, made a discovery. Oh no, not in Michigan; not in Michigan, oh, no. There have been higher prices paid for offices prior to the advent of Truman Newberry. We Democrats know something about that, and some of the Republicans who bought them know something about it.

You have all become familiar with the underlying idea of Newberryism. What is it? Just what my friend Mr. Cummins has been preaching here to you about-the disregard of law.

Let me ask you now-forget you are in a political meeting-what is the most serious menace of the hour in America? In the world? What is it? You know it just as well as I do. You know it is the disregard of law, and you know it finds its beginning in your home. I have been asked again and again to talk to young people, to try to bring about a new viewpoint in relation to character and conduct. I refuse because I want to go back to the source. I want to find out why it is that there is possibly today in America and the world, a disregard of law that did not exist, ten, fifteen, or twenty years ago. Let us find out what is the matter!

I said Newberryism is not a new thing. Newberryism involves a simple disregard of law, and I have even hinted that law is necessary in your home.

After every great war we expect it, because every great war in more ways than one violates, in the damnable efforts to destroy human life and property-violates a principle and there is a tendency to throw us into chaos to a large degree. That is the reason why I hate war and I shall always hate war and all efforts made to settle human difficulties by means of taking the lifeblood of the nation.

Mr. Harding vetoed the bonus bill, and what made me angry and what disturbed me was the way in which he gave his excuses. Now, I am not talking of the merit of the bonus bill, but I could not help but contrast the helplessness of the Government in the matter of a bonus bill for the boys who came out of hell unscathed and some of them more of less broken to pieces, with the way in which war contractors were taken care of to the extent of three billion dollars. The men who fought should have money. We could raise the money if we wanted to.

To be absolutely frank with you, the whole bonus business was nothing but a poker game carded on by the United States Congress to get votes.

President Harding then made an apology, which, if carefully read, would signify that the boys received enough mental and spiritual benefit from the war not to ask for a bonus. I would hate to have you try that out on the young men of Big Rapids, of Detroit.

You say, 'A minute ago, Mr. Ferris said he would not talk to appeal to the young people under ordinary circumstances.' Why? Because the difficulty is with the fathers and mothers. I have to regenerate them before I can do anything for the children. I mean you.

A man came to me today to thank me for expelling his boy three weeks ago. He thanked me for expelling him, and he was a Republican (great laughter). But he showed signs of being saved. He said he was going to vote for me. He said it was only a small compensation for the favor I had rendered him. The son was a good boy. I hope to be able yet to do something for him. What is the matter? Disregard of law; utter disregard of law. If there are any of my former students here, they will all assent to that.

This man of whom I speak was glad because he wanted me to accomplish the teaching of one lesson to his boy that he should recognize the importance of obedience-a lost art in many homes. I am sorry to say it, but I have to say it because it is true. It is because of this that youthful crime increases.

Somebody says, 'What has that got to do with Newberryism? What do you think? Nine boys from the sixth or the eighth grades in Grand Rapids were arrested last year for stealing automobiles and necessary property.

A prank that involves the destruction of thousands of dollars' worth of property is not to be laughed at. My friends, if you believe in the republic, if you believe in moral safety, I want you to understand that whether a fellow destroys public property and injures life, as a prank or what-not, and violates the law, he is creating a possible condition of anarchy and you are responsible for it.

Five of those boys went to state prison. I want to tell you there is something wrong with the home; there is something wrong with the state; there is something wrong with the nation. I am trying to have you get the terrific force of what my friend, Mr. Cummins, has said tonight. He talked on the point of disregard of law; violation of law by the Governor and other in his administration. It is that that is the damnable thing: that is the dangerous thing.

Now, then, Mr. Newberry's sole defense-I am not going into detail-you know something about the evidence. I have the complete story of the trial at Grand Rapids in which there was a jury of ten Republican and two Democrats and a Republican judge, not party-ism at all so far as the trial of Mr. Newberry of and his pals was concerned. He was convicted, and a whole lot of foolish people say that because the United States Supreme Court set aside the corrupt practices act as unconstitutional, therefore Newberry and his crown have been washed and washed until they are as white as snow. (Laughter and applause).

Any Democrat that doesn't want to vote for me because I condemn Newberryism-I hope to God you will vote for the man that stands for Newberryism and carries out your wishes and your desires. Don't vote for me. I don't need your vote.

What was his chief defense, and what was the defense that Spencer of Missouri constantly crowded before the Senators?

Why he did not know anything about it. Well, anybody that will read that testimony which shows conclusively that Truman H. Newberry was in touch with almost every key of his magnificent instrument in eighty-two out of eighty-three counties-I say he knows that it was absolutely impossible for him to be ignorant of the great crime that was being committed-absolutely impossible.

No intelligent man, it seems to me can come to any other conclusion; and yet Spencer crowded and crowded that issue. 'He didn't know anything about it.' And you are all familiar with the cyclone cellar that Willis, of Ohio, devised at the last minute. That is a magnificent term-cyclone cellar.

Nine Republicans voted against the seating of Newberry. I don't care anything about the man Newberry. It is the principle that he has put into concrete form for your boy and for my boy; for your daughter and for my daughter; for the American school boy to see, that if you commit a crime, violate the law, plead ignorance, or what-not, if you are a high-up and you have the money, you can go free. That is the damnable lesson that is brought out in Newberryism.

I want you to bear with me in reading this. It is what Borah's opinion was after the cyclone cellar was invented by Willis, of Ohio. Willis is a schoolmaster, or was, and I mention that because it shows that the schoolmaster has some imaginative and creative power. I like Willis, too. He is an ingenious cuss (Laughter) and he saw that they had to hide under cover. There was no adequate defense. There had been a crime committed. Practically a quarter of a million of a million dollars had been spent and a great deal of it had been paid out without any attempt to fulfill the law of the state or nation. No account had been kept. Money had been wrapped about cigars; money put in envelopes; money passed out for the purpose, not of advertising in the legitimate sense, but for the purpose of sending in spite of all influences, Mr. Newberry to the United States Senate.

Now, this was after the cyclone cellar had been built, that Mr. Borah said the following word; and I shall read from time to time in the campaign what Norris has to say and what other Republicans had to say in that trial in the Senate. I probably shall leave out what Democrats like Pomerene had to say, and others, because probably in a Michigan court, a Democratic witness would not be an acceptable one.

Primaries are getting to be awfully expensive. Even Senator Townsend, if I remember correctly, had to spend thirty thousand dollars. If he came over to our side he would not have to spend anything. But he doesn't want to just now.

Now remember, Borah is talking about that resolution of Willis:

You condemn the expenditure whether Mr. Newberry knew about it or not, and yet you permit him to retain his seat. I don't need to argue common law. I won't insult your intelligence that way. And yet you permit him to retain his seat. Mr. Newberry is either entitled to exoneration hero and to hold his seat on a level with every other senator in this body, or he should be excluded from membership here.

That sounds like good sense, even if Borah did say it.

What you do when you pass this resolution (that is, the cyclone cellar I have referred to) is to say to Mr. Newberry, You may hold your seat but you hold it here and sit in the presence of your colleagues and before the people of the world as one who obtained it in a manner which imperils the very life of the republic.

And yet when W.N. Ferris says that, he is bringing up a dead issue-Newberryism. One man from Lansing wrote me, 'A doubly dead issue,' but he did acknowledge that only occasionally had he varied from voting the regular Republican ticket. That gave me some consolation.

We put the brand of shame on Mr. Newberry as completely as if we should exclude him from the Senate when we say that he crept here by methods and means which every member of the body condemns as dishonorable, unpatriotic and a violation of the law of common decency.

And they did it in the resolution. Let us strip the resolution so as to cover the only question that is before us, and that is, as to whether or not this seat should be declared vacant because the election was corrupt, and pass on it in that form.

If Mr. Newberry is entitled to a seat here, let him sit on in equality with the senator from Ohio, and the senator from Idaho. Why should he sit here under a cloud for four years if he did not corrupt the election? If he is exonerated, if, as he says before God and his conscience, he did nothing dishonorable, how dare you place the brand of shame on him in this way?

It is by reason of the fact, my friends that we have not the courage to meet this thing as it should be met, and the reflection will be upon us quite as much as on Truman H. Newberry. The resolution puts on Newberry a stigma. It discredits his title. It dishonors his state, and yet in a miserable, shameless fashion, you permit him to sit in a body whose very honor you declare he has compromised. Could anything be more humiliating to this body, or more discreditable to men charged with a high and solemn responsibility? Think it over. Think it over. I unhesitatingly declare to you men and women, and every voter in Michigan, that the man or woman who voted for Senator Townsend on November seventh votes for Newberryism.

I wish to God I didn't have to talk about it; but it isn't a dead issue, unless morals are dead, unless the old things taught in the old home way back in Southern New York to me, sometimes when I wasn't eager to have them taught-honesty, industry, sobriety, obedience, loyalty-are no longer necessary to American manhood.

Do you believe in the old standard? Is it worn out? Have you no further use for it? Can you run for a very long time any enterprise without recognizing those homely virtues of the hearthstone? Think it over. I cannot put it too strongly. That is impossible.

I am practically through. I would have liked to say something about child labor. That belongs to the human side. I would like to have said something about getting a child labor law that is constitutional. We do not have to worry in Michigan, but we care about other states. Just so long as there are a group of children in any state of the Union-your Union and my Union-that are being abused, that are not being treated right, that are not being given the holy privilege of childhood, you and I are in a measure responsible.

Therefore, I hope that I may sometime have the pleasure of doing something further than what I have done for the youth of this country.

I would have liked to speak of many other topics that enter into this campaign. I want to emphasize one point which I have already emphasized and I want to go back and say just this: This matter of Newberryism is not a matter of Democrats and Republicans. No, no. It is a matter for American citizens to deal with.

You cannot classify yourself as a Democrat or Republican on the basis of Newberryism. Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, as a citizen you are against it. Whether I go to the Senate or not, it will be reopened, and just as surely as some of the men that are now nominated in the primary for United States senator are to be elected. Newberry will walk the plank that Lorimer walked.

All the days of my life, the reason why I feel so deeply about these matters, all the days of my life, and I leave the verdict to those I have had to deal with-I have made mistakes, but from childhood up, having seen some more needless suffering that I would wish any man or woman to see, I have come to feel that the human side of this world is the big side; that all these other matters are subsidiary; they are secondary.

It is putting a higher value on the human being than I do on things-upon things that can be bough and sold, on things that give power and position , and I am going to continue that struggle, and even if I should be defeated, I would not dare promise you Republicans here tonight that I would never come up as a candidate again for the fight that I am waging for what I call humanity the one thing worth while in Michigan, and in this glorious America of ours." (Applause).


Source: Newton, Roy, editor. Life and Works of Woodbridge N. Ferris. (Big Rapids, Michigan: n.p., 1960), 331-355.


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